Posts tagged ‘Natural Resources Defense Council’

September 3, 2015

Are You Smarter than a Fourth Grader?

A few weeks ago, I got to spend time with my niece Nicole and nephew Evan who were visiting Philadelphia before the start of the new school year in Florida. They’re wonderful kids, and it was great seeing them.

Evan by Michael Rosen

My nephew, Evan.

One evening when 9-year-old Evan and I were hanging out, I decided to ask him an odd question to see where it might go:

If you wanted someone to give you money, what would you do?”

Evan, who just entered the fourth grade and has no fundraising experience, replied:

I’d ask them.”

Bingo! Evan instinctively knows one of the fundamental rules of fundraising: If you want donations, you have to ask for them.

So, are you smarter than a fourth grader?

Since you’re reading this post, I’m going to assume you know the general importance of the ask in the fundraising process. However, knowing and doing are two different things. So, let me ask you a few more questions:

Do you ask for planned gifts?

While 88.7 percent of people surveyed say that it’s appropriate for a nonprofit organization to ask for a legacy gift, researchers found that only 22 percent of those over the age of 30 have been asked. In other words, there are a huge number of people who are willing to be asked for a planned gift but who are not.

Even among those charities that do ask people to make a planned gift, the ask is reserved for a very narrow group of prospects that might include major donors, board members, and people who have requested planned giving information. Those asks are most often made during face-to-face visits.

On the other hand, wise organizations also use direct mail and the telephone to reach out to a broad number of prospects to ask them to make a planned gift commitment.

One smart nonprofit organization that has successfully used direct mail to ask for legacy gifts is the Natural Resources Defense Council. They did two mailings involving a total of 50,000 pieces that generated $8.5 million in bequest commitments. You can see a sample of the mailing by clicking here.

A university in Texas targeted 7,000 alumni with a mail promotion for Charitable Gift Annuities, following up direct-mail-generated leads with phone calls that resulted in $730,000.

An orchestra in the Pacific Northwest implemented a coordinated mail/phone campaign involving 2,200 prospects in an effort that produced an estimated $2 million in bequest expectancies.

If your organization wants more planned gifts, you need to ask more people to give. While face-to-face asks will always be important, you can ask far more people by using direct mail and the phone as well, just like your organization does for the annual fund.

You can find more details about the examples I’ve cited, additional examples, and helpful tips in my award-winning book Donor-Centered Planned Gift Marketing.

Do you ask supporters to enroll in a monthly-giving program?

In 1989, I predicted that virtually every charity would have a monthly-giving program within five years. Sadly, I could not have been more wrong. I shouldn’t have been, but I was. Now, more than a quarter-century later, shockingly few charities ask supporters to give monthly.

A great way to enhance your organization’s donor-retention rate while upgrading the amount of support from donors is to ask donors to give monthly.

Some of my friends and I believe so strongly in the power of monthly giving that we participated in this short, light-hearted video on the subject:

If you’re not asking your supporters to give monthly, you’re organization is missing a great opportunity. For powerful advice on how to run a monthly-giving program, checkout Harvey McKinnon’s book Hidden Gold, and Erica Waasdorp’s book Monthly Giving: The Sleeping Giant.

Do you ask donors to upgrade their support?

read more »

September 23, 2011

Can Direct Mail Secure Impressive Planned Gifts?

I’m about to tell you how you might generate a $137,000 average gift in a direct mail campaign. That would be nice, wouldn’t it? And, I’m not talking about getting a lot of $25 donors and one, lucky-to-get, $1 million donation. Instead, I’m going to share with you what the Natural Resources Defense Council did to achieve a real six-figure average gift through direct mail.

The NRDC achieved its remarkable result by using direct mail to secure planned gifts, specifically charitable bequest commitments. While your results may differ, the fact is you, too, can reap massive rewards by using direct mail for planned giving.

Photo by Michael J. Rosen

Many nonprofit organizations either think that one cannot use direct mail to solicit planned gifts successfully or that doing so is somehow inappropriate. That’s assuming they give it any thought at all. But, I’m reminded of a great quote from Philip J. Murphy, of Zimmerman Lehman, that I used in my book Donor-Centered Planned Gift Marketing: “Get wild with planned giving: Think of it as fundraising!” Murphy was saying that planned giving is just like annual giving and capital campaigns, it’s fundraising; and, the same rules apply. So, if you can use direct mail for an annual fund or capital campaign appeal, of course you can use it for planned giving.

Just like with any other type of campaign, face-to-face is the absolute best way to secure a planned gift. However, what happens when you have far more planned giving prospects than you do people to go and see the prospects? That was exactly the dilemma faced by the NRDC.

With a gift planning staff of one director, two officers, and one assistant, the NRDC did not have the staff resources to see the 50,000 planned giving prospects identified among its 1.3 million supporters. So, the best prospects were assigned to staff and the tens of thousands of others were put into the direct mail effort. The first half of the direct mail campaign yielded 87 bequest commitments with 62 donors willing to reveal the amount of their commitments which totaled $8.5 million, for an average of $137,000. In addition, the NRDC secured an additional $330,000 from a challenge grant supporter.

You can read about the NRDC campaign in an article I wrote for Advancing Philanthropy, the magazine of the Association of Fundraising Professionals. The article was published this month and, with the very kind permission of AFP, you can download the article free of charge here: “Securing Planned Gifts with Direct Mail”.

If you would like to see all of the elements of the NRDC direct mail package, you can find it here.

The NRDC certainly treats planned giving like fundraising. They use face-to-face where they can. Then, rather than ignoring the remaining 50,000 prospects, they’ve used direct mail to broadcast the importance of planned gifts to the organization and to solicit those gifts.

People who requested more information or who made a commitment were carefully contacted by staff. Donors will continue to be cultivated through the NRDC’s legacy society and, when appropriate, staff will talk with bequest donors about other giving opportunities that might effectively meet the needs of donors while allowing them to further support the cause. As a result, the NRDC has dozens of happy, new planned gift donors. The NRDC will also have millions of dollars more with which to defend our natural resources. Money it otherwise would not have had.

If you want more planned gifts for your organization, ask more people. Direct mail can help you do that, tastefully and successfully.

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

%d bloggers like this: