We’re featuring another one of our award-winning videos. This video was created to encourage alumni to join the University of Arizona Wildcat Club and get involved in supporting the many collegiate athletic programs at the school. This received two bronze Telly awards at the 2011 ceremony in the editing and sports categories.
Let us help you tell your compelling story. Generate more fundraising dollars with creative media from our innovative and award-winning team! Contact us or learn more about how we redefine fundraising here.
How are you measuring progress? Are you measuring the right things? The old adage “what gets measured, gets done” rings true here. So, what are your key performance indicators? Are they aligned with your priorities? Will they alert you early in the process (as in a “leading” indicator) or late in the process (a “lagging” indicator) that something needs attention? Having an effective set of measures is the fifth key to execution.
Consider the chart shown here. I’ve often called this an organization’s “backbone.” Do you have curvature of the spine, or is there strong alignment from vision to objectives to services. Second, how well do your measures evaluate these elements from top to bottom, or wherever your responsibilities lie? Are they helping you maintain a straight backbone?
Measures communicate progress, or a lack thereof, against identified goals. Measures also communicate what we think is important. One of Pursuant’s clients commented that they were embarrassed that we had to tell them about the decline they were experiencing in major donors and major gifts over the last several years. His statement reflected that they had taken their eye off of something absolutely critical to their organization. They are not alone. We routinely tell clients about trends in giving at all levels, trends in donor engagement, revenue projections based on current trends, and so forth—and information the client wasn’t aware of prior to our engagement.
We also measure fundraising and organizational best practices. The existence of certain practices tells us something about how well our clients are attracting donors, engaging them in their work, and building long-term, fruitful relationships over time. It tells us of their fundraising and organizational strengths and weaknesses. Great strategy starts with an effective evaluation process.
Your problem may not be having a set of measures, but that your measures are too difficult to assemble. The best measures in the world, if it is overly difficult to assemble what is needed to calculate it, isn’t going to help. Find a simpler way to measure what you are trying to track.
Once action plans are in place, we have to measure progress and determine if what we are accomplishing is doing what we had hoped. We may have a shiny new resource center, but if n0 one is being served by it, what have we accomplished? Measurement requires that we courageously look at the data and draw observations and conclusions that will drive further strategy and action, or help us get our execution priorities back on track.
Once you have a commitment to measure, it is amazing how quickly leadership can drive attention to key performance indicators. Pursuant’s CEO Trent Ricker recently asked our management team to include a section on key performance indicators as part of their weekly reports. Why? He wants everyone to keep their eye on identified priorities, and he wants to make sure regular progress is being made in the right areas. For those who aren’t sure what key performance indicators to track, requests like this prompt important conversations.
What measures are you using that point to progress being made against your strategic initiatives? How balanced are your measures? Are they all focused on one area, or are they all lagging indicators? How quickly would you know if an initiative was not producing a desired result?
We are proud to be conducting a planning study for Mount Lebanon schools’ upcoming capital campaign. Click here to read the full article.
This is the followup to the post “What are Donor Personas?” If you have not read that, read it first.
The easiest thing to do with Rachel, Joel, and Kelley is to simply drop them into the ongoing communication stream you send to everyone every month—to treat them as a mere silhouette, someone who looks just like nearly everyone else on file, not as a face with some unique identifying features.
A far better approach is to follow up their overtures of interest by initiating a few, simple communication pieces that can be highly tailored to the persona, and leveraged across everyone else who shares the same characteristic.
For example, if you were sitting down for coffee with Rachel, and she told you she had just heard about your organization but didn’t know much more than you present on your website, what would you tell her? What would be so important that you risk repeating? What would be essential for her to know beyond what the website presents?
If your path crossed with Joel’s, a recent “customer” of your organization, what would be valuable for him to know as a customer and prospective donor? Did he feel his experience was appreciated? What would have made it better? And wouldn’t you want him to know that he isn’t alone—that many others are experiencing a similar benefit?
If Kelley turned out to be a personal friend, what would you tell her the next time you met? Would you ask her a question about the content she downloaded? Perhaps you would invite her to an upcoming event where she could learn more about her area of interest.
It doesn’t take much effort to identify a handful of core personas—people who share a common relationship or experience with your organization. Those relationships and experiences offer a foundation for focused conversation—a welcome packet, an email exchange, a survey and follow-up, a video message, a phone call, or any number of other vehicles you could use to invite further engagement.
It’s hard to initiate meaningful dialogue when everyone looks like a shadow. But shine a little light on the subject, and shadows become faces with identifying features…and soon you recognize them as people who have reached out for a meaningful connection with you.
What personas are represented across your organization? Left alone, they will inevitably remain a name and address in the shadows. But with a little effort, you may discover that silhouette a lot to offer . They have a heart for what you do and are waiting to be invited into a deeper level of relationship and involvement.
A silhouette in the shadows? Or a face you recognize and appreciate—who soon becomes a friend and supporter? It’s your choice.
Contact us to learn about your organizations personas.
Many organizations understand the benefits of a midlevel giving program. They have seen the donor sombrero, and they have a felt need to grow revenue through face to face visits. Knowledge and understanding is great — but knowing WHO you are going to be talking to is a different matter entirely. Tony Smercina wrote this whitepaper to help nonprofits understand the important characteristics of midlevel donors, based on a decade of experience with them.
Click here to download your copy of 7 Things You Need To Know About Midlevel Donors.
Why has proper integration become so pivotal for the nonprofit sector? Because nonprofit constituents are also marketplace consumers—and major national brands such as Amazon and Apple have set the standard. What for-profit companies offer consumers—intense personalization, intuitive response mechanisms, convenience, and a plethora of options—are what donors now expect from their nonprofit experiences as well.
Recent research reveals that consumer preferences don’t neatly organize according to age, gender, and income demographics. Those are important considerations, but online interaction is increasingly based on personality traits and personal motivation. Being responsive to those motivations will be key to future fundraising success, and an integrated cross-channel approach will allow for the most donor personalization. (Source: ExactTarget’s Subscribers, Fans, and Followers study)
Changes in donor communication and giving preferences are similar to current consumer trends. An integrated cross-channel strategy is critical to meeting donors’ expectations while also leveraging their interests to prompt them to take a desired action.
- Prepare a donor for the second ask with the first ask – Poor fundraisers, like poor chess players, are not thinking far enough ahead. Every fundraiser should be thinking about a donor’s lifetime value and how they play a long-term role in the vision of your organization, not an acquisition response rate or just getting that first significant gift. When we focus solely on immediate results, we focus on the wrong things and will increase donor fatigue. Simply put, if we are not connected to our organization’s long-term vision and the role we all play in achieving that vision over time, how can we expect our donors at any level to be connected to that same vision? In addition, placing the first gift within the context of a larger vision provides a natural segue way from first gift (step1 toward the vision) to Stewardship (celebrating the first step) to the second ask (taking step 2 in the journey). Long-term context is essential to revisiting loyal donors as they deepen their participation, and it begins with the first ask.
- Create personalized incentives – Personalized incentives that speak to the donor’s passion and affinity for your organization are invaluable in deepening the philanthropic relationship. Position specific engagement pathways that focus on those core pillars of your work that donors tend to embrace. Each pathway speaks to their specific interests around your organization while aligning them with the overall philanthropic vision. While strategies for recognition—like giving societies or clubs with certain benefits—can be effective tools, the real incentives are around inviting and involving your donors to participate in your organization in a way that resonates with their philanthropic passion.
- Reduce friction – The last core principal in giving a second gift is simple, but not easy to execute. We often create significant amounts of friction for giving, obstacles that deter donors from making a gift they may want to give. As discussed previously, lack of timely recognition or targeted stewardship can quickly dissuade an otherwise interested first time donor due to frustration from not understanding their impact. In addition, we sometimes erect significant organization-centric barriers to the ways in which the donor can give a gift due to internal policies that take little or no account of a donor’s needs. The key is to allow donors to engage and give their gift via the payment methods, channel and terms that meet their needs. While gift acceptance policies are important to create boundaries tied to the organization’s vision and values, within those strategic boundaries, we should not root the donor in bureaucratic technicalities around how we want to receive the gift.
These 5 core principals implemented within an integrated, holistic development strategy can have a profound and lasting impact on the lifetime value of donors. In addition, implementing these principles is one of the fastest ways your organization can impact your bottom line this year and for years to come.
During difficult economic times, a strong base of loyal, multi-year donors is more important than ever. While a focus on donor acquisition, retention and reactivation remains vital, fundraisers often overlook the importance of a timely second gift in cultivating essential multi-year donors.
In the data analysis we have performed for many clients, we are seeing second gift conversion for many donors (often 70%+) taking three, four or even five years. While it certainly is reasonable that a major donor has multi-year gaps between giving—though I would suggest that well-structured programs ought to encourage regular annual giving alongside periodic significant gifts even for major donors—if the majority of donors are not giving a second gift within 12 months, your organization may well find that a strong foundation of loyal donors is not merely stagnant, but shrinking.
The good news is that properly thanking, stewarding and cultivating new donors can be achieved using cost-effective, scalable techniques that can be self-sustaining with minimal staff time once implemented. I want to share 5 core principals that are essential to securing a donor’s second gift. I will post the first two today, and the next three in a later post.
- Make your second ask quickly – Most organizations wait far too long to ask a donor for a second gift. The reality is that the sooner you ask, the more likely the donor is to respond positively. In addition, research shows time and again that the earlier you acquire a second gift, the higher the lifetime value of a donor. Ideally, that ask is occurring within the first 90 days of the donor’s original gift, and this does not simply apply to direct response or annual fund donors. There is no reason a mid-level or major donor cannot be asked for a second gift quickly. Why not secure a smaller recurring unrestricted annual gift that deepens the donor’s connection to the organization?
- Steward First, Ask Second – Despite the desire to acquire the second gift quickly, we all know that proper stewardship is the key to cultivating long term donor loyalty. While we do want to ask quickly for the second gift, we do not want to do so at the expense of depriving the donor of the emotional ROI that comes from seeing the impact of their gift. Quick effective second asks require strong communication of the change the donor’s first gift has made in the lives of those you serve. This communication should occur within 30-60 days after the initial gift and it should focus on the specific impact of the gift on individual lives, not simply generic statements about progressing toward funding goals or intangible outcomes.
Ideas are everywhere. Through emails, blogs, conversations, keynote speeches, and media, we are endlessly bombarded with the latest and greatest idea, few of which are ever implemented. So how does a nonprofit organization create momentum internally to get a great idea put into action? Curt Swindoll details eight steps to creating forward movement both in the mission and in the fundraising disciplines of your organization. Being able to come up with great ideas is fantastic, but ultimately worthless if they don’t translate into action.
Click here to download this whitepaper and kickstart your nonprofit’s effectiveness and execution.
How are you planning to augment your acquisition practices in 2012? You might have looked at your acquisition costs and thought that they were too high, but are unsure how to gain new donors at manageable rates. Tommy Swanson explains in this whitepaper how search engine marketing can help nonprofits find prospects that align with their mission or vision and convert them to loyal donors, year in and year out. You might think search engine marketing is only for commercial businesses, but the best practices hold true for fundraising.
Click here to download the whitepaper and change the way you acquire new donors.