You are currently browsing the category archive for the ‘Relationship Building’ category.

A great article from the 501(c)3 Blog – http://www.501c3.org/blog/get-more-out-of-your-fundraising-efforts/

The following article restates my mantra:  Track all donations, thank all donors, focus on your Portfolio fundraising, be, genuinely, everyone else’s fan, build community and partnerships for the long term, take no one for granted.   I’ve dumped two organizations as clients recently because they would not implement these simple relationship building behaviors.  They could not move past grants, ‘what can I get’, and gala.   Neither of them tracked any donations.  Neither of them could. in integrity, create a communications campaign that got beyond the emotional ‘cry’ of need or beyond what the founder ‘wants’.   It’s embarrassing to be affiliated with any charitable organization that is on the ‘take’.  If I thought it was only a matter of misunderstanding and time, I would have taken different action, but after working with them over time, I realized, they were committed to what they could ‘get’ from people.   Not functional, not ethical, not pretty.   Best practices and management are so vital to good nonprofit relationships.

Get More Out of Your Fundraising Efforts

Let’s face it.  Times couldn’t be tougher for many nonprofits, especially when it comes to raising money.  And in the nonprofit world, things often run in inverse proportion:  The tougher the economy, the greater the need…and the scarcer the resources.  So what can you do to beat the odds and secure the necessary funding to run your programs?

Let’s try a little exercise.  Grab a piece of paper and write down 5 creative ideas for raising a significant amount of money for your organization.  Now, take a look at the list.  What do the 5 items have in common?  If you are like most people, your list is mostly populated by event ideas.  I bet that half of you wrote down a golf tournament!

First of all, there is absolutely nothing wrong with events.  Events, such as golf tournaments, can indeed be successful exercises that raise your organization’s profile, as well as some money.  But events are costly, both in terms of overhead and labor.  Large events can take months to plan, scores of volunteers to pull off…and may or may not end up netting much money.  Nothing like having 6 months of planning go down the drain when it rains on the big day!  If you want to see big improvements in your fundraising ability, you simply must learn to think differently.  Think relational instead of transactional.

Consider how much time and effort went into your last major event.  Now, imagine that same effort strategically targeted toward cultivating a lifetime donor…a fan who loves and supports your mission over the long term.  This single concept, so often ignored, can make the difference between surviving from event to event and having a steady stream of program-sustaining money coming into your nonprofit.  Nothing will net rewards with your donors like relationship building.

But how do you do it?  Here are some key principles you can leverage in building these relationships:

Track all donations. By tracking, I mean know who gave what, when.  That’s where it starts.  Frankly, that is your minimum threshold anyway when it comes to recordkeeping and proper acknowledgement of donations.

Thank your donors. Sincerely, creatively…and often.  Every time they give they should be getting a “thank you” letter letting them know how much their gift is appreciated and what it helps your organization accomplish.  You simply cannot slack on this one.  Studies have shown that donors who are thanked are much more likely to give in the future.  Another tip is to give thanks in the manner the gift was received.  For example, if you got a check by mail, it is best to mail a thank you letter.  If the donation was made online, it is entirely appropriate to acknowledge that donation by like means.  And, don’t send the same letter each time.  Change it up.

Focus on your big donors. Who are your biggest donors?  Hopefully you know this already, but maybe you don’t.  If not, find out.  How often do they give?  Once a year…quarterly…annually?  Is it in response to targeted solicitations or general fund requests?  Once you know these things, then your goal is to find out why they are giving.  You cannot assume this.  Truth be told, you are likely to assume incorrectly anyway.  My Dad’s favorite quote is, “Assumption is the lowest form of knowledge”.  How true!  Spend real time building relationship with these individuals.  Find out what motivates their giving.  Take the time to forge real bonds with these people.  You will be amazed how far this can go.

Make fans of everyone else. You do that by communicating often.  Start a newsletter.  Let your supporters know what is happening with your organziation…your successes, your plans, your needs.  Just be careful how you communicate need.  People much prefer to give to vision, not bills.  Explain what their giving can help you achieve with regard to your mission.  Don’t tell them you need support so you can afford rent.  Message is everything.

Using your time and energy to build relationships will go much farther in the long run to help you establish a stable support base.  Once you have done this, then you are in a much better position to return your attention to events and other transactional fundraising efforts.

With acknowledgments to fundraising consultant (and our good friend), Sandy Rees, who teaches these concepts at our Nonprofit Boot Camps.

Advertisements

Nonprofits, if you have not researched Benevon or explored the Benevon Model.  Please do.

The following are many examples of Benevon programs, trainings and resources.

July 12, 2010

Five Tips  for Cultivating Expiring Donors
Five Tips for Cultivating Expiring  Donors It happens. Five years ticks by quickly. Before you know it, those wonderful donors who made those generous five-year pledges (of $1,000 or more per year) to join your Multiple-Year Giving Society just made their third year’s pledge payments and no one from your organization has gotten to know them yet. In fact, they are still complete strangers to you.

Take this as a serious wake-up call and get to work. Set up your donor cultivation plan now, starting with the donors who are nearest to the end of their five-year pledge payoff cycle. If you don’t get to know them and cultivate them systematically now, you will lose most of them at the end of the five years, if not before.

I’m always surprised when people tell us they don’t want to “bother” these loyal Multiple-Year Giving Society Donors. They think they should invoice them dutifully each year, call them at the start of the sixth year, and ask them to re-up on their pledge. That is precisely the opposite of what is needed.

The whole purpose of having donors who make five-year pledges at this level is not for your organization’s financial security. After all, if a donor does not pay their annual pledge, you are not going to take legal action against them. Rather, the purpose of the giving society is to identify those donors who want to be closer to the organization. They don’t have to make a five-year pledge. They could give the same amount one year at a time. By opting into your giving society they are communicating something critical: they want to give to your organization, they want to stay connected to you over the next five years, and they expect you to give them updates, ask for their advice, and include them in major milestones that the organization is facing.

To read the rest of this article, please visit our Current Feature Web page. This article is available until July 25, 2010.

In This Issue
Message From Terry Axelrod
Get to know your expiring pledge donors.
Announcements
Join us for this special call on July 22.

Join us for this special call on August 24.

Join us for this special call on August 25.

Ask Terry
Recognizing donors who don’t wish to receive e-mails or phone calls.
Coaching for Sustainability
Table Captain Backfill.
Introductory Sessions
Announcements

Learn how to become more effective at inspiring others about the mission of your favorite nonprofit organization and to leave a legacy of sustainable funding. This conference call will introduce you to the Benevon Model—a systematic process for engaging and developing relationships with individual donors.

Listen and ask questions about how to customize this model to the unique needs of your nonprofit. You are encouraged to invite other staff, board members, and volunteers to engage them in this practical and effective new approach.

Join us for the Benevon Monthly Introductory Session Conference Call on July 22.


The two biggest challenges groups face once they decide they want to implement the model and come to Benevon 101 are putting together a team and finding funding. This call will give you practical tips and solutions for how to overcome both of these challenges. Current Benevon participants will talk about how they tackled these issues, got their team to Benevon 101, and are now on their way to sustainable funding.

Join us for the Getting to Benevon 101 call on August 24.


Join us for a special conference call to learn about how to implement the Benevon Model to build sustainable funding for your nonprofit during these challenging economic times. Learn how to engage your community in your organization’s mission and to inspire giving, even in a lagging economy. Listen and ask questions as our alumni guest speakers from other nonprofit organizations discuss their success with this no-pressure, mission-centered approach.

Join us for this Conference Call for Implementing the Benevon Model in These Challenging Economic Times on August 25.

Ask Terry
Terry Axelrod Q: How do we handle long-term, extremely generous donors who want absolutely no communication (i.e., letters, direct mail, newsletters, etc.)? Do we even attempt to call them and acknowledge their generosity, or just accept that they want no contact?

Michelle in Minnesota

A: Begin by asking more questions about this donor. How did you determine that they do not want any contact? How long ago was their most recent donation, and when were they last contacted by someone at your organization? Use the person at your organization that is closest to the donor to re-connect with them, using the medium they prefer (e.g., phone, e-mail, mail). It’s possible that this donor may be OK with an occasional one-on-one contact, but would just prefer to avoid more general communication, such as newsletters and direct mail.

Terry Axelrod

For information about submitting Ask Terry questions, read our guidelines for submission.
Coaching for  Sustainability
Sharon Ervine

Our fundraising coaches inspire and motivate nonprofit organizations of all sizes and types. This week, Benevon Curriculum Director Sharon Ervine discusses Table Captain Backfill Strategy.

I often stress to my groups the importance of the Table Captain Backfill Strategy, because it is such an excellent method for both filling your Point of Entry® Events and ensuring that you have enough “ripened fruit” at your Ask Event. This strategy involves having all of your Table Captains invite guests to Points of Entry prior to the Ask Event, so that the people at their tables have all been introduced to your organization and cultivated. Here are some important tips for successfully implementing this strategy: :

  • Work with each Table Captain to establish goals and specific deadlines for achieving these goals.
  • Give each Table Captain a deadline for having all of their guests attend a Point of Entry. Aim for having all guests attend by six to eight weeks prior to the Ask Event, so that you have time to follow up and cultivate each guest.
  • Give them cards with dates of your regularly scheduled Point of Entry Events for them to pass out to their guests.
  • Encourage them to host a private Point of Entry in a Box for their guests at their office, home, etc. They can partner with another Table Captain to co-host a Point of Entry.

Learn more about Sharon and our other coaches on our Meet the Coaches page.

Introductory  Sessions in your Area
We currently have live, in-person sessions and conference calls open for registration, including:

For information about in-person sessions in your area, go to our Introductory Session calendar.

For conference call listings in your area, go to our Conference Call Calendar.

Watch our free online video, Seventeen Minutes to Sustainable Funding.

Fundraisers don’t ask for money, we offer opportunities. – Doug Lawson

This is one thing heartfelt cause-driven nonprofits often leave out of their thinking.   Asking for money is really not about what you can get.  It’s about what you are offering your donor, in the way of a social engagement, an opportunity to make a tangible or direct difference for someone, an opportunity to engage in a community they would otherwise not have access to, all kinds of opportunities the list is endless.   Instead, amateur fundraisers still give out their need-based cry of  “HELP US!”  and the donors all say… “Again?”

We have now entered the Social Media era, which is experience driven, so, offering books, calendars, chachkis will only work on the over 60 crowd and I guess a couple of other people who like ‘stuff’.   But, for the rest of us we want to KNOW our dollars did SOMETHING.  So, include us in an experience, take us with you on a service run whether by video or by an authentic photo in our thank you letter.   Show us THE toothbrush you handed a homeless person and some smiles.   Let us choose the country we are going to provide assistance to.   This kind of donor care takes effort, but it can save you millions in postage in no response Direct Mail letters.

Your donors are worth attending to.  The average online gift is $83 dollars.   You can offer your donors a much higher level of participation by connecting to them online.   At the very least, establish a competent task force that begins to move your organization to creative, high level, on-line donor participation.  It will really provide a higher level of creative stewardship and donor appreciation in all of your fundraising programs.

In true social media form I’m stealing a post from Barbara Talisman, who borrowed her gems for her post from Author and Fundraising Veteran, Doug Lawson.  Enjoy and learn from two pinnacles of fundraising on The How of being a Great Fundraiser.  http://talismantol.wordpress.com/2010/07/08/great-fundraiser-2/

To Be a Great Fundraiser – Thanks Douglas Lawson

July 8, 2010 <!–Barbara Talisman–>

Continuing on my thoughts about being a great fundraiser, I have been inspired by a generous sharer Chris Brogan in the previous post and today by an icon in the nonprofit sector, Dr. Douglas M. Lawson, Founding Chairman of Lawson Associates, Inc.

I had the great, good fortune to hear Dr. Lawson speak about the art of being a great fundraiser. This is not the first time I heard Doug speak. I was fortunate to learn from him early in my fundraising career. I have a resource file and STILL have a copy of his article “The Artful Asker” published in Fund Raising Management, April 1996. It is one resource I have kept all these years because it stands the test of time. Doug writes about what makes a successful major gift fundraiser. And if you have not read his book, More Give to Live: How Giving Can Change Your Life, get it and read it now!

To follow up from my post on Nonprofit Fundraising = Confidence and Conviction – Doug shared his vast experience and inspired ideas about how and what it takes to be a great fundraiser. (Italics are my additions)

Doug shared what he thinks (and I agree!) are the skills needed to be a great fundraiser:

  • It’s helpful to have a humanities background
  • Some finance background is good – But can certainly be learned
  • Sales and marketing focus – We must be able to communicate our message effectively
  • Life of giving is necessary – This rule must start with us. How can we ask, train or empower others to give when we have not done so ourselves or can understand the power and feeling you get from making a gift that makes a difference?

Doug says GREAT fundraisers:

  • Listen more than they talk – It is ALL about donor interests and we need to find out what they are.
  • Participate in cultivation and solicitation process – As well as supporting, train and lead volunteers
  • Inspire and inform – Doug talks about offering opportunities – not about asking for a gift.
  • Experience the joy of giving – see above on a life of giving

Doug inspired and engaged me while he talked. He shared generously of his experiences, mistakes and successes. One of his many pearls of wisdom,

“Fundraisers don’t ask for money, we offer opportunities.”

It was like a lightning bolt – for many years I have said we (fundraisers) offer opportunities and education. NOW I remember, it was Doug Lawson who said the same thing at a session I attended when I was a new fundraiser many, many years ago. It stuck in my brain. At the time, I may not have fully comprehended what he was saying. Today, I know what it means, practice offering opportunity all the time and inspire volunteers, leaders and donors to do the same.

If you see Doug Lawson on a conference roster, hear about him speaking somewhere near you – run, do not walk, to learn from him! He is a great fundraiser and generous speaker. I have always been energized, excited and honored to be a fundraiser – Doug reminded me why.

Ten Characteristics of a Good Client

http://freelancefolder.com/characteristics-of-a-good-client/, Posted March 9, 2009 in Business, Marketing 40 Comments »

Good Client

Do you know the key characteristics of a good client?   Can you distinguish the good clients from the bad before you start working for them?

Or, when the tables are turned, do you have what it takes to become a good client when your business expands and you’re ready to hire other freelancers?

Here are ten characteristics of a good client:

  1. Communicates expectations clearly. The number one characteristic of a good client is that they are able to express what they want and need. This ability is vital for a freelancer to deliver the right product or service. A freelancer can’t deliver what wasn’t asked for.
  2. Allows a reasonable amount of time for the work. The freelancing world is filled with clients who want it “yesterday.” Often, what these clients actually get is a rushed job full of mistakes and needing a lot of rework. A good client, however, understands that quality work takes time and plans accordingly.
  3. Available for questions. While most freelancers can and do work independently, there’s nothing more frustrating for a freelancer than being surprised by an obstacle and being unable to reach the client. Smart clients know that it’s cheaper to get it right the first time than to fix it later. They make themselves available.
  4. Pays a fair amount for work required. A bargain is a bargain, except when it’s not. Often paying less than market rate for work results in getting work of less than average quality. That’s because a freelancer who works on the cheap often must take on more work than they can really do well just to make ends meet.
  5. Pays in a timely fashion. Discuss your payment terms with the freelancer before the project begins and then honor those terms. If you say that you will pay within x days of the project’s completion, be sure to pay that amount within that timeframe. Don’t make the freelancer beg you for their payment. You could ruin your professional reputation and even your credit history.
  6. Has high integrity. Honesty is at the core of every successful business relationship. Conduct all of your business in an honest and transparent fashion. Not only is this a great way to conduct yourself in general, it will also enhance your business reputation.
  7. Allows the freelancer to do their job. If you’ve hired the right person, then they possess the talent and skill to do the job well. Keep an open mind about what your freelancer proposes. Don’t be constantly second-guessing your freelancer’s abilities.
  8. Seeks an ongoing relationship. The best clients understand the value of an ongoing relationship. They don’t want to have to “break-in” a new freelancer with each new project that they have.
  9. Gives credit where credit is due. While it’s not always possible to give a freelancer authorship credit for a product or service, a discerning client notices when a freelancer puts in extra effort or goes the extra mile in a project.
  10. Committed to quality. Most freelancers take pride in their work and want to produce high quality work. They dislike it when a client asks them to take shortcuts.

How do you stack up?

Can you recognize these traits in your potential customers? What characteristic of a good client would you add to this list?

When you’re the client, how do you stack up? What could you change about your business to become a better client?

Give us your thoughts in the comments.

About the author: Laura Spencer is a freelance writer from North Central Texas with over 19 years of professional business writing experience. If you liked this post, then you may also enjoy Laura’s blog about her freelance writing experiences, WritingThoughts

These two links offer simple, important and easy fundraising tools to execute and manage.

One of  the easiest and most responsible things a fundraising nonprofit can do is set up the simplest of social media, brandbuilding, fundraising and community message and relationship tools.  You only need two or three good ones.  Beth Kanter is THE social media strategist for the countries biggest nonprofits, and smallest.

http://nonprofitorgs.wordpress.com/2009/10/14/five-essential-apps-for-your-nonprofits-facebook-page/

http://nonprofitorgs.wordpress.com/2009/09/01/five-most-common-mistakes-made-by-nonprofit-admins-on-facebook/

A standard set of fundraising programs are a Major Giving program, a Bequests and Planned Giving program, a Community Builder fundraising program (your Social Media structure is at the heart of this), an Organized Volunteer program, a Corporate Matching program.  Merchandise Sales, Community Events.

Some notes on effective Social Media Fundraising: http://blueskycollaborative.typepad.com/blog/2009/07/top-10-reasons-why-your-nonprofit-should-have-a-viral-fundraising-campaign.html

Some notes on developing any fundraising program: http://ecsg.alliance1.org/content/taking-your-planned-giving-program-idea-reality

There is a feeling in the nonprofit fundraising world that all the causes are looking for the same piece of funding pie, market share, volunteer pool.  The idea seems to be carrying into the online fundraising arena.  What is actually available, though, are new levels of engagement with people who you may never have had access to before and the opportunity to mobilize them on your behalf at unprecedented levels.

I stole this post from Beth’s Blog, the ‘go to’ resource for nonprofits using Social Media.   This copy below is a chunk from the original post.  It lists and describes the 5 stages of building a relationship with donors.  I wanted to share it.   It is edited for brevity, you can read the entire article here.


The Five Phases

Online movements are successful because they marry the right set of opportunities for engagement with a level of awareness and passion among the target audience.

Let’s review: Its not about the technology.

Strategic organizations must move through five phases of relationship building in order to establish a trusted relationship with a long term giver or supporter: 1) Listening, 2) Introduction, 3) Education, 4) Engagement, and finally 5) Mobilization

3199587450_539c5da185Listening: Before you launch any communications effort, it is necessary that the organization understand more thoroughly who the online audience is, what their interest and willingness to participate in your efforts might include and are driven by, and what will drive them to engage and take action around this issue.  The social rules now are continuously changing so stay plugged in.

Introduction: Organizations need to find ways to put issues in front of their target audience – to generate interest, prompt curiosity, and begin to build awareness.  Introduce key voices representing the organization and their work. Seed discussions about your issues by participating in existing  social networking and community conversations and sites where the target audience is likely to spend time.  Reach out to bloggers.   Encourage supporters to speak for your cause.  A strong introduction and increased attention fuel what follows.

134329985_d9259a07fdEducation: Cause administrators  often underestimate the complexity of their issues.  The result – low levels of participation and limited impact.  The solution – when issues are complex organizations need to spend significant time and energy educating. Engage your target audience, with response driven content, polls, public inquiries, live forums, interactive blog posts.  Regardless of  form, the results of target audience education and self education should be in place before any significant outreach effort has begun.  This allows, effective use of time and resources, invested audiences, accuracy of intent and participant ownership in the cause or endeavor.

Engagement: Engagement happens at the level of signing a petition or recruiting a friend  to empowered citizens creating and initiating new  actions to help grow and expand a campaign.  As awareness and understanding about the issue grows, it is possible to engage the audience more deeply, and to further expand the reach and impact of the campaign.  Until that happens, moving quickly to request action or financial commitment from your audience won’t work.   A single donation, particularly one resulting from a relationship to someone who is already part of your network, does not mean that your new supporter is interested in a relationship with your organization.  Organizations need to identify ways the target audience can engage and participate meaningfully and provide interactive tools and support to make that possible.

1795262311_0ba9429de1Mobilization: Finally, organizations will need to identify ways to activate and mobilize its audience,  beyond building a large list, sending emails to Congress, or signing a petition.   Those activities are not  sufficient to bring about the level of engagement that builds large sustainable action groups.   In fact, the very nature of Facebook Causes — and its ability to standardize and simplify the ways that audiences can get involved in issues online — now means that every group needs to find new and better ways to distinguish themselves and their work.

The challenge seems to be developing engaging strategies to  continuously engage and reengage those one time givers and clickers to come back for more.  Have participation centers, like blogs, microblogs, wikis, pages, and groups.  Offer subscribers and followers something in the way of video, education tools, events, tours, or benefit programs to keep donors participating.  Schedule your ask events as or at the culmination of a series of other events.   Make your cause their cause.   Your job is to empower your target market to actualize your policy and fundraising objectives.  They won’t do that if you’re not standing with them.  Get to know your audience and what is important to them so that they’ll know what’s important to you.