Don’t Forget the Spouse!

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Let’s face it:  major gifts are major decisions.  Your prospects likely are very much like mine.  They reach a decision to make a major gift after a long process of cultivation, thought, and reflection.  This process involves the head and the heart.  Decisions are made based on what the donor thinks about your organization, its leadership, and its mission.  And decisions are made about how the donor feels about the impact of the gift and the good it will do.

In most households, the donor and spouse (or significant other) make major decisions.  So it is important that fundraisers, when appropriate, include the partner in the cultivation and solicitation process.  Here are a few suggestions:

  • Address all correspondence to the prospect and partner
  • Include both in cultivation events
  • Remember the partner’s birthday as you do the prospect’s
  • Solicit the major gift from both of them, remembering to attend to both people with your eyes and ears!
  • Consciously plan your solicitation to engage both the mind and the heart of both people

Does this seem obvious?  You’d be surprised how many times I’ve coached those involved in a solicitation to pay attention to the spouse, only to watch them faun over the prospect while failing to really engage the partner!

On the other hand, I’ve also seen spouses step in and really turn the tide in favor of a major gift.  In one instance, I was told by the donor that “my wife really was the one to convince me” to make a $1 million gift.  On another occasion, we received a $1 million donation that surprised us because it seemed on paper that the donor was more connected to other institutions than to our own.  In this instance, the son of the major prospect (and ultimate donor) told me “my mom was really the one who decided to do this.”

Remember:  major gifts are major decisions.  And major decisions are seldom made by individuals in isolation.  Cultivate your prospects and their spouse or significant other.  You’ll be glad you did.

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

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Engaging the New Philanthropists

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Thank you to Just Write Solutions Senior Consultant Lisa M. Sihvonen-Binder, MS NMP, for today’s blog.

Millennials. It’s a term we hear a lot on the news, see on social media, and read about in professional publications. Studies show that older generations (Baby Boomers, Gen Xers) get frustrated when trying to interact with them. Who are they? What do they want? How do you communicate with them? How do you get them to communicate with you?

The answers are simple, really. They’re people. They’re people born between 1980-2000. They’re sometimes called “lazy” and the “Me Generation.” While I personally feel there’s some truth to that, we need to understand this generation was raised differently – with fast changing technology, helicopter parents, and a world where acceptance of others and personal freedoms really began to blossom.

For this Gen Xer, born in the late 1960s, I’ve experienced frustrations in communicating with Millennials. I know it takes extra effort on my part and as an individual, I can learn to adapt to the current climate. But how can nonprofit organizations engage this generation that moves fast, likes communications short, and gives to causes they care about if their needs are being met?

Here are some tips I found in “9 Insights on Millennials When it Comes to Philanthropy” (by Brady Josephson at re: philanthropy.com) that might make it easier or more successful.

Of 75,000 Millennials surveyed by The Millennial Impact:

  • More updates – 43% of Millennials want to hear from organizations they donate to monthly. 79% prefer to get updates on the agency’s programs and services while 56% are okay with getting information about fundraising events
  • Send them email – 93% prefer to receive information via email
  • Give them opportunities for monthly giving – 52% are interested in giving monthly
  • Matching donations spur interest in giving – 71% said they’re more motivated to give if their gift is matched by another source
  • Ask them to help fundraise – 70% are willing to help raise funds for an organization they like
  • Give them reasons to trust you – 84% said they are most likely to donate if they trust the organization. Is your agency maintaining transparency? Are you communicating impacts, successes, challenges?

Want more information on generational differences that might impact donor behavior or communication? Check out this “Generational Differences Chart” by the West Midland Family Center in Shepherd, Michigan. What do you think? Does it accurately capture the traits of generations from Traditionalists to Millennials?

We’d love to hear your take. What challenges have you experienced in engaging Millennials? How did you overcome them? What are your success stories?

Continuity in Your Development Office

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Recently someone posted a thoughtful message on Facebook, meant to provide a framework for social media messages:
Is it true?
Is it kind?
Is it necessary?

I gave this message a “thumbs up” response, I guess because so much of what people write seems to be not true, not kind, and/or not necessary!

All of this took on renewed importance this week, when I heard a couple of people describe their recent disappointment with a non-profit organization to which they had been exceedingly generous over many years.  The situation they described was essentially this: the leadership has changed; the people in the development office have changed; communication has been spotty at best; and no one seems to “get it” or care.

This is a devastating situation for a fundraising operation, and in my experience it is far too common.  New people come in to leadership positions and seek to boost their own credibility by discrediting the activities of prior leaders.  The new regime wants to start over with new prospects, new strategies, and new techniques. There is nothing wrong with taking a fresh look at all of that, but it is devastating if the most loyal and generous donors are neglected and lost.

The questions I saw on Facebook can be helpful as you think about your communication strategies with prospects and donors:

Your communications must be TRUE:  don’t buy into the narrative that nothing good every happened before the new leadership team arrived!  Seek out those who gave in the past and listen carefully to what motivates them to give.    Get a list of the top 10, top 25, top 50, and top 100 prior donors and reach out to every single one of them over time.  Make a phone call, write a letter, and ask for a face to face meeting.  Never ever fail to follow up!

Your communication must be KIND: don’t build yourself up by disparaging past leaders of the organization.  People give to people, and the donor thought enough of the prior administration to make a gift while those people were in charge.  Make sure you communicate to your past donors that, although the leadership has changed, the mission of your organization remains the same!

Your communication with prior donors is NECESSARY:  do not pick and choose!  Don’t listen to people who say “Oh you don’t to waste your time talking to that donor.”  In rare instances, a past donor may have specified in your records that s/he no longer wishes to be contacted, and if so that request must be honored.  But otherwise, attempt to reach all prior major donors.  You will be rewarded with great stories, new insights, and continued major gifts!

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

 

Transitions

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My wife and I aren’t the biggest TV watchers beyond the nightly news, a White Sox game and the occasional political news station, however, we have recently been engrossed with the Netflix biographical drama The Crown. We’re just a few episodes into the first season where the show highlights Queen Elizabeth’s sudden ascension of power soon after her father King George VI passes away.

One of the key themes is the many transitions that take place because of the new leadership. We see promotions and demotions with the new assistants, deputies and private aides which lead to a lot of uncertainty. It’s no different when changes happen at a non-profit. When a new President, department head or manager joins the team, there is without a doubt change that will transpire. The changes mostly likely aren’t going to be made overnight but change is inevitable.

One of the roles we can play and assist with during these times of transition is making sure the new team members are properly informed on the institutional background of the organization. Yes, they will have to do their own homework, learn the systems and especially familiarize themselves with the many stakeholders but taking the time to provide them with your knowledge is the right thing to do personally and for the organization.

Transition without solid communication is a recipe for confusion and frustration. It is essential to keep the lines of communication open as there will most likely be anxiety amongst the team and employees will require some time to engage the newness. Transitions are hard on everyone and making sure that everyone is informed can be an easy win to avoid pessimists and unnecessary conversation. If you aren’t in a position of authority you should speak up and ask questions so you are informed.

For transitions that are self-induced, they should be handled skillfully as your reputation is on the line. Think back on the time you joined the organization and how well or how poorly the transition went. It’s important to make sure you are leaving your replacement and team in good hands so any required reports or notes that are provided are completed with accuracy and are on point.

Assisting in the transition no matter what role you play or what level you are in the organization is everyone’s job. As I’ve witnessed in The Crown and in work evolutions I’ve been a part of, support and most of all trust are required ingredients to have in a successful and smooth transition.

 by: Tim Kennedy, Associate Vice President, HUB Philanthropic Solutions

Show, Don’t Tell: Why Your Nonprofit Needs Data Visualization Tools

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You’ve seen them all over the interwebs. You run into them as you’re scrolling through your feed on Facebook, as you’re checking your Twitter updates, as you’re looking for remodeling ideas on Pinterest.

They’re infographics, and they’re everywhere. But more importantly for nonprofits: infographics (and other data visualization tools) are not a passing trend. It’s time you add them to your fundraising toolbox.

Infographics are graphic visual representations of information, data, or knowledge intended to present complex information quickly and clearly. Other data visualization tools—like charts, graphs, pictograms, gauges, dashboards, etc.—similarly present data in a pictorial or graphic format.

Why should you care?

Infographics and other data visualization tools:

  • Combine appeals to logic and emotions (a critical element of getting and keeping donors)
  • Engage 66% of all people who are visual learners
  • Register much more quickly with readers than narrative: visual cues are processed 60,000 times faster in the brain than text
  • Are visually intriguing and motivational
  • Give the reader’s eye a place to rest (especially when incorporated with appropriate amounts of white space)
  • Improve document readability
  • Can be published and packaged in multiple ways, making it a multipurpose tool

That last bullet point may be the most critical: data visualization tools can be used anywhere—social media, websites, cases for support, annual reports, and even grant proposals.

So, how do you create infographics and other tools?

As a nonprofit pro, my default response is use something free! And there are some high-quality, free tools available, like Easel.lyCanvaInfogr.am, and Piktochart. I’ve used them all, and they’re intuitive, provide lots of layouts and options (even at the free level), and are user-friendly for those of us who don’t have graphic design backgrounds.

If you have the resources to hire a professional graphic designer or illustrator, do it. They are amazing professionals who can help you step up your game in developing compelling fundraising collateral. And you may be surprised to find a graphic designer in your area who specializes in nonprofit work – I know I was! They’re out there, and some of them are even willing to volunteer.

by: Heather Stombaugh, Grants Consultant,  HUB Philanthropic Solutions

Attention to Detail

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In his blog post two weeks ago, “Are you loyal to your loyal donors?” my colleague Steve Murphy provided a very tangible and fundamental post on being loyal to your most loyal donors. If you missed it, I would strongly encourage you to go back and read it and share it with your colleagues, your boss and even your board. The organizations that take the time to recognize gifts properly, steward strategically and pay attention to detail will stand out and will further the giving cycle.

Speaking of paying attention to detail and standing out, I recently received a thank you letter in the mail acknowledging my wife and my annual support to an organization over the past calendar year. It was nicely written highlighting the accomplishments of the year, the impact the organization is making in the community and the bold program goals for 2017, but in the valediction the signature of the author was missing. Yes, you got that right the letter was not signed…. THEY OMITTED A SIGNATURE!

I couldn’t help but take a deep breath, then have a nervous laugh, took a deep breath again and then I found myself really annoyed. This is my profession and a detail such as this cannot be neglected.  I absolutely understand we make mistakes (wrong addresses, ink that doesn’t dry on the letter, etc…) but this is one you just don’t forget to do. I was more worried for the organization than the letter to me. I don’t want this to hurt their stewardship efforts and I will respectfully share my concern with them and offer the appropriate suggested follow up to the donors.

Steve posed the question in his post – “Do they even know that I value their mission and consider them one of my top three charitable interests?”  Getting an unsigned letter further signified the importance of Steve’s question. As development professionals we need to find this answer out. We need to dig a little harder to know who the donor is and where the organization falls in their priorities.  We need to pay attention to detail, ask our colleagues to double check our work, slow down and spend as much time on the thank you letter as we do on the appeal letter or on the special event invitation we are producing.

Details matter and sloppy development work results in unhappy investors. Unhappy investors equate to lost money…and lost money is a hit to the mission.

 by: Tim Kennedy, Associate Vice President, HUB Philanthropic Solutions

The Human Touch

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Recently, I had to purchase a new phone. The battery was shot, I had limited storage capacity and the service was spotty most of the time. While I was upgrading to a new version and getting a more “robust” phone, I realized every bell and whistle that was being sold to me had nothing to do with what the phone was intended to do, make a phone call.  I’m not a neo-luddite by any means, I just had a sudden a-ha moment that we don’t use the phone or the action of what the phone is intended to do anymore.

Last week, I was reminded how important and honestly how easy it is to pick up the phone and communicate the old fashion way. I was with a colleague who had shifted careers from fundraising to sales – (not much of a difference as we all know) and he was explaining his new role in generating new business, creating leads, cultivating customers, presenting the product and then the ever important follow up. All along the “cultivation” journey he highlighted that his “go-to” was the utilization of his phone to communicate. Not to text, not to email but to actually call someone is what he used as his personal outreach and human touch advantage.

As we head into 2017 and make our list of New Year’s resolutions, I know one of mine will be to take the time to put a human touch on the interaction I have…whether it be with donors, colleagues, friends or family. That human touch will be to make the phone call when it’s more appropriate than the email.  The human touch makes such an impression and just like sending a hand written letter, card or personal note it’s what we need to remember to do more often than not.

During the holiday season, we tend to take time to reflect on the joys of life, a time to be grateful for what we have,  a time to be mindful of what more we can do and what motivates us to keep us going. It’s important to always remember that putting a human touch on our communication is the thoughtful way to say hello, express your thanks and enjoy the human touch way. It’s way more real.

Happy Holidays!

by: Tim Kennedy, Associate Vice President, HUB Philanthropic Solutions

Gold vs. Platinum

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David Gee, Associate Vice President, HUB Philanthropic Solutions

 Donor stewardship has been a more frequent topic of conversation with our clients lately. We all know that inspiring new donors is much more difficult and costly than building stronger relationships with the people who are already supporting our efforts. And, while there are many layers to forming an effective donor relationship strategy, for today I’m just focusing on one key ingredient.

Growing up, many of us were taught the Golden Rule: “Do unto others as you would have them do unto you.” It’s a good rule and one that certainly can help children understand how their actions might make other people feel. Full disclosure, my wife and I referenced the Golden Rule on countless occasions while raising our sons.

Nevertheless, if we adhere to the Golden Rule when building donor relationships, we are simply not honoring our role in the most effective or authentic way. Thankfully there is a more considerate rule for us to apply, the Platinum Rule: “Do unto others as they would have you do unto them.” More simply, where the Golden Rule says we should treat others how we like to be treated, the Platinum Rule accommodates for the fact that not everyone likes to be treated the same way and mandates that we instead treat people the way they want to be treated.

As Dr. Tony Alessandra writes, “The focus of relationships shifts from ‘this is what I want, so I’ll give everyone the same thing’ to ‘let me first understand what they want and then I’ll give it to them.” He goes on to say, “The goal of The Platinum Rule is personal chemistry and productive relationships. You simply have to understand what drives people and recognize your options for dealing with them. ”

Think about some of your major donors and what motivates them to support your mission. Do you know what aspect of your work or which programs are of a specific interest to them? What life experience or personal philanthropic goal is connecting them to your organization?

Using the Platinum Rule as a guide, what if you invested time in learning the answers to these questions with your key supporters? Some folks may like an annual face-to-face meeting, while other people may prefer a phone call once a quarter. You may also have donors who are so busy that their preferred mode of conversation is via email, because it affords them the opportunity to respond when their time allows.

At the end of the day, if we commit to the Platinum Rule and to prioritizing our donors’ needs/desires/motivations over our own, we will absolutely have greater success in building lasting and rewarding donor relationships.

———————–

David Gee is an experienced development professional with particular expertise in capital campaigns, major gifts and donor stewardship. David joined the HUB Philanthropic Solutions team after serving as The Chicago Bar Foundation’s Director of Development. Prior to that, he spent 18 years working as a professional actor in Chicago. Among his volunteer activities, David serves on Forefront’s Resource Development Committee, the Development Committee for All Chicago and as the Local School Council Chair at Beaubien Elementary School.

The Holy Grail of Grant Writing (excerpts from In the Trenches: Grantsmanship) – Statement of Need

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This is one in a series of excepts from HUB Philanthropic Consulting’s Expert Grant Guru, Heather Stombaugh, GPC, CFRE from her latest book.  In this excerpt, Heather reviews the ever-important Statement of Need.

Part II: Chapter 6: Telling your story by the numbers

The Statement of Need provides the evidentiary basis for your persuasive argument.  The purpose of the Statement of Need is to establish the rationale for your proposal and lay the foundation for the development of the other sections by answering the fundamental question, “Why is this project (or organization) needed?”

As you develop the Statement of Need, there are three points you must consider: answer the real question, collect and synthesize data,and balance emotion and evidence.

The outline for the Statement of Need is comprised of the answers to the following questions.

  1. What is the problem/need?
  2. How long has the need existed?
  3. Who is in need?
  4. Who will benefit primarily from your proposed solution?
  5. Why is there a need?

The Statement of Need must lead the reader from acknowledging there’s a problem, to feeling like they can do something about it, and finally to choose to invest in the changes your nonprofit wants to make in the world. But they will ever agree with your argument without a logical progression of facts.

Here are a few points to remember when writing your Statement of Need.

  • Write the most important information first
  • Statements should be clear and to the point
  • If there are multiple needs, focus only on those that your proposed project will address
  • Present data that will support your case, but do not overwhelm readers with numbers

The first place you should go for data is the nonprofit. This is called primary evidence, because it comes directly from the source. Once you have primary evidence, pair it with secondary evidence from reputable sources. What types of data should you collect?

  • Demographic data
  • Problem or issue-specific data
  • Data to support the proposed solution

We recommend that you use the CRAAP test to evaluate your sources before including them in your proposal. CRAAP is the acronym for:

  • Currency
  • Relevance
  • Authority
  • Accuracy
  • Purpose

Most importantly, you must pair good data with the human element. Remember that people give to people, not proposals. Grant funding is never about your organization and it is always about the people or communities you serve. Describe how the proposed solution will benefit clients and improve their condition, not how your organization will benefit.

How will you tell your story?

Summertime fun!

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by Susanna Decker, Senior Consultant, HUB Philanthropic Services

I just planned our family’s summer trip to the beautiful coast of Oregon.  It’s an especially exciting trip for us as our oldest son, Jacob, is biking across the country on a Bike and Build trip (bike thousands of miles and stop along the way to build sustainable housing!) and we will meet him at the finish at Cannon Beach. As the resident fundraiser in our household, I was recruited to help Jacob with his fundraising efforts for his trip.  This was fun for me…I was “off the clock” from my day job but applying my “on the job” skills to benefit my son and his philanthropic adventure.  To go on the trip, each rider needed to raise $4,500.  So, we sat down and planned his fundraising strategy one Sunday afternoon.  I was reminded of the fact that we communicate in so many different ways with friends and potential donors.  Some are older and really like getting a letter in the mail.  Others prefer email and don’t want to clutter up their mailbox…”just send the link and make it easy for me to give.”  Keeping this in mind, our plan had several approaches and our first strategy was to send a letter by mail to very close friends and family that we thought had a good probability of supporting Jacob’s effort (aunts, uncles, god parents, grandparents…you get the picture!).  These letters were very personalized and also included hand written notes.  We had great success with our first letter writing campaign so that when we geared up for the second wave, we had news to share about how much we had already raised.  The second appeal was also successful and went to a broader audience…friends of ours and Jacob’s, parents of Jacob’s friends and some of our neighbors.  Some were sent a letter, others, an email.  As a result of both of these appeals, Jacob had nearly reached his goal.  This is when his dad and sister got in on the action.  They posted Jacob’s bike page on Facebook and asked friends to help Jacob reach his goal.  In just over a six weeks, Jacob raised the money he needed for the trip…he actually exceeded the goal by several hundred dollars!  We were proud of his efforts and it was exciting to see the outpouring of support from our friends and family for Jacob’s wonderful cause.

While going through this process, I was again reminded that to be successful in fundraising, we need to have a road map…a plan and a clear strategy that helps us reach our goals.   What is your fundraising plan for the new fiscal year?  What goals have you set for yourself and your team to stretch yourselves and maybe think outside the box?  Do you have a plan for expanding major gifts?  What about planned giving?  Is this the year to fully launch something new or refresh or change up something that needs a little boost?  While I’m at Cannon Beach for that week this summer, I won’t think much about my fundraising plans.  I’ll be busy catching fish, wading in rivers and walking on the beautiful beaches of Oregon.  But, when I return, I will be ready and refreshed to tweak, enhance and polish my plan for FY 2017.