[Podcast] Commercial brands need not apply with nonprofit donors

Sometimes the best way to teach others how to do something is to show them what doesn’t work first. This rationale was at the root of our question about nonprofit branding for donor communications author Jeff Brooks last week.

Nonprofits often look to the business world for inspiration and branding is no exception. Unfortunately, the branding rules for business don’t apply in the social sector.

Brooks explains that commercial brands operate successfully in the abstract ideals of good and services while nonprofits need to show the problem in a realistic way. In short, show clear, emotional images that connect.

Six warning signs that your brand has gone astray are:

The new brand is not aimed at your donors.

The new brand requires you to abandon your donors to seek new, possibly fictitious ones, instead of expanding your base.

The work is not grounded in donor behavior (what donors do instead of what they say about your organization or understand in focus groups).

The new brand describes your cause in a symbolic way, instead of in a clear, realistic fashion to move donors to act.

The new brand requires absolute consistency, not leaving room for creativity or varying the messages for changing circumstances or relationships with donors.

The new brand is design—and little else.

Listen to Jeff Brooks’ live answer about why commercial branding doesn’t work for nonprofit organizations: Jeff Brooks on Branding

Remember, to counteract the six warning signs above, you must call your donors to action. Hear more from Jeff Brooks in our podcast about communication strategies that set your organization apart from the rest.

Learn more about books on this topic and our summaries.

 

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[Podcast] Getting to the heart of a great ask

Despite the immense amount of focus we place on understanding the art of asking for support, it continues to keep us treading water and occasionally dipping our heads below the surface.

We had the chance to speak with author Laura Fredricks recently about her book, The Ask: The Ask: How to Ask for Support for Your Nonprofit Cause, Creative Project or Business VentureI’m confident you’ll enjoy her insights in response to our questions.

CausePlanet: What trend(s) are you noticing in donor solicitations since you published this updated version of The Ask?

Fredricks: A real dedication to raising money from individuals–speaking with people before, during and after events–and board members eager to know, “How can I get this right?”

Listen here: Getting it right

CausePlanet: There is a surprising lack of literature about the importance of follow-up in donor solicitations. We’re delighted to see you’ve addressed it in your book. What are some important reminders for nonprofit leaders that might motivate them to place a priority on this area?

Fredricks: You are leaving $$$$ on the table because you do not have solid steps to close it. My BIGGEST tip: Donors leave clues and we miss every one of them. Pay attention to how they communicate and the frequency with which they communicate and follow up on their patterns.

Listen here: What are the clues we miss?

CausePlanet: In Dan Pink’s book, To Sell Is Human, he says all great sales people demonstrate buoyancy in the face of rejection. Have you observed any consistent characteristics among successful fundraisers? If so, what are they?

Fredricks: My mantra is “Every donor is a mini campaign” so devote special and individualized attention to every one. The same holds true for fundraisers: I coach them to have their own voice, enjoy the process and learn as much as they can. That equals success!

Listen here: More on buoyancy

CausePlanet: Tell us about your new book, The Ask for Philanthropy, Business and Every Day Living. 

Listen here: More about Fredricks’ new book

Most, if not all of us, are in the business of asking for something every day. That’s why we’re determined to identify the best way to go about persuading one another.

This topic has been widely developed within each sector, yet Fredricks has built a bridge across all sectors by explaining the Ask, using universal principles, making it easy, enjoyable, meaningful and rewarding.

Laura Fredricks not only addresses how to ask for support for a nonprofit, but also her advice extends well into the for-profit arena, offering guidance for those who are soliciting investments in business ventures or creative projects. Her book details how to make the most effective Ask in philanthropy, business and everyday life.

Learn more about this title and related book summaries:

The Ask: How to Ask for Support for Your Nonprofit Cause, Creative Project or Business Venture

Fundraising the SMART Way

The Influential Fundraiser

Creating Value in Business-Nonprofit Collaborations

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[Podcast] Much of what we do in fundraising is counterproductive

Regrettably, history and results show we do a lot in fundraising that is counterproductive. We recorded a podcast with Ellen Bristol, author of Fundraising the SMART Way, which provides you with tactics from the classic disciplines of performance management.

The SMART Way is a methodology containing the guidelines, benchmarks, reporting methods, performance metrics, analytics and business intelligence needed to generate fundraising results. Highlights include improving time management through prospect-rating, managing move opportunities, and using root-cause analysis to optimize efficiency and connectivity to the mission.

Ellen Bristol’s Fundraising the SMART Way involves revolutionizing the way fundraising is managed versus the way fundraising is done. Bristol contends that if you apply her process management principles, you can greatly increase your productivity and sustainability.

According to Bristol, this process entails 1) identifying the results desired from the fundraising effort, 2) establishing performance targets and indicators, 3) developing methods of doing it that honor the organization’s values, and 4) holding the “do-ers” accountable.

We asked Ellen Bristol to talk about what exactly she means by characterizing many of our fundraising efforts as counterproductive: Ellen Bristol on counterproductive fundraising

We also asked Bristol to explain why the performing management approach is more effective for fundraisers, volunteers and leadership: Performance management and engagement

Learn more about Bristol’s Leaky Bucket Study and how the results apply to you. Find Ellen Bristol on Facebook and Twitter @BristolStrategyGroup or at BristolStrategyGroup.com.

Learn more about Fundraising the SMART Way and other related books and summaries.

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Tired of the same fundraising ideas getting repurposed? Get global.

 

fundraising-co-ukWhile many philanthropists, nonprofit leaders and fundraisers have an eye on proven practices among the usual suspects in North America and Europe, many charities both giant and small, inside and outside these regions are exhibiting innovative methods worthy of global attention. Author Jeff Brooks distills seven trends found outside of these regions in his review of Global Fundraising.

Global Fundraising authors, Cagney and Ross, have uncovered helpful case stories in countries that once were considered unlikely places for fundraising events. Contributing authors add to the discussion in detail, educating you on how major regions around world manage philanthropy, fundraising and nonprofits.

Ultimately, this book is for anyone who is curious about fund development and philanthropy practices that are working well in other countries and who hopes to gain a fresh perspective for their own organization.  Learn more about this book and our summary.

Questions? Email us at Support@CausePlanet.org.

More books and summaries related to this topic:

Community: The Structure of Belonging

Do More Than Give: The Six Practices of Donors Who Change the World

Small Change: Why Business Won’t Save the World

Image credit: Wiley Publishing

 

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Nonprofit fundraising: True generosity is rooted in relatedness

generosity_network_cover_largeOne of our most recent additions to the CausePlanet summary library is The Generosity Network by Jennifer McCrea, Jeffrey C. Walker and Karl Weber. We liked their approach to fundraising because it’s not another book about how to be a more persuasive salesperson, how to leverage tactics and strategies, or how to find and leverage your donors’ interests.

Their message is a new one: “True generosity is rooted in relatedness.” The coauthors add that fundraising is a form of connection; it’s the greatest gift you can offer your partners. You’re giving them the chance to join a community that is sharing and applying unique gifts to meet specific challenges.

Surpass traditional fundraising with three common elements

To engage in connectedness and build a community that enjoys sharing its unique talents, the coauthors explain you need three common elements. These three elements are the basis of a transformational, rather than transactional, style of fundraising.cp_bookchoice_2016_green

1) Know yourself. You’ll explore questions such as: What is money’s role in my life? Am I comfortable talking openly about it? Why or why not? Do I view money as a scorecard, or as a resource to be used for things I care about?

2) Know others (especially those whose partnership you seek). Fundraising is often considered difficult or intimidating because you may believe that asking for money makes you vulnerable. You may fear rejection or dependence. These emotions prevent you from seeing your potential partners as human beings. The goal of this book is to help you get past these potential obstacles and look at your prospective donors with trust and friendship.

3) Know how to ask. For some, asking for money creates feelings of enormous anxiety. However, if you see yourself and others as a potential team in solving complex challenges, then you can get beyond the feelings that hold you back. Viewing yourself and potential donors as a team makes asking feel good. “Asking for money (or any other resource) when you are standing up, not on bended knee, is a joy—an invitation for people to relate to their resources in a new way.”donors

Ask yourself if you possess these three common elements for transformational fundraising. Learn more about this book in our summary featuring an exclusive interview with consultant and Fundraising the SMART Way author, Ellen Bristol, or visit the authors’ website at http://www.thegenerositynetwork.com/books/the-generosity-network/.

See related book summaries:

Fundraising the SMART Way™: Predictable, Consistent Income Growth for Your Charity + Website

Cause for Change: The Why and How of Nonprofit Millennial Engagement

Retention Fundraising: The New Art and Science of Keeping Donors for Life

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Charity auctions: Are they a fit for your nonprofit?

roguewinterfest-org
This article was first published by our friends at CharityChannel and kindly shared by CEO, Stephen Nill. The article is by consultant, Abra Annes, and her bio follows the post.

In the realm of event-based fundraising for nonprofits, there are a lot of ways to raise funds. At the invitation of Stephen Nill, CEO at CharityChannel, I’ve been invited to talk honestly about the pros and cons of charity auctions.

As a professional charity auctioneer for six years, how could I resist such an invitation? In my view, when they’re done right, there’s no better way to engage donors in just one night than a fundraising auction.

My goal is to share what I have learned while also setting aside, at least for the “con” part, my natural predisposition in favor of this form of event fundraising. So, with that disclosure, let me dive in!

The Pros of Charity Auctions

Inspire Others to Give by Example

The number one reason for an auction is to inspire others to give. Public displays of philanthropy typically inspire others who have similar capacity to help.

When the formula of a charity event is just right, the energy and the feeling in the room can be contagious. You can’t recreate that energy outside of a fundraising event. The energy will draw out priceless new donors and champions of your cause.iacac-org

Build Valuable Connections with Existing Donors

Charity events are a great way to connect with your existing donors. Personal interactions with your donor base are incredibly valuable. Most organizations focus on their major donors and don’t get to connect with mid-sized donors. Events are the opportunity to connect with them face to face. These are the biggest advocates and champions of your cause.

Think of your charity event as the ultimate first date. Craft every detail so that potential donors fall in love with you and existing donors fall in love with you all over again.

A charity auction can be viewed, and in my view should be viewed, as a key opportunity to cultivate relationships with prospective donors that will lead to a later solicitation of significant individual charitable contributions far greater than what was contributed at the auction itself.

The Numbers Make Sense

Only have an event if you’re committed to covering the cost from ticket sales. That way, all fundraising activities that occur the day of your event go towards the charity directly, rather than paying for the event. Communicate this in the invitation by printing an asterisk next to the ticket price and clearly stating that the ticket price goes toward event costs only. Make it very clear on the invitation that the event is for fundraising.

A Great Way to Share Your Organization’s Vision

Visions are inspiring, and a charity auction is a powerful platform for sharing your organization’s vision. Most charities talk about their mission instead of their vision. Your vision is what impact your organization will have had in three, ten, or more years. These are bigger ideas, fantastical goals, and grand solutions that you hope to obtain.

When you share your vision with donors and invite them to help you achieve it, you create excitement. Excitement and momentum can catapult your event to the next level of attendance and donations.

The Cons of Charity Auctionsyoucaring-com

Charity auctions are not the right fundraising method for many nonprofits. Typically, they are expensive and always have some hidden costs.

They are also time intensive. Charity auctions, like most event fundraising, take an exorbitant amount of time to plan and are taxing on your team.

If you have a small development team that is already maxed out, a charity auction could put some members them over the edge. A common time for staff to quit is after a fundraising event.

They Are Expensive

Charity events take time, money, and energy, so make sure it’s worth before doing one. You want them to be impressive and memorable to the people that have donated and new potential donors. For many of the donors, this is a night out on the town, so make it awesome!

Details, Details

You’ll need a venue, a top AV system, invitations, centerpieces, and a kick-ass auctioneer. And that’s all before you even feed your guests.

Failure to account for staff time is the biggest mistake most development directors make when they create a budget. Most forget to create a line item for number of hours worked for each staff member, including admin, marketing staff, and the executive team.

The Space Is Crowded with Competition

Charity Auctions have become increasingly trendy. Schools, hospitals, churches, synagogues, and other nonprofits of all sizes are holding charity auctions. Due to their increased popularity, they’ve become trendy and there’s a lot of competition.

Face-to-Face Solicitations Have a Better ROI

Direct solicitation of individual donors for large gifts, assuming optimal cultivation over time, will raise considerably more for a nonprofit organization than will any event, including charity auctions.

The risk with a charity auction, as is typical of all events-based fundraising, is that the focus will be on the event itself to raise funds, while missing the important opportunity to cultivate the right individuals.

A Charity Auction Will Not Magically Solve All Your Fundraising Problemscollegebound-org

If you think that a charity auction will be the panacea for your organization’s issues, it won’t.

Charity auctions require a lot of behind the scenes prep work to be successful. You’ll need to fill the room with the right people, who have the capacity to give and the capacity to care. Getting the right people in the seats can be a full-time job.

To have a truly stellar charity auction, you will need to block your calendar for the entire week prior. After the auction, you will need at least one week to process all gifts and logistics.

Another large problem I see are organizations believing that hiring me or another auctioneer will just magically raise tons of cash. I wish this were true, but the only way to get donations at a charity auction is with a fully prepared event and audience. People who have come to dance, get dressed up, party, or just have dinner, usually will not donate.

Sure, part of my job as a consultant is to make the ask, but my real job is to inspire those in the room to dig deeper and care. To inspire people who came thinking they were going to donate $10,000, and get them to give $20,000. The true power of a skilled auctioneer is to not leave a dime on the table.

See also:

Major Gift Fundraising for Small Shops: How to Leverage Your Annual Fund in Only Five Hours per Week

Fundraising the SMART Way™: Predictable, Consistent Income Growth for Your Charity + Website

The Ask: How to Ask for Support for Your Nonprofit Cause, Creative Project or Business Venture

Image credits: iacac.org, roguewinterfest.org, youcaring.com, collegebound.org

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Announcing CausePlanet’s Choice Award winners: Our top books for nonprofit leaders

cp_bookchoice_2016_greenIt’s my favorite time of year for many reasons. One of which is that my team at CausePlanet enjoys reflecting on the books we reviewed in 2016 for nonprofit leaders. Here are some of our favorites among them.

It goes without saying that this is an incredibly tough process because we don’t review a book to begin with unless we feel it has value for our readers. The titles below receive our CausePlanet Choice Award designation because each stood out on many counts, including factors such as originality, insight, inspiration and applicability.

We would like to congratulate the following authors on providing our sector with guidance and wisdom in these wonderful book titles:

How to Turn Your Words into Money: The Master Fundraiser’s Guide to Persuasive Writing by Jeff Brooks. turnyourwordsintomoneyfb

Jeff BrooksHow to Turn Your Words into Money is a nonprofit writer’s new ally with the latest guidelines for creating the most effective messages to persuade your reader. Brooks explains what fundraising writing is not and what it should be. He does so in a way that tells you exactly what to avoid and what to try in your next attempt to sway your audience. A fair amount is appropriately dedicated to the many ways you can create a compelling story even when you’re stumped. How to Turn concludes with what every fundraising writer needs: universal assumptions we know about donors and some helpful advice to keep you inspired. 

Performing Under Pressure: The Science of Doing Your Best When It Matters Most by Hendrie “Hank” Weisinger and J.P. Pawliw-Fry.performingunderpressurecover

Pressure is the enemy of success, according to vast research conducted by Performing Under Pressure authors Weisinger and Pawliw-Fry. Since it’s impossible to live life free of pressure, the authors present strategies to manage it immediately and in the future. Divided into three parts, this book helps you understand all aspects of pressure-inducing situations, provides 22 powerful solutions for handling pressure scenarios, and explains how to build your own “armor” to protect yourself over your lifetime from the ill-effects of pressure. 

Retention Fundraising: The Art and Science of Keeping Donors for Life by Roger Craver.retention-fundraising-cover

If you want to change the world, author Roger Craver argues that you must tackle one of the greatest fundraising challenges: retention. In other words, don’t raise a dollar unless you have a plan for keeping that dollar. Unfortunately, low retention has become increasingly accepted as a given in nonprofit operations. Craver asserts this doesn’t have to be the case. Thanks to a study of more than 250 organizations, Craver and his collaborators have introduced a framework for boosting retention and the lifetime value of donors. This framework is the foundation to improve each of the retention issues he presents, from redefining loyalty to understanding authentic engagement.

Mobile for Good: A How-To Fundraising Guide for Nonprofits by Heather Mansfield.mobile-for-good-cover

Any doubts you may have that social networks aren’t powerful or don’t need to be a priority in your communication and fundraising efforts can now be put to rest, according to Mobile for Good author Heather Mansfield. A comprehensive and thoroughly researched resource for nonprofits, Mobile for Good helps you master mobile content distribution on social networks so you are more likely to experience fundraising success. She provides recommended software, helpful checklists and nonprofits you should model. Advanced users will find a section dedicated to nonprofit staffers who are ready to tackle more challenging strategies. 

The Good Ones: Ten Crucial Qualities of High Character Employees by Bruce209-by-248-the-good-ones-cover Weinstein.

Questionable character is costly. Employees who lack character cost businesses and nonprofits billions of dollars each year. Unfortunately, employers focus too much on what candidates need to know or do and rarely think about what makes an employee great: character. The Good Ones: Ten Crucial Qualities of High-Character Employees presents ten qualities that clarify what it means to be a high-character employee. Stories from employers and employees illustrate how these traits are critical to the long-term success of your nonprofit and to the employees who exhibit them. This book contains advice for the employer, the interviewee and employee in search of a character fit.

The Generosity Network: New Transformational Tools for Successful Fundraising by Jennifer McCrea, Jeffrey C. Walker and Karl Weber.generosity_network_cover_large

The Generosity Network was written for those of you who work for one of the 1.8 million organizations that make up America’s nonprofit sector and the 10 million nonprofits worldwide. Whether a nonprofit leader, volunteer, board member or front-line employee, each person plays a critical role in attracting support for its organization. This book describes an approach that makes working with partners easier, more effective and, dare we say, more fun. The basis of the coauthors’ approach is rooted in relatedness and connectedness with partners. These partnerships are built upon three elements: know yourself, know others and know how to ask.

I encourage you to give yourself the gift of knowledge and download one of our book summaries and purchase the book. Make 2017 count by committing to your professional development. Knowledge has a shelf life and it must be renewed!

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Avoid the 2-year website relaunch cycle: Look at ROI and mission

screen-shot-2016-09-23-at-4-00-39-pmIf you’re looking to improve your website, you’re not alone. According to Captivate and Engage coauthors, Jay Wilkinson and Randy Hawthorne, nonprofits relaunch their websites about every two years. This is due to several factors.

Are “go-to geeks” the answer?

Primarily, nonprofits hire website designers whom the authors affectionately call “go-to-geeks.” These professionals are tech-savvy but the authors argue that a great site is more about mission, vision and cause more than about technology. “No programmer can manufacture those components,” explain Wilkinson and Hawthorne.

The doing-more-with-less fallacy

Another reason why nonprofits find themselves in a constant state of website revision is the “fallacy of doing more with less.” This is based on the idea that you should make decisions based on cost rather than value. “Get as much as you can for as little as possible.” Unfortunately, this philosophy contributes to a very short shelf life for your website.

Look at ROI and mission before you leap

When we asked Jay and Randy about preliminary considerations before you launch a website, they had the following answer that touched more on the fallacy mentioned above. We also asked about one of their primary recommendations: connecting the website to the mission. Read on.

CausePlanet: What is your advice for nonprofits that want to make the initial investment to build a website the right way? What are the preliminary considerations?

Wilkinson and Hawthorne: First and foremost, don’t fall into the “we have to do more with less” trap by focusing entirely on the cost of the website. Way more important than cost is the return onscreen-shot-2016-10-27-at-3-09-13-pm investment, or ROI. A nonprofit could spend $50,000 on a website and double its money by increasing contributions or spend $500 and get nothing in return except for a bland site with a few photos and its mission statement.

Which one “costs” more for the nonprofit? Fortunately for everyone, great nonprofit websites with gargantuan ROIs don’t have to cost $50,000. We recommend finding a provider that specializes specifically in working with nonprofits. It has probably already built the functionality that you’ll need—meaning it’s not starting from scratch. Then, know what you want. Take the time to seek out other nonprofit websites to cite as examples. It’s the single best way for a developer to know how best to please you.

CausePlanet: You stress the importance of getting in touch with your mission, vision and values before engaging in the business of enlisting technological help. Have you seen any of your clients do this successfully and what did that look like?

Wilkinson and Hawthorne: Yes. We see it all the time. Every web developer worth her salt will tell you that when the leadership team for the nonprofit is involved in providing direction for the website, the product always comes out better. The closer someone is to the heart of the organization, the more insight and guidance she can give. 

A great example of this is the Groundwater Foundation at Groundwater.org. The President, Jane Griffin, is involved in every aspect of the website. As a result, the purpose and mission of the organization is deeply embedded into the site’s DNA. You can’t visit the website without gaining a sense of its mission.

See book summaries related to this topic:

Captivate and Engage: The Definitive Guide for Nonprofit Websites

Content Marketing for Nonprofits: A Communications Map for Engaging Your Community, Becoming a Favorite Cause, and Raising More Money

Brandraising: How Nonprofits Raise Visibility and Money Through Smart Communications

Image credits: Groundwater.org, NonprofitHub Press

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Nonprofits and donors: Doing more good means making some changes

downloadHow to Be Great at Doing Good author Nick Cooney argues that none of us has been taught what it means to truly succeed at doing good in the world. What’s more, we have never been prompted to give charity the seriousness and rigor it deserves.

“Although it may feel counterintuitive or even cold-hearted to take a numbers-based approach to charity, Cooney reveals that making calculated decisions isn’t just possible, it’s absolutely necessary if we want to succeed at helping others.”

Through a series of enlightening studies in human behavior, compelling interviews with philanthropy professionals, and applied personal experiences from founding and managing top-rated nonprofits, Cooney presents an eye-opening examination of our traditional approach to succeeding at charitable leadership and philanthropy.

The author’s challenge to you

It’s a challenge to get serious about charity. His challenge rests on two premises: “1) The first premise is that the goal of charity is to make the world a better place. It is to help those who are suffering and to increase well-being. 2) The second premise is that in whatever capacity you carry out charity—as a donor, a volunteer, or a nonprofit worker—you want to succeed as much as possible.”charitycoverdalefury_com

At the time this book was published, Americans donated only three percent of their income to charity and participated in an average of 15 hours a year volunteering. If every dollar and minute should be maximized to its fullest potential, donors, volunteers and nonprofit leaders must overcome their dependency on assumptions rather than facts, which are primal barriers to smart decision making, and avoid navigating choices based on emotional tendencies, among other things.

A tall order but one that Cooney asserts is worth pursuing if we genuinely want our charitable leadership and philanthropy to be truly great. What that means for nonprofits is a new language used with donors that empowers and informs. What that means for donors is applying rigor to giving so the dollars do the most good.

Doing good or doing great? A tale of two charitiesthephilannews_com

Cooney gives the example of the Theatre Communications Group versus the Seva Foundation. The theater group’s mission involves improving communications between theaters and workers so they can learn from each other. The Seva Foundation works to reverse blindness in India caused by cataracts. It sends surgeons to India to remove cataracts through a simple and inexpensive procedure. It combats blindness in over 100,000 people each year.

The author discusses which charity makes the world a better place by “reducing suffering and increasing well-being.” When we confront the brutal fact that not all charities do the same amount of good, the Seva Foundation is more successful in making the world a better place. It reduces more suffering and increases the well-being of hundreds of thousands of people for their lifetimes. It also does it inexpensively.

Therefore, contributing to a theater organization can certainly be a personal passion and can consume some of the 97 percent of Americans’ income that is not dedicated to charity. But to actually help people and reduce their suffering, the Seva Foundation deserves your charitable dollars.

Three steps toward making the most impact 

An excerpt from our Page to Practice book summarynick_cooney_com

CausePlanet: You stress that people need to go against their natural, emotional instincts to support charities that make an efficient impact. Awareness is the first step, you say, but what other concrete steps can people take and how can they create a support system so a mass of people can move in this direction?

Nick Cooney: As I say in the book, empathy and compassion should be the fuel that we put in our tank, the things that motivate us to give. But they should not be the hands on the steering wheel that decide where to give. Instead, we should try to think logically and dispassionately about the very best places to give.

Some concrete steps to help make that happen are first, realize that the reason we donate is to do good–namely, to reduce the suffering or increase the happiness of others. If we really care, we should donate where it will do the most good–decrease the most suffering, increase the most happiness.

And that means not necessarily focusing on the causes that we feel most interested in at the moment, or that are the most relevant to us, or that are local to where we happen to be living. Rather, it means trying to find the causes where our dollars will do the most good, even if it’s not a cause or a charity we’ve thought a lot about before. So realizing that and internalizing it is step one.

Step two is look for what info is out there already, for example sites like Animal Charity Evaluators and Givewell. I also recommend browsing the site of the Open Philanthropy Project, which has tried to do some of this same sort of analysis.

Third, connect with others who are already trying to think about and carry out charity in this way. Places like The Center for Effective Altruism have some helpful resources for connecting with others who want to do the most good with their money (or time).

See book summaries on related topics:

Charity Case: How the Nonprofit Community Can Stand Up for Itself and Really Change the World

With Charity for All: Why Charities Are Failing and a Better Way to Give

Do More Than Give: The Six Practices of Donors Who Change the World

Small Change: Why Business Won’t Save the World

Charity On Trial: What You Need to Know Before You Give

Image credits: wiley.com, charitycoverdalefury.com, thephilanews.com, nickcooney.com

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Nonprofits: Don’t raise a dollar unless you plan on keeping it

According to Ken Burnett, “Our nonprofit sector is bleeding to death. We’re hemorrhaging donors, losing support as fast as we find it, seemingly condemned forever to pay a fortune just to stand still. It’s time we stemmed the flow.”

It’s understandable why Retention Fundraising author Roger Craver chose Burnett to write the forward for this book. Burnett brings the right amount of warning to the issue. Burnett is right. Our social sector is in dire need of determined action to diminish donor attrition.

Why?

A few of the many reasons include the following: Attrition costs our organizations billions of dollars and effort. It suffocates the other mission-related work we’re trying to do. It undermines the sector as a whole. Unfortunately, many fundraisers accept low donor retention as a fact of life.

Roger Craver says it doesn’t have to be that way. Craver has unpacked the answers to many of the challenges nonprofits face with attrition such as shifting the fundraiser’s focus to what matters most to donors, overthrowing retention barriers, responding efficiently and more.

Thanks to a study of more than 250 organizations, Craver and his collaborators have introduced a framework for boosting retention and the lifetime value of donors. This framework is the foundation to improve each of the retention issues he presents, from redefining loyalty to understanding authentic engagement.pinterest-com

We asked Craver about how to make a case for retention activities if you need to enlist your colleagues and leadership in the process. We also had him share insights on the metrics you should measure:

CausePlanet: How do you convince nonprofit organizations that focusing on donor retention is worth the extra time, effort and expense?

Craver: Year after year for the past decade, donor-retention rates have been sinking. Today, they’re at an all-time low.  According to studies by the Association of Fundraising Professionals, every $100 raised from new donors was offset by $100 in losses because of attrition. All this despite the facts that organizations have

– a 60-70 percent chance of obtaining additional gifts from an existing donor.

– a 20 to 40 percent chance of obtaining an additional gift from a recently lapsed donor.bloomerang-com

– but less than a 2 percent chance of obtaining a gift from a prospective donor (actuation).

So one thing should be glaringly obvious. The bulk of an organization’s fundraising spending should be aimed at holding onto and building relationships with existing donors, not in acquiring new ones. It’s called “retention.” Unless an organization’s goal is to never grow and eventually decline, the failure to focus on retention is ultimately ruinous as the organization’s support shrinks like a raisin in the sun.

CausePlanet: Would you talk about how the metrics you have developed (lifetime value, etc.) help a nonprofit track its fundraising and justify its time and effort?

Craver: There are some fundamental metrics that serve as a sort of fundraiser’s GPS—Retention Rates and Lifetime Value. They quickly and easily indicate whether an organization is relevant to its donors.

Number of new donors making a second gift: A harbinger if not dead-on predictor of the retention rates and Lifetime Value an organization is likely to enjoy in the future.

Number of new donors retained into the second year: If you ask and answer the question as to why so many donors leave the first year and what your organization is doing to lose them and hold them, you’ll be on a true track to growth. Fail to answer them, and it’s more of the same.

Multiple Year Retention Rate: Same as above, but by tracking these year by year you can spot trends, problems and opportunities. Why? Because year-over-year comparisons of this metric will trigger additional questions and answers for improving your program.blog-capterra-com

Lifetime Value of a Donor (LTV): At the end of the day all the actions you take to improve retention, average gift and donor commitment will be reflected in the Lifetime Value of each donor and all donors collectively. This is the key metric on which you can benchmark, guide and then track the success–or failure–of your intermediate and long-term strategies.

There’s never been a better time for Roger Craver’s book. Why let one more hard-won donor leak through the bucket when instead, she could be a lifetime supporter of your organization. Simply put, calculate the cost of repeated acquisitions versus the renewal of a donor who is predisposed to support you.

Craver provides countless data-based methods for retaining donors including Cliff Notes to his own advice at the end. From what drives donors to stay to what prompts them to leave, Craver makes it impossible to look the other way on retention–and your nonprofit will be better for it.

See other book summaries related to this title:

Fundraising the SMART Way™: Predictable, Consistent Income Growth for Your Charity + Website

Fundraising When Money Is Tight

Influential Fundraiser: Using the Psychology of Persuasion to Achieve Outstanding Results

Image credits: blog.capterra.com, bloomerang.com, pinterest.com, retentionfundraising.com

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