Posts tagged ‘telephone’

March 29, 2014

Top 10 Posts of All-Time from “Michael Rosen Says…”

I want to do something a bit different in this post. While I’ve ranked my posts in a given year to give you a Top-10 list, I’ve never before ranked all of my posts. So, I thought it would be interesting to do so now.

Here are links to my Top 10 Most-Read Posts of All Time:

1.  Can a Nonprofit Return a Donor’s Gift?

2.  Survey Sounds Alarm Bell for Nonprofit Sector

3.  5 Things Never to Do in Your Phone Fundraising Calls

4.  How NOT to Run a Capital Campaign

5.  Does CFRE Have a Future?

March 7, 2014

Latest, Greatest Secret to Fundraising Success Unveiled!

Most nonprofit development professionals would love to find the Holy Grail of fundraising. Discovering a new piece of research, a proven technique, a new technology that could unleash a torrent of funds would be undeniably wonderful.

But, do we need the Holy Grail?

Some folks seem to thinks so. Perhaps that’s why, when I’m invited to speak at conferences or lead workshops, my hosts frequently want me to present the “latest, greatest” ideas for fundraising success. Perhaps that’s why so many articles, blog posts, and seminar titles include buzz words such as “secrets,” “great tips,” “powerful,” “fresh,” “innovative,” “simple,” “key tools,” etc.

I’m not immune. I’m always on a quest for new, robust ideas. In addition, I title many of my articles (see above) and seminars with the buzzwords I know will attract attention.

In one planned gift marketing seminar I did a few years ago, I shared a variety of ideas for promoting planned giving. I knew I had a diverse audience, so I provided both simple and sophisticated ideas. While my suggestions were certainly not revolutionary, they did push the envelope of current practice.

Following my talk, a fellow came up to me and said, “You didn’t say anything I didn’t already know.”

Ouch! That’s not the feedback I like, even if it was just one person’s opinion. I always want everyone to come away from my seminars with at least one terrific idea.

After receiving the stinging feedback, I said to the man, “I’m sorry to hear that you didn’t get any fresh ideas. However, I’d love to hear about how you’ve used the phone to market bequests.”

He replied, “I haven’t implemented a phone program.”

“Ok, then tell me how your direct mail campaign has done,” I requested.

“I haven’t done a planned gift mailing,” he said.

“Ok, then tell me about your website and how it allows you to track and rate visitor interaction,” I requested.

“Our website isn’t that sophisticated,” he said.

The conversation continued. The point is that this fellow knew what he should or could be doing, but he was not doing it!

While finding the Holy Grail of fundraising would be spectacular, the truth is that such a singular, miraculous method or tool does not and will never exist. However, I have some good news. We do not need a Holy Grail.

Low Hanging Fruit by defndaines via FlickrMy latest, greatest idea for fundraising success is something that can benefit virtually all nonprofit organizations: Master the fundraising fundamentals and grab the low-hanging fruit.

At this point, you might be thinking, “Sheesh! There’s nothing new or great about that idea.”

Well, if that’s what you’re thinking, you should be right.

Unfortunately, I see far too many examples, far too regularly that charities simply have not mastered the fundamentals, and they have left plenty of low-hanging fruit on the tree. Just like the fellow who came up to me after my seminar, many folks may know what they should be doing but they’re not doing it.

Consider this: A new study by Dunham and Company found that charities could be losing literally billions of dollars in donations because they have failed at the online basics. For example, 84 percent of nonprofits do not make their donation pages easy to read and use with mobile devices. By the way, that statistic includes some of the nation’s largest charities.

The fundamentals matter. The evidence shows they could add up to billions for the nonprofit sector.

Do you want more money for the annual fund? Then tell me, do you have a monthly donor program? Do you do second gift appeals? Do you effectively steward gifts to ensure a high donor retention rate? Do you use database analysis to help you better target asks, even in your direct mail appeals?

January 3, 2014

Do You Have an Attitude Problem?

[Publisher’s Note: Have you read any good books about charities or fundraising? If so, click here to share your favorite title by January 10 and you could win a free, award-winning book.]

  

Has anyone ever accused you of having an attitude problem?

I hope so.

If you don’t have an attitude problem, I encourage you to develop one. For your sake. For the sake of your organization. For the sake of the nonprofit sector. You can even make it your 2014 New Year Resolution.

I’m not suggesting you cultivate a bad attitude. Instead, I’m encouraging you to shake up the status quo regardless of what others might think. I want you to challenge conventional wisdom in an intelligent way.

Remember, if some of our ancestors had not had an attitude problem, we’d still be living in caves.

Let me share two stories that will illustrate what I mean.

I quite fondly remember the very first time someone told me I had an attitude problem. It was Mrs. Imperiali, my first-grade teacher. Mrs. Imperiali, her real name, asked the class, “What’s the Eager Studentsmartest animal in the world?” I immediately raised my hand. When Mrs. Imperiali called on me, I confidently answered, “Dolphins.”

My response puzzled my teacher. She asked, “Why dolphins?” I told her, “Because they don’t kill each other for no reason.”

Mrs. Imperiali snapped, “Mister, you have an attitude problem!”

I need to point out here that, when I was in the first grade, it was during the height of the Vietnam War. I guess Mrs. Imperiali didn’t appreciate what she believed was the anti-war sentiment of my response. However, since I believed in my answer, I did not take my teacher’s criticism as a negative. As a result, I’ve worn the attitude-problem label with pride, not shame, my entire life.

In case you’re wondering, the answer Mrs. Imperiali was going for was “humans.” As it turned out, she had designed her lesson plan to demonstrate that humans are part of the animal kingdom. Oh well.

A couple decades later, I met Carol Buchanan Daws at the Academy of Natural Sciences. Like me, Carol had an attitude problem.

As the Assistant to the Museum Director, Carol was responsible for the back-office processing of museum memberships. Despite being the oldest natural science research institution and museum in the Western Hemisphere, the Academy only had a token membership program and no Director of Membership.

Carol saw an opportunity to grow the membership program. She repeatedly told her boss about the potential of the membership program. Unfortunately, the Museum Director was content with the status quo. So, Carol did the only natural thing she could do: She kept nudging him about it.

Finally, when the Museum Director was sufficiently annoyed or, perhaps, convinced, he appointed Carol Director of Membership.

December 27, 2013

Top Ten Posts of 2013, and Other Reflections

As 2013 draws to a close, I thought it would be interesting to look back briefly before we march into the New Year.

Happy New Year!

Happy New Year!

For starters, let’s look at which of my posts have been the top ten most read in the past year:

1. Can a Nonprofit Return a Donor’s Gift?

2. 6 Ways to Raise More Money without New Donors!

3. 5 Words or Phrases that Can Cause Donors to Cringe

4. 5 Things Never to Do in Your Phone Fundraising Calls

5. 5 Tips for Giving Donors What They Really Want

6. How NOT to Run a Capital Campaign

7. Prospect Research v. Invasion of Privacy

8. 7 Magical Words to Earn Respect, Trust, and Appreciation

9. Do You Make Any of These Mistakes When Speaking with Donors?

10. Do Not Let This Happen to Your Organization

I invite you to read any posts you might have missed by clicking on the title above. If you’ve read them all, thank you for being a committed reader.

I’m honored to know that I have readers from around the world. (I love the Internet!) While I appreciate all of my readers, I thought it would be interesting to look, beyond the United States, to see my top ten countries for readership:

1. Canada

2. United Kingdom

3. Australia

4. India

5. Netherlands

6. Philippines

7. France

8. Germany

9. New Zealand

10. Italy

Overall, Michael Rosen Says…, has seen a 20 percent increase in readership in 2013 compared with 2012. I thank everyone who made that possible by dropping by to read my posts. I especially want to thank those who have subscribed.

When you subscribe for free in the column at the right, you’ll receive email notices of new posts, including “Special Reports” which are not otherwise widely publicized. Beginning in 2014, subscribers will also receive exclusive bonus content and a limited number of subscriber-only special offers directly from me. So, if you’re not already a subscriber, sign-up now.

Just as I value all of my readers, I also greatly appreciate those who take the time to “Like” my posts, share my posts, Tweet my posts, re-blog my posts, and comment on my posts. In particular, I want to recognize the following people who have commented most often in 2013:

July 19, 2013

Do You Make Any of These Mistakes When Speaking with Donors?

[PUBLISHER'S NOTE: Michael J. Rosen, CFRE will be presenting "How to Launch and Market a Planned Giving Program at Your Nonprofit," a webinar for the Fundraising Authority on July 25. A podcast will be available following the webinar. To learn more and to register, click HERE.]

 

When you speak with prospects or donors, on the telephone or in person, do you know how to make the most of the conversation? Or, do you inadvertently make some mistakes that could be keeping you from securing greater levels of support for your organization?

Tripping Hazard Sign by Jeffrey Beall via FlickrBelow, you’ll find a number of common conversational missteps that fundraising professionals make all too often. See how many mistakes you make or avoid in a typical contact. If you manage to consistently avoid all of the potential problems that I identify, I congratulate you and encourage you to give yourself a well-deserved pat on the back.

On the other hand, if you find you’re making some mistakes, don’t feel too badly. Just work on improving. Know that by practicing and doing better, you’ll engage more supporters and secure larger donations than ever before.

Here’s what got me thinking about how we communicate with prospects and donors: I recently received a telephone fundraising call made on behalf of a nonprofit theatre company. My wife and I have attended the theatre company’s performances and have donated money from time to time.

The call was TERRIBLE! But, I realized that the caller’s mistakes are not blunders limited to phone campaigns. The caller’s missteps can apply to any phone or in-person conversation:

Mistake 1 — Not Being Ready. When my phone rang, I answered it and said, “Hello.” Actually, I said “hello” two or three times before the caller finally came on the line. Based on experience, I knew that I was the recipient of a telemarketing call that utilizes predictive dialing technology. I was annoyed that I had to wait for the caller, even for just a second or two. Instead, he should have been ready and waiting for me.

When a prospect or donor is ready to talk to you, be ready to talk to him. If a supporter calls you, recognize that the call is not an interruption of your work; it is your work. While speaking with the person, look-up her record and quickly familiarize yourself with it.

If you are the one initiating the contact, prepare yourself in advance. Review the person’s record. If his name is difficult to pronounce, practice saying it. Know what you want to accomplish during the conversation.

Be ready. Stay focused and do not let yourself be distracted.

Mistake 2 — Not Obeying the Law. At the beginning of the phone conversation, the caller did not identify himself as a “professional solicitor,” as required by Pennsylvania law. While it’s possible I missed the disclosure statement, the caller should have been sure to mention his status and the name of the company employing him. And he should have done it in a clear fashion.

While a nonprofit organization’s fundraising staff does not have to identify themselves as “professional solicitors,” there are other laws that must be followed. For example, unless the organization is exempt, it must be registered to solicit in every state in which it is going to solicit. It’s not enough simply to register in one’s home state.

Comply with the law and make sure your organization does so as well.

Mistake 3 — Plowing Ahead. After introducing himself and mentioning the name of the theatre company, the caller plowed ahead with his pitch. He did not ask for my permission to proceed.

When calling a prospect or donor, greet her and request her permission to speak asking something like, “I’d like to speak with you for a few moments, is that ok?”

There are a number of potential benefits to asking permission to speak. First, rather than metaphorically barging into someone’s home or office, you’re seeking permission to enter. That’s just good manners.

Second, by asking permission to speak, you’ll distinguish your call from most “junk” calls someone will receive.

Third, by asking permission to speak, you give the other person a dimension of control that will make her feel more comfortable and at ease. In other words, she’ll be more receptive to what comes next.

Fourth, if you’ve called at a truly bad time, the person will not be receptive to the call. So, why plow ahead? At best, he’ll be distracted, or he might even become annoyed. Instead, if you ask permission to speak, you’ll find out if the person is able to focus on your conversation or not. If not, you can arrange an appointment to call back or visit at a more convenient time. And, when you do contact the person again, he’ll not only be receptive, he’ll appreciate your flexibility and follow-up.

My mother was right. Good manners are important.

Practice good manners.

December 14, 2012

#GivingTuesday: Hype or Hope?

A headline at Bloomberg excitedly gushed, “Why GivingTuesday is the Social Innovation Idea of the Year. 

We’ve had Black Friday immediately following Thanksgiving. We’ve had Cyber Monday on the Monday immediately following Thanksgiving. Now, on the heels of those two days dedicated to consumerism, we have Giving Tuesday, as a way to promote philanthropy on the Tuesday following Thanksgiving.

It’s certainly a seemingly good idea. But, is the Bloomberg headline true? Does #GivingTuesday offer the nonprofit sector great hope, or is it just well-intentioned hype?

#GivingTuesday is an initiative created by New York’s 92nd Street Y which has served as the catalyst and incubator for #GivingTuesday. Early on, the United Nations Foundation joined as a partner, bringing its strategic and communications expertise to the project. Eventually, over 2,000 additional partners were attracted. The initiative’s official mission statement is:

#GivingTuesday™ is a campaign to create a national day of giving at the start of the annual holiday season. It celebrates and encourages charitable activities that support nonprofit organizations.”

But, so what? While it’s nice that #GivingTuesday “celebrates and encourages charitable activities,” what has the first #GivingTuesday really accomplished?

On the #GivingTuesday website, Rob Reich, Co-Director of the Center for Philanthropy and Civil Society at Stanford University is quoted as saying:

#GivingTuesday has a simple aim: to establish a national day of giving during the holiday season of gratitude and generosity of spirit that will inspire Americans young and old, online and offline, red and blue, urban and rural. I joined #GivingTuesday because the aim is simple and the mission undeniably good: to increase charitable giving by all Americans.”

While time will tell if #GivingTuesday helps “increase charitable giving by all Americans,” I contacted The Associate: Jewish Community Federation of Greater Baltimore to gain some insight regarding the impact of #GivingTuesday.

According to The Chronicle of Philanthropy, The Associated was #GivingTuesday’s “most successful charity,” having raised over $1 million.

MoneyLeslie Pomerantz, Senior Vice President of Development at The Associated, told me she learned about #GivingTuesday and was immediately intrigued. The Associated, at the height of its campaign season, was looking for ways to excite donors, and was looking for fresh reasons to involve people. #GivingTuesday presented a great marketing opportunity for The Associated to remind its community of its philanthropic values.

Through email and advertisements, The Associated promoted #GivingTuesday. In addition, it scheduled a massive phonathon for November 27. The effort attracted over 100 volunteers and engaged 30 staff members. While not as large as its autumn Super-Sunday phonathon that involves hundreds of volunteers, the #GivingTuesday outreach contacted previous donors who had yet to renew their support. The effort also reached out to some non-donors who had some type of connection to the organization.

September 21, 2012

There is No Next Best Thing to Being There

I was in the car in downtown Philadelphia with my wife when I noticed an interesting advertisement at a bus shelter while we were stopped at a red light. It really resonated with me. The ad, promoting Citizens Bank, read:

Talk to us, because brochures are terrible listeners. Sit down with us today to find out how good banking can help you.”

The ad provided the address to two bank branches in the downtown area. The ad also provided the bank’s URL.

I thought it was a pretty good ad. It was customer focused and talked about how the bank can “help you” and how the bank is a good listener. It was folksy and friendly, using the phrase “Sit down with us…”

The customer-centered orientation of Citizens Bank is one that all nonprofit organizations should embrace. Being customer and donor centered, actually talking with people, will build stronger, lasting relationships that will result in more funds being made available for mission fulfillment.

So, what are the things that nonprofit organizations can do that are inspired by the Citizens Bank ad? Here are just eight ideas:

1. Brochures can be useful, but… At most organizations, a great deal of time, effort, and money is spent designing, writing, and printing brochures. Just this week, there was even a discussion about brochures on the listserve of the Partnership for Philanthropic Planning. Very often, brochures are written and designed by committee which means a great deal of staff resources are invested. Yes, brochures can be somewhat useful. However, actually speaking with a prospect or donor is a far more powerful way to communicate. Brochures can broadcast a message, but they can’t tell you how the reader is reacting.

Just as you invest a great deal of time and money into developing brochures, you should make the same or greater investment in polishing your presentation and listening skills. Read and attend seminars about making effective presentations. Learn about powerful sales tactics. Discover how to be a better, active listener. If you’re already a good communicator, strive to be a great one. And, remember, there’s no substitute for actually being there for your prospect or donor.

2. Invite the public to contact you. Be open to talking to the public. I mean everybody, not just big donors. Let people know your door is open. Encourage calls and visits.

Throughout the course of the year, try to get in front of or on the phone with more folks than you did last year. Take more folks on a tour of your facility. Engage more people. Even if people do not accept your invitation, they’ll still appreciate your openness.

August 3, 2012

New Economic Data Suggest Continued Fundraising Challenges. What Can You Do?

Based on the latest economic data, nonprofit organizations in the USA should not expect significant growth in philanthropy through at least 2013. Fortunately, there are at least 10 things you can do to help your nonprofit weather the storm.

Historically, philanthropy in the USA has been approximately two percent of Gross Domestic Product. While this is not necessarily a cause-and-effect relationship, the correlation is consistent. Therefore, with slow economic growth, we will likely see slow philanthropic growth.

In 2011, the US experienced an annual GDP growth rate of 1.8 percent. That same year, overall giving rose by 4.0 percent in current dollars or 0.9 percent in inflation adjusted dollars, according to Giving USA 2012.

In the first quarter of 2012, the US economy grew at a rate of 2.0 percent. In the second quarter of 2012, US economic growth slowed to just 1.5 percent. Most economists agree that a growth rate of 2.0 percent or less is insufficient to lower the unemployment rate, now at 8.2 percent. Looking ahead to 2013, the Federal Reserve forecasts a growth rate of 2.5 percent, still modest.

For the nonprofit sector, the GDP numbers mean the sector can expect philanthropy to grow in 2012 at a similar rate to 2011. Growth in 2013 will likely not be much better.

Despite my lack luster predictions for the nonprofit sector, I do believe there are at least 10 things that individual organizations can do to stimulate increased giving. If you implement just some of these ideas, your organization will likely achieve above average fundraising results:

1. Hug your donors. Ok, maybe not literally. But, you do need to let your donors know you love and appreciate them, now more than ever. Do you quickly acknowledge gifts? You should do so within 48 hours. Do you effectively thank donors? You should do so in at least seven different ways. Your thank you letters should be reviewed to ensure they are heartfelt, meaningful, and effective. Have board members call donors to thank them.

2. Tell donors about the impact of their gift. Donors want to know that their giving is making a difference. If their giving isn’t making a difference or they aren’t sure, they’re more likely to give elsewhere. So, report to your donors. Tell them what their giving is achieving and that their support is being used efficiently.

3. Start a new recognition program. One small nonprofit organization I know has started a new, special corporate giving club. CEOs of the corporate members are placed on an advisory board, receive special recognition, and are provided with networking opportunities. This new recognition program has already generated over $50,000 and is expected to generate far more. While enhancing existing recognition efforts is beneficial, starting a new recognition program can yield significant results.

April 13, 2012

Use the Right Tool for the Job

If my father were still alive, he would have celebrated his 89th birthday this week. Though he passed 15 years ago, I still miss him. And, I still remember the many lessons he taught me.

My dad was good with his hands. He had a well-equipped workshop where he built all sorts of things. One of the many lessons he shared with me is:

Always use the right tool for the job.”

In other words, if you need to pound a nail into a board, don’t use the handle of a screw-driver; use a hammer.

You get the idea.

It’s a simple concept. It’s really just common sense. Sadly, however, I speak with many nonprofit professionals who haven’t embraced this concept.

For example, I recently spoke with the head of a nonprofit organization who had received a rather large donation for a special project. To implement the project, the organization was required to raise additional support. Unfortunately, the organization was unable to raise the needed funds and, therefore, it could not move forward with the project. The organization faced the prospect of having to return the gift to the donor.

When I discussed the options with the head of the organization, he told me that the group’s lawyer had provided advice. From what was shared with me, it was pretty clear that the attorney was not a nonprofit law specialist. I could see that his initial advice suffered from his lack of expertise. While the lawyer may be a perfectly fine corporate or real estate attorney, he did not have the experience to deal with the complex issues at hand, both legal and ethical.

I’ve seen this time after time. Nonprofit managers assume that any lawyer can competently answer any legal question. But, if you had a sore throat, you would not go to a cardiologist. Instead, you’d go to your family doctor or an ear, nose, and throat specialist. So, why wouldn’t you go to the appropriate legal specialist to answer your questions?

April 6, 2012

Stewardship: More than a Thank-You

“Thankfulness is the beginning of gratitude. Gratitude is the completion of thankfulness. Thankfulness may consist merely of words. Gratitude is shown in acts.” — Henri Frederic Amiel, 19th century philosopher and poet

“Those of us who make planned gifts do not expect, nor do we want, lavish thank-you presents or excessive recognition. However, we do want to know that the organizations we support appreciate our philanthropy and will use our gift in the way we intend.” — H. Gerry Lenfest, 21st century philanthropist and Giving Pledge member

 

Stewardship is undeniably an essential part of any development effort, whether for annual fund, capital, or planned giving support.

Much of what is required for good, solid stewardship is simple common sense. Unfortunately, it’s far too often not common practice. That’s why mega-donor H. Gerry Lenfest reminded nonprofit professionals of the importance of stewardship when he wrote the Foreword for my book, Donor-Centered Planned Gift Marketing. 

Good stewardship means sending out an appropriate thank-you letter immediately after receiving a gift. But, as Henri Frederic Amiel pointed out, gratitude is about much more than simply sending a thank-you letter. Organizations need to demonstrate that they truly appreciate the support of donors.

As Lenfest suggests, stewardship need not involve a huge expense and lots of trinkets. Let’s face it, planned giving donors, for example, don’t exactly want a t-shirt that says, “I’m dying to give!” Instead, stewardship should involve a show of appreciation and an explanation of how gifts have been or will be used.

Janet L. Hedrick, author of Effective Donor Relations, asserts that donors should be thanked seven times for each gift. This does not mean one has to send seven thank-you letters. One should be much more creative than that. However, it does mean that one should look for multiple ways to express appreciation once a donor makes a gift. For example, here is a list of seven ways an organization can show its appreciation:

  1. The donor gets a written thank-you letter from the development professional within two business days of a gift or gift commitment being received.
  2. The organization’s CEO or Board Chair sends a thank-you letter.
  3. A board member calls the donor within a week of receipt of the gift to express appreciation.
  4. The organization thanks donors by name, unless the gift was anonymous, in its newsletter.
  5. The organization thanks donors by name, unless the gift was anonymous, in its annual report.
  6. The donor gets thanked with an invitation to a donor recognition event.
  7. The donor gets thanked at other types of events throughout the year.

Legendary fundraiser James M. Greenfield, author of several books including Fund Raising: Evaluating and Managing the Fund Development Process, reveals the benefits associated with a luncheon event to recognize planned gift donors:

Hosting an annual luncheon for planned gift contributors has multiple benefits for each participant. First, they are reengaged after the gift has been made. Second, they can share this special time with one or two family members and/or their financial advisor who they are encouraged to bring as their guests. Third, they can enhance their legacy by serving as a testimonial for gift planning by sharing their story, which can also be used for a newsletter, magazine, or annual report. Fourth, led by a volunteer member of the planned gifts committee, the luncheon program should feature the CEO and professional staff members’ reports on current activities and future plans.”

As Greenfield suggests, thanking donors has many benefits. And, when the show of appreciation includes information about how gifts have been or will be used, donors will appreciate the effort and powerful things will happen as a result. 

For example, I once implemented a phone fundraising campaign for a hospital. For our control group, we simply explained the purpose of the current campaign and asked for support. For the test group, we told prospects how annual fund support was used in the previous year. Then, we told them the purpose of the current campaign and asked for their support. The test group, generated 68 percent more support than the control group!

In the context of planned giving, Lenfest, from the donor’s perspective, puts it this way:

Do not make the mistake of forgetting about us once you receive our gift commitment. We may truly appreciate how efficiently and effectively you handle contributed funds so much that we entrust you with another planned gift. We are also in a position to influence others to do the same, so bringing together current and prospective planned gift donors for an informational event may have a very good outcome. Publishing stories — with or without the use of the donor’s name — can show prospects the many backgrounds of planned gift donors. Even a reluctant philanthropist may be urged to serve as an example for others to follow.”

When it comes to stewardship, remember these three simple things:

  1. Thank donors promptly and warmly.
  2. Give donors information about how gifts are or will be used.
  3. Honor the intentions of donors. Use a donor’s gift how you told the donor it would be used. Recognize the donor in the way you agreed to.

If you do these three things, you’re organization will distinguish itself from many other nonprofits and will be better able to maintain and increase the support of its existing donors while attracting new support as well.

That’s what Michael Rosen says… What do you say?

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