The Snake’s Story: 3 Ways Your Volunteers Can Recruit More Donors

Take Away: Personal, sensory experience of your mission spurs authentic storytelling

Despite good intentions, the Zoo’s corporate fundraising committee wasn’t making much progress. The committee met monthly, but hadn’t gotten many gifts. A class I had taken in animal handling gave me an idea. At our next meeting, I greeted the committee as usual; I distributed agendas, and excused myself… to return draped in a five-foot long python named Lulu.

I learned one thing fast:

Some people don’t like snakes.

Chairs tumbled. Executives flew across the room. Once things calmed down, I showed them how to stroke the back of the snake’s head, how she was dry, not slimy, and had heat sensors that enabled her to hunt in the dark. I told them how her species was threatened by habitat-destruction and trade in exotic pets. I also told them what the Zoo was doing to protect snakes like Lulu and her ecosystem.

Could they have learned that info from our website? Absolutely. But in our hi-tech world, touching a python (versus reading about it online,) is pretty cool. The committee left with a great story and a new assignment: to bring five people to a behind-the-scenes tour that showcased Lulu. On each visit, the committee members relayed their experience with infectious enthusiasm, reinforcing their own commitment to the Zoo, and engaging others to do the same.

Volunteers speak best from personal experience. Let these examples get your creative juices flowing:

1. Katie Pastuzek of Outward Bound got her Mayor and major donors to rappel down a skyscraper, dramatizing the confidence and self-reliance youth gain from her program.

2. The crumbling ruins of Eastern State Penitentiary Historic Site draws 100,000+ visitors to their haunted “house” each fall. Actors play ghouls, complete with make-up, costume, and specific characters. Several donors get to become one of those ghouls for a night.

3. One year, Friends of the American Philosophical Society got to hold one of Lewis and Clark’s expedition journals in their own hands. The journal was opened to a personal account of the men’s arrival in the Pacific Northwest.

“May you live all the days of your life.” Jonathan Swift

 

Don’t forget to book your Nonprofit Hero talk and training!

You’ll find more fundraising tips and techniques inNonprofit Hero, Five Easy Steps to Successful Board Fundraising, available on Amazon, or for free from your local library. And via my blog,TwitterFacebookand LinkedIn pages. Schedule a game-changing board retreat that’ll turn your volunteers into Nonprofit Fundraising Heroes, contact email hidden; JavaScript is required 

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Faulty Fundraising in 30 Seconds

 

 

Take-Away: The worst way to fundraise is to not fundraise at all.

 

Don’t forget to book your Nonprofit Hero talk and training!

You’ll find more fundraising tips and techniques inNonprofit Hero, Five Easy Steps to Successful Board Fundraising, available on Amazon, or for free from your local library. And via my blog,TwitterFacebookand LinkedIn pages. Schedule a game-changing board retreat that’ll turn your volunteers into Nonprofit Fundraising Heroes, contact email hidden; JavaScript is required 

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Q&A with Valerie Jones, Bower & Co. Consulting LLC

Do you want to become your nonprofit’s fundraising hero? Follow the link below to access Val Jones’ Q&A with Bower & Co. Consulting LLC for quick tips on board fundraising.

http://gailbower.com/blog/2019/11/6/qa-with-val-jones.html

Don’t forget to book your Nonprofit Hero talk and training!

You’ll find more fundraising tips and techniques in Nonprofit Hero, Five Easy Steps to Successful Board Fundraising, available on Amazon, or for free from your local library. And via my blog, TwitterFacebook and LinkedIn pages. Schedule a game-changing board retreat that’ll turn your volunteers into Nonprofit Fundraising Heroes, contact email hidden; JavaScript is required.

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Teaching your Board to Ask; Don’t Put your Toddler on a Harley

Take-away: For practice and confidence, ask donors for gifts before asking prospects.

toddler on harley_originalImage by CindysArt, cindysart.deviantart.com via www.pinterest.com.

Asking a new board member to solicit non-donors is like teaching a kid to ride a bike by putting her on a Harley. Not a good idea. Yet that’s just about what we do in fundraising. We tell new board members, “You don’t have to ask our donors; they’re already giving! We need you to bring in fresh blood, new donors.”
Subtext: “Get strangers to give us money.”

You’re afraid it will be awkward, because your friends and associates don’t yet know/care about your nonprofit. Or that it will be uncomfortable, because they may feel you’re using them. Worse, even if they do give when you ask them this time, unless you get them involved in the interim, they probably won’t give next year. So you’ll be back where you started. Except you may feel tongue-tied with some friends, family and colleagues.

Are you squirming yet?

The Golden Ask method of fundraising does just the opposite. I begin by assigning board members to solicit those who are already giving and almost certain to say “Yes!” Sometimes I even have board members solicit each other. This is great practice, because they know they’ll be asking their partner in turn, and become proactively generous as a result. I then assign novice solicitors to ask 2-3 current donors, one after another. After several successful visits, they are thrilled with getting big gifts. These board members are convinced they’re darned good fundraisers. And you know what? They’re right!

Asking donors before you ask prospects has several additional advantages.

1. Donors are your best prospects. It’s easier to get current donors to renew, perhaps even increase, their gift than it is to get someone who’s never contributed to give for the first time. So you raise more money asking donors than you do asking prospects.

2. They deserve it. Taking time to meet with your donors tells them they’re important to you. Remember, there’s no rule saying that because Ms. X has given you $100/year for the last ten years she’s got to do it again. Don’t make the mistake of losing her by taking her for granted.

3. You’ll learn a lot. You’ll learn about your donors’ backgrounds and what drew them to your cause. They may share happy news… congratulate them! They may share bad news or challenging situations, including financial ones. Empathize. Assure them they’re valued partners, not just ATMs. Hold onto these people and you may find they become tremendous champions.
Give your board some fundraising training wheels before they have to make the more difficult asks. It doesn’t mean they won’t bring new donors into the fold later. They’ll just be much better at it when they do.

Don’t forget to book your Nonprofit Hero talk and training!

You’ll find more fundraising tips and techniques inNonprofit Hero, Five Easy Steps to Successful Board Fundraising, available on Amazon, or for free from your local library. And via my blog,TwitterFacebookand LinkedIn pages. Schedule a game-changing board retreat that’ll turn your volunteers into Nonprofit Fundraising Heroes, contact email hidden; JavaScript is required

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Fundraising Training for Nonprofits

Take-Away: Val trains board members to fundraise authentically, comfortably, and successfully.

 

Don’t forget to book your Nonprofit Hero talk and training!

You’ll find more fundraising tips and techniques inNonprofit Hero, Five Easy Steps to Successful Board Fundraising, available on Amazon, or for free from your local library. And via my blog,TwitterFacebookand LinkedIn pages. Schedule a game-changing board retreat that’ll turn your volunteers into Nonprofit Fundraising Heroes, contact email hidden; JavaScript is required 

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The Perils of “Please” and “Sorry”

Take-away: Ask with authority by cutting the unnecessary “please” and “sorry” from your vocabulary   

Whether you’re dealing with a spouse, child, friend, colleague, or donor, it’s tough to make someone do something if they really don’t want to do it. When we ask for help (or a gift), we seek to persuade someone to act from the goodness of their heart – to do so as part of a reciprocal relationship, or perhaps because it will advance their own agenda.  

But many of us, particularly women, weaken our requests by overusing “please” and “sorry.” 

 “Please finish your report that was due last Tuesday,” we may implore or wheedle, “could you please submit your invoices?” We begin reasonable requests with apologies such as, “I’m so sorry to bother you,” or, “forgive me if this is a bad time, but…”  

 Some of this is gender-specific. For example, a group of students was asked to review a dialog, underlining the words and phrases that they thought most likely male or female. Two of the top three female-identified phrases were, “you might say please,” and the single word, “please.” Gender linguist Deborah Tannen speculates that men may be likelier than women to see an apology as admitting they are wrong, and so putting themselves in a weaker position.  

 Some of this is cultural. Apologies may reflect humility and good manners in Japan. It may spring from personality, like my absent-minded husband who once apologized when bumping into a wall. 

 Don’t surrender your authority. Use these three tips to strengthen your ask:  

 

  1. Start positive:Rather than, “I’m sorry to take up your time,” try, “I’m so glad I caught you!” Replace, “please enter those names…” with, “enter those names and we’ll get your story out first thing tomorrow morning.” Focus on positive impacts and shared goals. 
  2. Edit your emails:Cut overly passive language from your email When I catch myself using “please” and “sorry” too often, I replace them with straightforward, positive requests. Your emails will become shorter, clearer, and more likely to be read. 
  3. Take minutes: This apparently servile task holds great power.Agreeing in a meeting that, “we’ll do it,” means no one will do it. I give deadlines and individual names to unassigned tasks. The work gets done to everyone’s benefit. If someone objects, I know they’re paying attention!    

“Never apologize for having high standards. People who really want to be in your life will rise up to meet them.” – Ziad K. Abdelnour

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How to Ask

Take Away: Learn how to ask for a job, a date, help from your loved ones, or even a seat on the bus.

Book your “How to Ask” talk and training now, at vmja.com, email me at email hidden; JavaScript is required or call 610-565-1352.
You’ll find more fundraising tips and techniques inNonprofit Hero, Five Easy Steps to Successful Board Fundraising, available on Amazon, or for free from your local library. And via my blog,  TwitterFacebookand LinkedIn pages. 
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To event, or not to event?

Take Away: Fundraising galas demand resources, months of lead time, and hundreds of volunteer hours. Is it worth it?

Don’t forget to book your Nonprofit Hero talk and training!

You’ll find more fundraising tips and techniques inNonprofit Hero, Five Easy Steps to Successful Board Fundraising, available on Amazon, or for free from your local library. And via my blog,TwitterFacebookand LinkedIn pages. Schedule a game-changing board retreat that’ll turn your volunteers into Nonprofit Fundraising Heroes, contact email hidden; JavaScript is required 

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Only You Can Prevent Donor Loss

Take Away: Writing a properly structured thank you note can help reduce 33% of donor attrition

According to the Fundraising Effectiveness Survey Report conducted by the Association of Fundraising Professionals and the Urban Institute, the average U.S. nonprofit loses 55.5% of its donors every year! 

Why?  

There are many reasons. One survey found 19% of lapsed donors stopped giving because they didn’t feel thanked or acknowledged. An additional 14% said it was because they weren’t told how their money was used. By addressing these two problems, you can help your nonprofit retain as much as 33% of your lapsed donors.  

If your nonprofit raises $1 million a year, that’s $330,000 worth of new gifts you don’t have to find   

Besides, it’s easier and cheaper to hold onto the donors you have than to acquire new ones. Acquiring new donors is expensive, and the same Fundraising Effectiveness Survey Report found that only about 26.6% of first-time donors returned to contribute again. 

You want to avoid what the Queen of Hearts describes to Alice in Through the Looking Glass, “It takes all the running you can do to keep in the same place. If you want to get somewhere else, you must run at least twice as fast as that!” 

How?  

You can retain more donors with a certain kind of thank you note. It’s simple, polite, and free.  

Ms. Jones’s Tips to Thanking:  

The Basics:  

  • As in PR, first you get their name, and preferred salutation(s) right.  
  • Who’s thanking? The note may come from the person who requested the gift, CEO, relevant program officer, or a combination of these.  
  • Mention the gift amount 

Personalizing tips:     

  • Include a fond memory or experience you shared with the donor  
  • Have several staff members sign the card, each in different ink: the equivalent of a group hug 
  • Have gift beneficiary share their story, the positive impact it’s made on their lives 

Engaging tips:   

  • Invite the donor to volunteer   
  • Invite the donor to call/email the signatory (or other named person)-include contact info 
  • Say you hope to see them at an upcoming event or meeting, giving specifics  

In personal ‘thank you’ notes, avoid the following:   

  • Do NOT use this as an opportunity to ask for more money.  
  • Do NOT use complicated words or jargonconnect via simple/emotional communication.  
  • Do NOT bore them! Let your genuine excitement and appreciation shine through.  

Be creative. Thank in ways that play to your strengths. If you’re social, try thank-a-thons, calls, and visits. If you’re more reserved, write heartfelt, handwritten notes, using some of the tips above 

Express your gratitude well, and your donors will feel acknowledged and validated. Well-thanked donors are twice as happy, once when they make a gift and again when thanked.  

Saying thank you is easy, it’s important, and, as your mother taught you, it’s the right thing to do. 

Silent gratitude isn’t very much to anyone.” Gertrude Stein 

You’ll find more fundraising tips and techniques inNonprofit Hero, Five Easy Steps to Successful Board Fundraising, available on Amazon, or for free from your local library. And via my blog,  TwitterFacebookand LinkedIn pages. Schedule a game-changing board retreat that’ll turn your volunteers into Nonprofit Fundraising Heroes, contact email hidden; JavaScript is required 

 

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Be Different

Take Away: I can teach you how to fundraise in a different way.

Don’t forget to book your Nonprofit Hero talk and training!

You’ll find more fundraising tips and techniques inNonprofit Hero, Five Easy Steps to Successful Board Fundraising, available on Amazon, or for free from your local library. And via my blog,TwitterFacebookand LinkedIn pages. Schedule a game-changing board retreat that’ll turn your volunteers into Nonprofit Fundraising Heroes, contact email hidden; JavaScript is required 

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