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As we start the new year, many organizations are looking at their year end results to see if they made their "goal".

What that means for many of you is, "did we raise more money than last year", or "did we hit our $$$ goal". Hitting your financial target is good; very very good. It means that you can keep doing more amazing life-changing work on behalf of those you serve.

But did you know . . . termites are keeping you from doing even more life-changing working?

A recent article "Attrition is Your Enemy" by Panas, Linzy & Partners drives home a very important point about what happens when we ignore donor attrition.

Donor attrition is the number of donors who gave last year (or some year) and who don't give again.

The average donor attrition rate ranges from 40-60% (or more).

That means that every year you will lose at least 40% of your donors . . . and the revenue they bring to your organization.

Let's say your organization brought in 1,000 new donors last year. If your attrition rate is 40%, only 78 of those donors will still be with you in 5 years.

Think about how much lost revenue that is. Think about how much less goes to your mission and those you serve.

"Donor attrition is the equivalent of termites eating away at your home. Many home owners are unaware that the support system of their flooring is being destroyed."

How many of you are slowly losing the foundation of your organizations due to termites . . . donor attrition?

"It costs 4 1/2 times as much in staff, time, and resources to secure a new donor as it does to keep one who has already shown he loves you."

Remember, getting the first gift is the easy part. Getting the second, third and subsequent gifts, is where your job really begins. This is where you do your magic to keep the termites away.

This is where you shower your donors with gratitude. This is where you let them know that you couldn't do it without them.

Don't neglect your donors. Don't be afraid to talk to them. Share the impact. Share the joy.

Send the termites packing.





 Did you know . . . . many nonprofits saw December income drop by as much as 25%?

We can speculate on the reasons, but that doesn't change the results.

Did you experience a similar shortfall? 

Are you worried about the termites eating away at the foundation of your organization? 

If so, J. Milito & Associates can prepare a custom analysis and plan as a solution to your year-end shortfall.

The plan includes:

  • Fundraising Fitness Test and Performance Report to assess donor retention and revenue gaps.
  • Recommended strategies to bring lapsed donors back; ask donors for monthly sustaining gifts; or acquire new donors from your pool of supporters and friends.
  • Recommended strategies for donor stewardship and gratitude.
  • Recommend strategies to avoid future shortfalls.

J. Milito & Associates can help you get 2019 off on the right foot and keep the termites away.

This email address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it.  today to schedule your analysis.  You'll be glad you did.

Power of Phones

These days, there’s so much interest in new channels and the latest next “new shiny thing,” but did you know that there’s one medium you use everyday that has evolved tremendously over the past few years?

That medium (the one that you’re holding in your hand right now or the one that’s very nearby!) is the ultimate key to retaining your donors: it’s your phone!

. . . Continue reading the article by Juddee Milito & Erica Waasdorp on the NCDC Catholic Fundraiser Blog

3 Tips for Reactivating Lapsed Donors

Let’s face it. You will probably never reach 100 percent donor retention.

Even with the best segmented and most-personalized donor communications and stewardship, you will probably lose donors at some point. And by the way, if a donor has not given in two years, the likelihood that they will give again is about 2 percent.

That said, let’s take a look at some tips to increase the likelihood of a lapsed donor resuming their giving plan.

It’s important to understand why donors lapse in the first place, and then, it’s necessary to strategically nurture and encourage your lost donors to continue giving again.

. . . Read the rest of Juddee's story on the NCDC Catholic Fundraiser Blog

You already know the tremendous power of monthly donors. You know the positive impact they have on your cash flow and donor retention.

But how do you make that leap to the next level? How do you grow to 200, 500, 1,000, 2,000, 10,000 and higher?

In this interactive workshop Erica Waasdorp (President at A Direct Solution and author of "Monthly Giving.  The Sleeping Giant.") will share how you, with any size budget, can leverage your digital and other channels to boost your monthly donor program. You will learn how to cultivate your monthly donors, keep them, bring them back and make them leap higher!

At the end of this workshop you will have tools and plans to hit the ground running and

  1. Set your strategy and target the right audiences for online and off-line channels
  2. Know when an how to upgrade your monthly donors
  3. Retain and reactivate donors to achieve all-time high donor retention levels.

Prior to the workshop you will have the opportunity to submit materials for review and questions to assist in your learning.

This is YOUR workshop.

Registration Fees:

$50     Current J. Milito & Associates Customers

 $50      AFP Members

$25      Students

$75      Not-Yet Members or Customers


Register here by May 31, 2018

So many of us worry about how to generate major gifts. We forget about the tremendous little nuggets already in the database. Many more small donors than large ones, right?

Did you know that 100 monthly donors are worth an average of $24,000 a year? That they’ll stay with you for at least 5 to 7 years and often even longer? That they’re 7 times more likely to leave you in their will? That’s very powerful, isn’t it?

If you are considering a monthly giving program or if you’re looking to grow your current program further, this session is for you!

Join us to learn what’s involved in growing your monthly donor program, so you can ensure that monthly donors will provide sustainable revenue for many years to come.

Presented by Erica Waasdorp, President at A Direct Solution and author of "Monthly Giving.  The Sleeping Giant." 

As a result of this workshop, participants will understand who and what monthly donors are, learn how to implement a monthly giving program as part of the overall communication strategy, know the tremendous impact on sustainable and unrestricted revenue by converting small donors to give monthly, and come away with real life examples and case studies on how best to start asking donors to join your monthly donor program by using tools and media you already have in place.

Registration Fee:

 $25      Current J. Milito & Associates Customers

 $25      Students

 $50      AFP Members

 $75      Not-Yet Members or Customers


Register here by May 31, 2017 

This email address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it.

Did you know . . . more than $373 billion was given to charities in 2015? (Giving USA)

Your organization likely received a modest portion of that charitable giving. 

But did your organization get all that it needed to support your mission and ministry?  Not talking about your annual fundraising goal, but rather the impact goals needed to sustain and grow your organization for today and the future. 

Oxford Dictionary defines impact as – “The effect or influence of one person, thing, or action, on another”.  So impact goals are those things our organizations do to deliberately “effect or influence” our community members:  The children we educate, the hungry that we feed, the ill and infirmed that we care for and cure, etc.  The impact . . . to improve the world.

So, why is impact important and what does this have to do with finding more donors?

Twenty-first century philanthropy is investment in solutions, not cash for problems,” said Susan Raymond, Ph.D., Executive Vice President for Changing Our World.  What that means is (philanthropists) expect evidence of impact. Money is contingent on results. Impact, not intention, is the coin of the realm.

Your donors, all of your current and future donors need to know that their “investment” will have a positive impact on those served by your organization and the larger community where you live. 

And in order to attract, retain, renew, and upgrade donors, engaging them with your impact stories is essential. 

And this isn’t just those donors who give major gifts, but rather all donors, and all gifts. 

All Gifts Matter.

And, most important, ALL DONORS Matter.

Mary Cahalane (Hands on Fundraising) aptly stated it this way, “Our missions are broader than dollars and cents.” 

Your mission and ministry prosper upon your ability to secure contributions of all amounts from lots of faithful donors every year. And yet, you struggle every year to find the donors to help meet the impact goals that support your mission and ministry.

The truth is . . . finding new donors isn’t complicated.

It isn’t scientific.  It isn’t impossible.  And it isn’t costly.

So, where do you find these donors?

First, you don’t get them by purchasing a list or by hosting yet another “special” event.

You find donors in your faithful supporters.  Your current stakeholders.  Your “natural constituency”.


Remember the line from the movie “Field of Dreams”—“If you build it [they] will come.”  It is also true in fund development, advancement or whatever you call it in your organization. 

It is philanthropy. 

Philanthropy is inherently optimistic, reflecting the deeply held belief that we can have a positive impact on the lives of others as well as on stubborn societal issues. Through philanthropy, individuals can make a difference, promote change, and improve their communities.” ~ Bruce DeBoskey, philanthropic strategist.

Think about it this way ---- if you would connect and engage with those who already believe in your mission and ministry, the money and support will follow.  Really.

All the donors you need right now are already connected to your organization.  Your job is to: 

  1. Connect their desire to improve the world with your ability to do just that . . . improve the world, through your mission and ministry. AND

  2. Treat those individuals like beloved members of your family.  Treat them well, share the stories of impact, engage with them, and they will remain with your organization for the long haul.  Whether it is annual fund, endowment, capital campaign, or major gift donors, “if you take care of your donors, your donors will take care of you.

So where do you begin? 

You begin with your inner circle, “the people who know you and love you.”  They are your customers, the reason you exist.  They are: 

  • Your current donors and your recently lapsed donors
  • Your parents and grandparents
  • Your alumni/alumnae. 
  • Your members.
  • Your board AND your employees.
  • Your special event sponsors and attendees (and honorees)
  • And believe it or not, the folks who directly benefit by the service you provide.

You say, “Oh no we can’t ask them.  They already give of their time.  They already pay tuition.  They receive assistance.  They are just starting out.  Etc., etc., etc.” 

Don’t ever assume that your “inner circle” can’t and won’t give and give generously. 

Your assumptions are what keep you from a prosperous and fluid mission and ministry.

In the words of the great Wayne Gretzky “You miss 100% of the shots you don’t take.”  For our purposes that translates to – you miss 100% of the gifts of support you never ask for. 

Remember ALL gifts and ALL donors matter.  Your “inner circle” if you keep them close and make them feel truly appreciated, they will give, when asked, what they can, even if it’s $5.

So, let’s say you take the plunge and decide it’s time invest in building better more meaningful relationships with your “inner circle” so you can convert them to faithful donors. 

Remember, “you probably didn’t propose marriage or accept a marriage proposal on the first date” – so, please don’t just ask the “inner circle” for a gift without getting to know them first. 

You need to know the following:

  • Who are they (name, address, phone, email, etc.)?
  • What is their connection to the organization?  Parent, grandparent, volunteer, donor, etc. 
  • How long have they been connected to your organization?
  • What is their current relationship, if any, with you? 
  • How do you communicate with them?  How do they communicate with you?
  • Do they attend your special events?  One time or regular attendees?
  • Do they attend your mission programs?
  • Have they given before?  If so, how do they like to give (online, mail, phone, text to give, check, credit card, etc.)?
  • If they are alum, what year did they graduate?  What have they been doing since graduation? 
  • Where do they work?
  • Do they have family members that are connected to your organization?
  • What other information will help us get better acquainted?

Wow, that’s a lot of information to collect.  How can we possibly do this?  Yes, there are probably a million reasons why you can’t possibly fit all this into your already over extended workload.  But, in reality, there are a $Million reasons why you can’t afford not to make the time to get to know your “inner circle”. 

Lao Tzu, an ancient Chinese philosopher and writer, said it best, A journey of a thousand miles begins with a single step.” 

You have to take the first step.  And the first step is to start the conversation with your “inner circle”.  Ask them about themselves. Research has repeatedly found that “self-disclosure produces a burst of activity in neural regions associated with pleasure, motivation, and reward.”  People like to talk about themselves.  So ask.

Ask them when they attend events, make donations, become members, attend meetings, etc.  Ask them in a survey.  Call them.  Make the effort to connect with them.  Take notes, lots of notes.  And then, please put these jewels of information in your database. 

Remember, the goal here is to engage your “inner circle”.  They already have some affinity for your mission and ministry.  By connecting “their desire to improve the world with your ability to do just that, you inspire them to share themselves and their precious resources with your organization. 

Yup, just that easy. 

Every year for 30+ years, a school teacher faithfully sent her $15 membership to an arts organization.  Upon her death, the organization received a significant six-figure bequest.

Gina was homeless.  She was undereducated and lived on the streets.  She connected with an organization whose mission and ministry was to give hope and dignity back to the homeless, getting them off the streets and into meaningful employment.  Gina worked hard to complete the program.  She eventually secured a job and a small apartment.  Shortly after she began her new life off the streets, Gina dropped by the organization with a note and check for $20.  Thank you for helping me make a better life for myself.  Please accept this $20.  Wish I could give more.”  And she did, whenever possible.

Grandparents Day is a long standing tradition at this Catholic elementary school.  Grandparents and grandchildren look forward to this day every year.  Many travel long distances to spend this day at school with their grandchildren.  As a result of this inspiring engagement, grandparents successfully pushed the capital campaign fundraising goal over the top and were on-hand to proudly move a shovel of dirt at the ground-breaking ceremony.

These stories are not uncommon.  And they have one thing in common . . . a meaningful relationship between the donor and the organization. 

So, it’s possible. But it will take commitment and hard work, and yes, financial resources.  The whole organization must commit to connecting with your “inner circle”.  There must be within your organization, a culture of philanthropy.  Research shows that “an organization’s culture dramatically affects its effectiveness. Culture is pervasive, affecting all areas of the organization, including fund development.”  Fund development, in order to be effective and successful must be the responsibility of the whole organization, not just one department.  If the relationships are to succeed, if we are to embrace the “inner circle” as beloved members of the family, the whole organization must contribute to the effort. 

But . . . it isn’t enough to just get the gift.  The gift of support is but one step in what can be a long and meaningful relationship.

Once you have engaged and embraced your “inner circle” make sure that . . .  

  • You make it easy for them to give.
  • You show them an abundance of authentic appreciation

  • You regularly demonstrate impact of their gift on your mission and ministry – “Because of you . . . .”

  • You inspire them to give again.  Inspiring is what makes “the ask” possible.

  • You inspire a legacy gift.

Remember, “if you take care of your donors, your donors will take care of you.

So make the commitment, take the time, and embrace your “inner circle” and you will have faithful donors for a lifetime. 


-published in September 2016 "Dimensions", a publication of the National Catholic Development Conference

Gratitude is defined as “the quality of being thankful; readiness to show appreciation for and to return kindness.” 

Gratitude to our donors -- those who support our organizations with their time, talent and treasures, should be about expressing our thankfulness for their kindness and generosity.

If we are serious about fundraising, gratitude toward all of our donors regardless whether they give us $5 or $5 million dollars, must be a priority.  Our job is not just asking.  Our job is also to shower our donors with genuine and plentiful doses of gratitude.

Every “ask” you make must be followed by a show of gratitude.

Until you’ve shown gratitude to your donor for their generosity, you should not ask them for another gift. 

Gift Receipts Are Not Gratitude!  They are a legal obligation.  Period. 

Gratitude isn’t about us.  It’s not about our mission, vision and values.  It’s not about why we need your money, why we think you should support us, or how you can support us.  It’s not about our new approach; our new shiny thing.  It’s not about the gap.  It’s not about why we think we’re different.  It’s not about how great we are or “we’ve been in the news”.  It isn’t about our presence on social media. 

Now don’t get me wrong, these are important.  They help your organization run efficiently.  But most donors don’t really care.  And a newsletter twice each year filled with “we are awesome” is not gratitude. 

Donor Relations Guru Lynne Wester reminds us that donors “are in a relationship with us and it is incumbent upon [us] to keep this relationship strong and vital.  We must know what drew them to our organization.  We need to know what will keep them loyal to our organization.  We need to keep wooing them.  We cannot take them for granted.  We need to demonstrate our deep respect to them.  We need to find new ways to show them we need them and are grateful for them.”  

It is our job to keep the relationship with donors strong and vital.  We must give them what they need or they will go away.  Really they will.  Current stats tell us that only 3 out of 10 donors will give a second gift.

The wise words of Simone Joyaux, ACFRE should remind us about what motivates our donors:  Donors don’t give TO your organization. They give THROUGH your organization to make a difference and fulfill their own personal aspirations.”

Our fundraising efforts must focus on the donor and their aspirations and how we can make them feel amazing about their generosity.

It has to be about amazing expressions of gratitude to all of our donors.

Expressing gratitude is as simple as

  • Demonstrating to our donors that they are our heroes.
  • Sharing amazing and inspiring stories.

  • Asking our donors what inspires them to give.

  • Showing our donors that we value them and that they DO make a difference.

  • Remembering what our donors have done and said and using that to personalize our relationship with them.

  • Treating each donor like they are the most important and only donor we need.

  • Asking them for their honest feedback and not flipping out when they give it.

  • Saying “thanks” with passion and sincerity (before the check clears their bank or the credit card statement arrives).

It’s frustrating to see so many organizations treat their donors like ATM machines and their development efforts as merely bucket filling exercises. 

Just imagine if you gave a little more time, effort and resources on gratitude and cut back on all the high cost low ROI acquisition and “special” events, your retention rates would soar and your impact would be off the charts.

Remember, if you can inspire your donor to give a second gift, “they are about three times as likely to stay with you.”

Until we understand what motivates our donors, what inspires them, and what they really don’t care about, we are doomed to fundraising mediocrity and abysmal retention rates. 

All it takes is just a little Gratitude.

Hi, Juddee Milito here wishing you a very Happy New Year.
May your New Year bring you joy and peace and good health. 
Did you know that showing your donors sincere gratitude could increase your giving by 50%?
Let me tell you more . . . .



Autumn has arrived. We welcome the season with a sweater and a glass of cider as the leaves burst with vivid color and then slowly fall to the ground.

Autumn is also the time when we hustle for the last big fundraising hurrah of the year.

Before you get fully immersed in the fundraising hustle, stop . . . take a breath . . . and make sure you can answer the following questions:

  1. When was the last time you scrubbed your donor lists? If you can’t remember the last time it was done, do it now. Dirty data will net you bad results regardless of how amazing your year-end package.
  2. What is your theme and is it compelling? “We need money to fill the gap” is not compelling. Neither is “It’s year-end” or “You get a tax deduction”. A compelling theme is about the mission and ministry your donors need to invest in (with both their heart and their head). Your theme should be consistent throughout all year end communications and all channels (mail, email, social media, telephone, etc.).
  3. What stories will you tell to reinforce the theme? The story should not be about you and your organization. The story should be about the profound impact on the people and community you serve. The story should touch the readers’ heart.
  4. Will the story have a sense of urgency and remind express clearly to the donor “we can’t do this without you”? A sense of urgency is the message about what will happen if they don’t take action. Children will go hungry. Families will be homeless. A cancer patient will die. A student will not be educated. Touch their heart, then appeal to their head.
  5. Will the donor know what you want them to do? Don’t be shy about asking for a reasonable response from the donor. Think about what the donor can likely do. Be direct. Be specific. Be thoughtful.
  6. Will it be easy for the donor to give? You’ve touched the heart, appealed to their head, not make sure you make it easy for them to respond with a gift. Test your online giving portal. The more clicks you require, the less likely the gift will be made. Test your remittance envelope. The remittance should align with your theme and your “ask.” Generic envelopes generate generic less than stellar results.
  7. What is your plan to show gratitude to your donors? Remember, a receipt is not a thank you and therefore not a show of gratitude. Toss out that stuffy old thank you letter (“on behalf of the board, blah, blah, blah”) and create communications that shows truly sincere gratitude. Your message of gratitude should include “Because of you . . . . “ and “We couldn’t do this without you.

So, hopefully you are not more stressed than you were before you read this list. Your year-end efforts should be a joy not a nightmare. Remember, the work you do is important. You are changing lives for the better.

Find out how J. Milito & Associates can help assure you have a successful year end. This email address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it. for a free half hour consultation.

You had a good year for fundraising. You made your goal. Congratulations!

New donors! Fantastic.

But, did you know that you could have raised even more money by doing one little thing?

Yes, one simple little thing.

Your organization could raise more money for your mission and ministry . . . just by retaining more of your donors.

Retain more donors? Really?

But we hit our $$ goal. That’s what really matters. That’s what keeps the lights on. That’s what feeds the kids. That’s what helps the sick. That is what provides students scholarships.”

Does it really matter how many donors gave if we still hit our $$ goal?

Oh, yes. Yes it does!

And here is why.

üThe average donor retention rate is 46% (2016 Fundraising Effectiveness Survey)

üOn average, for every 100 donors you gain, you will lose at least 96 annually.

ü7 out of 10 first time donors will not make a 2nd gift.

üAfter 5 years, you’ll have only 3% of the donors you acquire this year.

üIt costs about 7x more to acquire a new donor than to retain an existing donor?

 Improving Retention Rates By Just 10% Can Increase the Total Amount of Money Donors Giveaccording to Dr. Adrian Sargeant.

So, what do you think? Are you ready to improve your retention rates and raise more money?

*  *  *  *

First, it is important to know your retention rate.

Use this simple, easy to understand formula . . . .

DONOR RETENTION RATE = Number of Donors who gave in 2014 and again in 2015

      ¸ Total number of donors who gave in 2014         

Ideally you want to be retaining at least 60% or more of your donors annually.

How do you retain more of your donors and raise more money?

Improve donor loyalty . . . by improving the donor experience . . . by valuing our donors for who they are, not just what they can give.

The goal is to make your donors feel good about their generosity. The goal is to make sure that your donors know that your entire organization appreciates their generosity.

The gift is the first step towards joining our community. It’s the beginning of the relationship; not the end.” ~ Claire Axelrad, J.D., CFRE

Happy donors are generous donors.

Focus on the person and the relationship first, not their wallet.” Sandy Rees, CFRE

Your job, regardless of how large or small your budget, is to make sure your donors are satisfied and proud of their gift (no matter how large or small).

Donors don’t give to you; they give through you to create the change they want to see.” ~ Claire Axelrad, J.D., CFRE

The first thing is thanking without an ask. “Sincerely thank your donor in a timely manner and then, once you’ve spent their funds, tell them the story of the impact their funds had on the people your organization serves.” ~ Lynne Wester

Make seven contacts with a donor within one year after the gift. For every one request you make for a gift, you need seven other meaningful contacts. Meaningful contacts are phone calls, personal visits, emails, hand written notes, etc. Meaningful contacts show and tell the donor the impact and power of their gift, where the money went, and how it was spent. Meaningful contacts are for ALL donors not just the “majors”.

Get to know your donors. Really get to know them. It is essential that you understand your individual donors.

  • Why they support your cause? What need of theirs is being met by supporting your cause?
  • What are their preferences? Annual Fund or Capital? Email or snail mail?
  • Why they stopped giving?

Donors want to know that you know who they are and why they support you. They want you to know why they increased their last gift. And they want you to know why they left after 5 years of giving.

Stop focusing so much time and resources on acquisition. It is expensive with a low return on investment. Future major donors and bequests are already supporting your mission and ministry with regular annual support. If you take the time to get to know them, all of them, you’ll find your lifelong supporters and benefactors.

In 2014, Giving USA reported that over $300 billion was given to charities by individuals. Over 1.5 million tax exempt organizations received piece of that very generous pie. Another $6 – 27.4 trillion in bequests will be made from 1998-2052.

With the volume of charitable dollars available, loyalty to your organization goes right out the window if another charity (or charities) provides a better donor experience.

So, remember: the goal is to improve the donor experience. An improved donor experience will result in loyal lifetime donors who give generously, faithfully and happily.

It’s just that simple.


* * For more than 20 years, J. Milito & Associates has worked with organizations of all types from coast to coast to help Retain, Renew and Upgrade their donors. Let us help you improve the donor experience so you can raise more money for your mission and ministry. Contact us today for your free 30 minute consultation.

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