3 Reasons We're Inspired by Fundraisers

Aug 03, 2018

What does it take to be a fundraiser?

I know, I know. There have been hundreds of articles written on this (including this one from us) and hours of conference sessions devoted to it.

But this week's got me thinking differently.

You, my fellow fundraiser - you're crazy special.


I was terrified for the first 3 years of my career (4 if I'm being totally honest).

I fell into my very first fundraising job - believing if I could sell coffee to grumpy morning people, I could surely raise money. (Helpful career hint: it's not the same AT ALL!)

After two years sorting through paper files and "raising" a tiny bit of money as it fell into my lap, I talked my way into a bigger, better job in a bigger, better town.

I felt like a fraud.

Not only at my job, but with donors.

I had no confidence - no roadmap - no clue where to go or what I was supposed to talk about.

I walked into dozens of immaculate homes, corner offices and Starbucks completely terrified - believing I would say something...

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The First Step Toward the Next Gift

Jan 03, 2018

Why do most donors say they've stopped giving to an organization?

They weren't thanked. In multiple studies, from 20% to over 70% of donors say they were never thanked.

We suspect many actually were (most of us send acknowledgement letters or emails) - but the thanks wasn't meaningful or memorable.

How can you be sure your donors feel thanked?

This month, in Fundraisers' Monthly, Nancy and I walk through how to thank your donors so powerfully, they'll want to give again & again, more & more.

Stewardship may seem like someone else's job, but the very best fundraisers know great thanks is the first step toward the next gift.

In fact, great thanks is the 1st through the 7th step toward the next gift.

In his book, Mega Gifts, Jerald Panas states the "Rule of Seven" - thank a donor 7 times before asking again.

Why spend so much time thanking donors?

  • Your best donors are your best donors. The people who already give to you are more likely to give to you. In one study, donors who...
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Getting the visit. Tip #3. Be brief.

Dec 19, 2017

If you wish more donors would respond to your emails, we are here for you!

Here's tip #3 to write an email to get more visits.
(If you missed the first tips - Look for the Hook and Connect vs. Convince, you can find them here on the blog.)

When you write your next email:

Get to the Point: Be super brief. Say what you mean.

That's it.

But brevity is not easy.

In school, I added ridiculous amounts of redundant sentences and adjectives to essays to beef them up to the "1000-word" mark.

Donor emails are the anti-essay!

Make it phone-readable: More than half of all email is read on a phone.

If you're like me, you scroll to see how long an email is before you even read it.

Less scroll means it'll take less time to read, which boosts your chances of getting a response.

Here's your challenge for less scroll:
Use 4 sentences.

1. Intro: Hello from KU, Susan!
2. The Hook: Your 25-year career at Microsoft is inspiring!
3. Connect: I'd love to learn more about your journey from Lawrence to Seattle...

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Getting the visit. Tip #2. Connect vs. Convince.

Dec 11, 2017

If you wish more donors would respond to your emails, we are here for you!

This is tip #2 to write an email to get more visits.
If you missed the first tip - Look for the Hook - you can find it here.

Think about this when you write your next email:

Connect vs. Convince: It can be so easy to fall into the trap of including links, facts, figures and stats in the hope of educating someone into meeting with you.

But, what are the chances someone will actually click on those links?

Will they actually read an attached one-pager or brochure?

If they do click on a link, will they come back to your email and actually respond?

For years, as a higher-ed fundraiser, I wrote email novels.

I included quotes from faculty, links to student stories and bulleted "fun facts" about new programs.

I labored over those emails. The results? 1 visit for every 10 emails.

When I finally realized that...um, I would never respond to one of my own damn emails - why would anyone else?

I refocused with the goal...

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Getting the visit. Tip #1. Look for the Hook.

Dec 05, 2017

How did anyone raise any money before email?

It's like traveling before Google Maps!

But, email can also be infuriating.

Have you ever spent hours pouring over just the right words, re-reading your email a thousand times, checking your grammar and punctuation only to get absolutely no response?

Have you ever gotten so few replies that you actually started to wonder if there was something wrong with your computer? (I've so done this. I've emailed a friend just to make sure my email was working. It sucks so much when you realize it IS working, people are just ignoring you!)

Have you ever just given up and started sending "form" emails? You know, where you just change the name at the beginning and send out a zillion messages hoping for just a few replies?

You are not alone!

Getting the visit is the hardest thing about fundraising.

Spam filters and massively busy people with massively full inboxes don't make our jobs any easier.

In our next few posts, we'll walk through the steps to...

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Serve. Don't Sell.

Nov 29, 2017

Nancy and I recorded our very first episode of the brand new Generous Change podcast. Woohoo!

Episode 1 is coming to your ears very soon and we'll share the link here on the GC blog.

We've learned some phenomenal lessons from inspirational people and, in this first episode, we share just a few of those lessons that have most helped us - especially on this new entrepreneurial journey (did you know we quit our full-time jobs to go all-in on GC? Yep, it's day 29!).

One of the most important lessons we've learned came from the Smart Passive Income blogger/podcaster, Pat Flynn, and fitness/business guru, Chalene Johnson:

Serve. Don't Sell.

It might sound a little cheesy, but they are words to live by - especially in fundraising!

Have you ever thought that if you just said all the right things at the right time in the right way, you could convince a donor to like you or your org enough to give?

Have you found yourself in donor meetings, throwing out every fact, figure, stat and quote,...

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What's Your One Thing? Part II

Nov 09, 2017

What's the one thing you wish you'd known when you started fundraising? 

   Share your answer in the comments below?!

We're asking you. Whether you're a fundraiser, executive director, board member or volunteer, what advice, secret, tool or tip do you wish you'd had earlier? 

Share you answers here on the Generous Change blog and, together, we can help take the fear out of fundraising! 

______________________________________________________________________________________

What's my one thing? 

It's about the money. 

That sounds obvious, right? But honestly, I didn't quite get it early on.

I tend toward the, shall we say, overly optimistic. When I first started fundraising, if someone clearly had wealth and said they loved my org, I assumed that, eventually - once I'd built the fabled "relationship" and "engaged" them - they would give.

Not so much.

I'd visit these delightful folks three, four, sometimes five times before realizing that:

  • yes, they...
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What's Your One Thing?

Nov 07, 2017
 

What's the one thing you wish you would've known when you started fundraising?

Share your answer in the comments below?!

We're asking you. Whether you're a fundraiser, nonprofit executive director, board member or volunteer - what advice, secret, tool or tip do you wish you'd had earlier?

Share your answers here on the Generous Change blog, and, together, we can help take the fear out of fundraising.


What's my one thing?

Peoples is peoples.

This awesome quote from The Muppets Take Manhattan still helps me to be a better fundraiser. Yes, I'm serious. The Muppets have helped me raise money. There's inspiration everywhere! Even from way back in 1984.

When I started in fundraising (and honestly, for the first few years), I lacked confidence. I was completely intimidated by the strangers I was meeting. Honestly, I couldn't sleep the night before donor visits because of these thoughts:

  • I'm going to say the wrong thing.
  • I don't know enough.
  • I'm not as smart as the person I'm meeting.
  • ...
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LESSONS FROM MILLIE: PART ONE

Jul 28, 2017

As I type, my dog, Millie, has her head in my lap.

She nudges my elbow every few seconds to get a few pets and looks up at me, ready at any second to GO OUTSIDE!

Everyone believes their dog is the smartest and cutest. I'm no different.

Millie (and every awesome dog) can teach us a thing or two about raising money, so we're launching a new blog series, Lessons from Millie.

LESSON 1: From Energy to Grit

Millie is an Energizer Bunny.

She's ready, at a moment's notice, to run - whether it's for work (chasing birds) or play (chasing birds).

Raising money requires Millie-sized energy!

Think about all of the verbs in your job:

  • raise money
  • get the visit
  • get out the door
  • travel
  • cold call donors
  • email donors
  • qualify
  • identify
  • cultivate
  • solicit
  • steward
  • write proposals
  • enter contact reports
  • manage relationships
  • manage your portfolio
  • manage volunteers
  • partner with directors/deans
  • raise more money

Whew! I'm exhausted from typing this list and I know you could add at least 10 more things to it....

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