Posted by & filed under Congress, Donor communications, Marketing/Communications, Speakers, Special Events.

By Mo Waja

 

For many nonprofits, ‘marketing’ has been­ — and remains — a support tool for fundraising; its purpose, mainly to serve as a medium to get the fundraising message out there to as many prospective donors as possible, via social media or otherwise. But this limited use fails to capitalize on the opportunity of marketing. For nonprofits making more robust use of marketing and communications, the act of ‘marketing’ becomes everything from a branding exercise to a recruitment tool, to a way to connect with key stakeholders, to community engagement, to profile building, to storytelling.

 

But it’s that last, storytelling, that sits at the core of good marketing. No matter what message your organization is looking to put out into the world, the story you tell is the heart of how you express the need of your population, how you connect with your community of supporters, and how you show the continuous positive impact your organization has. The question is, how do you tell that story well?

 

 

The thing is, ‘telling a story well’ encompasses more than simply telling a good story that (hopefully) raises fundraising dollars. Why? Because every charitable organization owes a duty of care to the population they serve that goes beyond the good work provided.

 

This, how to market, advertise, or tell a nonprofit story well, has been a topic of much debate. While, broadly, we can agree that tapping into empathy and, from that, compassion, is a key component of generating giving behaviour through storytelling, the real question is how do we get there. One common way is the use of ‘shock’ campaigns depicting imagery of people in desperate circumstances. Yet this strategy has been used so frequently that it has almost become a cliché, while simultaneously becoming an unfortunate standard by which many fundraising campaigns are set, particularly those for international aid (think your classic imagery of impoverished, starving Africa). While, even today, these shock campaigns — often more harshly labeled ‘poverty porn’ — can undoubtedly be effective in soliciting short-term donations, the problems with this approach are multifold. Read more »

Posted by & filed under Inspiration, Speakers, Special Events.

By Yunis Kariuki

 

Now in its third edition, the Speaker Discovery Series (SDS) is becoming AFP Toronto’s premiere event showcasing the most promising upcoming speakers in the fundraising profession. Speakers come prepared to tell their personal stories in 8-minute speeches with no slide deck or props, and what transpires are powerful, emotional and dynamic presentations connected to the fundraising profession.

 

Each Speaker Discovery Series is centered around a theme chosen by the SDS Committee. Dilemma was chosen for this past Speaker Discovery Series, held in May at the Gladstone Hotel, on Queen and Dufferin. The speakers shared the difficult choices they faced in navigating the complexities of their careers and how they dealt with their choices. The presentation topics ranged from the fear of not speaking up, to dealing with racism in the workplace, professional struggles and successes with Asperger’s, making the decision to walk away from a successful career opportunity, and finally, the challenges non-profits face when marketing vulnerable populations. What made each of the presentations so captivating was the speakers’ ability and skill in storytelling. The speakers’ stories contained conflict and struggle that kept the audience curious about what will happen next. Read more »

Posted by & filed under Speakers, Special Events.

The night featured seven new storytellers and had an unprecedented turnout (over one-hundred listeners!)

I had the good fortune of joining this project on the ground floor. My president at Stephen Thomas Ltd, Paula Attfield, introduced me to this brand-new committee and provided my credentials for working at various nonprofit mixers and conferences in the past. The Speaker Discovery Series (or, as the cool kids say, SDS) was the brainchild of Laura Champion – Fundraising Strategist at fellow agency Blakely Inc.

Laura saw that a few rungs were missing on the ladder to the speaking circuit in fundraising and nonprofit marketing. A lot of untapped talent was just waiting for an opportunity to hit the stage, share a story, and build their portfolio as presenters. The plan was simply to give new speakers that audience and provide a few coaches for valuable professional feedback.

But what Laura didn’t know was just how successful her idea would become.

The first night of this series took place in July of 2017 and it was a marvelous proof of concept – we were proud to see nearly fifty people attend and thoroughly enjoy the night. It was fresh, they’d say. Grassroots, candid, offbeat. And they couldn’t wait to attend another.

Our committee regrouped and began planning. We wanted each event to have a theme and decided our second night would encourage people to share ‘Whoops’ stories from their fundraising careers. Pobody’s nerfect. And we wanted to celebrate that fact.

It was a fitting theme choice because numerous mistakes and surprises were ahead of us. A confirmed speaker ended up having a conflict; there was a miscommunication with our venue and they ended up cancelling our reservation; one of our coaches caught the flu and cancelled at the last minute; and finally, one of our committee members ended up having to drop out. Life happens. I’m sure you can relate. Best-laid plans, and all of that.

Somehow everything still fell into place… New volunteers stepped up, we continued to promote and fine-tune the event, and (to our amazement) it was going to be more than twice as popular as our first night of the series.

Yes, over a hundred people filled our space. Our new venue, the Gladstone hotel, provided a room that delightfully resembled a swank comedy club. Our speakers got a stage with a bare-brick backdrop and rows of theatre-style seats filled with peers, colleagues, and new friends. A few stories earned an uproar of laughter and others compelled misty-eyed contemplation. And, as a committee member, I opened the night for our speakers with an ice-breaker story about when data goes hilariously wrong.

This evening was such a hit, in fact, that you may hear about other Speaker Discovery Series starting up at other AFP chapters across Canada. I’m proud to be on this pioneering committee alongside Sam Barr, Jess Wroblewski, Yunis Kariuki, Dela Kumapley, and our champion Laura who invited us all along with her.

Our next event is May 9th so mark your calendars now. Stay tuned for other details. If you missed the first two nights of this series, you can file that under ‘Whoops’ and we will hope to see you next time. And if you do want to catch up, you’ll be pleased to hear that we recorded a podcast of the big night and you can listen to it here.

Interested in speaking? The Call for Speakers will be coming soon.  If you are nervous about submitting – please reach out, as we’re always happy to have a chat.

 

Scott Jeffries
Stephen Thomas Ltd.

Scott is a senior manager specialized in data brokerage at Stephen Thomas Ltd. He is also on the committee responsible for the annual Digital Leap conference. While Scott’s background was originally book publishing – with a specialization in sales & marketing – he has redirected his passion into a unique career using analytics and tenacity to connect charities with their ideal prospective donor audience. In his free time, Scott runs a monthly discussion group for science and philosophy enthusiasts. And he’s a donor to (or participant in) every charity walk that’s brought to his attention.

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, 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 »

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

Judith Nichols, Ph.D., CFRE

Author, Consultant, New Directions in Philanthropy

Looking for new donors? Trying to hold on to the donors you have? Understanding who’s in your donor pool – or who should be – is the first step to growing a larger, more loyal group of supporters. 

Fundraisers are beginning to recognize the need to market differently to audiences with different backgrounds using demographics and psychographics to uncover similarities and differences among potential donors:

–  Demographics: Demographics are sets of characteristics about people that relate to their behavior as consumers. Age, sex, race, marital status, education and income are used most frequently.

–  Psychographics: These are measures of attitudes, values or lifestyles. They are the entire constellation of a person’s attitudes, beliefs, opinions, hopes, fears, prejudices, needs, desires and aspirations that, taken together, govern how he/she behaves. This, in turn, finds holistic expression in a lifestyle. Read more »