"Talent wins games, but teamwork and intelligence win championships." Michael JordanAccording to the U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics, non-profit organizations employed nearly 10.7 million paid employees in 2010. This sounds like a lot until you realize that there are 1.5 million non-profit organizations, which means the average number of paid employees per organization is just seven! Of course we all know it doesn’t work that way but it does support the idea that there are not a lot of non-profit organizations out there that can be accused of being overstaffed. The fact is, many non-profit development offices feel challenged, if not stretched, in their efforts to optimize funding for their organizations’ missions. 

Six-time NBA champion Michael Jordan, considered the greatest basketball player of all time, said, “Talent wins games, but teamwork and intelligence win championships.” Knowing this, how do you go about getting the most out of your fundraising team? Let’s start by defining who the fundraising/development team is:

  • Development Director
  • Development Staff
  • Executive Director
  • Board
  • Development Committee
  • Other Volunteers

"Action expresses priorities." GhandiGood teamwork requires a good coach who understands what their priorities should be and as Mahatma Gandhi said, “Actions express priorities.” In an informal survey I conducted not too long ago among a large group of development and advancement directors, I asked them how, as the person primarily responsible for fundraising, do they spend their time? Here is how they responded:

  • Management/internal meetings – 53%
  • Event management – 12%
  • Direct mail and telephone – 2%
  • Donor meetings and contacts – 19%
  • Other – 14%

You start to understand the problem with this kind of distribution of time when you consider (among other things) the cost-per-dollar-raised related to various fundraising activities:

  • Acquisition Mail – $1.50
  • Events – $0.50
  • Grant Writing – $0.20
  • Renewal Mail – $0.25
  • Major Gifts – $0.12 

One part of getting the most out of your fundraising team is getting your time to reflect priorities based on fundraising efficiencies. To learn how you can you can change the dynamic and learn how to:

  • focus limited human resources on highest-impact activities,
  • engage the board and others effectively in fundraising, and
  • evaluate appropriate objectives and return vs. staff and volunteer commitment for events,

 join us on Tuesday, July 29 for our FREE webinar, How to Get the Most out of Your Fundraising Team (and Do You Really Need that Event?)

 REGISTER NOW

 

Or request the recorded version via email at [email protected] This free webinar is applicable for 1 point in Category 1.B – Education of the CFRE International application for initial certification and/or recertification.

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 non-profit achieve fundraising success, visit our website at www.thefundraisingresource.com or call 888-522-1492.

donate button on a computer keypadMany of the non-profit organizations we work with are only beginning to focus more of their fundraising acquisition efforts to online channels. Here is a quick checklist of 10 things you can do today to increase online donations by improving your online donations page or pages.

1.) Make it easy to give. Online giving is about convenience and saving time. Research indicates that to optimize response, visitors need to be able to determine within 7 seconds where they are (see #2), how to give, and why they should give. Sounds simple but many donations pages do not pass the “at a glance test.” Requiring too much information or including unnecessary steps or copy will diminish response. Your donation form should be short and require no explanation.

2.) Brand it. Donations pages that are branded garner 6 times more donations (and larger donations) according to The Digital Giving Index so if you think you are saving money by having generic donation form (likely on a third-party website), think again.

Drury University donations page3.) Communicate need and impact. Many nonprofit donations pages are little more than a form. The most effective donations pages show the need and impact of donor giving at a glance. We work with a lot of schools and this is something that is lacking on many of their donation forms. One example of a branded school donation’s page that handles this aspect of their donation page well is Drury University.

4.) Include visuals. Visuals (photos, simple graphs and charts) are a highly effective way to communicate need and impact at a glance. Feeding America uses a simple graphic to show both the impact of your donation and the impact of the organization as a whole. Visuals also add appeal and bring the cause to life.

5.) Make monthly recurring donors your priority. According to Blackbaud’s Online Marketing Benchmark Study for Nonprofit’s, the average one-time online gift is $89 and the average recurring monthly gift is $31 or $372 a year. Minnesota Public Radio made the bold move of not even mentioning one-time gifts in pledge drives anymore and making monthly giving the default setting and focus of their online giving efforts as well. In 2012, 60% of their non-profit donation page examplecontributors were monthly donors who gave more than $10 million. Half those gifts were from online. This reinforces my belief that the only reason online giving isn’t a larger piece of the fundraising pie and growing faster than it already is (12-14% vs. 5% for fundraising overall) is it simply isn’t being done well by most organizations. Besides giving more, monthly recurring donors are more loyal and better prospects to grow in their giving.

6.) Include trust icons. Trust icons such as the VeriSign logo, the Charity Navigator logo, the Better Business Bureau logo and others properly placed on the donations page have been shown to increase donations. The VeriSign (or Norton or an equivalent that indicates the site is secure) should be placed near the payment field on the form. Multiple trust icons are more effective than just one in impacting conversions and they should ideally be placed where they can be seen without toggling down (i.e. higher on the page).

7.) Include contact information. Donors are reassured also by seeing a physical address (to give by mail) and phone number (to give by phone) for the organization at the bottom of the page. Donors like to know there is a number to call if something “goes wrong” such as their accidentally clicking the “submit” button twice.

8.) Limit distractions. Many web designers advocate for the removal of global navigation (your top navigation bar that is typically consistent across your site) and any extraneous links. At the very least, do not have a bunch of links leading off the page – keep visitors focused on giving.

9.) Make it mobile-friendly. According to the Pew Research Center, mobile devices accounted for 55% of Internet usage in the United States in January of 2014. This marked the first time Americans used cell phones and tablet apps more than PCs to access the Internet.  And yet the Online Fundraising ScoreCard reports that 84% of non-profit organizations’ donation pages are not optimized for mobile usage. Follow mobile best practices and make sure the process is streamlined to minimize steps, reduce the amount of typing and that the design is clean and the copy is clear and concise. 

10.) Test, Test, Test. The average untested donation page converts less than 15% (the average conversion rate) of its visitors. There are lots of elements that can effect online donor response rates such as form layout and length, giving strings, copy and visuals. Don’t make assumptions; by A/B testing you can significantly improve your online giving results.

For more on online giving, visit our website and request a free copy of our recorded webinar: Flying Pigs: The Case for Online Giving NOW.

Written by Lee Neel, Vice-President of Marketing, 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 www.thefundraisingresource.com or call 888-522-1492.

burning dollar with "it's not about the money"Recent blog posts have covered characteristics of a good major gift fundraising officer and how to find a good MGO. So now that you’ve found one, how do you keep them? 

Employee retention consistently ranks high among nonprofit organizational challenges and the 2014 Nonprofit Employment Trends Survey listed fundraising/development as one of the most difficult positions to retain (after direct service positions and program/support staff).

The biggest challenge in retention cited is always inability to pay competitively (32%) and while this is certainly a real challenge, I believe there are other important factors involved in keeping employees happy and have written about both this and what motivates employees in past blog posts. In fact, a survey of 20,000 job quitters found that while 89% of employers believe that employees leave because of money, 88% of employees leave for reasons other than money. As someone who has job-hopped my fair share in my career, this rings very true to me. When you’ve already made your decision and have one foot out the door, it’s much easier to say you’re leaving for more money than it is to cite some of the top reasons mentioned in the survey such as lack of support, leadership or recognition from a supervisor; poor employee relations, bad hours, and favoritism.  

Compensation
money puzzleAll the above said, compensation is important. A major gift fundraising officer’s doppelgänger in the for-profit world is a salesperson. It is not uncommon for salespeople to make more than managers in other areas of a company who are “higher ranked” based on commissions. According to an article in The Chronicle of Philanthropy entitled “Incentive Pay Helps Keep Some Top Fund Raisers on the Job,” “Incentive-pay plans are still relatively rare, but they’re becoming more common at large nonprofit organizations, especially universities.” Virtually all current incentive-pay plans are careful to comply with ethical guidelines established by the Association of Fundraising Professionals, and the Council for Advancement and Support of Education that prohibit major gift fundraising personnel from receiving commissions based on the amount of money they raise. Instead, plans are based on criteria such as the number of calls made, number of proposals presented, and number of times a dean or key administrator is brought in to meet with a potential donor and other goals around stewardship of existing donors. Incentive plans are not considered unethical by most charities and are one way to keep fundraisers motivated (and to keep them from wandering off in search of higher salaries). Nevertheless, incentive plans are still not the norm.

What is not controversial is the math that surrounds major gift fundraising. It remains the most cost-effective way to fundraise at an average cost-per-dollar-raised of $0.12 versus other fundraising activities such as acquisition mail ($1.50), events ($0.50) and renewal mail ($0.25). I am left scratching my head when a manager is willing to lose an MGO over $10,000 or even $20,000 in salary when they may be carrying a donor portfolio valued at ten to twenty times that or more. Add to this the plethora of research that exists that confirms the high cost of losing versus retaining an employee. Beyond the obvious direct costs associated with the job search, there are the indirect costs of lost knowledge and potentially lost donors and donations. Like the for-profit sector, it would behoove nonprofit organizations to recognize the unique value major gift fundraisers bring to their organization, the difficulty and cost in finding and replacing such talent, and compensate them accordingly.

Flexibility
gumbyAnother statistic from 2014 Nonprofit Employment Trends Survey indicated that 65% of organizations with a telecommuting and/or flexible work policy said such a policy had a positive impact on both recruitment and retention, and yet only two out of five respondents said they had a virtual work policy. While it’s not the only low/no cost “perk” nonprofits can offer, it’s an important one, and it makes particularly good sense for major gift fundraising officers.

We have a client that recently hired a new director of development. The client is a sanctuary, located in a remote area and the executive director wanted them to office on-site, as the past director of development had. Luckily, we were able to make the ED realize that to do a good job, the DOD needs to be out of the office more than they are in it and as such, it would make more sense for them to be located in a nearby major city where they have easier access to major gift donors and will also have an easier time traveling to meet with donors. (This flexibility also enabled the organization to more easily attract the level of talent and experience they were seeking.)

Many major gift fundraising activities and meetings happen outside of the office and often outside of regular business hours as an MGO must work his or her schedule around that of their major donor prospects. Because of this, it makes sense to allow flexibility on hours and how the job is done and instead to focus on objectives and attaining goals.

Learning and Development
chalk board with training and education written on itA 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.

Our president, Daniel Neel, recently wrote a blog post on the characteristics of a good MGO. Many of the characteristics were related to personality because provided you hire the “right” personality, many of the skills necessary to become a good major gift fundraiser are teachable and coachable. The best employees value self-development and are always wanting to improve and learn – and value the opportunity to be able to do so – and aren’t these the employees you most want to keep? I will never understand organizations that fear investing in employee training and development because they worry that employees may leave. Um, yeah. Sure some employees will leave – they already do. But what if they stay? Don’t you want your staff to be as good as they possibly can be while you employ them? And if you are an optimist like I am, you believe what goes around comes around and investing in training will help you attract better job candidates – including ones who already have good training from another organization.

Many of the companies ranked among the Top 125 Companies for Training also happen to be among the Best Companies to Work For (based on 252,000 employee surveys); this is likely more than coincidence. Major gift fundraising officers are among the most important employees in your organization – they help ensure that there is sufficient funding to continue your mission – so it makes sense to invest in them.

Written by Lee Neel, Vice-President of Marketing, 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 www.thefundraisingresource.com or call 888-522-1492.

 

typewriter with "once upon a time..." typedStorytelling is all the rage right now. Hardly a day goes by where I don’t see an article or blog post on storytelling and how important it is in non-profit marketing. I recently found myself reading a blog post titled Three Keys to Igniting Retail Sales by Storytelling and Story Listening by Christorpher Kogler thinking it might have a different or fresh perspective from the for-profit sector that could be applied to the non-profit sector. The article was not what I expected, it was better than what I expected in two ways: 

1.) To me, the article was as much about internal marketing and management as it was about storytelling, and internal marketing done well and its importance a subject I feel very passionately about.
2.) It talked about storytelling not as a tool for appealing to and motivating buyers (or donors), but instead about the role of storytelling in motivating employees (which could also be applied to volunteers).

In the article, Kogler interviews a senior sales manager for a big box retail operation who shares some strategies she uses to inspire her sales team on a daily basis. All were excellent suggestions that could be easily and effectively adapted in some form to a non-profit organization’s development or advancement office and would help accomplish two things: 

1.) It would help motivate and energize employees.
2.) It would demonstrate and drive home the idea that everyone within the organization impacts fundraising success either directly or indirectly.

Inspirational Meetings
employees dancing in the officeThis manager holds a daily team “huddle:” a short meeting that is 80% inspiration and no more than 20% housekeeping. Perhaps daily is too much for a smaller organization, but what a great way to kick off a new week every week! Each meeting includes an inspirational story about how the company is making a positive difference in people’s lives. This is a great way to keep the organization’s mission front and center and to help fine-tune messaging over time. But it doesn’t always need to be a story about the non-profit organization’s mission – and shouldn’t be. There are ways the organization or people within the organization touch the lives of employees, volunteers and others every day as well and it is these stories that could and should drive home the core values of the non-profit organization.

Cross-Pollination
On a regular basis, a department head from a different area of the company is invited in to lead the huddle and to discuss how both groups can support each other. These regular “cross pollination” sessions “keep the lines of communication open between the different departments and help employees have a deeper understanding of what’s going on throughout the company. Team members also gain an appreciation of how their sales efforts fit into the bigger picture and the importance of their sales efforts in growing the company.” Substitute the word “fundraising” for sales in the previous quote and it makes sense for non-profit organizations to explore the benefits of this type of exchange of ideas.

Storytelling
In another example given on how these inspirational meetings work, team members were asked to think of something simple they could do that would make a real difference in customers’ lives. Small groups worked on this for about five minutes then shared their answers. The example given in the article is a simple concept and it’s worth reading because it serves as a reminder that connecting with donors is about listening to them and focusing on their needs not just as a donor, but as a person you care about.

A regular half-hour meeting focused on inspiration, creative solutions and good communications seems like a great use of time to me, and a win-win situation for both employees and the organization. How do you, as a manager, inspire and support your employees? We’d love to hear from you.

Written by Lee Neel, Vice-President of Marketing, 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 www.thefundraisingresource.com or call 888-522-1492.

business man opening shirt to show superhero suit with starLast week Daniel Neel, president of The Fundraising Resource Group, wrote a blog post on 10 Chracteristics of a Good MGO. This week I’m going to talk about how you go about finding one.

Years ago when I was working for a company that was an innovative leader in its industry, we created an employment ad campaign with the headline, “We’re Looking for People Who Aren’t Looking.” Nothing so special about that except for the fact that we weren’t hiring and said so in the ad. We created business cards, postcards and ran ads in trade publications. We wanted to connect with people who were not ready to make a job move but might consider it in the future; it was a networking campaign in a pre-Internet world. We were always working on building our network so that when there were job openings, we would have a pool of potentially good people to contact. This is my first piece of advice for non-profit organizations on how to find a good major gift fundraising officer or director of development: build your network.

This was in the Stone Age when there was no such thing as social media and personal computers were just starting to come into their own. There are so many more networking opportunities today! Don’t wait until you need a key fundraising employee to start searching. Join LinkedIn professional groups related to relational or major gift fundraising, get involved in your local chapter of the AFP, keep hiring in mind when you network at conferences, tell colleagues to pass along resumes of good candidates they come across and aren’t in position to hire. Network, network, network. 

Look for skill sets and characteristics rather than matching experience.
Most people don’t begin their careers with a laser-focus on major gift fundraising. Many of the skills and characteristics it takes to be a good major gift officer can be found in people in sales-related and other positions in the for-profit world. Be open-minded as there are other less obvious job positions that could translate well. Look instead for characteristics such as organizational skills, emotional intelligence, high-energy, and good active-listening skills.

Look at large secondary schools, universities and heath care organizations with large development staffs.
They often receive training that many non-profit organizations don’t provide. Whether they are senior major gift fundraising officers or young up-and-coming MGOs, they may be ready for a new opportunity in a smaller organization where they can have more responsibilities and impact.

Make your ads stand out.
Try to get beyond the laundry list of expected qualifications. What do you have to offer a job candidate that’s different and desirable? Show a little of your brand personality. What about your core values? Put yourself in the job-seekers position and answer the question, beyond a passion for your mission, why should he or she want to work at your organization? (More on what attracts and motivates good employees.)

Have you had success in getting good fundraising talent for your organization? Share your experiences and ideas with us.

Written by Lee Neel, Vice President of Marketing, 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 www.thefundraisingresource.com or call 888-522-1492.