Posts Tagged ‘fundraising’

[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

Leave a reply

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

Leave a reply

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

Leave a reply

Podcast: Are you ready to consider impact investing?

impactinvestorcoverAs Millennials move into new leadership roles, they are demanding the opportunity to align every facet of their lives with making a positive difference in the world. A new capitalism, what Ben Thornley and his coauthors call Collaborative Capitalism, is focused on more than just financial returns to make an impact on the world’s issues.

One tool of Collaborative Capitalism is called impact investing. This new form of investing focuses on delivering positive social and environmental outcomes alongside competitive financial returns.

In the new book, Impact Investing: Lessons in Leadership and Strategy for Collaborative Capitalism, the authors examined 12 outstanding impact investment funds that met or exceeded expectations in a two-year study.

They uncover the practices that make these funds successful and outline the strategies that all investors, from corporate executives to change agents to philanthropists, can apply to their own organizations to achieve high performance in both social and financial outcomes.

We had a chance to discuss the exciting implications for nonprofits in a recent conversation with coauthor, Ben Thornley. Feel free to click on any of his answers to the topics we present below in the podcast excerpts:

1) Ben Thornley–Premise and NP benefits

2) Ben Thornley–Indicators for nonprofits

3) Ben Thornley–New trends

4) Ben Thornley–Nonprofits first steps

Increasingly, financial institutions and corporations around the world are using Collaborative Capitalism as a tool to generate clear, positive social outcomes in addition to profits. This book will help nonprofits learn how capital can be used to drive social and environmental change as well as how to attract potential investors.

Financial tools are increasingly being used to support community vehicles, including nonprofits, cooperatives and social enterprises. The Impact Investor gives a comprehensive overview of the approaches successful impact investors have used to increase their probability of success.

See also:

The NON Nonprofit: For-Profit Thinking for Nonprofit Success

Cash Flow Strategies: Innovation in Nonprofit Financial Management

The Nonprofit Business Plan: The Leader’s Guide to Creating a Successful Business Mode

Leave a reply

What’s happening in the world of fundraising?

It’s not very often that we look beyond our own nonprofit’s backyard let alone past its international borders. Global Fundraising editors Bernard Ross and Penelope Cagney have given us a long overdue look at what’s happening in the world of fundraising. Literally.

Global Fundraising looks at worldwide developments in philanthropy that are revolutionizing the fundraising world.

Editors Cagney and Ross have compiled this book for fundraisers, CEOs, professional advisors and grant-making leaders who are turning their attention to the philanthropic potential beyond their own borders.

This book looks at remarkable case stories written by experts from these countries and many more: India, Brazil, Russia, Australia and Japan. Each of the chapters focuses on the new practices in the realms of technology, innovation and major donors. Global Fundraising offers an insider’s guide that includes rich insights on how to engage your nonprofit internationally.

We recently had a chance to interview Cagney about the book on several topics. Enjoy her insights into the following subject areas of the book:

1) Introduction to the book Global Fundraising: Cagney-introduction to Global Fundraising

2) Innovation from everywhere/Which of the other countries’ strategies are most transferable or worth considering? Cagney- innovation from everywhere

3) Trends for nonprofits to consider in global fundraising: Cagney-global fundraising trends

4) What should nonprofits know about charity giants? Cagney-What nonprofits need to know

5) Current observations on global fundraising: Cagney-Current observations

While many philanthropists, nonprofit leaders and fundraisers have an eye on proven practices among the usual suspects in North America and Europe, numerous charities both giant and small, inside and outside these regions are exhibiting innovative methods worthy of global attention.

The worldwide nonprofit sector is keenly aware of the need for creativity and tested practices and this book proves organizations need only look beyond their borders. Cagney and Ross have uncovered helpful case stories in countries that once were considered unlikely places for fundraising achievements.

See Page to Practice nonprofit book summaries related to this post:

Global Fundraising: How the World Is Changing the Rules of Philanthropy

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

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

Image credits: Wiley Publishing

Leave a reply

CausePlanet’s Choice Awards–Our Top Nonprofit Books for 2015

This is my favorite time of year for many reasons. One of them is our chance to look back at a great year of book choices for our readers.

It’s also the hardest time of the year because we choose books that stand out among the rest. Now, this may seem like an easy task but it isn’t. Choosing from titles that are already among our favorites is like choosing a favorite child. Thankfully, the challenging task is tempered by the fact that we know you love these awards. Thank you for the wonderful feedback when we launched this designation last year.

All our Choice Award titles are chosen based on the following criteria: original insights, inspirational content, well-organized and easy-to-follow format, voice, applicability, and strong evidence of case stories and/or exhibits.

Our Choice Awards for 2015 go to the following authors:

The Sustainability Mindset by Steve Zimmerman and Jeanne Bell
This book not only effectively argues the importance of having financial and programming discussions within the same conversation, but the authors also provide a proven framework designed to guide the process toward sound decision-making. Thanks to matrix mapping, your leaders can leave the guesswork out of strategic planning.

The Last Virtual Volunteering Guidebook by Jayne Cravens and Susan Ellis
Cravens and Ellis do a wonderful job of addressing how volunteering has changed so dramatically over the years that calling out the notion of virtual volunteering is no longer necessary because this form of giving has meshed with traditional volunteering. This thorough guidebook is the resource for anyone managing volunteers.

Global Fundraising: How the World Is Changing the Rules of Philanthropy edited by Penelope Cagney and Bernard Ross
Cagney and Ross create a rare and fascinating look at what types of fundraising are working all over the world. In a telescoping society that’s facilitated by technology, nonprofits’ reach is farther than ever before. This book helps you gather context for your fundraising efforts and consider what’s influencing your donors outside of traditional boundaries and borders.
On behalf of the CausePlanet team, we would like to thank these authors and the company of authors they share who’ve contributed so much to the sector in which we work. We hope our Page to Practice™ book summaries have inspired you to engage in deeper reading and make better book choices. Don’t forget—December is Read a New Book Month. Choose one of these titles or any of the great recommendations in our book summary library and work smarter in 2016.

See also:

The Sustainability Mindset: Using the Matrix Map to Make Strategic Decisions

The Last Virtual Volunteering Guidebook: Fully Integrating Online Service into Volunteer Involvement

Global Fundraising: How the World Is Changing the Rules of Philanthropy

Leave a reply

Emotional versus rational appeals: Which one gives you asking rights?

We recently interviewed Tom Ralser about Asking Rights, which explores the differences between emotional and rational asks. Ralser explains that emotional asks have their place at the lower end of the gift pyramid but a rational approach is preferable for bigger solicitations.

Find out what Ralser has to say about emotional versus rational appeals: Tom Ralser on Emotional Versus Rational Appeals

“What really counts is what the people who actually write the checks think,” explains Ralser. More specifically, how do donor motivations inform nonprofit fundraising behavior? Ralser would say, “It’s all about the outcomes.”

We talked about outcomes in our interview: Tom Ralser on Outcomes-Based Approach

Tom Ralser asserts the rational appeal or the pursuit of earning the right to ask a donor for his investment is at the root of every successful request. Asking Rights explores how to successfully fund your nonprofit and do so with a greater focus on and understanding of the funder’s interests and motivations.

Learn more about Tom and the premise of the book: Tom Ralser on Asking Rights

 

See this book and other relevant titles we’ve summarized:

Asking Rights: Why Some Nonprofits Get Funded (and Some Don’t)

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

Fundraising with Businesses: 40 New and Improved Strategies for Nonprofits

How to Write Fundraising Materials That Raise More Money

Leave a reply

Amy Eisenstein’s new book about major gifts for small nonprofits

Amy Eisenstein has answered the burning question so many smaller charities ask themselves when observing the best practices of larger organizations: “Can we run a successful major gifts effort when we’re so much smaller?”

Major Gift Fundraising for Small Shops answers this question in four parts that begin with creating a culture conducive to giving and end with retention. Eisenstein takes her promise one step further by assuring readers they can run a major gifts program working five hours per week. Even doubtful readers’ concerns are put to rest when they find an addendum at the end of the book that helps them find the five hours per week.

Why Eisenstein felt compelled to write this book

Major Gifts author Amy Eisenstein began thinking about how to help smaller nonprofits enjoy the success of major gift fundraising in 2013 when she launched the Major Gifts Challenge. The Major Gifts Challenge was the title of a blog series she provided for her readers with the intent of sharing the entire process of identifying, researching, stewarding and asking prospects for major gifts.

The results were amazing.

Nonprofit professionals who had never considered major gifts started experimenting and discovering something Eisenstein learned many years ago: Major gift fundraising is far more efficient and takes far less time and effort than special events or writing and administering grants.

We asked Amy Eisenstein more about the Major Gift Challenge and what barrier she likes to focus on for small shops:

CausePlanet: Amy, thank you for tackling what we think many smaller nonprofits wonder: “Can we really run a major gifts program in our smaller nonprofit?” You talked about how the Major Gift Challenge prompted the book. What triggered you to launch the Challenge on your blog?

Eisenstein: I was concerned about small nonprofits being stuck on the hamster wheel of grant writing and event planning. I want to see all nonprofits raise significantly more money, and I believe it can only happen through a major gifts effort.

Amy Eisenstein

Sometimes the difficulty comes with just getting started, so I challenged (via the Major Gifts Challenge on my blog) organizations to get started by dedicating a few hours each week to raising major gifts.

CausePlanet: Can you share an example of one of your favorite small-shop strategies that involves a method to overcome the pinch of smaller resources?

Eisenstein: Half the battle is getting over the fear of raising major gifts and simply getting the confidence to get started.  It’s about believing that you can raise major gifts at any organization–and I’ve seen some of the smallest organizations raise five- and even six-figure gifts. It’s also about committing the time to raise major gifts, which is always a real challenge in small shops.

With these stats, it’s hard to look the other way

At the time this book was published, 72 percent of all giving in the U.S. came from individuals, according to the National Philanthropy Trust. Three quarters of U.S. nonprofits have budgets less than $500,000, states the Independent Sector.

When you view these statistics along with the fact that fundraising is among the most important competencies a nonprofit can master, smaller charities should evaluate if major gift fundraising could be one of their possible strategies. Amy Eisenstein firmly believes most small shops can win at the major gifts game and has an impressive following of nonprofit professionals who have adopted her recommendations and succeeded.

See more book summaries on this topic:

Asking Rights: Why Some Nonprofits Get Funded (and Some Don’t)

Donor Cultivation and the Donor Lifecycle Map: A New Framework for Fundraising + Website

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

Image credits: nonprofithub.com, realitysisters.com, Amy Eisenstein

Leave a reply

Find out why you shouldn’t like your donor message

The donor relationship equity built over the lifetime of an organization should not be taken lightly. Author Jeff Brooks encourages you to apply his proven strategies for raising more money and avoid jarring tactics that jeopardize donor relationships.

One of the passages we liked best in Brooks’ latest book, A Fundraiser’s Guide to Irresistible Communications, was titled “Self-centric fundraising.”

Simply put, if you like your message, your donor won’t. Read on to find out why:

Self-centric fundraising

If you like your fundraising message, asserts Brooks, it will not appeal to your donors. Even if your donors say they like it, it will not compel them to give in real life. “Everyone’s conscious opinions about fundraising are automatically wrong. … Everyone hates the stuff that works best.” This happens because when you practice self-centric fundraising, or what appeals to you as the fundraiser, you lose the emotion because your initial emotional connection to the cause has become more sophisticated and educated as you have worked for the nonprofit.

For example, you may want to talk about global hunger as “food insecurity” after working in the field. A donor would not understand this term at all. In addition, you don’t focus on the donors because you are proud of your organization’s work and want to detail its merits.

Donors, however, want to be part of the equation. Finally, “your copy reads like inter-office memos.” Formal, professional, cold communication does not motivate donors to act. In this kind of copy, you focus on facts: “Please consider supporting the 124 children in our hospital,” instead of a compelling, emotional story about a 6-year-old girl talking about her good-luck bear in her fight against cancer.

In order to avoid these self-centric messages, turn off your personal likes and dislikes in favor of what has worked with donors before, either in your organization or others. Ask if it is emotional, clear and simple, rather than if you like it or not.

In our interview with Brooks, we asked more about what donors want to hear:

CausePlanet: What do you think is the best training fundraisers can receive? They need to be fluent, smooth writers but also need simplicity and an intuition about what donors want to hear.

Brooks: The best possible training is an experienced mentor–someone who knows fundraising inside and out and will go over your work in detail and show you what needs to be done. Read quality books about fundraising. There are a lot of them, and the folks at CausePlanet can help you find the right ones. Also, read a few of the blogs.  There are a lot of them, many of them superb sources of information. Find a blog you like, then add a few more from that blog’s blogroll. Finally, get to know other professionals and talk about stuff. Get involved in your local AFP, and/or go to one of the national conventions. Knowing and talking with other professionals really makes a positive difference.

CausePlanet: What in your research makes fundraisers lose money more than anything?

Brooks: Failing to engage with donors. Asking donors to “stand with us” rather than give them specific actions they can take. Writing in the language and about things that organizational insiders care about, rather than what motivates the donors. Using images that make insiders feel good instead of those that reach donors. Using abstractions and wordplay instead of clear, plain, powerful emotional messaging. Bragging about the organization and its programs instead of making it about the donors.

Read more about this book in our Page to Practice summary and other related titles:

The Fundraiser’s Guide to Irresistible Communications: Real-World Field-Tested Strategies for Raising More Money

The Money-Raising Nonprofit Brand: Motivating Donors to Give, Give Happily, and Keep on Giving

Seeing Through A Donor’s Eyes

How to Write Fundraising Materials That Raise More Money

Image credits: dishntell.wp.com, iconarchive.com, goodwp.com

 

 

Leave a reply

Are you choosing the right approach for your ask?

“What really counts is what the people who actually write the checks think,” explains Tom Ralser, the author of Asking Rights. More specifically, how do donor motivations inform nonprofit fundraising behavior? Ralser would say, “It’s all about the outcomes.”

Tom Ralser asserts the rational appeal or the pursuit of earning the right to ask a donor for his investment is at the root of every successful request. Asking Rights is a book about how to successfully fund your nonprofit and do so with a greater focus on and understanding of the funder’s interests and motivations.

In our first installment that highlights the book, we take a closer look at the investor’s perspective and how to adjust your appeal to meet your goals and donor motivations.

The investor’s perspective and how to balance your approach

Ralser explains the difference between investors and donors in order to encourage nonprofits to not only appeal to the emotions of a donor, but also to the rational, outcomes-based side of an investor.

Donors

He defines a donor as “an individual or organization that typically provides low-level, often sporadic financial support that is not necessarily connected to the mission of the nonprofit.” An investor, on the other hand, he defines as one who “typically makes larger financial commitments that span several years.

Investors

An investor is most concerned with the long-term success of the nonprofit.” He differentiates an investor’s thinking in the following way: “If you can’t demonstrate results (outcomes), then you do not have the right to ask for money. If you can’t make your outcomes meaningful to me, then you do not have the right to ask me for money.”

Because higher-end investors are more interested in your results, which involve improving the lives of your customers and effecting real change over the long run, they need you and any organization into which they invest to communicate the impacts clearly to them. Therefore, they do not want only emotional appeals, despite the research that donors respond more to emotion than statistics.

Where emotional appeals are a fit

Emotional appeals serve a purpose in direct mail and other impersonal channels, but Ralser argues nonprofits that craft the most effective emotional appeals do not always raise the most money. Ultimately, higher-end investors want a return on their investment, instead of simply giving to a charity with no expectations. They don’t want the best ad campaign and have already been bombarded with marketing pitches. Investors are becoming wary of the emotional appeals that do not show any specific impact.

Ralser argues that many studies that seemingly prove the effectiveness of emotional appeals over factual ones are conducted in certain situations and do not necessarily apply to real-world giving situations, particularly not to long-term investors.

Rokia Study

For example, he references Save the Children’s Rokia study that found that providing donors with a photo of a 7-year-old hungry child with general information raised more money than giving the donors statistics. This study was conducted through impersonal channels and dealt with small amounts of money.

In contrast, in his real-world business helping organizations raise money, the rational appeal, focusing on ROI (social return) for higher-level investors, works when an organization is looking more toward sustainability, larger donations versus smaller donations, fundraising beyond direct mail or impersonal channels, and a focus on outcomes delivering value to investors.

Ralser’s overall point, then, is that organizations must adjust their appeals according to their goals and their audience’s motivations.

He provides a matrix with four quadrants to illustrate the options.

Heart (appeals to donors): When an organization is appealing to a donor who is giving lower sums of money and is not highly committed, the emotional appeals work well, e.g., a countertop collection for an animal shelter.

Acorn (appeals to donors): When a donor is going to give lower amounts of money but more of a rational appeal will work, the campaign can turn into more of a sustainable one. For example, “a membership drive for the operation of a local Chamber of Commerce, where membership dues are based on the size of the company and where membership carries with it certain privileges or benefits.”

Shooting star (appeals to investors): Emotional appeals that require high financial involvement and commitment are classified as shooting stars. They are usually highly visible appeals, such as a “one-time campaign for a hospital emergency room that needs refurbishing and updating, made obvious by a tragedy in which lives were lost due to lack of modern equipment.”

Blue chip (appeals to investors): This level requires more evidence of valuable results and a rational appeal to secure larger funding (higher financial involvement and commitment), such as “a capital campaign for an economic development program that will create jobs, increase capital investment, and produce positive, long-term economic ripple effects.”

Therefore, if an organization is relying only on emotional appeals and raising smaller sums of money, it can strive to create more rational appeals in order to move toward sustainability.

Also, different audiences may require different appeals. In the author’s hospital example, appealing to a grandparent with an emotional appeal may work better, whereas appealing to a major employer may require more evidence of impact and a more rational appeal.

An organization’s goal, considering all this information, is to develop ways to quantify and value its outcomes to achieve better results so investors will want to be involved with the organization over time. It has to communicate this value clearly to the investor in his terms, not through internal jargon. Then, it has the right to ask him to invest.

See this Page to Practice book summary and other related titles:

Asking Rights: Why Some Nonprofits Get Funded (and Some Don’t)

The Fundraiser’s Guide to Irresistible Communications: Real-World Field-Tested Strategies for Raising More Money

The Impact Investor: Lessons in Leadership and Strategy for Collaborative Capitalism

Image credits: outcomesnm.org, money.cnn.com, Tom Ralser

Leave a reply

Welcome! Please provide your log-in information below.
Forget your password?
Enter your email or user name and your log-in information will be sent to the email on file.