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A Philanthropy Day present for you

As I explained in Tuesday’s post titled “Happy Philanthropy Day 2012,” I was in Rochester, MN helping the Southern Minnesota Chapter of the Association of Fundraising Professionals celebrate National Philanthropy Day. There were awards for philanthropists and fundraisers. Training sessions were offered to both staff and board. It was uplifting, celebratory, engaging, and education.

People typically turn holidays into opportunities for gift giving, and I don’t believe Philanthropy Day should be any different. Obviously, the Southern Minnesota Chapter was very thoughtful in their gift giving when they decided to give the gifts of recognition and professional development to their members and the Rochester community’s philanthropic community.

When I thought about what I should give the readers of this blog for Philanthropy Day, it was an idea that came to me very quickly.

At the end of one of the training sessions I had facilitated, I asked that very talented group of fundraising professionals to engage in a brainstorming session around what a set of donor centered fundraising policies might look like for a typical non-profit organization. I did this because in my travels I just haven’t seen many agencies tackling this project. So, my gift to you this Philanthropy Day is that I will share the results from that exercise. (A special thanks to the Southern Minnesota Chapter for collaborating with me on this gift.)

Before I begin, I should mention that there was a robust discussion about whether or not this list should be “policies” or something else (e.g. practices, procedures, parts of a plan). Regardless, we did build consensus around the idea that this list should begin with a “P”.   😉

The following is a draft list of ideas and is intended to get you and your resource development committee discussing possibilities:

  • [gifts of X amount] get a phone call from a board volunteer within [Y number of days] of sending out the initial acknowledgement letter.
  • [gifts of X amount] get a phone call from a volunteer and client within [Y number of weeks or months] of sending out the initial acknowledgement letter. This call should include verbiage that conveys a sense of what the donor’s contribution has helped produce.
  • A written policy on when to “discontinue contact” with a donor.
  • A written policy that speaks to the idea of how to handle donor data (e.g. sale of lists, distribution of reports, etc)
  • [asks of X amount] must always be done face-to-face with someone who has a relationship with the donor participating in the solicitation.
  • A written policy pertaining the collection, capture, and use of donor centered data (supported with training)
  • A procedure written about the board mentoring policy specific to how board members model participation in a donor centered fundraising program
  • A written policy about pledge payment options designed in a donor centered way (e.g. how about asking the donor to what is most convenient for them rather than just depending on them to check boxes on a form)
  • A written policy dealing with donor confidentiality of information (and perhaps engage donors in helping write that policy or give input via a focus group)
  • A written procedure for sending a personalized gift acknowledgement letter within [X number of days] that includes the following information: 1) confirmation that the gift was received, 2) expressed appreciation and excitement for the gift, and 3) a reaffirmation of what the gift will be used for.
  • A written policy or procedure clearly stating that there must be [X number of cultivation/stewardship touches] in between solicitations. (Note: the group who offered this recommendation suggested seven might be the right number)
  • A written policy or procedure on issuing a press release for all gifts larger than [X size gift]
  • A written policy or procedure on sending letters from beneficiaries/clients to donors to demonstrate thanks and illustrate impact/ROI.
  • A written policy or procedure on when a board member signature should appear on a gift acknowledgement letter
  • A written policy or procedure on when handwritten notes should be used in addition to the donor database generated letter
  • A written policy or procedure addressing the issue of when and with whom to use “events” to cultivate/steward donors (Note: please note they were not referencing fundraising events but rather friend-raising events)

Again,  a special thank you to the Southern Minnesota Chapter of the Association of Fundraising Professionals for helping me produce a thoughtful blog post that doubles as a great Philanthropy Day gift.

What do you plan on doing on Philanthropy Day? It could be as simple as calling a special donor (regardless of whether or not they are a donor to your agency) and thanking them for what they do. Or you could scroll down and use the comment box below to add one more suggestion to the list that was started above.

Here’s to your health!

Erik Anderson
Founder & President, The Healthy Non-Profit LLC!/eanderson847

Happy Philanthropy Day 2012

Today, I have the honor and privilege of being in Rochester, Minnesota to celebrate National Philanthropy Day with the Southern Minnesota Chapter of the Association of Fundraising Professionals.

The way this chapter celebrates National Philanthropy Day, which is officially on the calendar this year for November 15th, is by hosting a day long conference for non-profit professionals as well as board and fundraising volunteers. I cannot tell you how excited I am to be the keynote speaker at the awards luncheon and facilitate both morning and afternoon training sessions.

If this is the first time you’ve heard of this holiday, I encourage you to click the link above to learn more, but here is a quick explanation from the AFP website:

“National Philanthropy Day®, November 15, is the special day set aside to recognize and pay tribute to the great contributions that philanthropy—and those people active in the philanthropic community—have made to our lives, our communities and our world.”

Click here to view a brief video that is sure to pull your heart-strings:

Does your community celebrate National Philanthropy Day? If so, please share a little bit about your event in the comment box below. If not, why not plan your own celebration as a way of honoring your donors and volunteers?

In one of my sessions, I will engage local fundraising professionals and volunteers in a brainstorming exercise focused on what donor centered fundraising policies might look like. As my National Philanthropy Day gift to the readers of this blog, I will share some of their thoughts with you on Wednesday.

Please join me in honoring philanthropists . . . wish someone a Happy Philanthropy Day on November 15, 2012.

Here’s to your health!

Erik Anderson
Founder & President, The Healthy Non-Profit LLC!/eanderson847

Benchmarking: The non-profit sector requests your assistance!

Last week a friend and non-profit consulting colleague of mine, Kirsten Bullock, sent an email asking me to encourage DonorDreams blog readers to participate in a study that “. . . is investigating charitable contributions, fundraising methods, donor retention, and how tactics have changed in these challenging financial times.”

This study is organized and run by Nonprofit Research Collaborative. If you are someone who is suspicious of things like this, then I encourage you to click the link that I just provided and check this organization out for yourself. However, if you don’t have a lot of time to scratch around the internet, take heart in the fact that this organization and the study are supported by:

  • Association of Fundraising Professionals
  • Giving USA
  • blackbaud
  • National Center for Charitable Statistics
  • Campbell Rinker

If you have 10 minutes, then please click this link and complete the questionnaire.

Still asking yourself . . . WHY?

If you are still reading, then I assume that you’re mulling things over and probably wondering why you should click that link.  So, let me try to make the case in one simple word:


According to our friends at Wikipedia, “benchmarking is the process of comparing one’s business processes and performance metrics to industry bests or best practices from other industries.”

Let’s be honest for a moment. Few people who work in the non-profit sector have time to collect data and crunch industry numbers. We’re under-resourced, and we’re usually thankful when our workday comes in under 12 hours.

So, when an organization like Nonprofit Research Collaborative takes up the cause and only asks for 10 minutes of your time, all of us should really support the cause.

Still not convinced? OK, let me try this another way . . .

  • At the end of the year, some of you will report to your board of directors that your donor loyalty rate is 64.8% . . . and they are going to ask if that is good or bad.
  • At the end of your annual campaign, some of you will report to your board of directors that of the 100 prospects and donors who received face-to-face solicitation visits by staff and volunteers 78 of them decided to make a pledge or contribute . . . and they are going to ask if that is good or bad.
  • At the end of the year, some of you will report to your board that your private sector fundraising efforts brought in 1% fewer dollars this year than last year . . . and they are going to ask if that is good or bad.

In order to answer your board’s questions, you need to provide context and that is what benchmarking is all about.

Every organization should commit itself to benchmarking activities. You should do it with your program outcomes. You should do it with your resource development program. You should do it with board development and so many other things that you do.

Not doing so essentially means that you’re collecting data for the sake of collecting data.

I assume that you don’t have the time to independently do benchmarking of the non-profit sector for comparison purposes. So, come on . . . what do you say? How about taking 10 minutes out of your crazy busy schedule, click this link, and complete this important survey.

Pretty please?  🙂

Has your organization ever completed a benchmarking project with another non-profit organization? Or how about with another company from a different sector? If so, please tell us about it in the comment box below. We’d love to know what motivated you and what you found out.

Here’s to your health!

Erik Anderson
Founder & President, The Healthy Non-Profit LLC!/eanderson847

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