February 19, 2024
Nonprofit Technology & Fundraising Blog
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In these turbulent times, fundraisers have done so much adapting to the “new normal” that it’s no longer new. Donors have, too. By now, nonprofit organizations across all sectors are no stranger to overcoming adversity in its many forms. Some have been on the front lines of the pandemic and social movements, some have seen staffing and funding issues like never before, and some received a surge of donations they don’t know how to maintain.
Surgeon General Murthy predicted “the next few weeks will be tough” in the fight against COVID-19, as the highly contagious Omicron variant still hasn’t peaked nationally. So far in 2022, many Americans have had difficulties getting a rapid test kit or securing an appointment for a lab test, and some have waited a week to get results amid a nationwide testing backlog, according to the Wall Street Journal.
Reports also show a testing divide in American businesses – where some big companies have secured enough COVID tests to keep workers coming in, while others have struck out. It’s no wonder that nonprofit organizations are experiencing unprecedented staffing dilemmas.
There is tension between being understanding and compassionate with employees who are struggling amid the pandemic and making sure your nonprofit continues to deliver its services, notes Phil Buchanan, President of the Center of Effective Philanthropy – and in some cases, those services are life or death for the people you serve.
Even before the pandemic, 38% of fundraisers reported planning around a potential recession; 29% reported planning around a presidential election; and 42% said changes in staffing will affect their annual planning, according to a 2019 Nonprofit Research Collaborative study.
While you never truly know what’s next, you can be intentional about your goals, create contingency plans, and nurture your organization from within. Think of the pieces that make up your organization, or five main areas: your culture, your donor journey, your donor communication, your online efforts, and your operational work.
Nonprofit executives are wondering how to proceed courageously, according to the Chronicle of Philanthropy. They need tools to manage the “enormous ambiguity” we’re carrying in these uncertain times, as well as hope and optimism that things will get better.
Nancy Koehn, Chair of Business Administration at Harvard Business School, studied how social-change leaders have dealt with their many challenges since March 2020. In a recent online briefing – called Leading Courageously in Unparalleled Times – Koehn offered nonprofit executives the following advice on how to maintain momentum.
There’s no separation between home and work anymore. Nonprofit managers have to gain a much deeper understanding of how things that happen in the home affect their employees’ work.
Your role as a leader has never been more important, and that role is suddenly more complicated. People are thirsty for guidance and integrity, says Koehn.
Strive to strike a balance between offering support and motivating staff to execute your nonprofit’s mission. AFP IDEA Survey Reveals an Urgent Need for Inclusion, Diversity, Equity & Access in the Nonprofit Workplace »
Err on the side of communicating too much and always keep your promises. “If there isn’t there isn’t credible evidence that you mean what you say, people will desert you,” she says.
Nurture your own needs, too. You can’t pour from an empty cup. Koehn recommends that each week, you should focus on no more than three mission-critical things that you can realistically achieve.
Contributed by Robin Cabral, CFRE, a LinkedIn Top Voice in Philanthropy who provides strategy and career coaching for emerging and advancing fundraisers.
It is imperative that you begin to move your efforts digitally as a result of COVID-19, and that your attention is focused on how you acquire and retain donors. Once your prospective donors have traded their email for your lead magnet, it’s time to enter them into an online and offline cultivation stream called a donor journey.
Develop online donor personas
Identify past online donors, identify website visitors and their behavior, and develop an ideal constituent profile to become much more personalized in your approach. Spend time learning about donor preferences. Identify past programmatic interests and in-corporate highly segmented in-email personalization.
Develop a donor journey funnel.
Like the traditional sales funnel, you aim to take someone from the moment they learn about your business to the moment they make a purchase.
Understand lead magnets.
Lead magnets are incentives that offer up a specific reward in exchange for a user’s email address. Leads can be e-books, webinars, cheat sheets, discounts, quizzes, or a course. Tie your mission into relevancy for the moment and create a relevant and attractive lead.
Create a systematic donor journey.
Identify all of the different touchpoints that you will use. These touchpoints don’t all have to be digital. They can include both offline and online strategies, i.e., emails, text messages, video, telephone, in-person visits, etc.
Break down the donor journey into different phases with touchpoints.
Align each step with a goal just as you would be designing strategy moves for each of your major donors. Planning thoughtful stages or steps will maximize your donor relationship as you would offline. Each phase or level should aim to increase the donor’s engagement and interest in your organization and help them to feel good about possibly becoming greater involved in your efforts through giving. Your ultimate goal is to move them from awareness to an ask.
Personalize each phase of the donor journey.
Develop a system in your CRM and its integrated communication tools. The method you use should allow you to build out each segment of your journey using things such as automated emails, calls, etc., and then set your system free and let it do its job.
Keep tabs on your donor journey.
Continually monitor donor behaviors as they enter, participate in, and exit your donor journey stream to identify areas for correction, enhancements, or adjustments.
Donors will continue to demand more authentic relationships with the organizations and causes they support. Just like your nonprofit team wants competency, guidance, and integrity during a scary, exhausting time, so do your donors.
“This means transparency, disclosure, respect, more immediate answers to queries, admission of mistakes, increased partnership, focus on solving societal problems vs. just grabbing the money, etc. Leaders who embrace this kind of culture will see their financial picture get better,” says Richard Perry of the Veritus Group.
To that point, fundraisers need to look at their donors more holistically and establish inter-department collaboration, Perry recommends.
“A planned giving donor can also be a major gifts donor and vice versa. A donor who pledges $10 a month to a membership program may also be a donor who gives $10,000 to a specific program they are interested in. Department or function managers will need to have the data support and policy and procedure alignment to create strategies that manage a donor from their point of view and their experience, not from the nonprofit’s siloed view.”
Perry emphasizes that it is “honoring and respectful” to tell donors the impact of their giving on the problems they are interested in. In recent years, donors have come to expect it. They want to see your program, speak with program coordinators, and hear how your team is addressing the problem. Organizations that continue to ignore the implementation of a robust reporting program will suffer financially, Perry says, as nonprofit reporting is pertinent to measuring and communicating impact.
The question is no longer, “how will you serve your community virtually,” but now, “how will you serve your community when they’re struggling (and so are you)?” Despite a growing focus on diversity, equity, and inclusion work at many nonprofits, experts say most still aren’t doing enough to ensure their fundraising is inclusive and accessible to everyone. For example, only 14 percent of charities use video captions to enable people who identify as deaf or hard of hearing to participate.
You can also provide value to donors by understanding their circumstances. With limited attention spans and constant distractions at home, it’s best to keep live stream events to one hour or less. Consider a quick meet-up on Zoom or a day-long event with short sessions throughout the day.
Checklist: How to Host a Virtual Fundraising Event »
Remember earlier when we talked about inter-department collaboration for a more holistic understanding of your donor base? This collaboration is necessary for your operational tasks, too, so wires don’t get crossed when doing your acquisition and cultivation work. On any given day, you need to see who talked to which donor, about what, and how recently. And to see the fruits of that labor, you need to execute your donor journey without a hitch.
Brenda Helget, Director of A Time to Heal, uses her DonorPerfect Organizational Dashboard and Scheduled Donor Outreach as moves management tools. Each time she views her dashboard, she can see upcoming appointments with donors and review notes from past conversations in a few clicks. In her contact notes, she adds a donor cycle stage based on where they are in their journey.
As long as you have an internet connection, you can log into DonorPerfect at donorperfect.net at any time, from wherever you are. Everyone will be working with the same data, which means one source of truth! (Ever have to cobble together and work with multiple, outdated spreadsheets?)
Add new users
Volunteers stepping in to help? Create a user ID for everyone on your team so you can all be logged in and working at the same time. Any updates you make within your system will be updated in real-time across all users, so everyone has access to the same data.
Edit user permissions
Hey, we all make mistakes, and without the in-office collaboration to catch them, it makes sense to have measures in place to prevent them. For example, you can restrict the ability to process payments, delete records, or make global data changes for volunteers and specific team members.
Train staff quickly
Let us take care of training your staff on the fundamentals of DonorPerfect so you can address matters that may need your immediate attention. The DonorPerfect Welcome Center walks new users through tasks like basic data entry and reporting the moment they log in. In addition to the Welcome Center, DonorPerfect newbies can register for free training webinars just for beginners.
Maintain data entry protocols
Set data entry defaults for information that never changes from record to record and use SmartScreens to make data entry easier. SmartScreens enables users to hide unnecessary fields and sections or make certain fields required when a specific option is selected.
SmartActions help keep your workflows in order by enabling your team to set criteria that automatically trigger the desired action.
For example, you can tell SmartActions to email your director to call the generous donor when a gift of $500 or more is entered into your system. You can even brighten a staff member’s day with SmartActions by scheduling a cute puppy video to pop up the moment they add a new record.
Let your monthly giving program run itself.
DonorPerfect’s Monthly Giving can be set to automatically process on the days and frequencies your donors choose. If you prefer to manually process your recurring gifts, you’ll be reminded to process those that are due, the moment you log in to DonorPerfect. For both methods, DonorPerfect will automatically send receipts to donors thanking them for their gifts.
Don’t have a monthly giving program? Get the free Monthly Giving Starter Kit and launch yours today or contact our Training Team to help you get started at 888.220.8111 or firstname.lastname@example.org.
Stay aligned around key metrics.
Need to get data to your whole team, so you can make an informed decision together? Once you run your customized report, you can immediately email it to stakeholders or schedule it to send at a more appropriate time. No login is required.
Team members with DonorPerfect logins can access quick metrics through a communal dashboard, as well as run all the same reports found in the Fundraising Report Center. Any new reports you create will be added for everyone to see.
Keep communication consistent
With the ability to store your letter and thank you email templates in DonorPerfect, you can rest assured that your team is using the right ones. For other email communications, your Constant Contact account is synced with DonorPerfect, so your team can stay in tune with what’s already been sent.
Avoid double sending thank-yous.
With many hands on deck, it’s easy for tasks to overlap. When it comes to thank-yous, DonorPerfect keeps the record straight. Once you merge your letters or send emails through DonorPerfect Receipting, gift records instantly update to reflect that they’ve been acknowledged and are removed from the queue.
The DonorPerfect team sincerely thanks you for helping the world’s most vulnerable populations. We’re here for you no matter what’s happening in the world, and our top-rated support team works remotely to provide excellent service by phone, email, and chat.
Most of the features listed here already are included in your DonorPerfect plan. If you’d like to learn more about DonorPerfect or a certain feature, please call our Sales Team about special pricing at 800.220.8111.