Posted by & filed under Congress, Major/Planned Gifts, Marketing/Communications, Speakers, Stewardship/Donor Relations.

Rory Green – Associate Director, Advancement, Faculty of Applied Science 

Simon Fraser University

A good conversation with a donor has almost nothing to do with what you say.

What matters most is how you listen.

photo credit: niclindh

I have been on countless donor meetings, accompanied by an eager major gifts officer who has so much to say about their organization – they pitch all areas of their non-profit’s mission at lightning speed, and leave the donor a bit dizzy – and quite often completely disinterested.

I want to let you in on a secret: major gifts isn’t about being able to make a great pitch, it’s about asking great questions and listening really well.

Major gifts officers need to be able to have great conversations with donors. Conversations about hopes, values and beliefs. The key to taking a conversation to a more meaningful level is to build likability, rapport and trust. As fundraisers, we need to be experts at creating rapport – and creating it quickly. Here are some ways you can listen better – that have been proven to build trust fast.

Match Tone: Listen to the tone and speed of the donor’s voice. Do your best to, naturally, match them in tempo, volume and pitch. I’m not telling you to do a fake accent, or impression of them – just be aware of the sound and cadence of their voice and make subtle adjustments.

Affirm and Acknowledge: We need verbal and non-verbal cues we are being heard. Small nods, and “mmhmms” give us permission to continue sharing. Often as we are listening to our donor, our mind begins to race ahead to what we want to say next. Don’t do that! Stay in the moment and focus on hearing what is being said.

Smile: Early on in my major gifts career, I realized I had an awful listening face. When someone is talking to me, I can scrunch my brow – and almost scowl. I look angry, even when I’m not! So, as Tyra Banks wold say, I’ve worked a lot on “smiling with my eyes”. Try asking for feedback on your listening face from family and friends, and when you’re trying to build rapport be sure to smile!

Mirror Body Language: Again, this should be done subtly – but pay attention to how the person you are speaking to is positioned. Are they leaning forward? Back? How is their posture? Mirroring body language puts the person you are talking to at ease, and helps them to feel relaxed.

Synchronize Breath: This is an odd tip, but there is a good amount of research behind this. Try to match the breathing of the person you are having a conversation with, it creates a strong subconscious sense of commonality.

These tricks sound basic, but they are incredibly effective. Try it out yourself. Spend as much time learning about how to be a good listener as you spend learning about your mission and programs.

Want to learn more? Or better yet – have the chance to practice these tips and get live feedback? Come to Congress this November and check out my workshop “Meaningful Conversations (That Raise More Money)”.

Happy Listening!

 

Rory Green has been in the philanthropic sector for over eight years and is currently the Associate Director, Advancement for the Faculty of Applied Science at Simon Fraser University. Rory has also worked in major and corporate giving at BCIT and the Canadian Cancer Society. In her spare time Rory is the founder and editor of Fundraiser Grrl, the fundraising community’s go-to source for comic relief . She will be presenting at Congress 2014 in Toronto.

 

Posted by & filed under Congress, Crowdfunding, Marketing/Communications, Social Media, Speakers, Stewardship/Donor Relations, Volunteers.

Robert C. Osborne, Jr., Principal, The Osborne Group, Inc.

crowd

If you go to any crowdfunding platform and search past the featured projects on the home page you’ll see that many, if not most of these projects are well behind in their goals. Sometimes it is because the project

isn’t a very compelling one, sometimes it is because the media associated with project isn’t very well done, and sometimes it’s because the rewards aren’t well thought out. But I would argue that in almost all cases the real underlying reason for lack of success is a lack of planning.

Here are some tips for successful crowdfunding:

If you build it they will NOT come – If you simply throw up a crowd funding project on IndieGoGo or some other crowdfunding website and hope that people will stumble across it and give, you are in for disappointment. This pretty much never happens. You need to drive people to your project and this takes a little thought and planning.

Think through your mediaHaving good pictures and video for your crowdfunding campaign is critical. Take the time to think through what your messages are. Remember that you want to talk about future impact. What will be different in the world tomorrow because I gave money to your project today? Read more »

Posted by & filed under Congress, Marketing/Communications, Stewardship/Donor Relations.

Emma Lewzey, CFRE, Senior Major Gifts Officer, St. Michael’s Hospital Foundation

If you work in a small or mid-size shop, there is a clear path to stability and sustainability for your organization. You need to focus on the right donors: individual donors. Now, don’t get me wrong – corporate gifts, special events, and foundation grants can all play an important role in a balanced and diversified fundraising program.

The reality is that individual donors give the vast majority of philanthropic gifts – here in Canada, the latest available stats show that 71% of donations come from individuals, followed by foundations at 16%, and corporations at 11%. If you are like most small to mid-size organizations you and/or your team are probably spread pretty thin – you’re wearing multiple hats, and have a diverse range of responsibilities in your portfolio. And chances are, you’re not spending 71% of your fundraising time and resources focusing on individuals. Read more »

Posted by & filed under Congress, Data Management, Marketing/Communications, Metrics, Mobile Giving, Social Media.

Claire Kerr, Director of Digital Philanthropy, Artez Interactive

woman-with-smartphone

Many nonprofit organizations are closely measuring online activity across their websites and donation forms… And with good reason! Tools like Google Analytics can be more useful than user surveys when we want accurate information about what our donors and supporters are really doing online.

When diving into your own numbers, have you noticed the difference between web traffic from laptops or PCs, and mobile traffic from smartphones and tablets? At Artez Interactive, we track fundraising activity for millions of visitors to charity and nonprofit donation pages every year. We’ve noticed that for most organizations, the peak time of day for online donations is between 9am – 11am.

What’s driving this pattern? A few things! Donors are responding to email solicitations in their inboxes and logging onto social sites like Facebook at the start of the day; often while at work. It makes sense that charities and nonprofits would see a spike in donations during this period. Read more »

Posted by & filed under Congress, Leadership/Management, Marketing/Communications, Stewardship/Donor Relations.

Alan Clayton, Director, Clayton Burnett Ltd.

If it doesn’t, I’m leaving.

Human emotions are complicated and infinite in their variety and combinations. I was asked recently by a journalist ‘Does guilt have a place in fundraising?’ I asked her, ‘please define guilt.’ When she failed to do so, I politely declined the interview. Of course guilt has a place in fundraising as does every emotion that anyone is capable of experiencing and transmitting.

‘Guilt’ is only a hair’s breadth away from ‘pity,’ which in itself is only a razor’s width away from ‘compassion.’ Only a judgmental fool would try and define the difference and preach to us which of our emotions is acceptable and which is not. What I feel as guilt, you may feel as compassion and someone else may feel as religious duty. We are all right.

live-laugh-loveFor fundraising to succeed, and for donors to have the experience of it they deserve, a gamut of emotions is involved. The donor journey is a repeating loop of:

• ‘Reward’ emotion.

• ‘Need’ emotion.

• (rational pause to check out the facts.)

• Gift.

The power of the need emotion is the cause of much controversy, of course. It’s a debate we should have widely in our sector. I look forward to it. Read more »

Posted by & filed under Congress, Leadership/Management, Speakers.

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Simone P. Joyaux, ACFRE, Principal, Joyaux Associates

canaryinthecoalmine

Toronto colleague Cathy Mann says: “I think fundraising is the canary in the coal mine for the organization.”

Brilliant!

If fundraising isn’t going well, what does that say? Maybe the fundraiser doesn’t know the body of knowledge. Maybe the chief executive doesn’t listen to the fundraiser. Maybe the board and its members are lost in space when it comes to fund development. Maybe the quality of your program isn’t what it used to be.

Most fundraising problems are not really fundraising problems. They are problems elsewhere in the institution. But those problems elsewhere do impact fundraising. For example, unhelpful board members are a recruitment and performance problem. And sometimes a chicken problem… because the organization won’t fire lousy board members. Read more »

Posted by & filed under Congress, Corporate/Sponsorship, Leadership/Management, Marketing/Communications, Speakers.

Bernie Colterman, Managing Partnereducate-your-employees

Centre of Excellence for Public Sector Marketing

As the competition for philanthropic dollars increases, more and more nonprofit organizations are looking at sponsorship as an alternate revenue source to more traditional fundraising methods. However, the transition to the marketing-based approach that is required for sponsorship-driven revenue is not easy for many organizations because it requires a mind-set that is radically different from traditional models. Some of these challenges include:

  • Working with large numbers of stakeholders who do not understand sponsorship and how it is different from the philanthropic environment;
  • Establishing “fair market value” for organizational assets;
  • Unrealistic expectations of what revenue can be expected (and when) from various opportunities;
  • Limited internal expertise to market and deliver the program; and,
  • A “business-oriented” culture that is typically not in line with the entrepreneurial approach required to market, negotiate and deliver on sponsorship agreements.  Read more »

Posted by & filed under Congress, Leadership/Management, Major/Planned Gifts, Marketing/Communications, Speakers.

Trevor Zimmer, CFRE
Major Gifts Communications Specialist, 
The Princess Margaret Cancer Foundation

A $250M donation is a pretty big deal, especially for a small college like Centre College, in Danville, Ky. They recently made a lot of waves for this donation, but unfortunately it was for the wrong reason. Apparently the donation was contingent on a “significant capital market event”, that being $3.4 billion loan deal involving  a large privately held company that provides software and services to car dealers. When the deal did not happen the gift that was promised, faded away.

The problem is, the College had made the gift public already. One lesson here is that perhaps it is better to hold off on making announcements on large gifts until they are actually in the bank. Of course we trust donors and their pledges, but often the financial markets rule, and those are things that cannot be trusted. I wonder if someone at the College lobbied to not announce it, and was overruled by a higher up? Read more »