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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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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The Beautiful Game

The Beautiful Game

I am surrounded by all things World Cup.

Tansley Nemean League

Tansley – Nemean League Champs

My husband is English by birth and played football (soccer) all his life, including semi-pro, until he immigrated to Canada.  He is football mad (in a stiff-upper-lip sort of way). And by far his happiest moment in life was being at Wembley for the win in ’66.

My daughter is working in Brazil, where the Copa Mundial is being played in 12 venues across the country. The entire population is going completely loucoTodo o Brasil celebra.

And although I’m not a massive fan, I’m still hoping Team USA wins because Clint Dempsey and DeAndre Yedlin of Seattle Sounders FC (from my hometown) are playing!

So naturally, I’m thinking about lessons fundraisers can use from the beautiful game.

You’re part of a team. Your team may comprise your area of fundraising, your entire fundraising team, or your nonprofit. And even if you are in a one-person shop, you still have a team – your board, champions and volunteers. A great Fußball team capitalizes on the individual strengths of each player to create a strong, synergistic whole.

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Remove the Relationship Roadblocks

Team Dinner, London 2013

Team Dinner, London 2013

Yesterday in my team’s Prospect Management meeting (a conference call across eight time zones), we listened to a colleague talk about a recent prospect meeting. The dinner meeting included my colleague, our “Key Exec,” a “Key Faculty Member” and the prospect – a prospect my colleague had brought to the table as a previous relationship and had been cultivating very well.

In planning for the meeting with this prospect, our Key Exec wanted to start the evening by playing a video that provides an overview of our organization. My colleague pushed back and the idea was dropped.

However, what followed was a conversation the prospect describe to my colleague as “stilted”. The Key Exec launched into a long overview about the organization (which my colleague had provided during several previous meetings) with little break for comments or questions from the prospect. Over the course of the meal, there was little room for (or the ability for my colleague to make space for) either the Key Faculty Member or the prospect to chip in naturally.

Now a “roadblock.” The prospect didn’t leave with a good feeling, which he communicated to my colleague. It is a terrible feeling for a fundraiser when a prospect has signaled his or her enthusiasm and an unfortunate relationship roadblock occurs and stops momentum.RockInRoad

I’ve worked closely with this Key Exec. He is smart and can be charming. He can adeptly pivot conversations with donors and prospects to find the sweet spot of their interests. After the call, I reflected on some issues that may be at play. I wondered, how do we, as fundraisers, remove those relationship roadblocks?

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As a fundraiser, sometimes there is just not enough time for the job and all the other things you want to do in your life.

What I did have time for was worrying. And telling myself to stop worrying. Again and again.

Why was I worrying?

Last week, we received confirmation that the solicitation meeting was with a key donor – finally! Are you ready?

It was for an ask for a Very Big Gift – the VBG. It happened yesterday.

It doesn’t matter the gift level I’m speaking of… in every development office there comes a time when that VBG – whatever the level for your organization – becomes a possibility.

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