Gear up for Gratitude Camp!

Ready for some adventure?!

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If you’ve been a long-time follower on my blog, you know that once or twice a year my BFF and I host Gratitude Camp. I hope you’ll join us April 4!

It sounds like a bunch of fun – and it is! – but more importantly it is about focusing on donors, and showing them the #donorlove.

Here are the facts, according to the 2016 Fundraising Effectiveness Project:

  • Donor retention in North America in 2015 was still rather bleak – 46%.
  • For every $100 raised in 2015, $91 was lost through gift attrition.
  • For every 100 donors gained in 2015, 96 were lost through attrition.
  • We know that a simple 10% increase in retention can lead to a 200% increase in lifetime donor value.

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Let’s resolve … to lead with gratitude in 2016

Welcome to 2016!

In the lead up to the New Year, did you see your inbox piling up with end-of-year asks? I sure did.

IMG_3030In those last days of the year, there was quite a bit of chatter on Twitter about that. But this tweet from The Whiny Donor struck my heart… “Sometimes we give in spite of the stewardship.”

Wow. So many fundraisers – or their colleagues – spent lots of time crafting “don’t-forget-us” or “please-give-right-now” year-end emails. Somehow, the same diligence doesn’t seem to apply to thanking quickly or with heart. Why?

As fundraisers, we all know that better thanking – prompt, heartfelt, sharing impact – leads to a stronger connection between a donor and the charity.

So why are there still so many courses and books and blog posts and conference sessions about thanking donors, crafting better donor stewardship, and reporting back to donors? Because thank yous still aren’t happening. (Check out this post by Lynne Wester about her Giving Tuesday experiences with gifts, thanks, and resolicitations.)

Don’t expect your donors to give in spite of the stewardship your nonprofit offers.

Thank you letter creation can end up being a process. Don’t let it.Instead, make 2016 the year you lead with gratitude… and here’s how. Continue reading

Who Gave You Good Stewardship?

Hey fundraisers!

I want to hear about the most fabulous stewardship YOU have ever received from a nonprofit.

What – to a fundraiser – makes a thank you extra special?

What – for a fundraiser – clearly and emotionally shows the impact of a gift?

I asked two of my BFFs about their favorites – Shanon Doolittle and John Lepp. Both of them had told me about some amazing stewardship pieces that keep them giving and feeling great.

Shanon gets a big thanks from Amara.  

Shanon loves Amara because fostering kids – and giving them a forever home – are important to Shanon. She has been involved with Amara in a variety of ways, and she was their key speaker at their gala fundraiser last fall (and her ask helped them raise the most money ever!).

What she loves about it: The card was a child’s birthday card –  which fits perfectly with their mission. She loves the sentiment “it made me think of kids and all the kids who will now be touch and helped thanks to your leadership and involvement. Roar.”

What I love about it: I love this because the sentiment is simple and heartfelt. No list of all the wonderful things about Shanon. It drives home how Shanon is making a better life for kids. Can you imagine picking up a basic card from the store and changing it into a tear-jerker?

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Appreciation, Gratitude and Thanks

CanoesShanon Doolittle and I are having so much fun leading the Gratitude Camp!

For those campers hanging with us, I’ve brought together my previous posts about appreciation, gratitude and thanks.

Other readers might be interested too. Because, really, you cannot over thank a donor. You can over-communicate with a donor, you can be a bit “stalker-ish” with a donor but I firmly believe that heartfelt, genuine thanks will always be appreciated greatly and deeply.

Here’s a dozen – read one or two and see if they hit the mark for you.

To meditate about our work: Continue reading

Stop asking “How much?”

Last week a colleague and I met a donor for lunch for a stewardship visit; the donor’s recent gift had been generous. My colleague has known this gentleman for some time.

The donor is a humble man who gives regularly but this last gift had been an exceptional one. As we talked about the impact of his recent gift, and about his life and family, it became clear that he wanted to recount his experience making this gift.

This gentleman, now in his 70s, had been an immigrant to Vancouver from Uganda in the early 1970’s – just ahead of Idi Amin’s purges. Arriving in Canada with his wife and two children and very little else, he had to start over. He found work, then started a business and slowly built his fortune. When his children were teens, his family split apart and he gave nearly everything to his wife and children.

Once again he had to start over.

And this is how people remember him, not at the peak of his wealth but starting over.

An important memory of this donor’s young life was a gift his father made to a local school. He remembered how much it meant to his father to support education. He the donor himself never finished his degree. Although he won a scholarship to a university in England, his father had died suddenly and he was called back to Uganda to run the family business.

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