“Easy” Money: Are you Maximizing Matching Gifts?

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“Easy” Money: Are you Maximizing Matching Gifts?

I received an email from a donor the other day, with a matching gift question. He and his wife had made a gift of $750. He had already submitted a matching gift request to his employer, which matches gifts 3:1. He wanted to know if his wife, whose company matches gifts 1:1, could submit a request as well. I admit I had to think for a minute, and honestly do a little research. I quickly learned that yes, they both can, indeed should, request matching gifts. In this case, the donors’ $750 gift easily leveraged $3,000 in additional income for my client.

This donor’s inquiry served as a timely reminder to review my client’s matching gift program – and to invest some time in ensuring we’re using strategies to maximize this “easy” income. I suggest you set aside some time this week to review and assess your organization’s matching gift program, by asking:

Do you have a designated matching gift coordinator on your team?

If you’re part of a small shop, you probably don’t, although you should. It’s vital you ensure one team member’s responsibilities include matching gifts.

Are you actively promoting matching gifts?

Once you’ve designated a staff member with matching gift responsibility, you can build your program through awareness. Donors need to know about matching gifts before they can request them! Use all of the tools you have to promote awareness: add a line to your donation form, include information on your website, add a P.S. to your acknowledgment letter, share a donor-matching gift impact story in your newsletter. The possibilities are endless.

Do you collect employer information for your constituents?

Strive to learn who employs your donors and include that information in individual records in your database. If you know where someone works, you can easily determine if their gift is eligible for a match. If so, you can reach out to the donor to thank them for their gift – and to ask them to double, or even triple, their impact. Don’t forget to encourage their spouses to request a matching gift, too!

Do you make it easy for your donors to secure matching gifts?

Give your donors some clear, concise instructions for secure matching gifts. Most companies’ program work the same way, so you can list the typical steps involved for donors. You can also promote a list of companies in your area that match gifts to your organization.

Do you have a system for tracking matching gifts?

An internal system that tracks requests through to fulfillment is essential to your success. Standardization and systematization will help maximize results.

Are you thanking your donors and the matching gifts companies?

We all know the number one rule of fundraising: thank, thank, and thank again. Be sure you thank your donors for their gift, and for requesting their employers’ match as well. Be sure you thank the proper person at the company, too. Matching gifts can be an entrée into a deeper, more significant philanthropic relationship with a company.

With relatively little effort, you’ll begin to see improved results with your matching gifts program. Do you have a strategy that works well for you, or a success story to share? Please post it in the comments below!

by: Molly Galo, Senior Consultant HUB Philanthropic Solutions

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Foundations are People, Too

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Foundations are People, Too

A client told me a story recently, and I have thought of the moral of the story often over the past few weeks.  Their organization received a grant from a long-time funder.  The Vice President of Development had a very good relationship with this Foundation and were in regular contact.  When the organization received the grant, they were surprised by the amount: it was significantly higher than any previous grant they had received.  In fact, it was one of the highest grants the Foundation had ever awarded.

The Vice President of Development then made a simple request: she asked the Executive Director to call and thank the grant officer and share with her how this grant would impact the lives of their clients.  So the Executive Director made the call and spoke directly with the grant officer.  Her response?  “Thank you for calling!  I have never received a thank you call from an Executive Director.”  That last sentence bears repeating:  “I have never received a thank you call from an Executive Director.”

Wow.  The reason I have thought about this scenario so often is that it is so very simple…acknowledging a gift by saying thank you.  Here are a few key takeaways from this story:

1)  The Vice President of Development has a relationship with the grants officer.  I happen to know that she treats all of her funders much like major donors; in other words, she establishes and cultivates a relationship with the individual(s) behind the Foundation.  It is important to reach out to these funders more than once or twice a year (when the grant is due and again when the report is due), treating them more like an individual.  Send them an occasional note or a copy of your appeal letter or newsletter along with a message which says: Just wanted you to share this with you!  Invite the officer to visit your organization or have lunch with some of your clients.  I am quite sure that the amount they received this year was based on their relationship with the grant officer.  The Vice President of Development invested time in the relationship.

2)  Never underestimate the power of gratitude.  Take the time to make the call.  Say thank you.  Share a story about the impact their gift made.  It doesn’t take long – and chances are, it will have a more profound impact on you than the person you are calling.

So if you are thinking about your donors, don’t forget to include foundations.  Get to know them outside the funding cycle.  There is a chance they might not respond, but they will definitely know you are trying.

by: Susan Bottum Matejka, Vice President, HUB Philanthropic Solutions

Legacy Giving: Essential for Your Non-Profit

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Legacy Giving: Essential for Your Non-Profit

True story: a non-profit that I worked for courted a prospective donor over a 30 year period. He was a man of considerable wealth, but not a household name or a celebrity. We did a lot of the right things with this gentleman. We visited with him in his office and took an interest in his work. We asked him to serve on an advisory board. He served briefly on our board of directors. We honored him at dinners and recognized his contributions to the community with an award. We asked him for a major gift. He was gracious and courteous and responsive.

Over the thirty year period, he made donations totaling just over $7,000 to our organization. We were grateful, but we knew he was capable of much more. We continued to thank him and keep him informed. Eventually, the man died, and we learned that he had bequeathed us a 2.5% share of his estate. His final gift was worth over $1.5 million dollars!

Most people will make the largest gift of their lives during what they perceive to be the last years of their life. Smart development officers like you are asking consistent donors to make a legacy gift! Here are a few suggestions on how to maximize your opportunities for planned gifts:

* Create multiple touch points for legacy giving: use direct mail, your website, and your personal visits to let your donors know that you are seeking estate gifts. Whenever possible, insert a sentence on all relevant print materials (even letters) asking people to “remember (name of non-profit) in your estate plan.”

* Keep it simple: by far the most common kinds of estate gifts come from donors who simply designate the non-profit organization as the beneficiary of a life insurance policy, or who add a sentence or two to their will bequeathing the non-profit a dollar amount or a percentage of their estate. Remind your donors to consult with their attorney or tax professional, but don’t forget to provide them with concrete examples of how easy it is to make an estate gift.

* Organize a legacy giving society: ask people to let you know when they make an estate gift to you, and ask their permission to share their decision as an example for others. Name these donors on your website, and host an annual gathering of your legacy donors where you celebrate their collective generosity.

* Use testimonials: use the words of your donors to tell others how good it feels to make a legacy gift. Publish these testimonials in your materials. Ask them to speak at a board meeting and to inspire others to join your legacy society. And of course, celebrate the impact of planned gifts on your organization when they are realized.

Looking back, we did a lot of things correctly with that gentleman. As far as I know, we never asked him for an estate gift. But sometimes, our donors know exactly what they want to do with their legacy. Don’t forget that we are in this for the long haul! Help your donors think long term about your mission. Some of the largest gifts in the history of your non-profit await you.

by: Steven Murphy, Ed.D., Senior Advisor, HUB Philanthropic Solutions

Email vs. Phone…..the debate continues

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Email vs. Phone…..the debate continues

In a meeting just last week with a new client, we were brainstorming names of investors the organization wanted to meet with and get their perspective about a possible enhancement to their vision/strategic plan.  After approximately an hour of dialogue, prioritizing each member to discuss this with, the seasoned CEO looked directly at me and said, “now should I call and/or email” to get on their calendar?

Prior to email, this would be a no-brainer, one would pick up the phone and simply introduce the concept or ask the investor for a meeting.  However, the CEO asked a good question, what works best?

For the next 30 minutes or so, we had a healthy dialogue about what made sense.  The result, with the exception of 2 of the 25 names discussed, the CEO would call them first.  We got there with this concept in mind, “IF the individual isn’t close enough to us or the leader to simply call directly, that individual probably needs further cultivation.

Of course there are a few exceptions, donors that have told us “email me first” or those that travel extensively and simply prefer to work on their computer than phone.  BUT…….ask yourself this question first and be honest about the answer, “If I don’t know them well enough (or they don’t know us enough) to be receptive to a call, then maybe we need to come up with a better engagement strategy so that a simple call feels like a comfortable fit.

We came to this conclusion when a very simple question was asked, “Why wouldn’t you just call?”  The answer for many was, “well, I just don’t know them that well and sending an email seemed less intrusive.”  While that is undoubtedly the truth, that forces us to think about our cultivation and engagement strategies.  As a leader of the organization, work from the premise, “I am going to establish a relationship with this individual until making a phone call is the most comfortable and common sense approach.”

The question of email vs. phone isn’t so much a good question about tactics but more deeply, a measurement of the depth and degree of the closeness with your constituents.  Whatever YOUR answer is when you debate this topic in the future, let it serve as either confirmation of your closeness with your donors OR leverage it as a need to further cultivate a particular relationship.

Call me with your thoughts 😉

by: Michael Bruni, Partner, HUB Philanthropic Solutions

The New Year’s Resolutions ……. Not Kept?

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The New Year’s Resolutions ……. Not Kept?

This time of year offers great opportunities for adult “do overs.” If you didn’t like how 2018 turned out….do things differently in 2019.  We’ve all noticed that when the calendar flips to January, health clubs are mobbed and their windows are steamed up with optimism. At parties hummus and carrots quickly replace chips and cookies. For me January spurred the desire to clean up and get my home organized. I purge eight bags (and counting!) of items that our family no longer uses. My daughter just turned 12, so it was time to say “good-bye,” to that Bears shirt size 4T and say “sayonara” to that gold sequin costume from the Aladdin play she was in years ago.

One of the things I found during this purging was an old dusty list of my own personal goals. Yikes! Yes, old New Year’s resolutions from years ago. They included some things that, to this day, remain on my personal wish list and I began to contemplate why they weren’t met. What other activities had taken their place? Where did I go wrong?  I wondered, do I know something NOW that I didn’t know THEN about achieving goals? Yes! Two things occurred to me right away. One is the importance of getting support the other is the importance of having accountability. I hadn’t taken these steps in regard to those goals and consequently, they fell off my priority list.

Of course support and accountability can also bolster our Development goals. For example let’s say you have the goal to make more donor visits and connect with donors on a more personal level than last year. Who can you look to for support on getting this goal? Everyone’s answer may be different, but I offer this: consider telling your CEO that you plan to increase donor visits this year and would like to discuss your progress toward this goal with him or her periodically.  Recognizing that this will land on the agenda for future meetings may provide just the accountability you need to keep this top of mind.

Likewise, if you want to become more efficient in the office with day to day task, it may be time to seek support from another member on your team. Identify who would be best and train them on a task. When you delegate work to others it helps you focus on higher yield activities and get more out of your day. So this year, try layering on accountability and support when working toward your goals, whether they are personal or professional, and let me know how it goes!

by: Michelle Jimenez, Senior Consultant HUB Philanthropic Solutions

Who Owns the Next Step?

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Who Owns the Next Step?

Okay, so you’re wrapping up a great meeting with a donor (or in the for profit world, a client). You’ve asked open-ended questions to find out their level of interest in the project/program (product) and to uncover any concerns or objections. You’ve listened more than you talked and the conversation flowed comfortably to the point where you asked them for a specific investment.

They’ve acknowledged your request and have let you know that they want a little time to “think it over” before giving you their answer. You’ve expressed gratitude and checked to make sure there weren’t any specific concerns associated with the request itself (amount, timing, etc.). Like I said, great meeting, right?

Now what happens?

What I have found from conversations with my clients (and I confess–in my own experience earlier in my career), is that frequently at this moment, pleasantries are exchanged and everyone departs with the expectation that the donor will inform the organization once their final decision is made. Sometimes it works out just fine and the donor circles back with their decision in a week or so and all is well.

Unfortunately, all too often, weeks can go by and you are left trying to decide if it would be appropriate to contact them. After all, they said they would get back to you and you certainly don’t want them to feel like you’re rushing their decision.

There is a simple and straightforward way to avoid this trap…

Make sure that YOU own the next step.

Early in my career I had the great good fortune to work with two phenomenal consultants who offered me insights around a sound solicitation follow-up strategy. The first was Deb Knupp, a business relationship coach and trainer that I had the pleasure to work with on a few projects and presentations. One great piece of advice Deb offered me was to always set a Definitive Next Step (DNS) that you had the authority/permission to act on. Once both parties agree as to what is going to happen next and what the time frame is, then there’s no doubt or anxiety for anyone to contend with.

I have found that the best approach for when a donor wants some time is to ask them to define the amount of time they think they might need. (Usually people say a week or two, but, depending on their personal circumstances, they may need a month or more.) Regardless, once you know their preferred time frame, be sure that you have permission to follow-up with them.

Andy Robinson is another consultant I have been fortunate enough to work with and learn from over the years and Andy shared a fantastic way to frame that request. If the donor says they probably need a week or two to reach a decision, first acknowledge that they have a lot of other things going on in their world and that this is your job/top priority. Given that, ask if you don’t connect in the next two weeks, “…would it be okay if I circle back with you?” The donor will always say, “Yes” and now you have complete control over the next step and a defined time frame for taking action.

In my experience, donors appreciate having you take on the “responsibility” and actually respect your willingness to take the lead in ensuring that your next conversation together happens on time. They want the organization to achieve its goals and they’re grateful for your efforts to help them be a part of that success.

If you aren’t already employing this kind of DNS strategy, be sure to try it with your next solicitation and let us know how it goes. Or, if you have other techniques that have proved successful in your donor engagements, feel free to share them with us and we’ll pass them on in a future post.

In the meantime, thank you, as always, for the working so hard to make a difference!

David Gee, Associate Vice President, HUB Philanthropic Solutions

“A Thousand Points of Light” Part II

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At the end of 2018, many people marked the passing of former President George H.W. Bush by remembering his unifying image of “a thousand points of light.” As 2019 begins, these cold long nights in the North provide ample times for us to search for light in the darkness. So huddle around, and listen to my story…

Our work at HUB Philanthropic Solutions puts us in touch with many professionals who work in the field of fundraising. We spend a lot of time working side by side with people like you and your colleagues. What I want to tell you is that we get the chance to observe people practicing the art of development up close. And we’ve seen the light!

Almost everyone who works in development is passionate about the mission of the organization for which they work. How could you ask for financial support for something you don’t believe in? Development professionals live and breathe their work. If you ride an elevator with a fundraiser, you’d better be ready to hear their speech!

All good fundraising professionals are extraordinary listeners. They’ll sit with you, they’ll put down their phones, they’ll seek your stories, and they’ll enjoy your company. And they will help you connect your deepest charitable inclinations with the activities of their organization. They do all this because they listen to you.

Most development professionals are multi-talented workers. They juggle breakfast meetings and late night social gatherings with donors. They have expertise in direct mail and social media. They are always on the phone but would rather talk in person. Their network includes foundations, corporations, board members and other volunteers, committees and dozens upon dozens of individuals. They manipulate data and protect donor privacy. They can multi-task, while somehow being personally present to every interaction with donors.

All good development professionals celebrate their successes. They call donors and thank them. They write a mountain of thank you notes. They plan donor recognition events. They look for opportunities to honor individuals who have rendered extraordinary service and support. They appreciate their volunteers and co-workers who work side by side to pull off an event or a campaign, and they thank them.

So, dear development professionals, YOU are the light in the darkness, YOU are the modern incarnation of “a thousand points of light.” YOU are part of a good and noble and effective profession. Thanks for making the work we do fun and rewarding, and have a great 2019.

by: Steven Murphy, Ed.D., Senior Advisor, HUB Philanthropic Solutions

Feeling Stressed?

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It’s hard to believe the holidays are upon us once again.  Where does the time go?  Are you feeling prepared?  Or are you feeling stressed and overwhelmed?  In the midst of the last-minute holiday rush, it’s often hard to find time to enjoy those around you and appreciate all of the gifts that we have.

I learned a new word the other day: HYYGE.  It is a Dutch word, pronounced “Hue-Guh”, which really doesn’t translate into an English word.  However, it is a word that we should know and a sentiment we should understand, especially during this time of year.

As I mentioned, hyyge does not translate into any one word in our vocabulary.  I would describe it as more a “state of being”.  The Oxford Dictionary defines it as, “a quality of coziness and comfortable conviviality that engenders a feeling of contentment of well-being.”  It is a word to acknowledge a feeling or moment as cozy, charming or special, one which requires a certain slowness or consciousness.  It is not just being present, it also requires you to recognize and enjoy the present.  So, let’s think about this.

Quality of coziness and comfortable conviviality – When was the last time you felt coziness and comfortable conviviality?  Think about it – and think about the circumstances surrounding that time.

Engenders a feeling of contentment and well-being – When do you truly feel a sense of contentment?  What contributes to this feeling?  What distracts from it?

It’s not just being present, it requires you to recognize and enjoy the present.  My guess is that the last time you felt that sense of comfortable conviviality you were truly “in the moment” and present with those around you (or by yourself!).  Recognizing and truly enjoying the present is a gift to yourself; it is part of practicing good self-care.

So, during this season of “busyness”, how can you possibly find time for hyyge?  It probably feels somewhat counterintuitive, right?  Ironically, hyyge is an energy booster and can be a way to replenish your strength.  And as you probably guessed, it does not come in a magic pill.  But it also isn’t rocket science.  Below are a few simple ideas to help you get started;  perhaps take a few minutes each day to truly focus on hyyge.

  • Find a quiet spot to be present – alone or with a family member or friend – and truly focus on listening and being present/mindful
  • Unclutter your surroundings, but also consider introducing something that makes you feel more calm or present, such as a candle or soft lighting or music
  • Give yourself permission to be still for a few minutes
  • Take a few cleansing breaths
  • Count your blessings

My hope is that it will help you will find a little more joy and peace  – and a little less stress – this holiday season.   Wishing you joy and peace.

by: Susan Bottum Matejka, Vice President, HUB Philanthropic Solutions

Year-end and Donor Appreciation…what’s your plan?  

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Year-end and Donor Appreciation…what’s your plan?  

The holidays are in full swing and I’m sure by now your year-end appeal is off to a great start! In development offices across the country, we are busy with follow up e-blasts, letters and a variety of other ways to ask our current donors to renew their support as well as try to reengage our lapsed donors with the mission.

While all of this work is important, I’d encourage you to set aside some time every day in December to simply thank your donors.

Perhaps it is a phone call to that first time donor, or a visit to share an update with a major donor who helped in a significant way. Maybe it is a special handwritten note to your Board members for all they do to keep the ship steady and help the organization flourish. I know that extending our grateful thanks to our donors at year-end is noticed and appreciated. It tells our donors that they are a priority and shows our donors that we made the time during our busiest time of year to think of them and share with them what they mean to our organization.

So, today, write a special note…tomorrow pick up the phone and call a new donor… and the next day meet in person and share a success story with a special contributor. Map out your days from now until the end of the year and include these simple touch points that truly will help foster and build the relationships that your organization will benefit now and in years to come.

Today, I wish you stellar year-end results and may your relationships with your donors be strengthened and enhanced.  Happy Holidays to you and yours!

by: Susanna Decker, Senior Consultant HUB Philanthropic Solutions

What if we all practiced Radical Hospitality?

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What if we all practiced Radical Hospitality?

My current client, a prominent urban Catholic church, practices what they call Radical Hospitality. When I first heard the term, I thought, “hmmm, okay, makes sense for a church, whose mission is to live the Gospel and serve others.” I’ve come to believe it’s a principal every organization — religious and secular alike — can and should apply. And, I believe, an organization’s fundraising will benefit as a result.

What is Radical Hospitality? It’s really quite simple. It means always striving to open your doors wide and ensure all feel welcome. It means being compassionate to all, especially those who feel vulnerable and marginalized. In short, it’s about being mission, and thus client-, focused, no matter the services your organization provides.

From a fundraising perspective, it’s synonymous with robust donor stewardship. Are you truly listening to your donors? Are you consistently seeking ways to engage them in your mission? Are you thanking them, often and in creative, personal ways?

Here’s my challenge to you: stop for a moment. Really think about your donors, and jot down some simple, individualized ways you might make them feel welcome, and special. Commit to keeping your donors front and center in your mind, to communicating with them regularly, and in simple ways. If you treat them with the Radical Hospitality with which you serve your clients, I believe you will reap great rewards.

Have an experience of Radical Hospitality that resonates with you? Please share in a comment below. It’s a way to extend that hospitality to one another as professionals. And who knows? Perhaps you’ll find an idea that’ll work for you!

by: Molly Galo, Senior Consultant HUB Philanthropic Solutions