Posted by & filed under Donor communications, Fundraising, Stewardship/Donor Relations.

Are you stuck in your fundraising?  Overwhelmed? Dissatisfied?  Need a reset?

Or maybe your organization is just starting to get serious about building a strong fundraising program and you’re wondering how to get going.

When I see fundraisers struggling with any of these situations, I always ask them to stop everything they are doing, take a deep breath and then focus completely on the donor relationship and making every single one of your donors into a LLL-Donor: Loyal, Loving and Long-term.

The path to success become clear and the steps are fewer than you’d imagine:

  1. Set your sights on finding donors that are as interested and passionate about your mission as you are (you are interested and passionate about your mission, right?!)
  1. Offer donors reasons to support your mission
  1. Share how donors are achieving the mission
  1. Repeat

When you make the shift to a LLL-Donor strategy, you no longer think: “I have to write a direct mail letter”.  Instead you’ll say: “I have to tell my donor about this horrible problem and the solution we have.”

A stewardship report is not a burdensome exercise in dragging information out of your programs people to regurgitate to donors. It’s now a labour of love to show donors how their generosity is making measurable improvements in our community, country and/or planet.

Even rubber-chicken silent auction events will be elevated above a formulaic dinner and silent auctions.  Instead, your gala will become a LLL-donor recruitment event, where you have the opportunity to emotionally engage 100, 300 or 1000 attendees with the life-changing work your charity performs.  Play your cards right and you will bring a good number of them into your donor-fold, motivated by true philanthropy.

Your fundraising calendar no longer looks like a spreadsheet related to your accountant’s work plan for your fiscal year. It’s now a plan to build loving relationships with new donors and sustain the fire for your cause with your long-term donors.

Sending notes, having conversations, making donors feel special and appreciated…sharing your deepest dreams and feelings and reminding them of how good it feels take on the world together.

Sound mushy and irrational?

That’s when you know you are on the right path.

David Kravinchuk is passionate about prescribing annual giving and bequest marketing solutions, David opened Fundraising Pharmacy to dispense name-brand advice (at generic prices!) for Canadian charities including St. Paul’s Hospital Foundation, New Democratic Party (MB), Community Living Toronto and international clients like Outward Bound New Zealand and University of Queensland. Follow David on Twitter @DavidKravinchuk and sign up for his regular dose of advice, RE:Phil.

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

Marc Ralsky, Director, Community and Donor Development
Ontario SPCA

“We paid our dues from back in the day.”

“I am 10 or 20 years into my career.”group-conversation

“I don’t have to talk to donors or see them or call them.”

“We can just shoot them an email.”

My sense is a lot of us in the sector have forgotten some of the basic components of making a connection and raising money:

  • Talking to people in the flesh, or a novel approach – on the phone!
  • Writing a handwritten note (have you seen your handwriting lately?)
  • Speaking to a donor or potential donor face-to-face, even if we are not the major gift officer or planned gift lead

We have all embraced the digital age – integrating this, integrating that, adding SEO and SEM to optimize and measure clicks and visits. We have multi-channel campaigns that are supported by social media, emails, maybe some telemarketing and then followed up by a reminder email or two. We have organizational websites that rarely link to people – though some in the sector have now added a “Click here to speak to a live person!” – a new experience!

Of course digital fundraising and all its associated activities provide us with great tactics that work. They raise money efficiently and effectively. I know they do – my team has won international integrated marketing awards. So, am I contradicting myself? No. But I realized there is a piece that was missing.

It ‘clicked’ for me during a visioning session with our vendors in a meeting before the holiday break. We came up with a key value in the animal welfare sector: the human-animal bond.  It got me thinking while walking my dogs before work on these past cold dark mornings: What about the human to human bond? What are we doing with that in our nonprofit charitable sector? Where did it go?

We rarely hear about our sector holding events that are not fundraising events anymore – events that plainly are designed so people can talk to others with interest in the same cause. Instead we invite our stakeholders to join a Facebook page or a private password protected microsite where people can download materials to read about their cause of interest, alone in their own space. We have removed the human bond obtained through direct in-person interaction.

I recently suggested the idea of holding education open house events in one of our centres that wants to re-invigorate its connection to the surrounding community. The response I received was WOW – what a great idea! They will come to us? Yes, I thought, just like they did before. Remember when people called into to charities asking for educational brochures to learn about various diseases and treatments? I think it’s now called inbound marketing…

We all attend conferences or breakfast meetings and more than 75% of the sessions talk about creating a relationship with your donors. Usually, the presentations focus on how to email them or get them to like and share your social media page. We spend more time at conferences with like-minded colleagues then we probably do talking to and mingling with donors and stakeholders at all levels of our organizations. And yet, we have somehow decided that it is no longer efficient to meet and interact with our donors in person.

People love people. Our worst fear as humans is being alone or feeling like we are the only one with a specific problem or interest. We like affinity groups! How about making strong in-person connections with people and keeping them on file longer?

My challenge to our sector is this: let’s get back to basics. Let’s integrate some real human to human bond back into our integrated inbound marketing strategies. Imagine what will happen if we do all the digital channels and add in some real opportunities to talk to our donors, stakeholders, clients and the public. Try chatting about why your charity was originally established and how the work you do is made possible each day. Think about the opportunities that will present themselves when people meet and find others who have the same issues or challenges or likes. Doors will open. People will see the faces behind the names and endless emails and texts they receive from us.

As our moms told us: Try it, you will like it!

Ralsky_MarcMarc Ralsky is Director, Community and Donor Development at Ontario SPCA. He is a seasoned fundraiser with close to 20 years experience working with organizations and volunteer groups to achieve successful outcomes.His practical streetwise common sense approach to peer to peer, event management and fundraising in general allows him to innovatively offer knowledge and experience to develop insights and recommendations that will help not for profit and volunteer groups to achieve measurable growth.

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

Cynthia Foo, Grants Manager, Environmental Defence

As a contract and full-time fundraiser who has specialized in both giving and soliciting grants, I’ve come across a few misconceptions on what encourages foundations to give. Here are some common mistakes and what you can do to correct them:

1. I shouldn’t contact the foundation to pitch our work because it says “no unsolicited propflower-22656_640osals” on their website.

Most foundations make this advisory as they lack the staff to handle application questions from the larger public. However, it doesn’t mean you shouldn’t try to find a point of contact where possible—especially if your work is a close fit with the foundation’s interests and granting history.

Be prepared to dig deeper within your organization: find out the Board connections between your organization and theirs; work out relationships which may get an in-person meeting with the foundation’s steering committee; or if all else fails, send a polite, short (1-2 paragraph) e-mail to the contact on your proposed targeted approach, and ask whether the foundation would be interested in finding out more.

2. I shouldn’t contact a foundation in advance of my grant application because it will just annoy them.

As someone who has worked for both a corporation disbursing grants and for a charity soliciting foundations grants, my first-hand experience is that no foundation actively soliciting grants has ever expressed annoyance at an initial call or e-mail, especially if it’s an opportunity to offer insights on what can be improved.

When I worked for a disbursing organization, I spent an inordinate amount of time reviewing applications that were just not a good fit, or were truly puzzling in their approach. Some of the applications that came across my desk demonstrated no overlap with the mission of the funding organization, no explanation of how the work would enhance the funder’s mandate, and had no indication of how the grant would help the charity succeed if they received funding. In most cases, these were grant proposals from organizations which I knew and respected.

I would have been glad to have saved their grants officer and their staff the time and hassle of submitting a flawed application if they had just called or e-mailed me at the outset. And I would have been more than happy to try to strengthen the application before it went up the ladder for review. If an organization is in the business to give out grants, they are motivated to see applications succeed.

3. When creating interim or final reports, I should write to the foundation with the same friendly tone that I use in my newsletters and general communications with individual donors.

Most foundations are interested in metrics, not only in heartwarming stories. While funders are keen to find out the effects of their granting in compelling narratives, foundations’ structures require greater demonstrations of returns-on-donation than individual donors may demand. What did the grant help advance? How many did it help your organization serve? How did it help change people’s lives? The foundation’s board will ask for these facts as it will help them determine their own measures of success in the community, and will help them set clear strategic directions in the future.

4. I should follow all of my foundation funder’s instructions and only submit applications online and submit reports when they say to do so in the grant agreement. Any other attempts to contact them will be seen as a nuisance.

This is the most common misconception I hear when talking to grant writers or other fundraising staff. Most foundations are sophisticated organizations which appreciate being treated as partners in funding. In this respect, stewardship techniques when dealing with foundations are very much akin to those used when dealing with major donors—share your results early, and often; make sure you trumpet your wins, and most of all, make sure you alert your funder early if a proposed course of work ends up being derailed and you realize you won’t be able to do what you said you’d be able to in your proposal. Most funders understand that the work they are funding is at risk of the inevitable chaos of life—someone leaves for another job, someone gets sick, or someone just plain forgets to do something because they didn’t read the application properly.

Making sure that clear communication is established with the foundation funder all along the way—not just at the time of reporting or proposal—is key in ensuring long-term, rewarding relationships. In fact, this approach generally helps create opportunities to increase giving from these foundations in the long-run as your own organization grows.

5. When a foundation rejects my grant application, I should file it and/or not bother reapplying.

Most foundation funders want to see applications succeed. If they reject your grant application, chances are there are good reasons why. Perhaps your budget needed to be weighted differently. Maybe your approach didn’t fit their priorities this year. Or perhaps it was just bad timing and they’d already allocated funds to another charity. Any of these reasons would allow you to alter your approach and resubmit your application next year.

Best of all, contacting the foundation to ask for feedback on what could be improved helps nurture the budding relationship between the potential funder and the charity, which is always helpful when asking for support. It’s easy to be disheartened, but it’s better to learn and reposition for the next round.

CynthiaFoo

Since 2010, Cynthia Foo has helped charities increase their foundations grants funding. She has worked for Human Rights Watch (NYC) and is currently employed as the Grants Manager by Environmental Defence Canada, a national environmental charity. She also currently provides foundations fundraising assistance to Hincks-Dellcrest Foundation and the Toronto Symphony Orchestra. In the summer, she teaches kayakking and stand-up paddleboarding and loves to spend lazy afternoons in the sun with her dog Chauncey. You can follow Cynthia on Twitter at @cynthfoo or connect with her on LinkedIn.

 

Posted by & filed under Annual Giving, Campaign, Marketing/Communications, Next Generation Philanthropy, Stewardship/Donor Relations.

Laura Champion, Donor Relations Coordinator – Direct Response

Crohn’s and Colitis Canada

I am bad with confrontation. My face turns red, I stare at my feet and my first instinct is to run and hide in the corner. It’s a good thing I’m on the phone!

But as fundraisers, we have all been there. The phone rings and on the other side is a very displeased donor. Someone has issued the wrong receipt, sent too much mail or not enough mail. Perhaps they were excluded from a guest list. The donor is unhappy and they want you to know it.

As a millennial, I have easily avoided phone calls most of life. Call display, voicemail, texting and email have made it all too simple for me to go through my whole day without actually speaking to anyone. This has made my conflict resolutions skills mostly text based.

But one of the reasons I am a fundraiser and more specifically, an annual giving fundraiser is that it gives me the chance to speak to so many people. Most interactions are positive and cause my heart to soar!  But every once in a while they are not the same type of inspiring.

laurachampion

Since I have met quite a few text based millennials among my fellow fundraisers, I have put together a few thoughts on how to maintain your composure and ease that pit in your stomach:

1) My motto both in the workplace and out is “Be a person”. Remember the reason that the donor is upset could be heightened by something else going on in their lives. It is a reminder to be kind, be honest and be present for those around you. A kind word from me may be all this donor needs to get through a tough situation.

2) Do not take it personally. It’s easy to internalize the criticism, especially if the mistake was your own. Remember that everyone makes mistakes. When you’ve completed the call with the donor, take a walk or get a coffee and settle back in. It is too easy to carry negativity – be careful not to let it burn you out.

3) Donors want to be heard. Whether it is a compliment, a complaint or a story, people want to feel heard. It is our job as fundraisers to understand that donors are giving to our organization because of a connection. When they take the time to call you – hear them. They are telling you what you can do to retain them long term.

4) Donors do not call unless they care. They do not want to leave your organization – they just want you to make it right. These crisis calls are an opportunity to learn more about these individuals and their motivation for giving.

5) Tell me about a time when… Remember you are always learning and growing in your role. These crisis calls may be difficult but it is important to think of them as an opportunity to improve your skills and gather material for the next interview!

With so much talk emphasis on being donor-centric and taking donors through their journey, we need to remember there may be some wrong turns or road blocks. Ensuring that everyone in your organization understands how to deal with dissatisfied donors without taking it to heart will lead to a healthier organization and a healthier donor base. Retention is the new acquisition.

And keep in mind – you are not alone. We have all been through a crisis – it is part of what forms a great fundraiser. Relationship management means working with donors when they are happy and when they are not.

Laura Campion Photo

Laura Champion is Donor Relations Coordinator at Crohn’s and Colitis Canada. She has a thirst for fundraising knowledge and is always open to discussion. You can find her on twitter @charitablelaura.

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

Siobhan Aspinall, CFRE
Senior Manager, Major Gifts, Junior Achievement of British Columbia

At Congress this year, I’m going to talk about involving non-fundraising staff in donor stewardship. You’d be crazy not to! So let’s think about who to take on that next donor visit and how to make them successful.

In the past, I was guilty of defaulting to the chiefs. I’d automatically bring along a board member, maybe even the chair or my CEO.

But if donor stewardship is about showing people the impact of their gift, then why not go straight to the source and bring along a person who actually delivers your programs? They might not be as polished as the CEO, but I bet they’ll be more interesting – mainly because they are so much closer to the work.

Don’t get me wrong – I know this approach can backfire. There’s maybe a very good reason that we don’t often invite the programs team along for sensitive visits as you can’t possibly prep them for every question or comment that might come up. However, I think it’s worthwhile to try. Start with these tips to set up your colleague for success on a donor visit:

  1. Book your program colleague for an informal briefing a couple
    of days before the donor meeting.12177981144_bd277b7ea4
  2. Tell them about the donor – how much they’ve given, what their interests are, and above all, what kind of personality they have.
  3. Emphasize more than once that the visit is informal and that we’re not going to ask for money.
  4. Do a bit of a role play. The fundraiser should start, as she has the relationship. Then let the donor talk, then cue up the program person.
  5. Have a signal for your colleague to let them know when they’ve said enough on a given topic. Let them know this is
    necessary because it is SO important to let the donor talk too. (I had a system with one scientist where I’d put my pen down on the table. He stopped so abruptly the first time we did it, it was like someone had punched him in the neck. We improved over time!)
  6. Figure out a “leave.” What’s the follow up we will offer when we close the meeting? An advance look at a pending report? A promise to send along an event invitation? Make sure it’s never just “goodbye.”
  7. Write a thank you for your program colleague to send from her email address (with you cc’ed) encouraging the donor to get in touch directly with any questions or comments. This creates a nice value add where you’re giving your best supporters exclusive access to the change-makers of the organization.

And don’t forget to tell your colleagues why this is so important. At the end of it all, we are looking to secure more funds for their work!
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Siobhan has been fundraising for over 15 years for organizations including the Canadian Cancer Society, the David Suzuki Foundation and United Way. She is currently the Senior Manager of Development at Junior Achievement working primarily in grant-writing and major gifts. She teaches fundraising courses at BCIT, consults, and is a board member for the Association of Fundraising Professionals. She holds a BA in from UBC and an Associate Certificate in Fundraising Management from BCIT. She writes for her fundraising blog at siobhanaspinall.com and surfs in Tofino. Siobhan will be presenting at Congress 2014 in Toronto.

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

David Kravinchuk

Chief Advice Dispenser, Fundraising Pharmacy

There is one powerfully simple way you can instantly begin creating healthy, effective and rewarding long-term donor relationships:

Ensure your donors can easily find the name, phone number and email address of a real live person that can help them with an enquiry, complaint, compliment or even a donation. Then invite them to use this information.  Invite them to call, email or pop by. For any reason.

Does your charity direct donors to call a toll-free or auto-attendant line instead of a real person who can help?  Or do you invite donors to email info@charitymeh.com on your Planned Giving webpages?  If so, this is what you are really saying to donors desperately trying to connect to a human being at your organization.

Does your charity direct donors to call a toll-free or auto-attendant line instead of a real person who can help? Or do you invite donors to email info@charitymeh.com on your Planned Giving webpages? If so, this is what you are really saying to donors desperately trying to connect to a human being at your organization.

Next, make sure this information is everywhere your donors’ eyes are… thank you letters, direct mail reply/donation forms, annual report, newsletter, brochures and on every single page of your website.

Why?

  • Donors won’t just figure it out.
  • It speaks volumes that your organization is thoughtful and takes donor relationships seriously.
  • Most donors will never call, email or pop in, but there’s a comfort and trust factor knowing that they can.
  • You will create a culture shift to focus on donor needs and service.
  • You will build loyalty and loyal donors are incredibly valuable (monthly, midmost and bequest donors usually start as loyal donors).

The simplicity of this gesture belies its power. It can deliver millions to your organization long term.

Take a few minutes now and find the places you can make this change quickly and easily. Then take a few more minutes tomorrow to make sure it happens. You’ll be prepared to really maximize that massive effort you’re putting into your fundraising this busy holiday season.

It’s an incredibly effective way you can show your donors the respect and love they deserve.

Passionate about prescribing annual giving and bequest marketing solutions, David opened Fundraising Pharmacy to dispense name-brand advice (at generic prices!) for Canadian charities including United Way, Big Brothers Big Sisters, The MS Society of Canada, The Sunshine Foundation of Canada and Community Living Toronto. Earlier, David was the Senior Philanthropic Counsel at Good Works where he was responsible for a legacy marketing client roster that included Red Cross, UNHCR and Canadian Cancer Society. Follow David on Twitter  @DavidKravinchuk and join his session on annual giving at Congress 2014 in Toronto.

 

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

Gayle Goossen

President and Creative Director, Barefoot Creative

I am a storyteller.

I personally write hundreds of appeals and newsletters every year. I love crafting a fundraising offer – it is personal, attention-gripping and, yes, it can be transformational. But let me share a tiny insight – a challenge I run into almost every day.

Fundraising organizations exchange organizational information for the power of a story. I have no idea why. We know that a story engages far more centres in the brain. We know that a story invites the readers to read more. We know that stories motivate compassion and response.

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                                                   photo credit: Enokson

It seems to me fundraising organizations should be champions of storytelling.

Perhaps it comes from the misnomer that education happens in a lecture. I’m not sure who started that myth. I know that educators world-wide perpetuate it. But it is simply not true. Current studies in brain response to story affirm the power of storytelling

As a young student I attended two graduation exercises. The same speaker spoke at both of them. Idealist that I am, and the fact that there was significant overlap in the audience, I expected him to deliver 2 different speeches.

But he didn’t.

Fascinatingly, I didn’t catch on until his first story. Then, as I listened more attentively, I realized that he hadn’t bothered to change anything. I only remembered the story. It seemed to me that he would have been brilliant if he had simply replaced the story – no one would have known. The most poignant memory of his speech was the story.

The story challenges the listener or reader to link analogies, discover the journey, build the bridges between characters. Most of all, the story introduces us to people who are  like us and not like us – but just enough like us to make us interested in their lives. Listeners and readers immediately begin to solve the story’s core problems, cheering for the hero and booing the villain. The brain imagines the scene, the character, the problem and the solution.

The great storyteller begins with an innate sense of curiosity. The storyteller is on a quest to understand why and who and how and what and where. They want to understand the poignant details. (Join me at the national AFP conference…. I’ll share concrete examples there)

My husband just doesn’t get it. Seriously (but then, he’s not a story teller). When he gets off the phone with his mother – I have about 57 questions. Did he think to ask one of them? Curiosity didn’t kill the cat – it got the story. (More at the conference… )

Your depiction of the people in the story must be human – even if they live in another country, there are thousands of ways they can relate to your audience. You need to find them in your neighbourhood, down your street, in the mall… you can make them human by the way you describe them. As the longevity and universal appeal of Shakespeare has illustrated many. Many times – the human story has not changed all that much.

As a writer/fundraiser/ storyteller you tell some extremely difficult stories. That is a distinct gift. Hone it!

Gayle is the founder and president of Barefoot Creative. For more than 20 years she has been walking alongside nonprofits, helping to develop and implement fund raising strategies that inspire donors to engage and contribute. Her academic background and graduate degree in Canadian Literature and Post-Modern Critical Theory inspire a unique approach to applying foundational fund development and marketing strategies to help non-profits grow. She will be presenting at Congress 2014 in Toronto.

 

 

Posted by & filed under Case Study, Leadership/Management, Major/Planned Gifts, Marketing/Communications, Stewardship/Donor Relations.

Karen Willson, CFRE, Senior VP & Partner, KCI (Ketchum Canada Inc.) 

Heather Hurst, President & CEO, Humber River Hospital Foundation

Yes, this was the situation for Humber River Hospital, when the Campaign started in 2011. Heather and I have been ‘joined at the hip’ to create the winning strategy and have been continually adapting our planning as the Campaign progress.

Due to the magnitude of the new hospital initiative, the private sector goal was pre-established as $225 Million. At KCI, we are aware that Hospital Foundations are being put in the challenging position of having to strive for larger and larger goals based on project costs, rather than on  their own readiness in relation to such factors as strength of their prospect base, availability of volunteers, clarity of case, etc. This intensifies the pressure between the Hospitals and their Foundations. The Hospitals require the flow of funds at certain dates, yet the Foundations’ are dependent on the ability of their volunteers to reach out to philanthropists and, the decision-making process of their donors. KCI is seeing this as a common trend in the Hospital sector (see Philanthropic Trends for more information).

              photo credit: Rusty Russ via photopin cc

Due to the strength of the Case i.e.: 1) the first hospital to be built in Ontario in 25 years; 2) the level of technology that would be incorporated to improve healthcare; and 3) the attention on the patient experience, with the support of my Foundation Board – we rose to this challenge. Karen and I knew we were working with a team of committed volunteer leaders, had secured a $10 Million lead gift and had an exciting case. The new hospital would definitely be ‘revolutionizing healthcare’ in this Province.

We created a traditional gift range chart with a lead gift of $50 Million, built our Top 100 prospect list, recruited our volunteers and marched forward with a sense of enthusiasm and optimism.

A new donor stepped up to support his physician and was so thrilled that the new hospital would be putting Humber River on the map that he joined our campaign cabinet. The Italian community is coming together with group gifts that they hope will inspire others to give. Hospital front-line staff have come forward to donate because they know they will be making a difference to patient care… in fact Environmental Services at all three sites have a 100% donation record!

Our team of Foundation staff is 20 strong. We have divided the Campaign activity into a number of pillars (Catchment Area, Downtown Core, Family Campaign, etc.) and have aligned our team members (both staff and volunteers) to these particular areas. Our goal in aligning staff in this manner is to make sure that the team not only feels a sense of accomplishment but, has fun along the way.

Advice to our colleagues in leading campaigns where a goal is pre-determined is as follows:

  • Set the course of action with the Hospital Leadership and Hospital Board being actively involved
  • Do not assume that the Hospital’s Leadership understands how the fundraising process works….educate, educate and educate
  • Set up regular communications lines between the Hospital and Foundation. We hold quarterly meetings with the Chair of the Hospital Board, Hospital CEO and Chair of Foundation Board (with both of us)
  • Be sympathetic and understanding of the pressures of Hospital leadership as they work to complete this project ‘on budget and on time’.

We are now closing in on $70 Million and have extensive call activity in the pipeline.  When the doors open in October 2015, this Foundation will have taken every step to help the hospital in securing the $225 Million needed.

We will keep you posted on our progress!

KWAs Senior Vice President at KCI, Karen Willson provides strategic direction and project supervision to her clients. This high level of professionalism and expertise was evident in her supervision of the University of Waterloo’s $260 million capital campaign, which exceeded its goal by $353 million. Karen recently worked with Habitat for Humanity Canada, and is currently providing counsel to Humber River Hospital, Women’s College Hospital, Camp Oochigeas and the Elizabeth Fry Society.

HHHeather Hurst has been in the nonprofit sector for 25 years. Heather is now the President and CEO of the Humber River Hospital Foundation and is responsible for the planning and execution of the $225M Capital Campaign for HRH’s new digital hospital. Prior to joining HRH in 2011, Heather was the President and CEO for 7 years at West Park Healthcare Centre and Vice-President of Development and Campaign Director at St. Michaels Hospital Foundation for over 6 years.

 

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 Leadership/Management, Marketing/Communications, Networking, Next Generation Philanthropy, Stewardship/Donor Relations.

Colin Hennigar, Associate Director, SickKids Foundation 

How do you engage a group of young professional major gift donors? Listen to them.

Fundraisers are frequently challenged to grow their pipeline to secure major gifts, often with the expectation of a donation to be confirmed over a year or two. But what happens when you invest in laying the seeds of philanthropy in the next generation? Results.

When we asked what is important for young professionals who make a donation, over and above purchasing an event ticket, we directly heard that they want a tangible impact, exclusivity, and networking opportunities. Solicitations for unrestricted funds don’t often appeal to this group – they want to know how their donation will make an impact. They want to meet the experts who will use their donation. They also want to be part of something bigger than themselves. They want to look around the room and see like-minded philanthropists who are all at the same stage in life and have rallied together to make a difference. They want to share their involvement with their peers and get them engaged as well. We see this in donors who come together to build a house or school or participate in a team fundraising event, but now we’re starting to see it in major gifts programs.

What we’re doing at SickKids Foundation is challenging young professionals to think big – to make an investment through a program that will see them surrounded by their peers, that will give them access to the organization’s leadership, and that will allow them to make a collective impact. The result of listening to this demographic is SickKids Innovators which saw 20 individuals invest $100,000 in an underfunded priority of the hospital last year.

Access to the hospital’s leadership and exclusive experiences isn’t free. In terms of stewarding this group of young professional donors, we do have to bend the rules or adapt the conventional donor matrix to develop meaningful events and opportunities. What we have to keep in mind is that we listen to what will engage this group. As they progress in their careers, with the philanthropic seeds planted, their involvement can expand to additional gifts through cause marketing campaigns or third party events enhancing their commitment to the organization.

Today, fundraisers need to adapt our traditional ways of engaging donors, especially as we work with groups of like-minded philanthropists, such as young professionals. What we need to do is listen, create, engage and then wait patiently for the results, if not today, then definitely tomorrow.

Colin Hennigar is an Associate Director on the Major Gifts Team at SickKids Foundation. Prior to joining SickKids Foundation in 2010, Colin held a number of roles at the Royal Ontario Museum Governors Office. Colin graduated from the University of Toronto with a Double Major in Fine Art History and Classical Civilizations and a Master’s Degree in Museum Studies. He will be speaking at Fundraising Day 2014 on May 28th in Toronto. You can follow Colin on Twitter @travellercolin