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

Alice L. Ferris, MBA, ACFRE
Founding Partner, GoalBusters LLC

Many well intentioned fundraisers have made a cultural misstep: you schedule a major event on a religious holiday, pick a menu that features food that is culturally taboo, or you make an assumption about someone’s beliefs only to find out the hard way that you are very, very wrong. So how can you navigate cultural traditions, norms and unwritten rules when you are not a member of a certain group, yet you need to work with the group for fundraising?

  1. Think about things you have in common with individuals within the community.
    When we meet someone new, if you’re good at getting to know people, you immediately start to try to find things that you have in common. But isn’t it interesting, that when you consider groups of people, suddenly it becomes easier to find things you don’t share? Try to find common values and interests with that person. Not only will this help with building respect for a potential donor’s values, but also works to develop relationships that are critical to the fundraising process. Read more »

Posted by & filed under Board of Directors, Congress, Speakers.

Siobhan Aspinall
Fundraising Consultant, David Suzuki Foundation

Are you drinking too much merlot and muttering that your board “just doesn’t get it”? Why aren’t they perfect fundraising ambassadors who make their own gifts first and champion every campaign?

Think of the way you treat a red-hot prospect in your major gifts program. That’s right – it’s like prom night but with better manners. Meanwhile, a board member is treated like the grumpy old chaperone. Where is the romance? No wonder they run when you mention fundraising.

Think about your board members as prospects themselves. They are prospective ambassadors, donors and champions of your fundraising activities and like every prospect, you need to develop their relationship with the organization. Think of this in terms of the major gifts cycle. Research your board members, cultivate a relationship with them, engage them in philanthropic activity for your organization and steward their actions and successes.

If this sounds time-consuming, it isn’t. I’ll talk more at the conference about how to engage your board as a group and get even the most reluctant members to think about fundraising in a different and positive light.

Siobhan is currently working in major gifts for Junior Achievement and the David Suzuki Foundation. She will be presenting “Cultivating Your Board’s Interest in Fundraising” at AFP Congress 2011.

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

Bob Penner
President & CEO
Strategic Communications Inc. (Stratcom)

By now many of you have heard about or even participated in a Telephone Town Hall. Stratcom has been pleased to bring this to the Canadian marketplace, although, even for us, it took some persuading.

We do a fair bit of work in the United States and are a member of various American industry associations. For many years, some of my colleagues in the political arena have been telling me that we should use Telephone Town Halls. They are a great communications tool and clients love them, they said. 

But for whatever reason, I didn’t immediately pick up on this suggestion. It was a different sort of tool for us, we were already busy and I didn’t immediately see the value. But they persevered and when an opportunity with a new vendor with superior technology was presented to us, we decided to give it a try.   

But it wasn’t until our own first Telephone Town Hall that I fully got it, and became a believer. This event was for a candidate for mayor of a major Canadian city. There were more than 10 candidates in this mayoral race and our candidate, although an experienced politician, was not particularly well known and was in the middle of the pack. So, we conducted a Telephone Town Hall and invited most of the city to participate. We were amazed to have him speaking to an audience of more than 18,000 people, and at one point 4,000 were on the line. What else could I do cost-effectively or in fact in any way to find our relatively unknown client an audience of this size? Many of the people asking questions during the Telephone Town Hall were saying how they’d never heard him speak before and how impressive he was to hear and also that they liked to be asked to participate in this way. So clearly, the Telephone Town Hall was, as my American colleagues had said, a strong campaign communication tool. Our client didn’t win, but he ran a strong campaign. 

However, while we do have political clients, most of our business is in the non-profit sector. So, we starting to think, in the same way, about how many of our clients’ donors have never heard that organization’s leader speak. The non-profit market is also a crowded field and the same fundamental premise exists. If you call a public meeting, you might attract a few hundred local people or fewer. But, with Telephone Town Hall technology, you can reach thousands of people across the whole country to listen to your message from the comfort of their own home. It’s easy to set up and provides great communication, great interaction, great feedback and, in my experience, the audience is always enthusiastic about them.  

It’s not rocket science, it’s just basic communication that’s made easier because of advances in technology. And, it’s now affordable because of the significant way costs have been reduced in the telecom system, and how the Telephone Town Hall can make use of this opportunity. 

Although we’ve done a lot of Telephone Town Halls by now, we’ve only just begun to experiment with it and its endless possibilities. Watch this space to learn more. And, at our presentation at AFP Congress, I will discuss some of the more interesting Telephone Town Halls we’ve done so far. We’d also like to hear from you – if you had an experience with a Telephone Town Hall or if you have an idea for how it might be utilized to meet the objectives of your organization, let us know and we’ll discuss it in our blog and at our session. Looking forward to seeing you at AFP Congress. 

Bob will be presenting “Telephone Town Halls: A New Way to Engage Supporters and Donors” at AFP Congress 2011.

 

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

Jessie Sitnick, MMSt., MA
Senior Officer, Partnership & Development Communications, WWF

Today I finished a major case for support.

Okay, let me qualify that. Today I finished the last round of edits on the fourth version of the “final draft” of a major case for support. Wait, let me rephrase. Today I finished what I think is probably the last round of edits –at least for the next six months…oy.

Let’s face it. Cases for support are never really done. Maybe they shouldn’t be. They are, in a lot of ways, as organic as your organization. They mature, they morph, they spin off, they shift – in all the same ways that your programs and priorities do as they evolve to meet your mission. 

But, also like your organization, they have milestones. Moments (it can feel that brief) when your case has finally elucidated the kernel of truth that everyone agrees to—what you’re doing, why it matters, how it will change things, what success looks like, how you’ll get there, how you’ll know you’ve arrived. Actually, what I’ve just described are two accomplishments, which ideally happen together: (1) you’ve discovered and are able to articulate the answers to all of the questions written above and (2) everyone agrees with those answers. 

This pokes at the squishy heart of what I think cases are all about. More than anything else, they are a process. A process which is, perhaps, not all that different from group therapy. 

Yes, you need a good case to raise money. Because being able to answer all those hard, juicy questions is essential to inspiring donors to support your work and even more critical to telling them what their support has accomplished. But, if your case is a bridge between your organization and your donors–a metaphor I like to use—you have to remember, as my co-presenter Trevor Zimmer so aptly pointed out to me, you can’t build a bridge to nowhere. In other words, creating your case is as much about catalyzing internal alignment—having those “come to the mountain” conversations—as it is figuring out how to communicate externally. 

My “case breakthrough” moments over the past year did not happen in the isolation of my cubicle or in the quiet space of my mind.  They came as the result of long, impassioned, and loud conversations. They were formed through whiteboard sessions where people furiously drew arrows and boxes and underlined random words vehemently. They happened when I proudly presented my first fantastic draft of the case that I finally (sort of) finished today and was told—clearly, certainly—that I had gotten it wrong, wrong, wrong.  

What I witnessed, in these moments, wasn’t just my own enlightenment. It wasn’t just the “dense fundraiser” finally getting it. It was all of us –scientists, policy-wonks, communications specialists, senior leaders and, yes, donor managers—all “getting it” together at the same time. 

Look, I know everyone wants a nice, tidy, finished case. We need them for our one-pagers, our two-pagers, our proposals, our pitches, our impact reports. But—in the tradition of fortune cookie wisdom—sometimes the journey is as valuable, and potentially even more important than the destination. In the case of cases, I think the cookie speaks the truth. 

Jessie Sitnick is Senior Officer, Partnership & Development Communications at WWF. She will be presenting “They Blinded Me with Science: How to Turn Complicated Programs into Compelling Cases” at AFP Congress 2011.

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

Aspinall, SiobhanSiobhan Aspinall
Fundraising Consultant, David Suzuki Foundation

When I can’t sleep at night, I blame Imagine Canada’s Sector Monitor reports. They do a fantastic job of illustrating the many challenges we face today. Donor prospecting, gift renewals and gift upgrades take place year-round at break-neck speed just to keep up with inflation, donor churn and programming needs. For many of us this frenzy of activity is happening with fewer staff and greater competition than in previous years. Does this ring a bell?

We are all told in Fundraising 101 that the secret to controlling the frenzy is to reduce donor turnover but despite the well-known costs of donor churn, the push for many fundraisers today is to spend our time closing gifts, not stewarding those already in the door. As a result, it seems like stewardship receives less attention and investment than it should. Even worse, I often see stewardship taking second place to its flashier cousin “recognition”. I have spent countless hours with groups who agonize over where to list donors’ names and how many tchotchkes they should get for various giving levels. Half the time this recognition isn’t worth the glue it took to stick it on the donor wall. Recognition may sweeten the ask, but stewardship is what grows the relationship and keeps the gifts coming. 

As a bit of a stewardship junkie, I’m looking forward to this year’s congress to share my collection of innovative approaches and swap ideas with the other participants. See you there! 

Siobhan is currently working in major gifts for Junior Achievement and the David Suzuki Foundation. She will be speaking at Congress 2011 on “Stewardship – Beyond the Donor Wall.”

Posted by & filed under Congress, Speakers.

Ann Rosenfield, CFRE
Executive Director, The WoodGreen Foundation

I am not actually an expert in everything. Even in the things where I am an expert, sometimes I need a  second opinion or a different perspective.  That’s why Congress is great – it is a wonderful chance to meet other fundraising and trade ideas. 

My friend Mary McPherson and I have come up with a great way to make every day a Congress Day – we call it Knowledge Exchange.

The idea behind Knowledge Exchange is simple – I come to your charity and give you training on a topic of my expertise that you want to learn.  Then you return the favour by coming to my charity and doing the same.  The host charity buys the speaker lunch and pays for parking.  It is cheap as dirt, dead simple, and really works. 

We did a Knowledge Exchange over the summer – not only did we learn more, one of the unanticipated benefits was that we ended up doing some joint problem solving.  We found we had some common questions and a quick conversation led to a solution for both of us.

And the best way to get started on your own Knowledge Exchange is to come to Congress and find a Knowledge Exchange buddy help you over the next year.   

Knowledge Exchange is one way –  How do you make Congress learning last all  year long?

Ann is the Executive Director of the WoodGreen Foundation. She will be speaking at Congress 2011 on “Small Shop, Big Success.”

Posted by & filed under Congress, Diversity, Speakers.

In June Statistics Canada released a study called “Projected trends to 2031 for the Canadian labour force”, as part of the Canadian Economic Observer.  The study says that by 2031, roughly one in every three people in the labour force could be foreign born. Between 1991 and 2006, the percentage of foreign-born people in the labour force rose from 18.5% to 21.2%. If recent immigration levels were to continue, that proportion is projected to reach almost 33% in 2031, according to most scenarios.

How will this shift in demographics affect fundraising?  Can you afford to ignore this trend?  Come to the Congress session called “Cultivating Strategic Relationships with New Immigrant Communities”, to learn more about a group that will represent 1 in 3 in the not too distant future.  The report is here: http://www.statcan.gc.ca/daily-quotidien/110817/dq110817b-eng.htm.