Archive for July, 2013

July 30, 2013

Special Report: Top 40 Most Effective Fundraising Consultants Identified

Finding the right fundraising consultant can be challenging. However, that task has become a bit easier with the recent release from The Business of Giving of a list of “America’s Top 40 Most Effective Fundraising Consultants.”

Michael Chatman

Michael Chatman

Michael Chatman, host of #WHYiGIVE and one of the most listened-to voices in philanthropy and social innovation with more than 245,000 followers on Twitter, compiled the list by asking 250 leaders of charitable organizations to rank the most effective fundraising consultants.

I’m honored to be included on this year’s list alongside legendary figures in the fundraising profession. While I strive to keep Michael Rosen Says… virtually commercial-free, I’m posting the Top 40 list as a service to my readers.

For information about my services, please visit my business website: mlinnovations.com. If you’re interested in considering me as a speaker for your organization or professional association, I invite you to contact me.

With Chatman’s permission, here’s the list of “America’s Top 40 Most Effective Fundraising Consultants” along with links to their websites:

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July 26, 2013

Prospects Are Not Feeling Their “Wealth”

Seventy percent of people with investible assets of $1 million or more do NOT consider themselves “wealthy.”

That stunning news comes from The UBS Investor Watch for the third quarter of 2013. For the report, UBS surveyed 4,000 investors in the US.

The report also found that four out of five survey respondents are either supporting adult children or elderly parents to some degree.

The current edition of The UBS Investor Watch has significant implications for Poor Little Rich Girlnonprofit organizations and their fundraising programs, especially planned giving efforts.

This is particularly true if we take a moment to consider what other studies have revealed about perception of wealth and giving. Research projects have shown that many donors think that planned giving, even bequest commitments, are something that only wealthy people do.

For example, in one focus group study, The George Washington University learned that some alumni held the mistaken belief that bequests involve very large financial commitments from those who are very wealthy. As I describe in my book, Donor-Centered Planned Gift Marketing, three problems arise from this thinking:

First, prospects believe that bequest giving is simply not for them, but rather the wealthy—many who are truly wealthy do not perceive themselves as such and, instead, think of themselves as merely ‘comfortable.’ Second, while some prospects might be willing to give through a bequest, they might not actually do so because they feel their gift would be too insignificant to matter. Third, some prospects expressed embarrassment over the notion of giving a modest bequest gift while the perceived norm is much larger.”

As the UBS study shows, a great number of wealthy individuals do not consider themselves wealthy. As other studies have shown, many people think planned giving is something that only the wealthy do. This means that many people with significant assets will fail to make a planned gift believing it is not something for them.

So, how can nonprofits overcome this perception?

Charities do not need to convince people that they are truly wealthy when they do not think that to be the case. That would certainly be an awkward and unproductive conversation. Instead, nonprofit organizations must do a better job of educating prospects so that they understand that the organization needs and appreciates all planned gifts, assuming that’s the case.

As I share in my book:

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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.

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July 15, 2013

Special Report: Webinar — “How to Launch and Market a Planned Giving Program at Your Nonprofit”

On Thursday, July 25, 2013, I will be presenting the webinar “How to Launch and Market a Planned Giving Program at Your Nonprofit” from 4:00 – 5:00 PM (EST – 21:00 GMT). The program is hosted by the Fundraising Authority who will also make the program available as a podcast.

For more information and to register, click HERE. 

During the webinar, you will learn: 

  • Why right now is the perfect time to start or enhance a planned giving effort;
  • Five simple, common types of planned gifts;
  • How to spot your best planned giving prospects;
  • How to easily educate and cultivate prospects with little or no budget;
  • What motivates planned giving prospects;
  • How to ask for planned gifts;
  • And much, much more.

Everyone who participates in the program will also receive a packet of handouts including a special worksheet that will allow you to calculate your organization’s bequest giving potential.

This seminar is designed for everyone who wants to raise more money through planned giving. This webinar will be particularly helpful for Executive Directors, Development Directors, development staff members, and board members who are interested in learning how easy and effective planned giving can be for nonprofits of all sizes. Register today for one site and invite as many people as you like to watch and listen at your site.

If your organization needs a speaker, please click here or contact me.

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

  

[Publisher’s Note: “Special Reports” are posted from time-to-time as a benefit for subscribers and frequent visitors to this blog. “Special Reports” are not widely promoted. To be notified of all new posts, including “Special Reports,” please take a moment to subscribe in the right-hand column.]

July 12, 2013

6 Ways to Run Your Fundraising Efforts Like an Ice-Cream Parlor

[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.]

Based on the headline of this post, you might be wondering: “Why should I run my fundraising efforts like an ice-cream parlor?”

Fair enough. I might have ice cream on my mind because it’s been so consistently hot in Philadelphia this summer. While we’re not setting any local records, we’ve Little Baby's Ice Creamstill had more heat and humidity than I like. So, yes, my thoughts have been turning increasingly to ice cream. But, not just any ice cream. Great ice cream.

As I have thought about my favorite ice-cream place in Philly, Little Baby’s Ice Cream, I got to thinking that a lot of their philosophy could help nonprofits raise a lot more money from happier donors.

So, let me share six ideas inspired by Little Baby’s Ice Cream that can definitely enhance your fundraising efforts:

1. Give people what they want. On a typical day, Little Baby’s sells a dozen, or more, unusual flavors of super-premium dairy ice cream and non-dairy coconut-milk based “ice cream.” Some of the inventive flavors include: Cardamom Caramel, Coffee Toffee, Earl Grey Sriracha, Peanut Butter Maple Tarragon, Chipotle Chocolate, Balsamic Banana, and even Pizza flavor. Well, one day, I planned to buy some, but I also wanted to taste every single flavor they were offering.

So, I asked the gent behind the counter if I could have a taste of every flavor. He smiled at my enthusiasm, and told me it wouldn’t be a problem. Then, he started cheerfully serving up small spoonfuls of creamy heaven.

Contrast that with an experience I had many years ago at a TCBY frozen yogurt store. I told the person behind the counter that I wanted to buy a cone but was torn between two flavors. I asked for a tiny taste. I was told, “I’m sorry. It’s not our policy to give out tastes.” I responded, “Well, it’s not my policy to buy a frozen yogurt without knowing whether I’ll like it.” After a chilly but polite exchange, I walked away without buying anything, and I never again entered a TCBY store.

Here’s the take-away for charities: If it’s in your power and it costs little or nothing to make a donor’s wish come true, take advantage of the opportunity to put a smile on your donor’s face. It’s a great way to begin and build a relationship. The more often you can give prospects and donors what they want, the more likely they will be to feel good about your organization. If they feel good, they’ll be more likely to give, continue giving, and give more.

For some ideas about what donors want and don’t want, read my post “8 Valuable Insights from a Major Donor.”

2. Provide options. At Little Baby’s, they offer many flavors, both dairy and non-dairy. You can get your favorite flavor in a cone or cup. You can get it as a milkshake or ice-cream sandwich. You can even buy pints. You can eat in. You can take out. You don’t even have to go to their store; you can get their products at select retailers or at festivals the Little Baby’s cart attends.

When you provide options for your prospects and donors, you engage with them on their terms. You also give them a dimension of control that will make them feel more comfortable. So, give your prospects and donors choices. For example, on the “Contact” page of your website, allow folks to communicate with you via a form on the web page. In addition, give people the option of contacting you in other ways by providing your mailing address, email address, and phone number. By the way, provide the actual name of a person for them to contact as well.

Another way to give people options is to include your donation web page URL in your direct mail appeal along with a response envelope. Some people might prefer giving online rather than by mail.

While you certainly do not want to overwhelm people with too many choices, providing some options will make your prospects and donors more willing to engage. Be flexible and accommodating. People will appreciate it.

3. Be friendly. At Little Baby’s, my extreme request to taste every single flavor was met with a cheerful, friendly response. The guy behind the counter could Little Baby's Ice Creamhave rolled his eyes in annoyance, sighed at the extra effort required, or told me no. But, that’s not what happened. Instead, he appreciated my excitement and reflected it back.

This gave us the opportunity to talk about the product, how it’s made, where it’s distributed, and more. In other words, the staff’s friendliness created an environment to build our relationship. I felt so good about the experience that my wife and I even helped convince some retailers to carry Little Baby’s products.

Yes, donors can call us at inopportune times. Board members can be demanding. Prospects can be full of questions. But, these are not interruptions to our work. This is our work. If you’re friendly and helpful to your prospects and donors, they’ll reciprocate. Even if you’re dealing with an angry prospect or donor, simply being friendly and professional can sometimes be enough to soothe the person.

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July 6, 2013

WARNING: Do Not Stick Your Head in the Sand!

I’ve warned the nonprofit sector.

Over the years, I’ve warned the nonprofit sector many times.

Most recently, I provided a warning last month in my post “Special Report: America’s 50 Worst Charities Named”:

As a profession, we must do more to self-regulate. If we do not, we can expect others to fill the vacuum. The [“50 Worst Charities”] investigative report is one example of how those outside the nonprofit arena are filling that vacuum. It’s only a matter of time before government regulators become even more engaged.”

Well, sticking one’s head in the sand did not work. Declaring that most community benefit organizations efficiently do good did not work. Instead, just as Head in Sand by tropical.pete via FlickrI predicted, government has stepped into the void. Due to the nonprofit sector’s failure to self-regulate or to lead the way with government officials, politicians are taking action to further regulate charities.

Oregon has become the first state in the nation to “eliminate state and local tax subsidies for charities that spend more than 70 percent of donations on management and fundraising, rather than programs and services, over a three-year period,” according to a report in The Statesman Journal. This might be a model law that other states soon consider.

Recently, the good leaders at GuideStar, Charity Navigator, and the BBB Wise Giving Alliance penned a Letter to the Donors of America. In the open letter, the authors stated:

We write to correct a misconception about what matters when deciding which charity to support.

The percent of charity expenses that go to administrative and fundraising costs—commonly referred to as ‘overhead’—is a poor measure of a charity’s performance.”

Reading the opening paragraphs of the letter, one might be led to believe that overhead costs should not factor into our giving decisions. However, the authors are quick to point out:

That is not to say that overhead has no role in ensuring charity accountability. At the extremes the overhead ratio can offer insight: it can be a valid data point for rooting out fraud and poor financial management.”

In Oregon, state legislators were clearly motivated to act by the behavior of charities at the extreme.

The Statesman Journal reports:

The Oregon Department of Justice has already identified the top 20 ‘worst of the worst.’

They include charities such as Michigan-based Law Enforcement Education Program, which spent just 2.7 percent of its funds on programs over the past three years; California-based Shiloh International Ministries, which spent 3.2 percent on programs; and Florida-based American Medical Research Organization, which spent just 4.2 percent on programs.”

As a result of the Oregon law, donors to the disqualified charities will no longer be able to take a state tax deduction for their contributions. Also, the disqualified charities will no longer be exempt from property taxes.

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