Today is a Great Day to Say Thank You
A friend texted me recently for some advice. She knew she should make some phone calls to thank the end-of-year donors to her organization. But she kept putting it off. “I don’t like making cold calls,” she said. “It feels so awkward. Any advice?”
Honestly, I can empathize. It’s hard to pick up the phone and call someone whom you don’t know. It can feel like an intrusion. But is a donor thank you call, even to a donor you’ve never met, really a cold call? I don’t think so.
Remember, I told my friend, of all the nonprofits out there, these donors gave to your organization. They have some affinity for it – perhaps the mission speaks to them. Or maybe a friend of theirs asked them to give. Whatever the reason, the donors made conscious decisions to support it. Wouldn’t you like to know why? Thanking them for their gifts is a perfect opportunity to learn their motivation. And to help you appropriately steward them.
Plus, donor thank you calls can be fun. Who doesn’t like to be thanked? As a donor, I always appreciate receiving a call – it makes me feel like my gift was important and had an impact. And, as a professional fundraiser who spends most of my time asking something of people, I’m always happy to have a respite from asking. Takes the pressure off and leads to some really nice – even fun – conversations that can strengthen your organization’s relationship with donors.
If you’re nervous, I told my friend, script out your call. Once you make a couple of calls, you won’t need it anymore. But it may make the first ones less awkward for you. I also reminded her to read the cues the donor gives. You’ll know if the donor is in a hurry and wants to get off the phone, I told her. In those cases, the calls will be short and sweet, and that’s okay. The donors will still know they’re appreciated.
Other donors – especially now, when so many people are feeling isolated and crave human interaction – may be chatty. Seize these opportunities to learn more about them. Why did they give? What are their interests? Would they like to become more engaged with your organization? These calls are your opportunities to glean important information that will inform your future donor cultivation strategies.
My friend heeded my advice and made her calls. Once she made a couple of them, she was hooked. She had such a nice conversation with one donor, they even ended up sharing personal recipes after the call.
So, my advice to you: don’t delay making your donor thank you calls. In fact, set aside time each week to do exactly that. You’ll have some fun, and your organization will reap rewards of good stewardship.
by: Molly Galo, Senior Consultant, HPS Chicago
If you’re reading this blog, chances are you’re in the philanthropy business.
The Holidays are a wonderful reminder of the power of this word we all say frequently but like so many other words, probably take for granted.
“Philo” comes from a Greek verb meaning to love. “Anthropy” means mankind or humanity.
Philanthropy = Love of Mankind
At the risk of stating the obvious, 2020 hasn’t been the best (I know, I know, understatement of the year).
Everything we know was tested, our annual fund strategies, major gift efforts, event planning and execution not to mention our own personal resolve, patience and belief in our own abilities during such unprecedented times.
When we reflect on 2020 and dust ourselves off from its countless up and downs, disappointments and frustrations, know you’ve championed the most noble of causes, advancing the love of mankind. Which, at its core, is what was needed most these past 11 months.
Let it serve as a reminder that our care and concern for each other will always persevere and regardless of what mission or non-profit sector you represent, be proud that your work made others better.
Cheers to 2021 as we welcome another year of philanthropy, another year of loving and advancing mankind!
by: Michael Bruni, Managing Director, HPS Chicago
Unless you’ve been living in a remote corner of the country without cell service since February, you’re probably struggling with maintaining sanity given the state of our world. My feelings over the past 6 months have been a mixture of anxiety, confusion and stress. When was that Zoom meeting scheduled for? Did I forget a mask again? How many hours have I been staring out of this window for?
I get it. We’re all struggling to maintain a sense of normalcy while living through a time period that feels more like a Black Mirror simulation than reality. Especially now, as work and school seem to be ramping up, with no vaccine in sight, thinking about our circumstances can be a bit disheartening.
Recently, I was supposed to meet friends out for a drink at one of our favorite outdoor patios. After a long work week, I couldn’t wait to catch up with friends. I was the 7th and final person to arrive, and as I walked up to my the table I could practically taste the frozen gin & tonic that I’d been salivating over since Tuesday.
There were only six seats, so I asked the waitress if she would be able to pull another chair over. I was quickly informed that, due to COVID regulations, no table could have more than 6 people. My friends and I were a bit confused, but figured we could split up. No big deal! Except that the next available table would be a 45 minute wait. As my friends began to pack their things up, insisting we try somewhere else, I assured them it wasn’t the end of the world and that I could just grab a coffee around the corner and meet up with them afterwards. Under the obvious condition that they bring me a frozen G & T in a to-go cup.
I grabbed my coffee and sat down in a little park that overlooked the lake. Initially I was disappointed, maybe even a bit mad, even though I understood that these rules are put into place to protect me and the rest of society. As I drank my coffee in the park, I could feel a wave of calmness washing over me. Everything was so still, so quiet, so ordinary.
I realized that I had been letting the anxiety and stress of COVID dictate all of my thoughts. I hadn’t taken a moment to sit and check in with myself in a long time. There was always something to distract me; a new article by Fauci, coordinating socially-distanced meet-ups with friends, reading through my emails.
It wasn’t that I didn’t have enough “alone time”, in fact I’ve had more of that than probably ever before. Instead, it was the realization that I hadn’t been utilizing this time effectively. I had filled this time with worries. Trying to get ahead of schedule. Ahead of my own nerves. Ahead of the pandemic.
But, at the end of the day, we can’t get ahead of all of these things. We need to reach a point of acceptance where we are able to process the world around us, while still being able to sit with our non-anxious selves. Watching the horizon line fade into shades of amber, listening to the current lap against the rocky shore and sipping my sub-par coffee gave me the feeling of stillness that I had unknowingly been craving for months.
To be our best selves, we have to know when and how to relax. The world is asking a lot of us these days. It’s easy to understand how we’re feeling physically trapped. We can’t travel, we can’t meet in large groups, we weren’t even really supposed to leave our houses for a while. Yet, I think we also need to think about how we’re feeling mentally trapped. Trapped by that need to try to get ahead of everything.
So, my expert-advice-from-a-21-year-old this week is to go to a space where you feel comfortable and to just be there. Sit and notice what’s around you, stay mindful of the positive things taking place in every direction you look. Appreciate the ordinary things that we take for granted in times like these. This might turn out to be much harder than it sounds, but I promise you the results will be worth it.
by: Ben Matejka, Summer Intern HPS Chicago
KISS — Keep it Simple Silly
I recently helped a client celebrate its 15 anniversary. This is a small, but mighty nonprofit that runs 100% on individual and corporate gifts with no program revenue or government support.
The client’s preferred way of celebrating this milestone was to hold a gala. We were hired to execute this celebration. They hold this event every five years to mark the notable passage of time, and put a spotlight on their associated achievements.
During a conversation, about one of the million details required to run the gala, my client and I chuckled as we agreed to ascribe to the KISS philosophy. You may know that KISS is an acronym for “Keep it simple, stupid.” It was a design principle noted by the U.S. Navy in 1960 that states that most systems work best if they are kept simple rather than made complicated. Therefore simplicity should be a key goal in design, and that unnecessary complexity should be avoided.
Despite the KISS sentiment, the planning of the elaborate event continued — with details about guest responses, seating diagrams, program, emcee, band, etc. etc. We’ve all been there, right?
The night came and went and we believe the guests had an enjoyable time. Money was raised and the mission was communicated and glorified.
But later, (as the eye twitch I developed due to many late nights at the office is finally subsiding) I began reflecting on the previous conversation about KISS. Did we really keep it simple? Was the gala the best way — the only way — to celebrate this milestone and do the mission justice?
I don’t think so.
Earlier in the year, I worked with this client on a small intimate dinner for about 50 people. The out of pocket was covered by a beloved donor and the organization raised about 80% in this intimate setting, as was raised at the gala. I wonder what would have happened if instead, we had replicated this style of a modest dinner gathering multiple times, and filled the room with different donors each time.
Hindsight is 20/20, but in the nonprofit world, as in any business, it is important to evaluate return on investment. Especially when the ROI is utilized to change lives and save lives. We must always be seeking the best way to make the same impact while preserving our financial investments, and staff resources.
When we meet as a Board later this month to discuss and evaluate the success of this event, I hope they will consider a different approach. One that will keep the focus on the mission, but will also keep it simple.
by: Michelle Jimenez, Senior Consultant HUB Philanthropic Solutions
Enjoy this excerpt on sustainability from Heather Stombaugh’s book: In the Trenches: Grantsmanship. Heather is HUB Philanthropic Solutions’ Grants Consultant
Chapter 11: Why is sustainability so important?
For the most part, grant makers do not want the success of an ongoing project to depend entirely on whether or not they provide ongoing funding support. Grant makers want to invest in the impact of your project, not adopt your organization. Grant makers generally favor projects that receive support from a mix of sources and do not depend on their future support to continue providing services.
With rare exceptions, there are two situations that grant makers generally avoid committing themselves to:
1) Being the only source of support for an ongoing project or program.
2) Providing indefinite support to a project.
What should you include in your sustainability statement? You should describe present and historic sources of income for the project. This should include all the different types of revenue (not just grants) your organization uses to raise funds.
If a grant maker’s guidelines do not restrict you from providing future financial data, you might consider formatting your budget to include that information. Moreover, take into consideration what evidence might provide you with assurance if you were to make a significant financial investment and work from that perspective as you develop this section. Remember, impressing a grant maker does not happen by offering exaggerations, but by presenting them with a thoughtful, realistic plan.
What steps will you take to ensure that your grant funder invests in your project?
SAVE THE DATE
Getting Ready for a Capital Campaign – June 4, 2015 Location: HUB International Midwest Headquarters – 55 E. Jackson, Chicago.
If a capital campaign is in your future, please join us for our next workshop, aimed at ensuring your organization is ready to take this significant step. In this workshop, we will cover the following topics:
Make sure you follow this blog to receive all the latest news on training opportunities with the HUB NPPAC team!
by Molly Galo, Senior Consultant
As Advancement professionals, we rely on our board members to fulfill many roles…advisor, counselor, fundraiser, donor, advocate. Do we take the time, regularly, to ensure they have the tools they need to fulfill these roles? Sometimes, we take for granted that our board members know all they need to know about our organization, and we assume they are focused on our mission. But, in order to ensure our board members are both engaged and fulfilled, we must work to keep them connected. An important, yet simple, way to strengthen this connection is to incorporate "mission moments” into every board meeting. Minimally, every meeting agenda should have the organization’s mission printed on it. This requirement may seem trivial, but I’ve been surprised by the number of board members who cannot articulate the mission of the organization. Beyond this practical suggestion, there are a plethora of ways to include a mission moment in every meeting. Here are a few suggestions:
As a complement to these mission moments, a creative board chair I know introduced what she calls “moments for mission” into regular meetings. Her strategy engages board members actively. A week or two prior to each meeting, she asks an individual board member to prepare to lead the moment for mission…by sharing a personal story about why they support the organization, by sharing a fundraising strategy they’ve used successfully, by reporting on a conversation they had with someone in the community about the organization’s work. Her board has gotten so excited that even the quietest, least active board members have become energized. One board member spoke about how these moments inspired her to reach out to her employer’s Community Affairs team, to discuss the employer supporting the organization on a bigger scale. Another board member shared his family’s decision to make monetary gifts to the organization rather than giving each other birthday and holiday gifts.
You know your organization, and your board members, best. Be creative when engaging in mission moments …there’s no limit to what you can achieve!
Have a mission moment to share? We’d love to hear your stories. Please post your mission moments as a comment to this blog.
Laurus Strategies brings our expertise to you with two complimentary workshops for nonprofit organizations.
Chicago, Illinois Nonprofit Fundraising Workshop – February 27, 2014
The Cycle of Fundraising – Part I – Identifying, Educating and Cultivating in Advance of the Ask
Laurus Strategies presents the first in a three-part nonprofit workshop series focused on the Cycle of Fundraising. Our first session will focus on identifying, educating and cultivating prospects in advance of the ask. Partner Mike Bruni along with the team of Laurus Strategies consultants will provide an interactive workshop experience that will provide attendees with new techniques that will aid organizations grow their prospect pool and lead to improved fundraising results.
Register now for this complimentary Chicago workshop!
Milwaukee and Southern Wisconsin Nonprofit Fundraising Workshop – March 12, 2014
Get on the Bus: The Keys to Success in the Current Financial Environment
Do you and your team struggle to understand the current financial landscape? Do you wonder how you should proceed in these difficult economic times? You’re invited to our nonprofit fundraising workshop. The Laurus Strategies team will share techniques that will enable nonprofit organizations to navigate the current financial environment successfully. Mike Bruni, Partner, and George Rattin, Senior Consultant, will lead the workshop
Register now for this complimentary Milwaukee workshop!
I will go on record explaining that I am not a psychologist. However, I came across the work of Abraham Maslow again recently and it got me thinking about people’s desire and motivation to be philanthropic. In 1943, Maslow developed a theory of the Hierarchy of Needs. The hierarchy is sequential in nature. These needs build upon one another and move from basic to increasingly higher-level needs. Humans focus on basic needs (called Psychological by Maslow) food, water, rest, etc. as their primary needs. It is only when those needs are met that we move to the next level within the hierarchy, safety. At this level, thoughts turn to security, health, employment etc.. Once the needs at these two levels are met, you move to the next and so on.
I had studied the work of Maslow and others back in my college days as part of my education training, but now I began thinking of how the Hierarchy of Needs might affect a person’s philanthropy. If we were to use Maslow’s hierarchy as a tool, we could not effectively reach people in the first two levels of giving with a fundraising appeal. Their focus is still on basic fundamental needs. Ideally, we would target those at the top two tiers of the pyramid. However, this is the smallest group and many never make it to the highest level of development. So how might a nonprofit use this hierarchy to help improve their advancement program? A nonprofit should take a multi-pronged approach to donor-base building. Identifying the Esteem and the Self-actualized donors is important. These will be those donors with a strong motivation behind their donations. Beyond identifying this group, work with your donors to fulfill some of the critical needs necessary to move up the hierarchy. I believe people innately strive for improvement beyond basic needs. Maslow called this motivation “Metamotivation.” We can foster this metamotivation within our donor base by engaging them at various need levels. For example, we can help build at the love/belonging level by creating a true community at our institutions which engage, involve, communicate and appreciate. We can supply the love and family atmosphere that they desire. Beyond that we can treat our donors with respect and show them how their involvement can mirror their need to respect others. By connecting with the donors needs, we can supply them with their needs, that will help them move up the hierarchy which in turn will put them in a better position to hear and respond to our nonprofit’s needs.
At the Laurus Strategies’ Non Profit and Public Affairs Workshop last week, we discussed the Cycle of Fundraising. The Cycle refers to the process of identifying, cultivating, asking, thanking and engaging donors. This diagram does more than show a path to a donor “ask”. It really illustrates how a fundraiser’s time should be spent in securing a gift. “The Ask” takes the smallest percentage of time at about 5%. Identification of prospects takes about 20% of the time and 25% then is used to educate and cultivate leading to an ask. The question you should ask yourself is,” If 50% of my time is spent getting to and making the ask, what do I do with the other 50% of the time?” The other 50% is at least equally as important as the first 50%. While the first 50% will result in a gift, your ability to thank and recognize, involve and engage donors will determine a donors willingness to continue to support your organization. Fundraisers often get caught up in the “short game” of the chase for gifts and neglect the stewardship necessary to show that the donor’s gift is appreciated and that it has a real impact on the organization’s mission. Without this work a donor is very likely to not repeat his philanthropy a second time. It is essential that fundraisers as well as those in leadership understand the importance of stewardship as well as cultivation. It is in that way that our organizations are not just chasing dollars, but truly building lasting relationships with donors and deep partnerships that will ensure our organizations stay strong and continue to fulfill our missions long into the future.