A farmer and his wife had a goose. Every day that goose laid one golden egg – which made the couple very happy – for a while. But soon it wasn’t enough. They asked each other why, if this goose could lay one egg each day, it couldn’t give them more or more often. What a stingy goose. They knew there had to more in there. So they strategized and decided to go for broke. They cut open the goose to get all of the eggs out at once. Needless to say this did not make the goose more productive. In fact, there were no other golden eggs hiding inside, and worst of all the goose died. Not only did they not get the bounty they were accustomed to, they killed the goose and got nothing more ever again. 

Capital Campaigns sin #4 - Greed
Last week I shared a finding from a study on high net worth philanthropists who said they stopped giving to organizations primarily because they were asked for an inappropriate amount or too often. I dealt with the issue of the inappropriate amount in my last blog post. This week let’s talk about how many asks is too many, particularly in the context of a capital campaign.

Annual Giving During a Capital Campaign
First let me tip my hand and say that, as often as possible even when there is no capital campaign, I coach organizations to ask their major and principal donors to give only once per year. This takes planning and discipline. It also takes discovering what your donors’ passions are and matching those interests with your needs to make a specific, comprehensive request bestowing all of the benefits a donor might expect at that level. But what if you add a capital campaign? Is it possible to ask only once? The answer is, most often, yes. There are several ways organizations tend to approach annual giving during capital campaigns:

  1. Suspend the Annual Fund. One way you could achieve only one ask is by removing the other, namely the annual gift ask. Yet you can’t go without supporting the organization’s ongoing programs and operations. The way that this approach is achieved is by adding your annual operating needs for the next three to five years in as a case element of your capital campaign, asking for a multi-year pledge that will cover both the capital and/or endowment needs as well as operations. I am not a fan and do not recommend this approach.give, gain, grow
  2. Allocate a Percentage. Another way is to eschew the ask for an annual gift from those you approach during the campaign and allocate a percentage of every gift to ensure you cover your annual needs during the active fundraising for the campaign. You then resume annual gift requests the following year. As with the approach above, this approach, while making sure you have the funds you need for annual needs, will likely have the unintended consequences of losing momentum when you resume your annual giving activities. You lose opportunities to grow major donors during the time of suspended giving and send a message that maybe the annual ask isn’t all that critical, raising less than you might have otherwise achieved for both the annual and capital campaigns separately.
  3. Business as Usual – Many times an organization will continue all of its annual activities and requests on schedule and just add one more ask for a capital gift on top whenever you get around to asking that particular donor. After all, you are probably already bombarding your donors with multiple asks, what’s one more? Besides, they are probably just holding back on you any way. This approach is a sure way to ultimately kill the goose.
  4. One Ask. Multiple Requests. A capital campaign presents an opportunity to educate donors about the difference between faithfully supporting the annual work of the organization and considering a gift over-and-above for an extraordinary and urgent opportunity. This can be achieved by sitting down with them once during that year with a thoughtful, comprehensive, but specific request for their support. Many times this is called the “dual-ask.” This, in my experience, is the most effective approach.

Every gift request during the capital campaign should be an opportunity to thank the donor for their generous and crucial support for the mission, explaining the specific impact their personal giving has made and showing the positive outcomes the donor intended. The proposal and conversation should include what the capital campaign will allow you to do that you can’t otherwise accomplish without over-and-above giving. It should also detail the impact on growth and operations including new and incremental revenue and operational costs, with a plan on how those incremental costs (if they exist) will be met.

One Ask, Multiple Requests
When it comes time for the ask, you should say something like, “Continued faithfulness to the ongoing mission is our first priority. Above all, we are asking our donors to continue that support. We are also asking you to consider prioritizing a gift over-and-above your annual giving for the next three years to accomplish the vision we have discussed.” The annual ask should be a specific gift request, for an in-budget need that matches their passion. The capital gift should also be a specific amount to ensure the success of the campaign. If you are asking your major donors multiple times during the year to support the golf classic, buy a table for the gala, renew their membership, etc., stop it! Include all of that in this one request, as a thank you. They will reciprocate with a very grateful sigh of relief.

But what if we also need endowment funds, or if they are a candidate for planned giving? What if they say, “I will continue to give my annual gift, and would love to support the capital campaign, but right now is not the time?” There may be instances where a “triple-ask” is in order. It is a perfect opportunity to discuss how this donor, who you believe loves you enough to support your capital needs and your ongoing mission, would like to include the organization and its mission in his or her legacy giving.

The goose that laid the golden egg.You may ask, how is this not trying to extract all of the golden eggs at once? When you dig deeper into what a donor means when they say they are asked too often, they mean multiple times during the year. Asking once per year for multiple needs is only one egg, with multiple yolks. An example I often give is of a donor who had given multiple gifts in a year to an organization totaling over $16,000 as well as a capital gift of $1 million to the previous capital campaign. As we approached them to renew their capital gift to continue the vision, we also combined the other multiple asks into one request, totaling $70,000 to expand a program they were passionate about. Their first response was shock they had only given $16,000 the year before. With all of those request it felt like more. The next was thanks that this would be the only time this year they would be approached for a gift. The last was a yes: for both request.

One thoughtful request for a comprehensive gift focused on what the donor cares about will most often be appreciated, particularly when it’s understood it will be the only time you ask them this year. They also will not hide from you in the grocery store the next time they spot you. The rest of your interactions will be to thank them, show them the impact of their giving, and talk about how they want to continue to make a difference with you as you look to the future.

Keep Annual Giving Your Priority
Lastly, the message should be, if you can only respond to one of the requests at this time, stay faithful to the annual support. The organization doesn’t need a new building if you can’t accomplish the work you exist to provide. However, continue to explore ways the donor can achieve what he or she would like to do for the capital campaign over-and-above either through delayed or deferred giving. There may be another golden egg down the road if you are patient, persistent, and professional.

This is the sixth in a series of nine posts.
You can see the first post and full INFOGRAPHIC here.
Read the previous post on Capital Campaigns Deadly Sin #4: Greed (Part 1).

Written by Daniel Neel, President of The Fundraising Resource Group. The Fundraising Resource Group helps nonprofit organizations across the United States with fundraising feasibility studies, capital campaigns, annual giving campaigns, major gift fundraising, nonprofit marketing, fundraising training, and other high-impact, high-return fundraising activities. For more about how we can help your nonprofit achieve fundraising success, visit http://www.thefundraisingresource.com or call 888-522-1492.

Executive directors report that 26% of development directors overall – and 38% among the smallest nonprofits – have no experience or are novice at securing gifts. Furthermore, one in four executive directors (24%) say their development directors have no experience or are novice at “current and prospective donor research,” according to the study, UnderDeveloped: A National Study of Challenges Facing Nonprofit Fundraising.

Some people reading this may ask, “Why did they hire them?” or simply conclude that these organizations made bad hiring decisions. I’m going to give them the benefit of the doubt and assume these people were hired because they have the characteristics needed to be a good major gift fundraiser. 

price tag with "fundraising training?"The bigger question to me is how and how much are they investing in fundraising training and if they aren’t, why not? The reason I hear most often is, “we can’t afford it.” What many organizations fail to realize, however is that, as Sir Claus Moser put it, “Education costs money. But then, so does ignorance.” The question is, how much is ignorance costing you?

Unrealized Financial Potential
The short answer to that is “more than you realize.” Our president, Daniel Neel likes to say that the biggest expense in self-led capital campaigns is “the money left on the table.” The same could be said of your ongoing fundraising efforts when you have an inexperienced or novice fundraiser in charge and their “fundraising training” is what they pick up through trial and error. Not that I am against “errors” (or failure for that matter). Some of our best lessons are learned through our mistakes. However, major gift fundraising and communicating with your most important constituents isn’t really the place to take that risk.

Better Quality Hires
But the cost of not investing in fundraising training for your director of development and other fundraising personnel goes beyond the money that isn’t raised. Organizations with a reputation for training and development attract better quality hires. According to Jim Geier, President of Human Capital Consulting Partners, “The great companies don’t succeed and then seek out the best and brightest. They find the right people first. Success of any business is predicated on having the right people in the right jobs with the right skills. This is true not only for executive positions but also those on the front line. If you don’t have the right people, you simply will not succeed.”

Years ago, I took a huge pay cut and demotion to go to work for a retailer because I liked their stores and the products they carried. I had done my research on them but what compelled me to take the position was a belief that I could be happy working there. I know lots of stories like mine. Yes, money is important and yes, it is a motivator, but it is not the only motivator nor is it necessarily the most important one.

Other Hidden Costs
doorAccording to one estimate, for entry-level employees, it costs between 30% and 50% of their annual salary to replace them. For mid-level employees, it costs upwards of 150% of their annual salary to replace them and for high-level or highly specialized employees, you’re looking at 400% of their annual salary. There are many studies on the cost of employee turnover and much variance in the estimated costs, in part because there are just so many hidden costs. One thing they do all agree on, however, is that it’s expensive.

Unfortunately, the cost may be especially high for nonprofit organizations who can’t keep a development director. In Underdeveloped, Jeanne Bell and Marla Cornelius report, “The development director is commonly labeled a ‘revolving door’ position, and ‘the hardest to fill and retain’ by executives, board members, funders, and capacity builders alike.” They go on to say high turnover in this position has “…significant negative effects on the capacity of organizations—especially small and mid-sized nonprofits—to develop and sustain the skills, systems, and culture that undergird effective fundraising over time. While repeated turnover and long vacancies are costly in any position, not having consistent leadership of a fundraising program almost guarantees that an organization will not achieve consistent results.”

What if They Leave?
There’s an old adage about employee training. “You can either train employees and risk they leave, or choose not to train them and risk they stay.” Monika Hamori and Burak Koyuncu, in a study of 1,200 top young managers published in the July-August 2012 Harvard Business Review, concluded, “Employers are understandably reluctant to make big investments in workers who might not stay long. But this creates a vicious circle: Companies won’t train workers because they might leave, and worker leave because they don’t get training.”

There will always be some employees who move on; you can’t keep everyone. However, if you consciously work to create an environment that keeps employees happy you will be surprised at the positive effect on your organization’s productivity and turnover rate. Fundraising training, and employee training in general, are one piece of the puzzle that leads to attracting better talent, retaining that talent, and improving productivity.

Why They’ll Stay
A 14-year ongoing engagement and retention survey found that within the nonprofit sector, Career Growth/Learning & Development was the second most cited reason for staying with an organization, behind Exciting/Challenging/Meaningful Work. According to the Nonprofit Times, in their article that accompanied their annual NPT Best Places to Work, “Some organizations benchmarked at higher-than-average percentiles for salaries while others provided generous benefits to try to offset potentially lower salaries.” When organizations asked employees what they are looking for, they frequently cited “the ability to grow and learn.” 

business people holding smiley facesDan Pink, the NYT best-selling author of Drive, whose TED Talk, The Surprising Science of Motivation, was cited in Mashable’s 15 TED Talks That Will Change Your Life, exposes the gap between what science knows and what most organizations do to try to motivate people. He identifies three scientifically proved elements of true motivation – purpose, autonomy, and mastery. Nonprofit organizations inherently fill a person’s need for purpose but often don’t meet a person’s needs for autonomy (empowerment) and even more so, mastery (the ability to master what they do).

Dr. Laurie Bassi, an internationally-renowned HR analytics expert, has measured how well employees are trained and developed (Delahoussaye, et al., 2002). She writes that organizations that make large investments in people typically have lower employee turnover, which is associated with higher customer satisfaction, which in turn is a driver of profitability.

Earlier, I mentioned a job I took that began where I accepted a lower level position and a huge pay cut. The company turned out to be a great place to work and not coincidentally, they invested a lot in employee training. It’s a retailer, an industry where turnover rates are exceptionally high (approximately 24% for fulltime and 75% for part-time workers). Their turnover rate has consistently stayed in the 10% range for years. I stayed there eight years.

Investing in Fundraising Training
I’m not in any way suggesting that investing in fundraising training will be the panacea for turnover among nonprofit fundraising executives. What I am suggesting, however, is that not investing in fundraising training is costing nonprofit organizations a lot more than they realize. Investing in fundraising training is an important step that can begin to change the mindset of those who believe high turnover is just a way of life and smaller organizations can’t compete in terms of employee satisfaction.

The Fundraising Resource Group offers customized fundraising training, often as part of their other fundraising services. Although no substitute for in-depth fundraising training designed specifically for your needs, fundraising professionals, executives and board members from all types of nonprofit organizations can benefit from our FREE Fundraising Webinars no matter where you are as an organization in the maturity of your fundraising programs.

Written by Lee Neel, Vice President of The Fundraising Resource Group. The Fundraising Resource Group helps non-profit organizations across the United States with fundraising feasibility studies, capital campaigns, annual giving campaigns, major gift fundraising, non-profit marketing, fundraising training, and other high-impact, high-return fundraising activities. For more about how we can help your non-profit achieve fundraising success, visit our website at http://www.thefundraisingresource.com or call 888-522-1492.

Did you know that 42% of high net worth philanthropist say they stopped giving to an organization because they were either asked for an inappropriate amount or asked too often? This is according to the U.S. Trust Study of High Net Worth Philanthropy, and leads to the questions, “How do I know exactly what to ask for?” and “How many times I should ask?” The answers to both are simple: first, ask for an “appropriate” amount, and second, ask only once per year. It’s the execution that’s difficult.

Greed pulls us in a different direction. “If I don’t know how much they can give, what if I ask for too little or not often enough?” Or “I know they have the money so let’s ask for the moon. What could it hurt?” But if the research tells us anything it’s “greed in the end fails even the greedy.”

Over-simplifications? Absolutely, but because there is so much to talk about here, I will split this topic into two parts (look for part two next Monday), the first dealing with how you get to an appropriate amount and the second with the appropriate number of asks.

Capital Campaigns sin #4 - Greed

A Tale of Two Donors
Let me share a tale of two donors. An organization in the midst of a capital campaign was pondering how to best approach a well-known philanthropist in the community for a leadership gift. As it turned out, there were those on the Capital Campaign Leadership Team with a personal relationship who could open the door to the conversation, the wealthy donor came to an information gathering, and in fact stood at the end of the presentation and said the community should get behind the project.

The group took this as an invitation to ask her for a gift. Capacity was not in question. This individual has multiple buildings bearing her and her family’s names. Certainly she could easily write the $1 million check that it would require to provide her with yet another edifice in her honor. So they asked. While she received the request cordially and promised to consider it, word came back through another source that she was taken aback by the request. “What on earth made them think I would consider that kind of gift?” Do you know where they went wrong?

quote: what on earth made them think I would consider that kind of gift?The second story is one we wish could happen more often. I was working with an organization in conducting capital campaigns in multiple areas across the west and southwest. Through the planning process we conducted a feasibility study to talk with some potential leaders and donors for the campaign. One person in particular, who had recently sold his business and who had a profound personal experience with this organization, was identified as someone who could both lead and give. I had a personal, confidential conversation with him about his support for the project and his willingness to lead, if asked. It was clear he was interested in both, yet didn’t fully tip his hand on the amount of a potential gift, although he indicated it would likely be significant.

We conducted additional research and talked with others who knew him well regarding his other philanthropic activities, leadership abilities, and potential capacity and determined he would make a perfect Chair and had given substantial gifts to other organizations. Above all, he was passionate about the cause. After extensive planning and several conversations, we asked for both his commitment to serve as the volunteer leader of the campaign and for a pace-setting gift of $1 million.

To cut to the chase, he accepted the role as Chair but did not commit to give $1 million. He gave $2 million. He was a dream volunteer leader for the organization and motivation to others. As he became more engaged with both the organization and campaign he was introduced to the strategic approach that was taken with donor research, planning, and cultivation before asking others to give. I asked him, as a donor, how he felt knowing there was that amount of planning and research before asking him to give. He told me, “I would not respect an organization that did not do their homework before asking me to give.”

What Went Wrong?
What went wrong in the first scenario? So many times organizations make the mistake of skipping steps in the process on the way to asking someone to give. Their greed and impatience leads them to something like this: We need money. We know who has money. Let’s go ask them for money.  The organization loses sight that it is not about them, it is about the donor and his or her passions. But how can you know if the donor cares, and if so what they might give? Here’s a thought: ask them.

The first mistake made in scenario number one was the organization did not conduct a feasibility study of any kind to gage the interest of prospective donors and leaders. Leadership believed that such an endeavor was a waste of time and money. They were flying blind.

By taking the time to conduct personal, confidential, and impartial interviews with those whose opinions and engagement will make the difference for success, an experienced interviewer and interpreter of the information can:without research

  • gage philanthropic interest,
  • evaluate organizational readiness,
  • test understanding and perceived urgency of the need,
  • explore specific volunteer and financial resources available for success, and
  • protect from a negative experience.

The study, to have value, must, in a confidential, non-threatening way, get to the question of what the donor might give if appropriately inspired and what will motivate them to do so.

The second mistake made in scenario one was to rush the process. Yes the potential donor had begun to show signs of interest, but it was far from clear how passionate she was, much less exactly what she was passionate about. How long do you wait before you ask? As long as it takes to cultivate a deep sense of care and ensure the appropriate inspiration that meets the donor’s needs, not yours.

Information Is Key
So how do you find out what someone cares about and what they can potentially be asked to consider for a capital campaign gift if not included in a feasibility study? There are three primary sources that help you develop an educated approach:Photo of keys on a keyring

  • institutional knowledge,
  • external research, and
  • anecdotal information.

Institutional Knowledge
Institutional knowledge goes beyond the giving history of a donor to your organization. In some ways that information can be the least important indicator of someone’s capacity to give over-and-above for a capital campaign or a project they care about. We know, for example, volunteer activities matter. Again, in the U.S. Trust study, about 74% of high net worth philanthropists said they volunteer to organizations they contribute to. Many times it is the knowledge that a prospective donor was the recipient of services provided, such as a medical care, that can help indicate their interest. There are many such pieces of data within other areas of an organization that are outside the donor database that must be explored when determining the starting point for a capital campaign ask.

External Research
External research, whether conducted on your own or by engaging a third-party research vendor, can be extremely helpful in determining both the capacity and inclination to give for donors already giving to you today. The value of external research is twofold: 1) to validate what your internal knowledge suggests related to capacity, and 2) to identify donors with greater potential giving capacity who you may not know that are buried deep in your database.

The danger is in using this research as the ending point to determine the appropriate ask amount, rather than the starting point. I have seen organizations get themselves into trouble by not understanding what the data is or isn’t telling them. They take the information at face value and, without further investigation, use it as a “gift capacity” guide for the ask amount.

One area where external research can be extremely beneficial is identifying other philanthropic giving. Research clearly shows one of the greatest indicators of what a prospect might give for a capital campaign gift is their giving to other organizations and campaigns. Capacity, coupled with generosity, is a winning combination. Research, combined with internal knowledge and other information, helps gage an appropriate ask amount.

In donor scenario number two, internal giving alone would have shown an incomplete picture. Although his giving to the organization had been growing, it still did not give a clear indication of capacity or inclination. Through publically available information, i.e. external research, we discovered information related to the sale of his business. We learned that he had set up a charitable trust from which he had given sizeable (seven-figure) gifts to others. We learned that he sat on national boards of organizations with missions that aligned with our organization. All of this information, along with what we knew internally, gave us comfort that a seven-figure gift request was not outside the realm of possibility.

Anecdotal Information
Anecdotal information are the things we observe or that others share with us that may help to turn data into a more personal understanding of the donor’s capacity and interests. Just as with other data, we have to be careful to not take things at face value. I wrote a blog post on this topic sometime back using Jed Clampett and James Bond as examples of prospective donors you would not want to judge by their outward appearance only. Using a process that asks others who know your donors well in the real sense of the word (not just on paper) helps us understand what a donor’s passion might be, what their lifestyle indicators are telling us, and any major life events that might impact their giving (good or bad). Taking the time to validate the data through personal conversations to bring it closer to home will help keep you from making big mistakes in the ask amount. The types of information we typically explore in confidential one-on-one prospect review sessions include:

  • other philanthropic activity,
  • areas of interest specific to the capital campaign,
  • lifestyle indicators such as family, business interests, liquidity events, and luxury items,
  • closest relationships to the organization for access,
  • suggested ask amount relative to the need, suggested solicitors based on relationship, and suggested case interest or naming opportunity if appropriate.

In conducting these review conversations, we are not looking for anyone to divulge deeply personal or private information that would put the reviewer in an uncomfortable position. When you grasp that the intent is to ensure that you approach a donor in the most appropriate way, you begin to understand that the purpose is to connect that donor to something they care deeply about in the most meaningful way, and not just “how much money do they have so we know what they can give?”

In both of the scenarios above, it was clear that the prospective donors had resources to give. The big difference is we had anecdotal data about the personal impact the organization had on donor number two, his deep sense of care for the mission, and his desire to help others in the same way.

Part of Something is Better than All of Nothingdog with bone looking at his reflection in the water
Sometimes, greed can cause you to take your eye off the prize. You remember the story of the greedy dog and the bone? The dog went across the bridge looking for food and found a delicious bone. Returning across the bridge he saw another dog in the river with an equally appealing treat. Thinking he could have both, the dog growled then barked at the other dog to scare it away, but, not realizing it was his own reflection, when he opened his mouth to bark, his bone fell into the water and he ended up with nothing.

Sometimes we risk losing it all because of our desire to have more and that is what the U.S. Trust findings are telling us. Gandhi said, “There is a sufficiency in the world for man’s need but not for man’s greed.” Just because someone has the resources to give you a sizeable gift doesn’t mean your cause will meet their threshold for capacity giving. Developing an approach, with all of the information available, that maximizes the donor’s interest in your cause is what is appropriate.

The jury is still out in the case of donor number one. Have they lost out or can they engage the donor in a more meaningful way and ask for a gift that is appropriate for her? Remember, a bone in paw is better than two in the river.

Next week we will tackle the story of the goose that laid the golden egg and the dual (maybe even triple) capital campaign ask to combat greed of the multiple asks.

This is the fifth in a series of nine posts.
You can see the first post and full INFOGRAPHIC here.
Read the previous post on Capital Campaigns Deadly Sin #3: Lust.

Written by Daniel Neel, President of The Fundraising Resource Group. The Fundraising Resource Group helps non-profit organizations across the United States with fundraising feasibility studies, capital campaigns, annual giving campaigns, major gift fundraising, non-profit marketing, fundraising training, and other high-impact, high-return fundraising activities. For more about how we can help your nonprofit achieve fundraising success, visit http://www.thefundraisingresource.com or call 888-522-1492.

As you know by now, social media serves a vital role in your overall nonprofit marketing strategy. However, it can be time-consuming and is ever-changing, making it difficult for nonprofits to stay on top of the trends. If you’re struggling to manage your social media strategy, the following stats should shed some light on factors to keep in mind as you work to connect with your donors and garner more donations!

1.) 74% of online adults in the U.S. now use a social media site of some kind. Additionally, these adults, ages 18-64, are spending an average of 3.6 hours per day on social media (Ipsos OTX). That’s almost a quarter of the average person’s waking hours. It is time to recognize that social media needs to be an important part of your marketing efforts that requires knowledge, a written strategy, allocated time and resources.

Donate key pressed by male hand to represent online giving2.) 55% of people who engaged with causes via social media have been inspired to take further action (Waggener Edstrom). Your goal is to reach current and potential donors and volunteers and drive them to your website. The good news is that more than half of people who engage with your cause could be inspired to take action, such as volunteer or donate. If you create quality content and a marketing strategy that brings new visitors to your website, you will be on the road to increasing your online donations.

3.) 68% of people take time to learn more about a charity if they see a friend posting about it (MDG). Without social media, you are missing out on the opportunity to garner donations from new donors. The amazing thing about social media is that it allows you to reach people in geographically dispersed locations. By creating a Facebook page, you can begin receiving donations from people who may have otherwise never heard of your organization. Make sure that you link back to your website and donation pages in your “About” section as well as in posts to help make it easier for users to donate.

4.) Visuals can be processed by the mind 60,000 times faster than text. According to studies done by psychologist Albert Mehrabian, this is why 93% of communication is nonverbal. In a medium where people make decisions about what to read or click on in seconds, it is critical to grab their attention up front and there is no better way to do this than with videos. Additionally, posts with videos attract 3X as many inbound links as plain text posts, driving more people to your social media posts and pages. And according to Cisco, 80% of all consumer Internet traffic will be video by 2018. Videos can be created and shared easily with smartphones and tablets and do not have to be expensive to produce or take a long time to create. Even just using your smartphone to capture volunteers in action or everyday behind-the-scenes activities at your office can help increase your inbound links by up to 3 times.

5.) Instagram grew by 50% in the past 9 months, now boasting more active users than Twitter (Instagram). If you are unsure as to which social sites you should focus your efforts on, give Instagram a try. It is rapidly growing and offers a great outlet for sharing exciting photos. And image-based social sites are expected to trend this year. Begin capturing candid shots of your volunteers, fundraisers, and community and you’re off to a good start with Instagram.

6.) 77% of Internet users read blogs. (Social4Retail). Creating fresh, useful content in the form of a blog is a great idea for several reasons. First, it is great for search engine optimization (SEO), helping you to turn up in Google’s search results. Second, it shows a personable side to your organization, allowing you to connect with potential donors. Finally, it provides you with original content to share on your social sites, helping you to push more traffic to your website, placing them just 1 click away from your donation page.

mobile phone with website image7.) 68% of time spent on Facebook is via mobile device (Statista). In this day and age, nearly everyone has a mobile device. And they are using these mobile devices to access the internet, email, and their social media sites. (Currently, about 79% of Internet users access the Internet using their mobile phone. By 2017, it is estimated that 91% of Internet users will do so.) With over two-thirds of time spent on Facebook occurring via mobile device, you must have a mobile friendly website and donation page. After all, a big part of your social media strategy is pushing donors to your website and without a mobile friendly website, you are losing potential leads.

8.) Responsive design doubles giving on mobile devices (Donor Drive). Another phrase to describe a mobile friendly site is responsive design. More specifically, responsive design refers to a site that dynamically resizes to fit the device it is being displayed on. If a donor tries to access the donation form on your website via their mobile device, they are expecting a responsive, or mobile friendly page. If they have to pinch and zoom to fill out the form, you are going to see a high bounce rate and a low conversion rate. Experts estimate that more than 1 billion people in 2015 will access the Internet ONLY through their mobile devices and this number is expected to continue to grow. If you do one thing to your website in 2015, implement responsive design

9.) Organic Facebook reach is around 2% for most business pages (Ogilvy). Over time, Facebook’s organic reach for business pages has slowly dropped which has actually led to an increase in Facebook’s revenue year-on-year. By doing this, they are forcing brands to “spend more on Facebook Ads for greater visibility”. If your nonprofit is active on Facebook, think about putting some money towards advertising. Right now, all it takes is $5 per week to push your posts in front of more followers. We know that money can be an obstacle for nonprofits on social media, but even putting $20 once a month toward a campaign post can help increase your online donations.

10.) Facebook refers 29.4% of traffic to donation pages on #GivingTuesday (Nonprofit Tech for Good). As a social media-based fundraising event, #GivingTuesday continues to grow. Does your nonprofit marketing strategy for this year include creating a #GivingTuesday campaign in the fourth quarter and promoting it on both Twitter and Facebook to reach more people? Visit GivingTuesday.org, for resources, case studies, and more. Their Tools section has lots of ideas and videos along with branding materials. They also regularly update their blog with best practices tips and examples. Be sure to plan well in advance of this December 1 event.

Remember, the most important reason to be on social networking sites should be to drive traffic back to your website. Connecting with people is an important first step but what you really want your follows to do is visit your website so that you can engage them further and obtain their email addresses to enable further communications. All in all, we hope these social media statistics will help to power your nonprofit marketing strategy in 2015.

photo of SaraWritten by Sara Thompson, SEO and Social Media Administrator at Informatics Inc.

About Informatics: Informatics is a full service web agency that provides a wealth of web related services, including digital marketing, web design and development, e-marketing strategies, hosting, custom web applications, mobile applications, social media management, SEO services, photo and video services and multimedia development.

broken heart

Photo credit: bored-now, via Flikr cc

Relationships are hard! But, in the words of Jimmy Dugan, “The hard…is what makes it great.” Granted, he was talking about baseball in the movie League of Their Own but I think we can agree it applies to personal relationships, and even donor relationships. Why do relationships get stale and so many times lead to a wandering eye? I am not going to turn this into a personal self-help blog, but I think the question is worth exploring as it relates to why we think “donor fatigue” will keep our relationships from giving to us in capital campaigns, and why we lust after new donors to fulfill our needs.

I had a conversation with a prospective client the other day wanting to raise $5 million for a specific capital project. They shared with me their exciting work and the impact their growth will provide. The one caveat they threw out was that they needed to raise the funds with primarily new donors. They believe their existing donors are “tapped out” and “fatigued.” If you believe this describes your current relationship with your donors, you need to look in the mirror and ask “what did I do (or not do) to make my donors tired of giving to me?”

One relationship expert makes the point that if your personal relationship is stale, you need to ask yourself some key questions about your satisfaction with things in your personal life like your work, friendships, and passion for what you do when trying to determine why the fire has gone out. (In other words, the buck stops with you.) Relating this premise to fundraising, what are we actually communicating to our donors through our words and actions about the impact of their giving, the urgency of the need, and our appreciation for their involvement?

Does Donor Fatigue Really Exist?
Is there really such a thing as donor fatigue or are they just tired of your approach to their needs? If they are passionate about the cause and the mission and you are meeting their needs to make a difference with their giving, why would they get tired of doing what they are passionate about unless we, through our actions or inactions, have given them cause?

Here is the reality. Most capital campaigns receive 90 to 95 percent of what is raised from existing relationships. There is a truism in fundraising that says “first gifts are rarely capacity gifts.” Even if a new donor has the resources to fund your entire project, the likelihood of them giving to that level at the first introduction is highly suspect. So why, when we have the opportunity to invite our “significant others” to participate in a meaningful way in our mission such as a capital campaign, are we looking for one night stands?

The challenge BEFORE getting to the capital campaign is to understand your donor’s passions and interests, cultivate that sense of care for your mission, inspire them to prioritize the project at hand in a way that fulfills their philanthropic priorities, and ultimately support the project to their full capacity.   The bottom line is, it’s not the asking that fatigues donors.  It’s the lack of love they feel from you.

Capital Campaigns 7 Deadly Sins #4 - Lust

Again we can look to our personal experiences when considering the cause for donor relationships to grow cold. An article about personal relationships, 3 Reasons Why Your Relationship Goes Stale, (that actually lists 4 reasons) outlines it pretty well and can be directly related to donors and fundraising activities.

Too Much Familiarity
“Over time, the novelty of the ‘getting to know you’ phase disappears and you may be content with doing the same things over and over again. You become too comfortable in the relationship and you cease to exert effort. As a result you become stuck in a rut.” One way I have seen this play out is with board members moving into a capital campaign. Often, clients “forget” that the same consideration and energy they put into other major gift “asks” must be extended to their board members as well in order to bring them to a quality decision and capacity giving.

Small Problems
“When you are dealing with a big problem you tend to do all you can to resolve it. The small problems, on the other hand, get pushed to the background. Sometime it is the (seemingly) little things that wear a relationship down.” You may not think it is a big deal to have names exactly right in your database, but how big of a deal do you think it is to a donor that you are about to ask for a three-year commitment to your capital campaign that you don’t even know who they are, much less what they care about?

“Starting a relationship is easy. But maintaining it is another story. Once routine kicks in things can get boring fast.”
Do you think your donors are getting bored with the same approach and message year after year? How many standard, mass communications are they receiving versus personal messages and interactions? Do you have new goals for each visit that continually deepen the relationship? A simple truth is that any relationship that isn’t deepening is either stagnant or growing apart.

Lack of Romance
Dollars in a heart shape.“In the beginning of the relationship the romance is there. But after a while you don’t bother to make the effort anymore. Every relationship needs romance. You have to demonstrate your love through actions and words.Donors know you love their money, what they question is how much do you love them? Are you personally, authentically, and regularly showing true appreciation and care for them as well as their commitment to your mission?

One couples therapist puts it this way, “I explain how long-term relationships lose steam because couples stop believing that their partner really wants to please them.” She goes on to suggest that if you will ask one simple question daily it can make all of the difference in the world: “What can I do to make today easier or more fun for you?” What if we approached our donors with a truly “donor-centric” approach that asks, what can I do for you today?

Whose Relationship is it?
Now that we have dealt with fixing your relationships, let’s deal with the temptation of the wandering eye. Going back to the organization mentioned above asking me to bring new relationships for their project, have you ever really considered what you are suggesting when you ask a consulting firm to introduce you to new donors?

I wrote an article called Whose Relationship is it Anyway? about my personal experience with this topic. If you ask a consultant whom you are considering to provide counsel to you for your capital campaign about their ability to introduce new donors, or if a fundraising consulting firm offers to do so, there are some questions you need to ask:

  1. Did any of these relationships come as a result of your work with other organizations?
  2. Will you use your best efforts to establish a direct, personal, and ongoing relationship between these donors and our organization?
  3. Whose relationship will it be at the end of the campaign?
  4. Once the campaign is complete, will you introduce these or any of our other current relationships to other organizations you work with in the future?
  5. Will you continue to introduce potential donors to our organization once this campaign is complete?

A Cautionary Tale
I witnessed one particularly nasty “custody battle” between an individual, local consultant and an organization that asked for her to bring new “love interests” to the organization for a capital campaign. As the engagement unfolded, she refused to introduce those prospective donors directly to the organization to allow for a true relationships to develop, claiming them as her own. When her relationship with the organization understandably started to go south, she “shopped” both the prospective donors and a similar, competing project to another organization in the community. Now that is an extreme example, but I do think there is a reason that the AFP Code of Professional Ethics frowns on suggesting to an organization that we, as trusted advisors to the organizations we serve, can bring new donors to your project.

Authentic Relationships Drive Capacity Giving
It is not a bad thing to engage new donors through a capital campaign. In fact, it should be a specific goal to do so. However, a capital campaign is a true test of how well you have done in growing your relationships with your donors. Relationships are built on mutual respect and trust. That comes with hard work and putting others’ needs first. For you to reach your full potential in a capital campaign it will be because you have put your donors’ needs before yours and asked them what you can do to make them happy in their giving.

Ignore your relationships at your peril, or more precisely the peril of those you serve, and put your hope in lust for a new lover to save the day if you want to be disappointed. If you want to be successful, remember this: In love the other is important; in lust you are important.

This is the forth in a series of nine posts.
You can see the first post and full INFOGRAPHIC here.
Read the previous post on Capital Campaigns Deadly Sin #2: Gluttony.

Written by Daniel Neel, President of The Fundraising Resource Group. The Fundraising Resource Group helps non-profit organizations across the United States with fundraising feasibility studies, capital campaigns, annual giving campaigns, major gift fundraising, non-profit marketing, fundraising training, and other high-impact, high-return giving activities. For more about how we can help your nonprofit achieve fundraising success, visit http://www.thefundraisingresource.com or call 888-522-1492.