Category Archives: Donor-centered fundraising

All posts pertaining to the philosophy named donor-centered fundraising and espoused by Penelope Burk

What can your non-profit learn from Gloria Steinem?


steinemIt was a bleary-eyed late night dash in a rental car to position myself for a morning meeting, and I was listening to National Public Radio (NPR) in an effort to stay awake. At one point, someone was interviewing iconic feminist leader Gloria Steinem. While I cannot remember the big reason for the interview (e.g. new book, rally, election analysis, court ruling, etc), there was one thing that stuck with me, and I just had to share with you because I think it is a great allegory for how your non-profit should interact with donors.

After listening to the NPR interview, I went online and Googled around for the text of what Steinem calls her “Always Ask The Turtle” story in her own words. Luckily, I found it in a number of different places so I feel OK with sharing it with you here:

I took geology because I thought it was the least scientific of the sciences.

On a field trip, while everyone else was off looking at the meandering Connecticut River, I was paying no attention whatsoever. Instead, I had a found a giant, GIANT turtle that had climbed out of the river, crawled up a dirt road, and was in the mud on the embankment of another road, seemingly about to crawl up on it and get squashed by a car.

So, being a good codependent with the world, I tugged and pushed and pulled until I managed to carry this huge, heavy, angry snapping turtle off the embankment and down the road.

I was just putting it back into the river when my geology professor arrived and said, ‘You know, that turtle probably spent a month crawling up that dirt road to lay its eggs in the mud by the side of the road, and you just put it back in the river.’

Well, I felt terrible. But in later years, I realized that this was the most important political lesson I learned, one that cautioned me about the authoritarian impulse of both left and right.

Always ask the turtle.

After hearing Steinem share this story, the first person I thought of was Penelope Burk, who is the famous CEO of Cygnus Applied Research and author of Donor Centered Fundraising. The more I thought about it, the more I was convinced non-profit organizations should adopt Steinem’s turtle story as a moral compass for how to work with donors.

Here are just a few comparisons I came up:

  • Like the turtle, donors spend lots of time struggling to crawl up a dirt path called a career path
  • Like the turtle, donors build a nest egg of money (e.g. net worth)
  • Like the turtle, donors behave in certain ways for certain reasons (e.g. they didn’t just crawl up the path for no reason at all ... they saved their money for a reason … they donate to certain charities for a reason)

OK, I’ll stop beating this dead horse.

The point I’m obviously driving at is simple, but one I think every fundraising professional should live by.

Don’t assume the following:

  • Don’t assume you know why individual donors support your mission
  • Don’t assume you know what a donor’s capacity to give or willingness to give
  • Don’t assume you know which programs/activities a donor is passionate about
  • Don’t assume you know the best way (e.g. via event, pledge drive, major gift agreement, planned gift, etc) for a donor to give to your organization

The bottom line is DON’T ASSUME . . . “Always ask the donor”.

Thanks to Gloria Steinem for inspiring this morning’s blog post and sharing her amazing story with the world.

How does your organization engage its donors? What activities do you consider “donor-centered“? Do you have a fun story to share where engaging with a donor resulted in an ah-ha moment and something beautiful for both your organization and the donor? Please share your thoughts and experiences in the comment box below. We can all learn from each other.

Here’s to your health!

Erik Anderson
Founder & President, The Healthy Non-Profit LLC
www.thehealthynonprofit.com 
erik@thehealthynonprofit.com
http://twitter.com/#!/eanderson847
http://www.facebook.com/eanderson847
http://www.linkedin.com/in/erikanderson847

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A sample donor-centered communication


The non-profit community has heard lots about the merits of becoming more donor-centered over the last decade or so. This philosophy permeates everything in our resource development community including:

  • How we cultivate prospects
  • How we solicit prospects and donors
  • It especially speaks to the importance of stewardship and non-profit communications

While there is lots of talk-talk-talk on this subject, it is confounding to me that there are so few samples readily available. For example, I had a client ask me a year ago if I could find samples of “donor-centered gift acknowledgement letters“. After Googling for what seemed like hours and calling in all sorts of favors, I finally found one or two good examples.

So, last week I almost fell out of my chair when I received an email from a non-profit organization (e.g. I’m a periodic golf-a-thon or an endowment match donor) asking me WHAT and WHEN I want to receive from them. At its core, it might be one of the most donor-centered things ever sent me me by an organization.

Here is a copy of that email:

BGCB email sample

When I clicked the link, here is what that survey looked like:

BGCB email survey

All of this got me thinking . . . is your organization “donor-centered“? If so, how is it donor-centered? Do you have any samples that you’d like to share? If so, please email those samples to me and I’ll be happy to share them.  🙂

We don’t need to all re-create the wheel. Sharing is caring.  🙂

Here’s to your health!

Erik Anderson
Founder & President, The Healthy Non-Profit LLC
www.thehealthynonprofit.com 
erik@thehealthynonprofit.com
http://twitter.com/#!/eanderson847
http://www.facebook.com/eanderson847
http://www.linkedin.com/in/erikanderson847

Make your donor recognition meaningful


recognition1I believe that sometimes the universe speaks to you, and over the last two days I’ve been beat over the head with reminders that your non-profit organization’s donor recognition must be meaningful. While there is a time and place for computer generated gift acknowledgement letters and donor gifts, you need to know your donor and appreciate them in a way that speaks to their inner philanthropic soul.

Yesterday, I met with a group of volunteers and worked on creating a written stewardship document. During that meeting, we discussed things like:

  • When does a donor recognition gift (e.g. lapel pins, coffee mugs, tote bags, hard hats & shovels from a groundbreaking, etc), get to be too much and send the wrong message?
  • How can appreciation of a contribution be personalized and meaningful?
  • How can donor recognition societies go beyond superficial recognition and become more mission-focused?

This conversation was full of rich little tidbits. We used some of Roger Craver’s donor retention findings to frame our discussion and guide what we wanted to include in our plan. While I used a white paper from Roger that I purchased from 501videos.com as part of their Donor Retention Project package (and I’m not sure if that is still available for purchase), I suspect you could find similar good stuff in Roger’s book titled “Retention Fundraising“.

recognition4To sum up the results of yesterday’s discussion, the volunteers decided that donor recognition and gifts should be personal, mission-focused and meaningful.

Of course, this can mean different things to different people.

One of the volunteers said that she once made a gift to a faith-based children’s charity and received an envelope stuffed full of hand-made thank you cards from the kids. SHE LOVED IT! However, another volunteer spoke about a donor recognition society just joined that included a lapel pin, scarf and donor appreciation event. SHE SAW NO VALUE IN IT!

While there are donors who want to receive hand-made cards from kids, there are likely others who wouldn’t appreciate it as much. The same logic applies to donors who love (or hate) hanging out with their peers at an appreciation event. All of this is tricky because few (if any) non-profit organizations have the ability to customize every donor’s acknowledgement-recognition-stewardship program. Additionally, offering too much choice to donors can lead to frustration, which is never a good emotion to associate with your non-profit brand.

So, what is the answer?

Create a reasonable program that includes mission-focused recognition and appreciation. As you implement your program, engage in two-way communication with your donors and make adjustments (either individually or collectively) as you receive feedback.

So, up to this point I’ve shared with you my experiences and conclusions from yesterday. Today, I walk into a client’s office, and the resource development person was banging away on the computer. She was importing pictures from a recent special event into a graphics software package and creating pictures for individual sponsors that included the following:

  • a montage of images from the event
  • the sponsor’s name printed on the aggregated photo
  • handwritten message signed by the organization’s executive director

I believe the picture is framed and given to the sponsor as a small token of the organization’s appreciation.

I was impressed with this effort because it was:

  • mission-focused
  • sincere
  • appreciative
  • thoughtful

More importantly it didn’t feel over-the-top.

So, there you have it . . . these experiences in the last 24-28 hours convinced me that I needed to blog today about donor recognition.

I am very interested in how your organization walks the fine line that I’ve described today. Have you created a donor-centered donor acknowledgement-recognition-stewardship program? Do you think you’ve struck the balance I’ve outlined above? If so, please scroll down and share your thoughts and experiences in the comment box. We can all learn from each other.

Here’s to your health!

Erik Anderson
Founder & President, The Healthy Non-Profit LLC
www.thehealthynonprofit.com 
erik@thehealthynonprofit.com
http://twitter.com/#!/eanderson847
http://www.facebook.com/eanderson847
http://www.linkedin.com/in/erikanderson847

Don’t wait until your donors die


in memoriamOn Saturday, I attended the funeral of my father’s aunt — Ruth Merriman — in Crystal Lake, IL. She lived a long and amazing life and her family will miss her dearly. While sitting through the service listening to her children and grandchildren eulogize her, I couldn’t help marvel at the things I didn’t know about my distant relative. For example . . .

  • Aunt Ruth was the first female to be voted the president of a School Board in the State of Illinois
  • She was a Girl Scout volunteer earlier in life
  • In her retirement, she loved her volunteer work at Good Shepard Hospital in Barrington, IL

Aunt Ruth was the picture of philanthropy, and I only kinda/sorta knew that. How embarrassing!

As I came to this conclusion, it dawned on me that many non-profit organizations are in the same boat with their donors.

Donors are part of your organizational family, but oftentimes they are like distant relatives who you don’t know very well. I wonder how many times a non-profit organization found out that someone was “into their mission” only after the donor had passed away?

Of course, the only solution to this problem is to get out of your office and visit with your donors.

  • Invite your donors to coffee or lunch
  • Ask them to attend your events
  • If they stop donating to you, re-engage them and visit

A good friend of mine did exactly this when he accepted the position of President & CEO of a non-profit organization.

relationship buildingHe first started looking for people who had once been loyal supporters but for whatever reason stopped donating. Then he found mutual friends (e.g. board members, former board members, volunteers, donors, etc) and asked them to assist with a re-introduction. On a go-forward basis he simply engaged in relationship building.

While relationship building varies with different donors, it involved nursing home visits, cigars, and field trips to visit the organization’s facilities in the case I just referenced.

If this sounds simple, I assure you that it is. BUT resource development doesn’t have to be complicated.

Sometimes you find great people. Other times you uncover amazing stories. Once in a while, you rediscover a passionate donor who adds you to their estate plan for $500,000, which is exactly what happened in the case of my friend.

What are you doing to engage your donors and bring them into the inner circle of your non-profit family?

In other news . . .

Speaking of maturing donors and relationship building, I am reminded of BREAKING NEWS that was recently announced.

Did you hear that Congress passed and President Obama signed legislation into law extending the IRA Charitable Rollover retroactive to the beginning of 2014? This legislation allows individuals over age 70½ to directly transfer up to $100,000 per year from an IRA account to one or more charities.

Of course, the catch is that is retroactive to January 1, 2014 and only covers contributions through December 31, 2014.

If you want a better/clearer explanation, check-out Tony Martignetti’s vlog on this subject.

Happy Holidays . . . and here’s to your health!

Erik Anderson
Founder & President, The Healthy Non-Profit LLC
www.thehealthynonprofit.com 
erik@thehealthynonprofit.com
http://twitter.com/#!/eanderson847
http://www.facebook.com/eanderson847
http://www.linkedin.com/in/erikanderson847

What would #RetentionWednesday really look like?


RetentionWednesdayI sometimes get freaked out by how much tech companies seem to know about me. I get a glimpse into that reality when I look at the ads being targeting at me on my computer screen. However, this topic isn’t what I want to talk about this morning and needs to be put in the parking lot for another time. What I really want to blog about today is one of those Facebook (or maybe it was Google) ads that caught my attention a few weeks ago. It was an ad from DonorPath advertising its “free” #GivingTuesday companion consultation service that they branded “#RetentionWednesday“. Once I got past the genius business move by Brian Lauterbach, my mind started spinning on what that Wednesday might actually look like.

As I started conceptualizing a day of stewardship activities, all of the typical tactical things came to mind such as:

  • Organizing a thank-a-thon
  • Hosting a “handwritten thank you note writing” party for volunteers
  • Email (or snail-mail) an impact report to your donors
  • Launching a YouTube channel packed full of alumni or client testimonials
  • Hosting a donor reception (patterned after a tradition chamber of commerce business after-hours)
  • Hosting a town hall meeting on a subject related to your agency’s mission
  • Launching a monthly coffee klatch for donors who want to talk with your CEO, board president or any number of people associated with your non-profit

OK, OK, OK . . . I could go on and on and on with stewardship activities and the list would be endless. I suspect you could do the same thing.

However, the thing nagging me was that stewardship and retention need to be more than just a handful of tactical activities done on the Wednesday after #GivingTuesday. I suspect that DonorPath’s branded service, which is likely just sampling of their more holistic fundraising consultancy services, addresses this issue and helps clients create a larger stewardship/retention plan for the upcoming year that uses #RetentionWednesday as a springboard.

2015 graphicSo, I guess I’m feeling a little bah-humbug about the entire idea of #RetentionWednesday. If I were king for a day (a scary thought), I would decree 2015 “The Year of Retention“.

Oh heck, if I were king for a day, I could do better than that. Right?

I would decree “donor-centered culture” as something mandatory before the IRS bestows non-profit status on any organization.

Ahhhhh, that is much more authoritarian and king-like. LOL  I suspect that I might be able to get used to being king.  😉

If achieving a donor-centered culture of philanthropy sounds hard to some of my DonorDreams subscribers, the truth is that “Donor Retention” is becoming a bit of a cottage industry in the non-profit sector in recent years.

For example, my company — The Healthy Non-Profit LLC — would give its left arm to work with your non-profit organization on cultivating and growing its culture of philanthropy.

In addition to my consulting practice and Brian Lauterbach’s DonorPath firm, there is Jay Love’s Bloomerang donor database service, Penelope Burk’s Cygnus Applied Research, Roger Craver’s DonorVoice, and a ton of others. As I said earlier, it is a burgeoning cottage industry that feels like it is getting bigger every day. I suspect this is likely a testament to the growing donor retention crisis in the non-profit industry.

What are you doing to increase retention of your donors? At its core, does your agency have a culture of philanthropy? If not, then what are you doing to change that culture? Please scroll down and use the comment box below to share your thoughts and experiences. We don’t have to re-invent the wheel because we can all learn from each other!

Are you a little lost with the entire “culture of philanthropy” thing? No worries. I’m embedding a wonderful YouTube video of Tony Martignetti (of the famed Tony Martignetti Nonprofit Radio show) speaking to the New York City chapter of the Association of Fundraising Professionals about “Creating a Culture of Philanthropy Throughout Your Nonprofit“. It is an hour-long video, but definitely worth the click!

Here’s to your health!

Erik Anderson
Founder & President, The Healthy Non-Profit LLC
www.thehealthynonprofit.com 
erik@thehealthynonprofit.com
http://twitter.com/#!/eanderson847
http://www.facebook.com/eanderson847
http://www.linkedin.com/in/erikanderson847

Non-profits are using digital videos to say THANK YOU


It is well documented that non-profit organizations need to 1) show gratitude, 2) prove that a contribution is being used in the manner it was intended, and 3) demonstrate impact in order retain a donor. This could be one reason why some non-profit organizations are starting to produce online videos to say THANK YOU to donors.

When you think about it, video is a great medium to “show” people all sorts of things including the three elements of stewardship that I just mentioned. Additionally, the low-cost (virtual no-cost) of digital videos makes this an irresistible activity for many non-profit organizations.

The following is a video from the Boys & Girls Club of Lorain County, and it was produced by the kids for Lebron James:

Lebron

The next video is from the same organization, and the donors being thanked are a church congregation:

House of Praise

After a little clicking around online, fellow blogger and non-profit marketing guru– Kivi Leroux Miller — wrote a similar post almost a year ago titled “A Few Great Thank You Videos” with a number of fabulous links to videos.

If your organization is interested in trying its hand at directing a “thank you video,” you might want to check out the following resources:

Is your agency starting to use digital technology to steward donors? If so, what have you learned? What feedback, if any, have you received from donors? Please scroll down and use the comment box to share your thoughts and experiences.

Here’s to your health!

Erik Anderson
Founder & President, The Healthy Non-Profit LLC
www.thehealthynonprofit.com 
erik@thehealthynonprofit.com
http://twitter.com/#!/eanderson847
http://www.facebook.com/eanderson847
http://www.linkedin.com/in/erikanderson847

Seuss on your donors


uncertainty“I laughed at the Lorax, “You poor stupid guy!
You never can tell what some people will buy!”

Business is business!
And business must grow
regardless of crummies in tummies, you know.

– Written my Dr. Seuss in The Lorax


 

There are so many things that I find amazing about Dr. Seuss, and one of those things is that he packs so much into so few words. In the post I wrote last Thursday, I used Seuss’s words from “The Lorax” to address the idea of growth in the non-profit sector and the need for planning. Today, let’s take the same quote and look at your agency’s donors.

You never can tell what some people will buy!

While this quote is obviously focused on the for-profit sector and consumers, I think the same can be said for donors to non-profit organizations.

In a recent battery of donor interviews, I found people all over the map with their motivations. Here are just a few of the things I heard them say:

  • I like this organization’s mission and the programs they offer their clients.
  • This agency gets results.”
  • They know how to stretch my contribution.”
  • I really like the executive director.”
  • Someone on the board is a good friend of mine.”
  • I am an alumnus and that organization made a difference in my life.”

In reality, there are probably countless reasons why people give to your non-profit organization, and it is easy to take the position that it doesn’t matter as long as they keep giving.

But I believe that taking this position is a mistake.

If you want donors to go from making their first gift to their second, then you need to give them what they want. AND . . . if you don’t know why they gave to you in the first place, then it is hard to give them what they want.

Stewardship activities run the spectrum and some of them get you no closer to understanding your donors such as:

  • gift acknowledgement letters
  • annual report
  • gift acceptance policies
  • handwritten letters

relationship buildingOther stewardship activities definitely get you a little closer to building that relationship and understanding your donors’ rationale for making a charitable contribution:

  • tours of facility
  • follow-up thank you phone calls
  • annual sit down visits
  • focus groups
  • interviews
  • surveys
  • stewardship receptions and events

Seuss is right . . . you never can tell what motivates people. So, let’s stop guessing.

I understand that these types of activities are time consuming, which is a commodity many non-profit organizations lack.

So, what is the answer?

Segment your database and target donors for cultivation / stewardship activities. If you are a small agency with very little capacity, this activity might result in targeting less than five donors.

Don’t do this organically. Put together a plan for each donor. It doesn’t have to be a big plan, but put some thought into it. There are lots of samples out there on the internet. One set of templates I found that I liked is provided by Gary Hubbell Consulting.

In addition to templates, there are a ton of white papers available online. The following is just a few that I like:

What is your agency doing to engage donors, deepen relationships, and most importantly, understand their motivation for giving? Please scroll down and share your thoughts and experiences in the comment box below. Why? Because we can all learn from each other. Or perhaps you want to answer the more appropriate Seuss-related questions:

  • Would you like them in a house?
  • Would you like them with a mouse?
  • Would you eat them in a box?
  • Would you eat them with a fox?

Come on, friends! Let’s have some fun this morning!!!  What are you doing with regard to donor stewardship? Where are you doing it? What have been your results?

Here’s to your health!

Erik Anderson
Founder & President, The Healthy Non-Profit LLC
www.thehealthynonprofit.com 
erik@thehealthynonprofit.com
http://twitter.com/#!/eanderson847
http://www.facebook.com/eanderson847
http://www.linkedin.com/in/erikanderson847

 

Donor loyalty bibliography


dogThose of you who regularly follow this blog know that every post in May 2014 was dedicated to the idea of how non-profit organizations build loyalty among various stakeholder groups (e.g. donors, board members, staff, volunteers, clients, etc). All of those posts culminated yesterday when DonorDreams blog hosted this month’s Nonprofit Blog Carnival. The theme for the carnival was “Letting the Nonprofit Sector Go to the Dogs.”

This morning I realized that the month of May isn’t over yet and found myself faced with the following decisions while plodding away on the treadmill:

  1. Skip today’s post and let readers continue feasting on a ton of content left over from yesterday’s Nonprofit Blog Carnival
  2. Write one more post on loyalty
  3. Pretend that it is June and push forward with new topics

While it was tempting to skip a day, I ultimately decided to stay the course with one more post about building loyalty.

Instead of pontificating on the subject, it dawned on me that in all of my reading on the subject of loyalty there are always beefy bibliography sections and references. So, I decided to toss a bone to those of you who are thirsty for more reading on this subject by publishing some of the more interesting written and online references and tools (in a few cases the reources are books and the link points you to amazon.com).

dog2Enjoy the reading!

Have you read something recently on the subject of building loyalty hat your fellow non-profit peers might benefit from reading? If so, please use the comment box below to share that resource and point us in the right direction.

I hope you’ve enjoyed this month’s focus on building loyalty including the big build up to the May 2014 Nonprofit Blog Carnival.

Here’s to your health!

Erik Anderson
Founder & President, The Healthy Non-Profit LLC
www.thehealthynonprofit.com 
erik@thehealthynonprofit.com
http://twitter.com/#!/eanderson847
http://www.facebook.com/eanderson847
http://www.linkedin.com/in/erikanderson847

Building loyalty is like the “circle of life” with no beginning or end


In case you haven’t heard, DonorDreams blog is hosting for the second year in a row the Nonprofit Blog Carnival in the month of May. This year’s theme revolves around building loyalty among various non-profit stakeholder groups such as donors, employees, volunteers, etc. If you are a blogger and looking for the “Call for Submissions,” then click here. The carnival will be posted right here at DonorDreams blog on Wednesday, May 28, 2014. Stay tuned!

In the interest of building momentum, we’ve dedicated the entire month of blog posts to this topic. We’re specifically focusing on what a variety of non-profit organizations are doing (or are looking at doing) to build loyalty.

Staff-Kids-Volunteers-Donors:
Rinse. Lather.Repeat.
Boys & Girls Club of El Paso

BGC El PasoArt Jaime is the Chief Professional Officer of the Boys & Girls Clubs of El Paso, and he sees the challenges of building loyalty to his non-profit organization as an interconnected ecosystem of staff, kids, board members and donors. He points out that loyalty-based management is a simple concept, but it is something that is very difficult to achieve.

Here is a simplified version of how Art sees his interconnected world:

  • Hire and retain quality youth development professionals who are likable
  • Kids attend the Club because of their relationships with staff
  • Increased frequency of participation deepens the impact of programming which drives outcomes data
  • Good outcomes and impact data inspires board volunteers and provides confidence in talking to donors about the Club’s case for support
  • Good outcomes data creates great relationships with foundations and government agencies and contributes to a vibrant grant writing program
  • Long-term board volunteer relationships (who are consistently sharing awesome success stories from the frontline) with individual donors makes for happy, recurring investors in the Club’s mission

art jaimeIt all ties together,” explains Jaime. “The big challenge is creating a culture that appreciates and strives to create loyalty.”

So, how is Art trying to build an organizational culture of loyalty? He isn’t trying to over think it, and he is starting with things he can easily do. The following are just a few examples:

  • engaging stakeholders in a variety of planning activities
  • modeling loyalty in every day activities
  • recognizing staff
  • thanking and stewarding donors
  • trying to spend more one-on-one time with board volunteers
  • seeking advice and feedback from a variety of stakeholders

Frederick Reichheld is the author of “The Loyalty Effect” and one of thought-leaders on the importance of loyalty-based management. It is amazing how Art’s observations on the interconnectedness of it all is spot on with Reichheld’s words found on page 22:

If we think of businesses as atoms, with customers, employees, and investors as their subatomic particles, then we will study the way those basic components interact to create higher levels of stability and value creation.

Congratulations, Art. I think you are on the right path!

 =================================

If you want to learn more about what other non-profit organizations are doing to build loyalty among various stakeholder groups (e.g. donors, employees, volunteers, etc), then tune in here to DonorDreams blog every Tuesday and Thursday throughout the month of May. We will also publish the Nonprofit Blog Carnival on May 28, 2014 with a number of links to other non-profit bloggers who are talking about loyalty related themes.

Here’s to your health!

Erik Anderson
Founder & President, The Healthy Non-Profit LLC
www.thehealthynonprofit.com 
erik@thehealthynonprofit.com
http://twitter.com/#!/eanderson847
http://www.facebook.com/eanderson847
http://www.linkedin.com/in/erikanderson847

Building donor loyalty is about communication


In case you haven’t heard, DonorDreams blog is hosting for the second year in a row the Nonprofit Blog Carnival in the month of May. This year’s theme revolves around building loyalty among various non-profit stakeholder groups such as donors, employees, volunteers, etc. If you are a blogger and looking for the “Call for Submissions,” then click here. The carnival will be posted right here at DonorDreams blog on Wednesday, May 28, 2014. Stay tuned!

In the interest of building momentum, we’ve dedicated the entire month of blog posts to this topic. We’re specifically focusing on what a variety of non-profit organizations are doing (or are looking at doing) to build loyalty.

Donor stewardship leads to donor loyalty
Boys & Girls Club of Bloomington, Indiana

bgc bloomingtonIt is all about relationships,” explained Boys & Girls Club of Bloomington (BGCB) executive director Jeff Baldwin. He said this while talking about a change his agency made a few years ago when it made staffing changes in order to free up more of his time to spend with donors and prospective donors.

You’re probably asking, “What did the board do to make it possible for their executive director to spend more time with their donors and prospective donors?

They accomplished this by making the difficult decision to budget money to hire both a Resource Development Director and Director of Operations.

One of the reasons this strategic decision was made is because the board understands what Dr. Adrian Sargeant and Dr. Robert Hartsook at Indiana University talk about in their paper titled “Donor Retention: What So We Know and What Can We Do About It?”

Here is a short excerpt from their paper that speaks directly to what the BGCB board is hoping to accomplish:

A 10% improvement in [donor] attrition can yield up to a 200% increase in projected value,as significantly more donors upgrade their giving, give in multiple ways, recommend others and ultimately perhaps, pledge a planned gift to the organization.

Since finding more time in his schedule, the executive director is meeting with more and more donors. During those meetings, here is what he says those conversations usually entail:

  • Talking about what’s going on in the donor’s life
  • Discussing common ground issues pertaining to the donor’s passions and the agency’s mission
  • Sharing good news about the organization (making sure the donor understands that whatever the good news may be that they are in part responsible for it happening)

feedback loopIn addition to these individualized sit down meetings with the executive director, the Club invests time and resources in a variety of other donor stewardship activities including:

  • Cookie Drops
  • Handwritten notes
  • Eat. Thank. Love. stewardship event

Not only is the Boys & Girls Club getting positive feedback from donors, but they are finding that donors are telling their friends about these visits and sharing the good news. This informational ripple effect is generating additional interest in the Club, which provides more loyalty building opportunities.

In the final analysis, the Club’s executive director, Jeff Baldwin, sums it up like this:

Donors appreciate being heard and want to know more about how their contribution is making a difference. People are loyal to their friends and to success. We believe that our strategy speaks to both of these considerations.”

If you want to learn more about what other non-profit organizations are doing to build loyalty among various stakeholder groups (e.g. donors, employees, volunteers, etc), then tune in here to DonorDreams blog every Tuesday and Thursday throughout the month of May. We will also publish the Nonprofit Blog Carnival on May 28, 2014 with a number of links to other non-profit bloggers who are talking about loyalty related themes.

Here’s to your health!

Erik Anderson
Founder & President, The Healthy Non-Profit LLC
www.thehealthynonprofit.com 
erik@thehealthynonprofit.com
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