Give donors the respect they deserve

Many fundraisers are aware of relationship fundraising. Ken Burnett’s famous book Relationship Fundraising has opened many eyes over the last 25 years. There aren’t many fundraisers who haven’t read this book. However, its vision and core message have never been fully implemented in our sector.

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Disce aut Discede: learn or leave!

The Latin phrase "Disce aut Discede" is used as the motto of many institutions and schools. It means "Learn or Leave". It's time we adopt this mindset in our sector as well.

There is plenty of best practice available in the sector, as you will see when The Commission on the Donor Experience presents her findings. But to be honest: there is more bad practice happening around us. More then we'd like to see.

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A donor relationship is not a trick

Rockstar Amanda Palmer said it in the opening plenary of the #IFC2016: 'A relationship is not a trick'. And it came back to me throughout the conference. The best donor relations are based on authenticity and reciprocity. If that's our goal and we take a closer look at our fundraising results in recent years, we have to start asking the right questions. To be more precise: we need to question everything we do.

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Invest. Experience. Loyalty. Retention. Income. Repeat.

If you are able to keep your donors longer, you will raise more funds for your cause. Simple as that.

The simplest way I can explain it:

We invest in our staff and our fundraising programs. This should result in the best possible experience for both potential and existing donors. This influences satisfaction, commitment and trust, which constitute the donor’s attitude towards the charity. In other words: increased donor loyalty. This leads to the desired behaviour: higher retention rates. In turn this results in more income, which can be invested again. In projects for our beneficiaries, in staff and our fundraising program. And repeat.

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18 ingredients for successful fundraising

I’m celebrating my 15 year anniversary as a fundraiser!

In a blog post 5 years ago I wrote about the best strategic ingredients for a successful fundraising program. Let’s try that again and see if I want to change my perspective now I’ve grown older…

  1. Fundraisers are gold. Quality fundraising staff makes all the difference. Without the right staff you can forget the rest of this post. And your fundraising results. Hire great professional fundraisers. Now.

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An example of greatness in donor appreciation and recognition

Last week Jeff Brooks reminded his readers how to write an effective thank you to your excellent donors. In order to “thank your donors so they really feel thanked” you need to know the following three things about your donor:

• Who is the Donor? (Show that you know who they are and what they did.)
• Which Campaign or Program Did They Give to? (Thank them for the specific thing they gave to. Finish the story you started when you asked.)
• How Will You Turn Their Gift Into Impact? (Make it clear: Their money is doing something great!)

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A retention vision like Billie Holiday

Across the charity sector we literally spend days on the creation of boardroom presentations, we meet for hours in cross-functional working groups, and the other half of the day we're either in one-on-one or team meetings... We're all taking selfies. It's all Me, Myself and I. But we're looking the wrong way... we should be taking pictures of our donors. All those snapshots will tell us a story about who they are and what they want.

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Retention Fundraising: adapt or die!

Almost 10 years ago Roger Craver gave me the book Moneyball from Michael Lewis. I was excited, because I have played ball since I was a kid. I love baseball. The book is about the Oakland Athletics baseball team and its general manager Billy Beane.

Roger told me it could widen my horizon, that I would look at things differently and think outside the (batter’s) box. He wasn’t talking about baseball, but fundraising…

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Climate change needed for donor centric fundraising!

Recently I had dinner with the 5 fastest growing fundraising organizations in The Netherlands. We were going to look beyond the market figures and get into the qualitative side of these organizations.

Why is it, that these organizations are so good in fundraising? At our dinner we had decades of experience around the table. In this post I want to focus on one particular part of the discussion that I’m sure resonates with many of you.

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The 90-degree shift 800 years ago

It's been some years ago since I’ve read Ken Burnett’s 89 great ideas in The Zen of Fundraising. Many, if not all of them, keep coming back to me from time to time. Lately it’s this one: make the 90-degree shift.

Ken explains: “The 90-degree shift is nothing more complex than seeing things from your donor’s point of view rather than from your own or your organization’s point of view.

He illustrates this with three good old marketing sayings:
- When a customer buys a quarter-inch drill, what he really wants is a quarter-inch hole.

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Testing is not for the faint-hearted

It’s not fun being a fundraiser nowadays: depressing trends like declining responses, high-cost-acquisition in combination with through-the-roof-attrition, rock-bottom-retention and charity-bashing-media… pfff, mission impossible?!

Or, is there still a bright light in the fundraising sky? Sure there is, plenty!

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FREE: 10 years of fundraising experience!

Exactly 10 years ago, I started my first job as a fundraiser! And from the beginning I was hooked. I love fundraising, because it enables change. Vision and passion combined with great fundraising enables important change. And as a fundraiser you play an important part in that change.

So, looking back over those 10 years, what did I learn? I’ve listed the most important strategic ingredients for a successful fundraising program.

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