Posts tagged ‘Holocaust Awareness Museum’

September 22, 2016

Don’t Miss Out on the 8 Benefits of Engaging Donors

The following is an excerpt from my guest post that I’m honored to have published on the Bloomerang blog:

I think happiness is a combination of pleasure, engagement and meaningfulness.” — Dr. Ian K. Smith, celebrity physician

You will be a successful fundraising professional if you make giving fun and enjoyable for donors and engage them in ways they will find meaningful.

bullhorn-cartoon-header-bloomerangGallup, the international polling company, conducted a survey of over 17,000 American donors to better understand giving behaviors. One of Gallup’s key findings was that effective engagement leads to greater donor loyalty. Gallup’s Daniela Yu and Amy Adkins report:

“… [donors] keep going back to the causes that emotionally engage them.”

Sound engagement practices will lead to strong donor retention and increased levels of giving. For example, the simple act of engaging a donor by calling to thank her for her gift can have a profound impact. Penelope Burk in her book Donor Centered Fundraising reports that:

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July 15, 2016

If You Want More Donors, Stop Being So Serious

Make giving fun!”

That’s the great advice offered by Michael Kaiser, Chairman of the DeVos Institute of Arts Management at the University of Maryland and President Emeritus of the John F. Kennedy Center for the Performing Arts. Kaiser has observed:

[Donors] don’t join our family to be whined at…. They join because we’re inspiring and fun.”

As a successful consultant and turn-around expert, Kaiser has proven, time after time, that when you make giving fun, you attract and retain more supporters and greater levels of support.

Despite the soundness of Kaiser’s advice, I’ve talked with a number of fundraising professionals who think their cause is too serious to lend itself to fun. Or, they think they have no opportunity to be fun. Seeing nothing but obstacles to bringing joy to giving, these organizations continue with a stale, serious, institutional approach to fundraising that has left them struggling.

HAMEC logoBy contrast, the Holocaust Awareness Museum and Education Center gets it. A small, Philadelphia-based nonprofit organization, HAMEC operates a tiny museum and offers school-based education programs featuring survivors. In just the past three years alone, HAMEC has presented approximately 1,200 sessions for over 100,000 students.

Like me, you probably never have thought of the words “Holocaust” and “fun” going together. After all, as a result of the Holocaust, six million Jews and five million others were murdered by the Nazis from 1941-45. It was a supremely horrible event perpetrated by a truly evil regime.

Yet, despite the horrors of the Holocaust, HAMEC has successfully, and tastefully, paired “fun” with the pursuit of philanthropic support for Holocaust education.

Chuck Feldman, President of HAMEC, says:

‘Fun’ and ‘Holocaust’ are not put together in the same sentence. But I will tell you, our organization is a very upbeat organization. We are the happiest organization dealing with the most miserable subject of all time, and we’re happy because when our survivors go out to the schools we can see the impact that it has on the students. We can see it right away.”

As HAMEC continues to expand its outreach, it has also sought to acquire the new and increased support that will make that expansion possible. One of the challenges associated with raising money for a Holocaust-related cause is that the subject is dark and not something about which most people would want to think. So, how can a small nonprofit dedicated to Holocaust education engage supporters and potential donors in a meaningful way?

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December 6, 2013

Impressive Statistics v. One Good Story

As Christmas draws near, imagine what the holiday season would be like if it were reduced to a set of statistics:

One 5’10”, 300-pound man will fly around the Earth between December 24 and 25. He will visit approximately 91.8 million households, about 822.6 per second. To accomplish this, the jolly man will have to travel at 650 miles per second, which is 3,000 times the speed of sound.

Fortunately, Santa Claus has some fast flying reindeer; this is important since the average reindeer has a top speed of only 15 miles per hour, way too slow to get the job done. Santa’s reindeer are not just speedy; they are also mighty which is essential since the sleigh they will pull will be initially weighed down with approximately 353,000 tons of presents.

When Christmas and Santa Claus are reduced to a bunch of statistics (courtesy of Linda Harden’s article Is There a Santa Claus?), the result might be momentarily interesting, but hardly memorable or inspiring.

Part of what makes Christmas special are the stories. There is the story of the birth of Jesus. There are the movies such as The Miracle on 34th Street. There are the holiday songs that tell a Grinch and Max by Chuck Jones via Photobucketstory including The Little Drummer Boy, Frosty the Snowman, and Rudolf-the-Red-Nosed Reindeer. There are television shows including A Charlie Brown Christmas, Yes, Virginia, and How the Grinch Stole Christmas.

A good story draws us in. It stimulates our intellect and our emotions. A good story, well told, teaches and inspires. We remember great stories.

By now, I suspect you’ve already forgotten how many miles per second Santa must travel to deliver his presents. However, I bet you remember the plot to Rudolph or the Grinch. I bet you remember the nativity story.

My point is that, while statistics can be interesting and even compelling at times, people are more likely to be moved by stories. When we do fundraising, whether via direct mail or face-to-face, we should use fewer statistics and tell more stories.

Consider the following true story:

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