Donor Relationships

By Melanie Cecarelli

When I’m in a social setting and people learn I’m with a nonprofit consulting firm, it’s like being a CPA being asked a tax question or a physician being asked, “Does this look infected to you?” I usually get questions or comments about how nonprofits are missing an important feature when it comes to their donors, and that is the relationship.
A colleague shared their recent experience with me. They contacted a nonprofit three times within a three month period regarding a restricted gift they wanted to make to the organization. Now one would think the organization would jump at a non-solicited gift coming across their desk. There was no ask, no cultivation or stewardship involved. It was theirs for the taking. Then why would they let the offer stand idle? Is it because the nonprofit didn’t understand the need and the importance of a good donor relationship?
As nonprofit leaders, you know it takes time and energy to cultivate and build a relationship with a donor, especially one that you hope will grow into a major gift. Little stumbles like this have a lasting impression. Remember the saying it takes years to build a good reputation and only takes a minute to ruin it? Think about that when you ignore your donor or just see them as a means to an end to help you get achieve your philanthropy goals.

So, how do you think this story ends? Was the donor persistent in trying to make their gift? Did the organization finally contact them? And what did the organization do after the gift was received? Sounds a bit like a cliffhanger for a TV serial. At the end of the day, it’s up to nonprofits to embrace donors for their value and your worth…but that’s a topic for another day.

Ask yourself these questions.
How do you view your donors? Are you treating them as a one collective group? What are you doing to cultivate your repeat donors from a transactional into the translational relationship, especially when comes knocking at your door? Do you know the art and science behind the cultivation process?
It’s much more than frequent communications and the request for a gift. It’s about connecting the donor to your organization, and not to what you think is important to you but what is important to them and being sure it aligns with your overall goals. A donor suggested a “buy a brick” concept for a walkway at an art gallery and the program director ran with it. The few donations they received were outweighed by the actual cost of the materials and labor to install, and didn’t align with the gallery’s overall development initiative. Yes they had donors, but at what cost? And were these opportunities that could have been cultivated for something else?

How do you know what’s important to your donor? By listening and connecting with them, and not just once but multiple times. It’s not about coming out of the gate and asking for their gift, but understanding what motivates them to give to your organization. Are they interested in the outcomes or more interested in how the program operates? Do they want their dollars going to a program or are they more interested in capital improvements or longevity through an endowment or planned gift? It’s all about helping the donor grow alongside your organization. Cultivation.
And most of all, be responsive to your donors. Don’t keep them waiting especially when they come to you with a gift. Opportunity may knock more than once, but it’s not going to keep on knocking until you are ready to answer.

Give Back Tuesday

By Melanie Cecarelli

With the holiday season upon us, how many emails, text alerts, and Facebook ads did you receive for Black Friday and Cyber Monday sales? And now there’s “Give Back Tuesday”, a way for nonprofits to maximize year end giving with donors.

On “Give Back Tuesday”, I’m struck by the number of appeals that are flooding my inbox and social media pages. I think I received as many requests on “Give Back Tuesday” as I did for all the store and online sales. Many are from friends or colleagues who perhaps sit on a particular nonprofit board or maybe have given to the organization in the past.

Does it work? Some of the organizations are brave enough to post their progress toward a goal, and there’s little to no movement for donations. One organization tried “Give Back Tuesday” when it was first introduced as a concept. Out of the hundreds of emails and posting sent to their donor and membership base, only one gift was received. Why? Because organizations are reaching out to their donors who in turn are reaching out to individuals who have little or no knowledge of them. And a short 140 byte message isn’t going to move someone to give ‘sight unseen’ to your cause.

So ask yourself, “Is the squeeze worth the juice?” Are you putting time and resources toward an appeal that isn’t yielding results?
Like most things, one organization may have tremendous success with crowdsourcing and everyone jumps into the game. As a friend once said to me, “You need to know how deep the pool is before you jump in with cement shoes”. And that goes for “Give Back Tuesday”. How big is your social media footprint? Are these individuals who are connected to your work and mission or are you just jumping into the pool without knowing your audience? And what is your strategy for keeping the one or two new donors connected to your mission.

Many organizations see “Give Back Tuesday” as a way to close the gap for their overall development fund. While it may work for some, more attention needs to be given to creating a culture of philanthropy that engages donors and prospects throughout the year. Loyal donors are going to respond to your annual appeal and the cultivation you work on throughout the year. You don’t want to wait to year end to close gaps. The time to plan for next year is now.

So, how did Give Back Tuesday work for you?

In Difficult Economy, City of Hartford Seeks Grant Development Help

We are honored to have been recently chosen by the City of Hartford to facilitate grant development services, in support of their effort to increase sustainable funding for needed and viable city programs. This is the fourth contract with a municipality we have received in the last year. We are enthusiastic about this project and will keep you all updated as to the outcomes we are helping them to achieve!

Grants are certainly an important part of every organizations funding mix- whether you’re a 501C3, a municipal agency, or a private membership group, your unearned revenue plan should include some grant funding. Grant development goes beyond grant writing, it takes into account assessment of your grantable programs, viable outcomes, and identifying funding opportunities. Additionally, it encompasses facilitating a team to develop grant components including financials, and to write and refine the grant package before submission.
Once received, grants require careful attention to detail as most grantors want a clear and defined accounting of not only expenditures but outcomes.
Grants can be a valuable source of income and all organizations should be generating some grant revenue.

Servers and Rewarders

Not everyone is a giver. Connecticut Public Radio recently completed a two year project on ‘Giving’, and while many (most) of the people they interviewed applied to participate because they were givers, I’m sure the ones who did not respond to be interviewed were not givers. Not everyone is a giver.

One thing is for certain though – if you have donors then you have givers. These givers are people who have a desire to impact another’s life; offer themselves and their possessions to others. There are non-givers in the world, people who care nothing about other’s needs, but people in this latter category usually fall under the heading Narcissists and Sociopaths. For the most part, the majority of people are givers; it’s an innate part of our DNA. From infancy we have empathy for others that causes us to act to help.

But givers are not at all alike. In fact it is my opinion that there are two distinct types of givers.

SERVERS AND REWARDERS:

Husband and I are celebrating thirty years of marriage this year. This is remarkable because 1) Most marriages don’t last that long and 2) it’s a miracle that despite our vast differences, we are still together 30 years later. Ketchup on eggs/no ketchup on eggs; music as an alarm clock/silence is golden; Volunteer for everything/volunteer for nothing; in all ways he and I are as different as the proverbial night and day.

And when it comes to giving we remain distinctly at odds: fundamentally, I am a Server and he is a Rewarder.

As a server I tend to see others’ needs as they appear to me and then act to assist in some way. I seek to put others first, looking for ways to be a blessing upon someone who has done virtually nothing to ask or ‘earn’ it in anyway. If a person is struggling with full hands and is trying to enter the subway car, I’ll reach out to help. If I see someone being uncomfortable with silence or with a comment I jump in to comfort them (usually inserting foot into mouth along the way, but hey…). In most situations where I am moved to empathy by a person’s situation, I am also moved to act.

That’s not to say at all that my husband is not empathetic, kind, or not a giver. He is very much so, and often is brought to the brink of tears by others’ stories of struggle or injustice. It’s just that his pragmatic nature causes him to be more of a rewarder than a server.

For him, giving is triggered by people’s actions towards him or towards themselves. In this way giving is a reward, a reward for action. Recently we had a young visitor stay with us. My husband was his cordial self. But not very giving. The young man had a 16-foot truck full of stuff. Only after he asked my husband to help did hubby jump into full blown action, clearing places in the garage and hauling boxes. I on the other hand was already making virtual plans for assistance when I heard the news of the truck arriving.

During a recent visit to NYC, we passed by one after another of types of people needing assistance; some homeless, some were able bodied individual’s just experiencing life’s nuanced challenges. By days end, I was an exhausted drained mess, having depleted my reserves and brain power in trying to ensure I helped each and every person in some small way possible. Hubby was surprised that the number of people I counted needing help even existed. He did hold the door for a gentleman who asked nicely. And he was grateful to do so. Raising our kids, Hubby was so very generous when a child overcame a struggle or performed an action that made hubby feel proud, inspired, or just dog gone emotional about his kid. But he allowed the struggle to occur, whereas I had blisters from gripping the broom I used to sweep the path of struggle for each one of my three children.

Rewarders often appreciate the self-reliance necessary to be built in order for gratitude to kick in, in order for the reward of giving to have a lasting impact. Often rewarders want the individual in need to acknowledge their need for a deeper meaning, a learning that occurs in building character and in forming a bond between helper and the one being helped. Additionally, some rewarders don’t always see the obvious and might not be inclined to fore think the needs that others might have, but that does not make them any less of a giver. Rewarders give based on need AND actions, whereas servers give based on needs alone. Servers are driven innately by their own desire to serve and feel good about serving. Rewarders are driven by the need that exists and the call to action from the one needing help.

Your DONORS are Servers and Rewarders as well. Which is why it is so very important to have a continual stream of consciousness flowing by them of not only your constituents’ needs, but ALSO your constituents and organizations’ actions and your call to help. I recently facilitated a strategic planning session where the ED implied that more publicity would raise more funds. Her rationale was that when people see what we are doing and the people we serve, they will say, “Hey that’s a good cause, I’ll send them money”. She wasn’t wrong. But she wasn’t totally right either. She only had half the equation; she was speaking to the Server givers in her donor pool, who would see the article and intuit the need and be moved to action, their own defined action, based on what they read that caused them to emote.

The other half is that a rewarder would read the news article, close the paper and walk away. They would certainly appreciate the work that was being performed, but would not be moved to action because there was no call to action; there was no request for help nor any evidence of the organization doing something that a rewarder could well, reward with their assistance. To complete the cycle and speak to both groups of givers – servers and rewarders – the organization would also have to show action, maybe a piece on the results of their activity or a testimonial from a constituent served on what they did because of this group, as well as a request spelled out –“We Need Your help Now. Please send us $25 today to take this work to the next level”.

Servers and Rewarders are both equally giving, they are just compelled to act based on different criteria.Recognizing this, preparing for it, and employing different techniques in communication and solicitation will help you meet both of their needs.

New Means of Funding for Nonprofits

As demands escalate, nonprofits have found themselves in a battle to maintain a stable funding for their programming. With nonprofits generating more than 14% of the state’s private workforce, 78% of these organizations have reported increase in demand. However, insufficient government funds have made it difficult for nonprofits to meet their demands. Federal aid has continued to either decrease or remain stagnant, which causes tight budgets for these organizations.

Tight budgets equal less employees, which leaves the remaining employees exhausted from the additional workload. So, what can these organizations do to avoid this from happening? Nonprofits have begun cultivating strong relationships with public and private partners in order to bring in and increase corporate sponsorship. Though this may seem like a reasonable idea in times of need for these organizations, it can also backfire quickly. Harvest’s own, Sondra Lintelmann-Dellaripa, says, “Nonprofits are essential; they represent a large value to workforce and GDP. New means of funding are needed. Individual giving is the greatest asset. Mergers and acquisitions of npo’s might be necessary.” However, she continues by saying “I don’t agree with events or corporate sponsorship as an answer. That’s a dying and dead end revenue stream for many reasons.” Read the full article here.

Let’s get to talking! Connect with us on Social Media and share your thoughts!.

“A single conversation across the table with a wise person is worth a month’s study of books.” – Chinese Proverb

Wise Warren.

“When I buy businesses, it’s the same as investing in philanthropy. I’m looking for somebody who will get the job done and is in synch with my goals. You can have the greatest goals in the world, but if you have the wrong people running it, it isn’t going to work. On the other hand, if you’ve got the right person running it, almost anything is possible.”

– Warren Buffett

Capacity Building

Image: jscreationzs / FreeDigitalPhotos.net

If we ask any of our nonprofit prospects and clients, what is there biggest challenge besides fundraising, the answer is invariably “building capacity“.

Capacity building is a broad term that encompasses “actions that improve nonprofit effectiveness”. According to a journal released by the Foundation Center in 2003 entitled “Investing in Capacity Building: A Guide to High-Impact Approaches”, capacity building can take many forms, including:

  • Professional development for staff and board members
  • Opportunities for peer learning, networking or leadership development
  • Creating or re-examining organizational plans
  • Initiating collaboration with other nonprofits
  • Developing new sources for earned income
  • Utilizing pro bono support for high-impact projects

Many of the community foundations and professional associations for nonprofits with whom we work offer numerous opportunities for capacity building- from grants directly to the organizations to bring on talent, expand knowledge and build strategy; to offering workshops, seminars and conferences from which the nonprofits can learn.

Yet we are still talking about capacity building over a decade later. If we know these things mentioned prior can work, what isn’t working?

Our firm has studied this issue for two years. We have worked with over 1000 prospective clients in trying to establish a solution set that met their needs and their budget.  We’ve heard from each of them as to what they have tried to do on their own and with help from foundations, associations and in some cases universities. What we learned was that for each one, where the process of capacity building fell apart was in execution.

Good ideas, strategy, recommendations, action steps, all are excellent in theory but will fail the nonprofit if they feel unable to execute. Some obstacles to execution are time and resources, confidence and experience, and accountability.

Of the thousands of prospects and clients we spoke with, about 80% were deserving, viable nonprofits. They have neither the resources nor the time or support needed to truly benefit from a contract for private consulting support.

after our study of this issue, we built what we believe to be a game changing answer to the capacity building issue for these nonprofits.

BLOSSOM

When we realized the scope of this problem, we thought, what if we could create a learning lab, curating the best of educational videos, podcasts, journal articles, and books, in which nonprofit executives could reliably and affordably access these tools in an online workspace, at any time. And what if we supported each learner with a private coach, who would have complete access to their learning progress in the lab, evaluating and mentoring them through assignment completion and assessments, and meet with the learner by phone, skype or google hangout once a month for 90 minutes.

And then what if we could provide an upfront assessment for the learner and the coach and learner could identify one looming key performance issue in the organization that they want to create a long term project around, affecting real time change to the nonprofits outcomes.

And finally what if we assembled six learners in a team, where they could interact, share ideas and have rich discussions around topics relevant to the nonprofit industry, effecting their organizations?

Around these assumptions we built BLOSSOM: The Virtual Incubator for Nonprofit Executives.

The incubator is a twelve month program, covering fifteen different nonprofits business topics. Learners start with an assessment on their influence style and on their organizations health. From these assessments the coach will develop leadership learning opportunities and will define with the learner their long term project. The Learner receives an online workspace that has the best of curated educational materials, tools, and templates, along with a resource library of additional information and downloadables. Learners are assembled with five other executives, for teams of six, who meet once per month online to discuss general nonprofit topics of interest. They also hold each other accountable for the progress and completion of their long term projects. The program culminates with a review of real time outcomes acheived, completion of the long term project, and a new network of colleagues and support members to continue the growth and sustainability acheived.

Early feedback was overwhelmingly rejoiceful! Yes, rejoiceful, lol!  Brilliant was one word used, Something I can really rely on for change in my organization was another phrase heard often.

We would love to get your feedback. Request access to the Free Trial Module and tell us what you think!

Email us for acccess to your FREE TRIAL MODULE

roots@harvestdevelopmentgrp.com or call us at 888-586-1103 ex2 to get immediate entry to the trial.

Patience and Trust

BEST FRIENDS ANIMAL SOCIETY

Twenty-two of the dogs most in need of care after being rescued from Michael Vick’s horrifying dogfighting ring were sent to Best Friends Animal Society for rehabilitation. Each of those dogs was special, but from the start there was a standout: Lance. The best dog trainers in the world worked with the 22 dogs, and over time, each passed the court-ordered Canine Good Citizen test and was placed in a loving home. Except for Lance. Even though a wonderful family was interested in adopting him, he was not allowed to leave until he passed his test, and he had so much anxiety that every time he took the test, he would freeze….

Best Friends Animal Society 

“Obstacles are those frightful things you see when you take your eyes off your goal.” – Henry Ford

motivation1

One of the biggest challenges in meeting any goal, whether it be related to productivity, waking early, changing a habit, exercising, or just becoming happier, is finding the motivation to stick with it.

If you can stick with a goal for long enough, you’ll almost always get there eventually. It just takes patience, and motivation.

Motivation is the key, but it’s not always easy, day in and day out, to find that motivation. (READ MORE)- From our friends at zenhabits.net-

Success Strategies for Engaging, Recruiting, and Maintaining Volunteers Morning Musing Workshop

Hosted by The Community Foundation of Middlesex County. Presented by Harvest Development Group, LLC. Client Engagement Director, Jeanne Boyer Roy.

If you want to go fast – go alone! If you want to go far – go together!

Nonprofit organizations rely on volunteers – their passion, their commitment, and their time. Volunteers help nonprofit organizations meet their mission, and in doing so, they are key ambassadors in the community.

Harvest Development Group provides tools and strategies to craft a plan for managing volunteers that will ultimately lead to increased participation in fund development.

This workshop is free to nonprofit organizations – space is limited and pre-registration is requested.

Register by e-mailing Jamie or calling 860.347.0025.

Date/Time
14 Oct 2014
9:00 am – 10:30 am
Location
Community Foundation of Middlesex County, 211 South Main Street, Middletown, Connecticut