Posts made in June, 2012

Talking about Yourself…Again?

Posted by on Jun 26, 2012 | 0 comments

What if I was invisible and sitting on the sidelines during your donor meetings? What would I see and hear?

It’s quite possible that I might see recurring themes and topics about your organization’s strengths, and I might hear you and your colleague(s) talking about yourselves and your organization. What I probably wouldn’t hear is you talking about the donor.

Or are you?

One of the top reasons fundraising efforts stall is a lack of donor interest. The donor donates, but then all too often becomes disconnected (and whose fault is that? clue #1 – they are not to blame).

All too often fundraising conversations are not about the donor and how the donor can make a difference, or has made a difference, or how their values align with a particular program’s goals; the communication initiated from your side of the conversation is often all about the organization’s achievements and qualities. Yes,  donors need to know this stuff, but if that’s all you’re telling your donors, you’re probably losing them right after “hello”.

You lost me at hello.

When speaking with a donor, does your conversation immediately move into what you are doing and how great your organization is? Donors need to be informed, yes. But they also need to be inspired and motivated. They need to feel that their thoughts and experiences will provide value to your “effective, organized, systematic, amazing” organization.

“The acronym FORM has been around for a decade or more. This mnemonic device reminds us that we can talk with anyone, in any place, about at least four things: family, occupation, recreation, and money.” And then there’s also MORF, which is designed to communicate your organization to the donor. Used together, and naturally, this combination of conversation points is an effective method for increasing your knowledge of the donor, while also increasing his knowledge of you – without talking too much or too directly about you and your organization. This blog post by DC Dreger adds more detail about how FORM/MORF can be used with your donor contacts. I highly recommend you familiarize yourself with this approach.

Do you know your donor?

A donor wants you to ask about them. They want to know that you recognize that there is more to them than their bank account. They want to know that your organization’s programs fit into their personal goals, and aligns with their personal vision and their personal values.

Donors often have very personal motivations for offering support. They are much more than a piece of paper with a dollar sign on it. They want and deserve respect for “why” they are giving not  just “what” they are giving.

Boring Date Syndrome

“Many nonprofit organizations we meet suffer from Boring Date Syndrome. You know the type. You meet them for a first date and they talk relentlessly about themselves the entire time, never showing any real interest in you. Unless it’s to ask what you think of them.” I stumbled upon this blog post and want to share it with you. Are you in boring date syndrome mode? If so, this blog post will help you to rethink your approach and leave a donor wanting more.

How do you measure up?

Do a self-test. Think about your last donor meeting. How did the conversation go? Did you talk about you (the organization), or did you talk about them (the donor).

If you can focus on the donor and how their philanthropic and personal goals align with your nonprofit’s goals, your fundraising results will improve dramatically.

It really isn’t all about you when it comes to donors. It’s really all about them. 

If you feel a slight breeze near your left ear at your next donor meeting, don’t worry. It will be invisible me, reminding you to change the conversation and focus on the donor!

Because it should be all about them and how they make a difference – not all about you and how you make a difference!

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Cold Calling By Any Other Name…

Posted by on Jun 14, 2012 | 0 comments

Let’s face it.

Cold calling by any other name is still….cold calling.

What’s amazing to me is the fact that there are actually some people a few who like to place these calls. Anyone that does like to cold call has a very thick skin and knows how to work the numbers, i.e., isn’t discouraged by 72 hang ups and 55 negative responses out of 150 calls, they are focused on the 23 who listened, and of those 23, the 10 who promised support of some kind.

And let’s be clear: a follow-up call following an introductory mailing is technically NOT a cold call since the person we are calling was given a head’s up that we would call in the letter, but if we are honest with ourselves, it’s still….cold calling.

There is a slight difference between cold calling anonymously (identifying yourself as someone representing the organization) and as yourself (identifying yourself as so-and-so, the such-and-such from this nonprofit organization). But either one is still….cold calling.

So how can we warm up both the caller and the called in this sometimes “chilly” first time phone conversation?

Let’s start with legalities: the FCC Do-Not-Call list does not apply to nonprofit organizations. This means that nonprofits can legally call anyone whose name is on the Do-Not-Call list. Legally.

Think about that. Do you really think it’s a good idea? Is calling someone on the FCC DNC list JUST BECAUSE YOU CAN going to help you create a warm, trusting, honest, long-term relationship with that person?

I think not.

Ethically, in my opinion, nonprofits should respect the request for privacy by those who have requested their names be placed on the FCC DNC list.

  • So the first effort to warm up this effort is to call people who have indicated an interest in our organization or maybe expressed an interest in talking to us.

Next,  let’s talk about you. As this article reminds us, cold calling is not for the faint of heart. If you don’t like to cold call (and really, who does?), you shouldn’t be calling anyone.  If you do like to cold call, I would like to meet you. Honestly. You are a rare breed and your techniques would be useful to the remaining 99% of fundraisers (that’s an estimate).

  • So the second strategy to warm up your organization’s cold call campaign is to make certain the right people are making your calls (and the wrong people are not). Don’t waste your board member time and don’t use staff members who hate to cold call.

And finally, let’s talk about relationships. Cold calling is like the very worst blind date you have ever had or heard of (YouTube has some pretty funny “blind date” videos). It’s the rare long term relationship that began with a blind date. And since cold calls have the lowest rate of success of all fundraising techniques, who you call is extremely important. Don’t waste solid leads on cold calling since it may not be your best effort in beginning strong donor relationships.

  • So the third technique to warm up  your cold calling is to determine your call list very carefully. Target past event attendees who may not have made a donation, and past donors who have lapsed. Use cold calling to reconnect. After a year of no contact, reconnecting with a past potential donor or donor by phone is still….cold calling.

And no matter who calls, who you are calling, or why – make it simple, listen carefully, respect the caller, and don’t forget the ask.

If you have a thick skin and the right list, cold calling just might be your game.

So chill out, then rub those palms together, feel the fire in your belly, and go for it!

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Turn Up The Fire and Get Your Sexy On

Posted by on Jun 12, 2012 | 0 comments

Revelation 3:16 – So then because thou art lukewarm, and neither cold nor hot, I will spue thee out of my mouth. (probably didn’t expect THAT after reading this title, did you?)

OK, OK, you’re right. I’m not typically one to quote scripture, but I’m making an exception. Today we’re talking about being lukewarm in your efforts, in your commitment, in your communications.

And lukewarm just doesn’t cut it.

Not with beverages. Not with bathwater. Not with sexy. Not with donors.

When talking to your donors, your message is either hot or cold. Spicy or bland.  Inspiring or boring. Direct or wishy-washy. Sexy or boring. Passionate or….lukewarm. And since lukewarm doesn’t cut it, that leaves hot, spicy, inspiring, direct, sexy and passionate.

Do these six adjectives describe your messaging? If not, it’s time for a redo.

Here are a few tips to help add spice to your content:

  1. Use verbs as a call to action. Create your own action-film version of your message. Add a little spice, be a little “sexy”.
  2. Numbers talk. Use them to your advantage, but be honest. Create relevance and substance with numbers.
  3. Don’t ramble. Don’t say more than you need to. Keep it short.
  4. Avoid filler. Be direct.  Say what you mean and mean what you say.
  5. Make it personal. Tell stories. Be passionate. Inspire them to want to be part of your efforts. Remind them that this is their story too.
Let’s face it, being spued from a donor’s giving list is not something we want. So, keep it hot, spicy, inspiring, direct and passionate. Don’t be lukewarm in your efforts or your content.
TURN UP THE FIRE AND GET YOUR SEXY ON. It’s time to make a difference!
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Peter Pan Had It Right: 8 Things We Can Learn From Children

Posted by on Jun 4, 2012 | 1 comment

Sure, many of us have been doing this fundraising shtick for so long we actually believe we can do it blindfolded, dizzy, and backwards, almost like a fundraising version of Pin the Tail on the Donkeyor.

This past weekend I didn’t play Pin the Tail on anything, but I did spend time with 11 of my 15 grandchildren. My takeaway? Children are wise beyond their years, and we should follow their example more often than we do.

In the craziness of adulthood, professional demeanor, political correctness, hectic schedules, and repetitive behaviors, adults have lost so much of the simple joys and raw excitement that come to children so easily.  I’ve spent a lot of time pondering this and have come to one simple conclusion: in many ways, we were better as kids. We were nicer. We were more fun. We laughed more. We were spontaneous. We were kids and nothing seemed impossible.

Kids seem to do the simplest things without thinking. They remember to do them, because it comes naturally. These are things we often forget. How many kids does it take to change a lightbulb? Just one – he holds the lightbulb and the whole world revolves around him.

So I would ask:  How many donors does it take to make a difference? Just one – he holds the key to a network of goodwill.

Children value their friendships. They call, they play, they listen, they share stories. Sure, they also kick and stick out their tongues and tattle tell, but for the most part kids are building relationships in nearly everything they do. Simply and honestly.

Do we make the same relationship building effort? Do we share our stories? Do we take time to listen? Do we find reasons to laugh together? In other words, do we value our donors for more than their dollar, and do we show them that we value them? If not, we are risking the loss of a relationship.

I ran across this article and want to share it with you. After attempting to identify unique habits of children that adults should adopt and finding the list endless, the author Jennifer Hamady finally asks:

“Perhaps, therefore, the better question is which inherent habits of children shouldn’t we adopt? 

Their instant trust and lack of judgment of both themselves and others. Their bold, blissful trying on of new experiences. Their lack of self-consciousness. Their honesty as well as their reflexive instinct to express it.

Their blindness to cultural notions of color, race, gender, and class. Their lack of concern for time, save for their personal rhythms of fatigue and hunger. Their unending smiles, their unapologetic eye contact…”

There is so much we can learn from children, and as the article points out…there is so much we need to unlearn as adults, and as fundraisers – there is so much we need to remember from the innocent days of our youth.

Here are 8 things fundraisers can learn from children and instantly apply in their personal and professional lives:

    1. Be curious.
    2. Be willing to take risks.
    3. Be honest.
    4. Be optimistic
    5. Be nonjudgmental.
    6. Be sincere.
    7. Be courageous.
    8. Be yourself.
Each of these childlike attributes can help fundraisers relate to, communicate with, and keep donors engaged. It’s not difficult. It’s not magic.  It’s simple. It’s childlike, but not childish. I do not believe in tricks and magic and fairy dust when it comes to fundraising, but I do believe that maintaining these endearing childlike qualities while using the wisdom of experience with a professional demeanor is an awesome combination. As Peter said, “To live is an awfully big adventure!” And so is the world of fundraising. I believe, do you?
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