Category

Major Gift Solicitation

Do Your Homework, Sit Still and LISTEN

By | All Posts, Donor Cultivation, Fundraising, Major Gift Solicitation, News You Can Use, Organizational + Personal Development, Prospect Research, Volunteers | No Comments

Jeffrey D. Byrne, President + CEO

We know to do our homework on prospective donors. You’ve heard me say time and again “Don’t commit fundraising malpractice!” (See my blog piece on the benefits of prospect research here.)That means do your research – because it reveals information about the wealth and capacity of prospects as well as information about philanthropic giving history, community involvement, natural partners and connections. And your donor database should contain important notes about your prospects and interactions with them. Prepare for your visit.

Sitting still tells your audience you really care about what they should say. Don’t shuffle your papers. Don’t check your phone. Don’t fidget. Sitting still lets you hear what your prospective donor should tell you about their life story and experiences – maybe even how a single instance changed their life. You can learn why they are passionate about your organization and its mission.

I believe in order to be a great fundraiser, you have to be a good – if not great – listener. Human nature might urge you to fill quiet moments with a remark or an anecdote. Of course you are nervous, and anxious to impress. You certainly want to make a connection you can build upon later. But it is in those quiet moments that you, as a volunteer or professional, can learn the most.  Waiting for the prospective donor to share might result in hearing firsthand how your healthcare institution saved their life. You might learn a relative was a long-time volunteer. You might learn how an agency similar to yours provided their mother with safety and refuge from domestic violence.  Resist the urge to talk about yourself.  Ask prospective donors about themselves…and then listen to what they say. Some good lead-ins might include:

  • “Tell me more about that …”
  • “What did she/he say about that…?”
  • “What happened next …?”
  • “What made you decide to …?”

You get the idea. You can think up your own list of “conversation engagers” that will help you get to know your prospective donor and involve them in the meeting. The bottom line is this: regardless of with whom you are meeting, when you get your prospective donors talking about themselves – when you ask about them – your prospective donor will come away from the visit feeling much more satisfied and positive about you and your organization than if you had used the time trying to tell them the 50 wonderful things you are doing to make a difference.

However, all of this doesn’t mean you should not educate your listeners about your organization and your mission. I’d suggest you use the 80/20 rule. Inform 20 percent of the time and LISTEN the other 80 percent.

In training staff and volunteers to make major gift solicitations, we place considerable emphasis on setting the appointment, sharing the vision and asking for the gift. Think about all the times we practice the script for the call or role-play the visit.  But how often do we practice listening? If you have volunteers who are reluctant to go on solicitation calls, think about how can coaching them on listening style can help them overcome their jitters about making the “ask.”

And finally, care about what’s being said and commit it to memory. Make notes when you leave if you need to capture details. This kind of active listening and remembering stems from truly caring about the donor. Don’t let the lure of a gift keep you from truly caring and listening to the prospective donor’s words. If you are listening and caring (and, of course, remembering to ask for the gift,) the gift will come.

Donor Relationships: transform donors into partners

By | All Posts, Annual Giving, Donor Cultivation, Major Gift Solicitation, News You Can Use, Stewardship | No Comments

Bruce Broce, M.A., Vice President

 A Board member once asked me if I considered our philanthropic supporters to be “donors” or “partners.” I answered by saying they ideally should be both. Every nonprofit has donors, but the really successful ones expand their relationship with their constituents beyond the financial plane and nurture them as partners who can help move forward the organization’s mission.

When it comes to fundraising, nonprofits tend to allocate the majority of their time and energy on acquiring donors. But let’s be honest, not nearly enough time is spent thinking about how to retain donors, and that’s a missed opportunity. Being a donor has become part of our daily lives; think about how frequently you’re asked to support something. Whether it’s donating $1 at the pet store when checking out, or buying a begonia to help your neighborhood school, charitable giving is often reduced to a transaction instead of being a meaningful, participatory and ongoing experience. Oftentimes, what distinguishes a philanthropic experience is what happens after a donation is made.

Your organization would be well served to review what processes are set in motion when donors make gifts. Because donors can feel like an organization’s checkbook, use the stewardship phase to further educate and engage donors. This helps them better understand the impact of their gift and prepares the groundwork for them becoming partners the next time they enter the donor cycle. Impactful and transformational giving occurs when a donor sees a partnership as the natural outcome of your relationship and the basis for how their philanthropic investment will meaningfully impact your organization.

Keep in mind that the tools that were initially used to attract and cultivate prospects tend to be set aside once they’ve become donors. You would be surprised how a donor’s perspective changes once they understand how their gift has impacted your organization. I once gave a “thank you tour” of our program, which was essentially the tour we gave prospective donors at the onset of cultivation. However, because the donor now possessed a deeper understanding of our services being offered, she said she could better appreciate the work being accomplished by our staff. As a result, her giving increased and she became an advocate of our organization within the community, championing us to potential new donors. In other words, she transitioned from being a donor to becoming a partner who was vested in the success of our organization.

A comprehensive fundraising program is as strategic and genuine in its thanks, appreciation and ongoing engagement as it is in its solicitation. Make sure your organization has a carefully designed program of acquisition, retention, stewardship and ultimately involvement of your key donors. These elements are critical to strengthening relationships with the donors you already have, and ultimately, creating lasting partnerships from which your organization will benefit.

Just Ask.

By | All Posts, Annual Giving, Donor Cultivation, Fundraising, Major Gift Solicitation, News You Can Use, Prospect Research | No Comments

Saber Hossinei, Coordinator of Administration + Consulting

Have you seen those shirts with JUST DO IT across the front? It certainly makes for a catchy phrase, but the meaning behind it is so much more than that. It’s a message of action. Regardless of one’s condition, level of experience or ability, don’t forget what’s truly necessary: action. And with action, come results.

In my background with sales and sales training, the recurring obstacle for many of the trainees I worked with (rookie and veteran salespeople alike) was “making the ask.” How is it that most folks can be trained to do an excellent job with all aspects of the sales process, yet drop the ball when it comes to asking for the sale? Anecdotally, I can tell you that the best sales reps had the opposite problem. They weren’t great planners or polished presenters, but they asked for a sale with each and every visit, and as the saying goes, even a broken clock is right twice a day.

Recently, I had the privilege to serve on the silent auction subcommittee for a nonprofit’s annual gala fundraiser. It was my first time in such a role, and in fact it was my first time ever asking for donations. Armed with just a letter about the event and a donation request form, I hit the street and went door to door in a shopping center to ask for donations. Of course, I was very excited to receive a nice item from the first business I approached, and by the end of my walk, I had received not only merchandise and gift cards for the silent auction, but also referrals to other businesses to solicit for donations! The bottom line is, I might have felt poorly prepared, but by showing up and asking for donations, I received them.

I am certainly not making a case against proper and thorough preparation for solicitations. The qualification, cultivation and solicitation process with prospective donors is critically important, and today, we have many valuable resources readily available to help us develop strong strategies for relationship-building with our prospects/donors. (Check out Jeffrey’s article “Don’t Commit Fundraising Malpractice” about how nonprofits should “do their “homework” on prospective donors.)

But nonprofits suffer when leadership, staff and volunteers are reluctant to “make the ask,” or want to wait until everything is “perfect.” Don’t get “paralysis by analysis.” Your Boards, staff and volunteers should be taught that making an “ask” is not only the most important element in obtaining donations, but it is also the right thing to do. You owe your supporters action, your potential donors the opportunity to support your cause and you owe those who benefit from your nonprofit your best work! JUST ASK.

The Results Are In: 2016 U.S. Trust Study of High Net Worth Philanthropy

By | All Posts, Annual Giving, Commentary, Donor Cultivation, Education, Fundraising, Insights, Major Gift Solicitation, News You Can Use | No Comments

ustrust_bulletinlogo_140820Editor’s Note:  The 2016 U.S. Trust® Study of High Net Worth Philanthropy, in partnership with the Indiana University Lilly Family School of Philanthropy, reports the giving patterns and priorities of America’s wealthiest donors and provides valuable insights into the strategies, vehicles and approaches that can make giving more effective. This Study is a continuation of the 2006, 2008, 2010, 2012 and 2014 reports. 

Results are based on a nationwide sample of 1,435 responding households with a net worth of $1 million or more and/or an annual household income of $200,000 or more. For the first time, the study includes a deeper analysis based on age, gender, sexual orientation and race.  The Study offers comprehensive information on the charitable giving and volunteering activities of high net worth households that will apply directly to our Kansas City philanthropic endeavors. 

This past June, JB+A partnered with U.S. Trust and the Indiana University Lilly Family School of Philanthropy to present Giving USA 2016:The Annual Report on Philanthropy for the Year 2015.  We are pleased to continue to share valuable information that complements Giving USA data and can be used by nonprofit professionals, donors, volunteers and others interested in promoting philanthropy.

What did we learn?
The Study reveals that giving levels remain high and the future looks bright, supported by several findings:

  • The vast majority are giving: Last year, 91% of high net worth households donated to charity compared to 59% of the general population of U.S. households.
  • They are spreading the wealth around: on average, wealthy donors gave to eight different nonprofits last year with donors over the age of 70 giving to an average of 11 organizations.
  • These households plan to give as much or more in the future: 83% of wealthy donors are planning to give as much (55%) or more (28%) in the next three years than they have in the past.
  • Time is also treasure: these high net worth households also demonstrated their commitment to charitable causes through volunteering.  50% of wealthy individuals volunteered their time to charities they support. This is twice the rate of the general population (25%).

Motivations to Give
While there is an assortment of reasons motivating high net worth philanthropy, the following were cited as the top motivators for giving in 2015:

  • Believing in the mission of the organization – 54%
  • Believing that their gift can make a difference – 44%
  • Experiencing personal satisfaction, enjoyment or fulfillment – 39%
  • Supporting the same causes annually – 36%
  • Giving back to the community – 27%

Only 18% of the respondents cited tax advantages among their top motivations for giving compared with 34% who cited this as a motivation in 2013.

What do high net worth donors want?
Donors have strong feelings about how their donation should be used. They feel that nonprofit organizations should:

  • Limit the amount of the individual’s donation that is spent on general administrative and fundraising expenses – 89%
  • Demonstrate sound business and operational practices – 89%
  • Acknowledge donations by providing a receipt for tax purposes – 88%
  • Not distribute their names to others – 84%
  • Send a thank you note – 61%

“This year’s Study reinforces that our wealthiest donors are engaged, willing and eager to give,” says Jeffrey Byrne, President + CEO of Jeffrey Byrne + Associates, Inc.  “with nearly half the wealthy individuals surveyed indicating that charitable giving has the greatest potential for impact on society, it is up to us – the fundraisers and nonprofit professionals – to connect, cultivate and steward these individuals.”

The study also highlighted several key findings regarding volunteerism amongst high net worth individuals.

“A significant finding from this year’s study is the correlation between volunteerism and giving” said Lewis Gregory, CAP, Senior Vice President, Institutional and Private Client Advisor for U.S. Trust in Kansas City.  “A high percentage of wealthy individuals give financially to the organizations with which they volunteer. They also give 56% more on average than those who do not volunteer. I hope this inspires nonprofits to appreciate and cultivate their volunteers on a whole new level.”

Other Key Takeaways
And the winner is:  basic needs organizations.  While many of the nonprofit subsectors benefited from increased contributions from high net worth donors in 2015, basic needs was the clear front runner.

  • 63% of high net worth households gave to basic needs organizations
  • Religion received the largest share of dollars (36%) – more than basic needs (28%), higher education (8%), health (7%) or the arts (5%).
  • The highest share of high net worth households also prioritized education as the most important current policy issue (56%) ahead of poverty (34.6%) and healthcare (33.8%).
  • New research: There’s no better time than election season to study the political giving behavior of high net worth individuals.  The study found:
    • One out of four wealthy individuals contributed to a political candidate in 2015 or planned to do so in the 2016 election cycle
    • Donors over the age of 70 (40%) and LGBT individuals (38%) were more likely to give to a political candidate or campaign
    • The top three public policy issues that matter most to wealthy individuals are health care (29%), education (28%) and national security (27%), closely followed by the economy (26%)

To access the full 90-page report, visit www.ustrust.com/philanthropy.

Jeffrey Byrne to Speak at DonorPerfect Community Network Conference

By | All Posts, Campaign Planning + Management, Current Events/News, Events, Fundraising, Major Gift Solicitation, News You Can Use, Prospect Research | No Comments

Jeffrey Byrne, JB+A Firm President + CEO, is honored to be presenting with our Prospect Research Partner, DonorSearch, and the Belcourt Theatre, Nashville’s nonprofit film center, at the 2016 DonorPerfect Community Network Conference in Philadelphia, PA , September 19-20.  They will be discussing how to effectively utilize prospect research in capital campaigns.

DonorPerfect’s Community Network Conference is an annual gathering of industry experts from around the nation to speak about ways to improve fundraising success. It’s also a great time to network with other fundraising professionals to share best practices, tips and success stories.DP CNC LOgo

Jeffrey will join Ryan Woroniecki, Vice President of Strategic Partnerships at DonorSearch, and Brook Bernard, Director of Development for the Belcourt Theatre, to illustrate the value of prospect research in campaign planning and implementation. Using the Belcourt Theatre’s recently completed campaign as a Case Study, Jeffrey, Ryan and Brook will share their processes and best practices for utilizing prospect research. Check out Jeffrey’s recent blog post on how to utilize research to improve capital campaigns.

Recognized for his distinctive client-focused philosophy to fundraising, Jeffrey is a frequent guest speaker at workshops and conferences across the United States.  He has also been quoted in numerous publications including the New York Times, The Chronicle of Philanthropy and Kansas City Star, and interviewed on many public radio and television stations.

As national consultant thought leaders in philanthropy, JB+A team members share our fundraising leadership, industry best practices and the latest sector research and trends.  If your organization is looking for a speaker or workshop presentation, reach out to JB+A here.

DonorPerfect provides complete fundraising and donor management nonprofit software – including managingdonorperfect logo constituent contacts and donor development, sending personalized communications, managing and scheduling fundraising events, online donation pages and DonorPerfect mobile – while integrating with other industry products and services.

SofterWare is based in Horsham, Pennsylvania, a suburb of Philadelphia. It was founded in 1981 with a mission to develop and support software that is easy to learn, easy to use and adaptable to users’ unique needs. The company has grown over 30 years from a small entrepreneurial business to a $35 million+ company with over 10,000 nonprofits and childcare, camp, school and payment processing clients. To learn more about DonorPerfect, click here.

donorsearch logoDonorSearch was founded in 2007 to provide more accurate, more comprehensive, more actionable data to help nonprofits of all types achieve better fundraising and outreach results. Using information from 25 databases, DonorSearch uses proprietary algorithms to help clients find the best philanthropic prospects. Its data can be easily integrated with most common donor management and general sales software, putting critical donor information at a client’s fingertips. (Learn more about DonorSearch here.)

The Belcourt Theatre’s mission is to engage, enrich and educate through innovative film programming in its historicbelcourt theatre, its community and beyond. A unique Nashville treasure with a vibrant historic past and deep roots in the community, this cultural institution is dedicated to presenting the best of independent, documentary, world, repertory and classic cinema. Learn more about the Belcourt Theatre here.

Don’t Commit Fundraising Malpractice

By | All Posts, Campaign Planning + Management, Database Management, Donor Cultivation, Major Gift Solicitation, News You Can Use, Prospect Research, Technology | No Comments

Jeffery ByrneJeffrey D. Byrne, President + CEO

I truly believe it is “fundraising malpractice” when nonprofits do not do their “homework” about prospective donors.  Much more than learning about the estimated wealth and capacity of a prospect, research can reveal information about philanthropic giving history and involvement as well as natural partners and connections. Then add the “human touch” of the prospect review committee process, and the result is powerful quantitative and qualitative data to help inform strategy development for prospective donors.

I am a big proponent of using philanthropic and wealth screenings in campaign planning. They offer a valuable data, help you determine when/if more in-depth individualized research is necessary and provide information beneficial beyond the campaign, that can help with strategies for planned giving and annual fund.

Here’s my simple and universal process for utilizing philanthropic and wealth screenings to strengthen campaigns:

  1. Determine your “end use”
    You cannot simply import the results back into your database, never look at them again and expect magic to happen. Be disciplined in defining how you are going to use the results to empower your fundraising activities. Do you need help in determining target ask amounts? Do you need to know more about giving histories, to determine if prospects might have an affinity for your mission?  Do you need to better understand the prospects’ peer networks to help you develop appropriate ways to connect with them? Before you select a screening vendor and before you select the screening product(s) to purchase, carefully think through how you need to use the data.
  1. “Screen” your vendor and product options
    Wealth and philanthropic screenings are investments – of both time and money – that merit a careful selection process. There are several vendor options, so do your homework. What is their methodology? What are their deliverables? Is education/training included? Do they verify their results? How long will the screening process take? Can the data be easily imported/integrated into your database? Do they support that process?  Ask for references. Then call them. And don’t be penny-wise and pound-foolish.  Screenings are also opportunities to clean up your database. There are valuable services available that will assess and address the accuracy and completeness of the contact information in your records (such as address verification and email, phone and address appends.)
  1. Select records to screen
    It may not be cost effective – or necessary – to screen your whole database. The flip side is that you don’t know what you don’t know – screenings often uncover wealth you never knew you had in your database. Your consultant or screening vendor can and should help you select the records you want to run. And it is imperative to provide all the fields the screening vendor requires in their upload template.  (Garbage in typically means garbage out.)
  1. Interpret the results
    A lot of information comes back in a screening, so you’ll want to make sure you are able to understand it, digest it and use it the way you need. A good screening vendor will help you do just that – and will be accessible to you beyond a 30-minute webinar or 30-page guide. You not only need to be able to interpret the data yourself, but you’ll need to interpret it for other members of your organization – both staff and volunteers. You’ll also need to determine what is appropriate to share and how.
  1. Integrate the data results
    Again, this doesn’t mean just importing the results into your database. You have to make the data work for you. Integrating the screening results means synthesizing the information and incorporating it into your donor development efforts through the steps below.
  1. Prospect review committee
    A small and select group of volunteers and staff, the prospect review committee is a most effective – and personal – way to rate prospects, as a complement to screenings and in-depth research profiles. Composed of those “in the know” in your organization’s community, this highly-confidential group works early on in the campaign planning process to rank capacity and potential interest (not just for giving but for volunteering as well.) The committee works in sessions over several days or a couple of weeks, but the process is fast-paced and highly-facilitated (typically by staff or a consultant.) The end result is a prospect list that is “categorically” ranked/prioritized and supported by anecdotal information.
  1. In-depth research profiles
    Some prospects merit additional, in-depth research. These profiles contain expanded details about a prospect’s education, employer, professional career, family, hobbies/personal interests and civic/community activities. The information gathered should only be information that affects a person’s ability or inclination to give: relevant and publicly available. 
  1. Appraisals/Solicitation Amounts
    Determining appropriate ask amounts is a combination of several factors:  the capacity recommendations/target ask amounts provided in the screening results, the anecdotal and ranking information provided by the prospect committee review, the prospect’s relationship with your organization and last but certainly not least, good judgement.
  1. Strategies
    Now you’ve got a solid foundation for developing personalized and customized plans for prospect cultivation and solicitation.  A “good ask” is more than just an amount. Knowing through whom, how and when to approach a prospect makes for more effective relationship-building.  Strategy is about encouraging and empowering the prospect to become an important part of your organization’s mission.

The resources and methods for prospect research may feel endless, overwhelming and even cost prohibitive. But it does not have to be that way.  If you use research information appropriately, there can and should be a very valuable return on your investment.

Register Now for JB+A’s Latest Workshop

By | All Posts, Annual Giving, Campaign Planning + Management, Events, Major Gift Solicitation, Planned Giving | No Comments

Register now for

Tools for Fundraising Success
Building an Integrated Fundraising Program

Friday, August 26, 2016 

This hands-on workshop will detail best practices and step-by-step techniques for creating and implementing an integrated fundraising program that will transform your organization.

**All attending organizations will receive two hours of complimentary fundraising consultation from JB+A.**

8:00 a.m. – 12:00 p.m.
Friday, August 26, 2016
Bishop Spencer Place, Westport Room
4301 Madison Avenue, Kansas City, Missouri

This workshop is intended for Executive Directors, Development Directors, Chief Development Officers, Board Members and Fundraising Volunteers.

The workshop price of $99 admits you and one guest.

Call 816.237.1999 or click here to register.

Five Secrets to Capital Campaign Success

By | All Posts, Boards + Leadership, Campaign Planning + Management, Donor Cultivation, Major Gift Solicitation, News You Can Use | No Comments

judy Keller for proposals 2012Judy Keller
Executive Vice President

After nine years as a fundraising consultant, I have learned a lot about campaigns that I never knew when I was an Executive Director or Development Director. Forty-eight clients later, I have met wonderful people doing courageous work, and am happy to say most of them succeeded in their campaign goals.  Here’s what those campaigns prove to me that your organization needs to do to be successful:

Tie Your Campaign to Community Benefits
Your campaign should NOT be for a new building or more staff for your organization. Your focus should be on the community need and how building or expanding will serve the community need.  Even after your case statement is written, you should force yourself and your group to articulate the compelling need.  Practice it.  Know it inside and out and make sure it is a valid and urgent community problem that your efforts will solve. I’m sure you instinctively talk about the good work your organization does, your grand plans and what you need to pull them off, but to a potential funder that can too easily be tuned out as the same old pitch.  Ask yourselves “why does our town need this” and make sure the answer is short, easy to understand and truly compelling.  Shape your organization’s messages to be about what your community needs and how this effort will solve community problems.  True philanthropists want to serve the greater good, not just “put their names on buildings” but often volunteers or staff think that name recognition is the motivation.

Get Your Board on Board
Make sure your Board and senior staff members know where you are headed and agree that is the right place to go. Never assume that they all agree with the campaign plans.  Especially in a polite, Midwestern workplace, many are hesitant to express negative thoughts in a group setting or they do so subtlety and are easily not taken seriously.  This is an area in which a very good feasibility study can make all the difference. It should ferret out — in candid and confidential sessions — what the concerns are.  Remember if Board members have questions, other donors will too.  One client’s Executive Director had lots of answers, but never really addressed the issues or fixed the project, and the campaign stalled.  It is important to listen to the concerns and address them, not just answer them and move on, but to really take the time to address them in a way that satisfies those who know the organization best. This is about more than getting the Board to 100% participation. It is about really taking the time to strengthen the case for support before seeking it.

Focus on the Right Prospects
Major gifts always come from very few people—even in small communities and even in communities known for their grassroots participation. Capital campaigns are built on a handful of lead gifts and you need to take the time to identify those donors and work with them well before you work on the mechanics of the campaign structure or timeline.  Organizations are often focused on their broader message and fundraising to the community because they have focused on annual funds and larger numbers of smaller gifts to fund their operating budgets. That is a good strategy for building core support for operations, but a campaign requires a few large gifts to succeed and the first can be the most difficult to find.  Take the time to cultivate your major donors and recognize that for most campaigns it will take less than 1,000 donors to succeed.

Train People to Ask
Very few people come to a campaign steering committee excited about their skills as a solicitor. In fact, most of the time we hear that they would love to help but do not want to ask for money.  It is very important to give your volunteers the training and support they need to be comfortable and that means lots of training and practice.  After ample training, role play and conversation, put your volunteers in a position to be successful.  Let them go on “easy asks” and don’t allow yourself to take those first. The beginning of the campaign is an important time for your volunteers to get comfortable “making the ask”. People master a skill by learning the basics and practicing. Asking is a skill.

Set Deadlines
Goals and deadlines work. They won’t make you comfortable, but they’ll help you reach your goal. In fact, goals and deadlines are what get people pulling in the same direction at the same time. They create the energy you need to get everyone inspired.  Without them, your volunteers are all busy people who will likely find something more urgent to do than make their calls.  So with your volunteers, establish a campaign timeline with set by set achievable deadlines, inspire your group to consider the project urgent and to get their work done so you enjoy the momentum of a successful campaign from the start.

Campaigns are exciting times for organizations to make transformational change, dramatically improving the services they provide their communities. Make sure to get the basics right so you can enjoy the ride.

Donor Stewardship: The Art of Saying Thank You

By | All Posts, Donor Cultivation, Fundraising, Major Gift Solicitation, News You Can Use, Stewardship | No Comments

Katie cropped to uploadKatie Lord
Senior Consultant

In today’s fast-paced digital arena, many nonprofits have moved to a digital donor acknowledgement system in an effort to save time and increase the speed of gift acknowledgement. While this system can be effective from a recordkeeping standpoint for the organization and the donor, this can often be a missed opportunity to 1) convey true donor appreciation and 2) to enhance future cultivation activities with the donor.

Donor stewardship and re-engagement starts from the time the first gift is received and continues through the next request, building the relationship and engagement between the donor and your organization. Once a gift is received, and it is processed through your donor management database, it is important to respond to the donor in a timely manner and appreciate them in a way that is meaningful to them.

One-size acknowledgment procedures do not fit all donors. Never underestimate the power of a personal phone call or a handwritten thank you note as a way to express your organization’s appreciation.  This can be done in concert with the traditional “template” acknowledgment letter, but the days of the form letter being the only message sent are over.

Creative ways to show appreciation vary from organization to organization, as well as gift type and amount, but some popular ideas include:

  • Phone call or personalized note from a staff member or, barring privacy issues, a client of the agency that benefited from a service of the organization
  • A printed Certificate of Appreciation
  • Invitation for a tour or meeting with the Executive Director
  • Social Media posts or tags
  • Invitation or complimentary tickets to an upcoming event
  • Unique volunteer opportunity or special project

It is important to note that these items are of little or no cost to the organization so as not to affect the budget or raise questions of where funds are actually being spent — i.e. going towards promotional items and not services.

As our lives become more digitized, an organization’s ability to make the human connection and enhance donor experience is one of an organization’s biggest opportunities for differentiation. By personalizing a donor’s relationship with your organization, you are able to continue to build the relationship while acquiring more information about your donor’s interests in specific areas of your organization’s mission.  This knowledge will provide you with more ways to sustain the donor’s involvement in your organization, as well as strengthening the donor relationship.

People Give to People – Especially in Planned Giving

By | All Posts, Donor Cultivation, Fundraising, Major Gift Solicitation, Planned Giving | No Comments

John+Marshal+for+webJohn F. Marshall
Senior Vice President

In fundraising, we often hear the words “people give to people.” Donors and prospects are more likely to give when they are comfortable with and feel good about the person who is presenting them with a request — perhaps a university alum, a grateful patient or a supporter of the arts. But what exactly does this tenet mean in the world of Planned Giving?

Have you ever wondered just how that “superstar” Planned Giving Gift Advisor seems to be successful far more often than not? That person probably has a very strong grasp on what causes their audience to be satisfied with the manner in which they have been encountered. He or she has learned that donors are most satisfied when a Gift Advisor does the following:

  • Takes time to discuss giving with them in detail
  • Asks questions and most importantly, listens to the responses
  • Explains the giving plan simply and limits complex options
  • Talks far more about life (and not death)
  • Treats the plan as a giving tool rather than as a product to be sold
  • Knows when to look for additional assistance and does not try to come off as an “expert” on all aspects of Planned Giving

I’ve had the pleasure and privilege of working with many different people – ranging from staff to volunteers to prospective donors to donors – in Planned Giving. Over my many years in this field, I’ve noticed the most successful Planned Giving Gift Advisors display the following characteristics:

  1. Solid Communication Skills
    They excel in both verbal and written communication. They are persuasive, concise and articulate. They are well-versed in the Case for Support — familiar with it front to back and have the ability to convincingly present organizational needs. They are good listeners and closers.
  2. Organization and Prioritization
    They have the ability to manage a number of tasks at the same time and are comfortable and successful in handling the fast-paced and challenging nature of fundraising. Seldom, if ever, do they become “overwhelmed.”
  3. Relationship Building
    They are skilled in encouraging a long-term commitment to the organization. They are able to develop a high level of trust with the donor, which can lead to additional giving. They understand the need to avoid becoming overly involved in the personal side of the donor relationship (as this is difficult to emerge from unscathed.)
  4. A Persuasive Presenter
    They are extremely adaptable to their audience and equally persuasive and enthusiastic — whether presenting to a prospective donor, a church group, community groups or their own organization’s leadership team.
  5. Effective in Managing the Donor
    They are very sensitive to serving the needs of the donor, but within reason. They ensure the donor is happily satisfied with his/her gift and its benefits. They remain attentive to keeping the donor informed about the organization.
  6. Being Opportunistic/Proactive
    They possess the ability to identify an opportunity and create a strategy to act upon it. They do NOT procrastinate – this is simply not in their DNA.
  7. Enthusiastic and Committed
    They are successful in conveying true enthusiasm for and commitment to the Mission of their organization, because failure to do so will likely result in less than the desired outcome or no outcome at all.

Highly skilled Planned Giving Gift Advisors are “transformers” in that they are consistently able to make the difference between the organization receiving a nice gift or a transformative commitment.

For more information on developing “Transformative” Planned Giving Gift Advisors for your organization, contact John F. Marshall at 816.914.3780 or at jmarshall@fundraisingjba.com.