Building a Strong Donor Pool
Where do other organizations find new individual and major donors? If you’ve ever struggled to find and qualify new donors to support your mission, this webinar is for you.
Categories: Expert Webcast
Building a Strong Donor Pool TranscriptPrint Transcript
So welcome. Welcome everyone who have signed up for the building a strong donor pool webinar and our panelists that are here to share some share some of their great ideas with you in terms of what their organizations have done. My name is Darrell Moser, Read More
So welcome. Welcome everyone who have signed up for the building a strong donor pool webinar and our panelists that are here to share some share some of their great ideas with you in terms of what their organizations have done. My name is Darrell Moser, I’m the Business Development Manager here at DonorPerfect. I’ve been a part of DonorPerfect for five years. Previously, I worked with nonprofits in the arts and culture space for another software company, and have good familiarity with with the nonprofit journey. I’m also a board member of local food pantry here and in the Pennsylvania area, that also does human services. And its size is about a one and a half million dollar budget. So I have a bit of a feel for what our typical DonorPerfect client may end up experiencing. Today, we’re really going to be talking about how do you build a strong donor pool? And as we all know, I mean, your donors start from an acquisition where you get a new name of somebody that’s interested in your organization. And our panelists today are going to be discussing, you know, a how they find new donors, as well as how do they develop them? How do they turn them into something more than maybe just the the annual fun drive, give her maybe a monthly program, or also developing them into a major gift.
One of the things that DonorPerfectly is doing this year is we’re going to be releasing a growth and giving report, which pulls a lot of the statistics in terms of which sectors are actually the most successful in growing they’re giving year over year. And part of our panel was formed by some of that research and identifying them as successful organizations.
So we’re also going to our panelists were chosen because they end up presenting two different perspectives of the typical DonorPerfect client. First, we have the Charlotte Humane Society, which is a larger nonprofit generally, that we would have as a typical donor, perfect client. And they’ll share a bit about some of their processes that they use for organizing their donors and reaching out to them. And then Kristen Services is a relatively smaller nonprofit, but also with success at developing donors and their major gift program. So at this time, I would like to invite our panelists to just share a little bit about your organization, and themselves. So Don, if you would like to start it off. Sure. Thanks so much for having me today. Good afternoon, everyone. My name is Thomas Decker. As Darrell mentioned, I’m the vice president of philanthropy for the Humane Society of Charlotte. We are a leading animal welfare agency based in Charlotte, North Carolina. Many people know us, of course, for our adoption services for companion animals, dogs and cats. But what a lot of people don’t realize is that we do a lot more than that in the community. We offer essential care and clinic services for people and pets that need low cost vaccines or basic veterinary care. We also offer some outreach services to those that are maybe facing some tough times like food bank needs and things like that to try to help feed their pets. And we have about 60 employees, and we’re about a $4 million agency. And we’ve been around since 1978. And I’ve been with the organization this July will be about 13 years.
Excellent. Excellent. And Olivia, you’d like to share a little bit about yourself. Hi, everyone. My name is Olivia Hubert and I am development manager for the Humane Society of Charlotte. I’ve went been with the Humane Society for just about three years and absolutely love it. I work with our monthly donors, our direct mail appeals and then our grant writing.
Awesome, awesome. And Julio, if you want to share a little bit about criticism.
Sure. Hi, everyone. My name is Julio Rebus, Deputy Director of credit and services of Greater Washington.
We do we serve underserved black and brown teen girls grades six to 12 Running social and emotional learning programs to give them positive life skills and the confidence to succeed at their goals.
We have 10 employees, and we are a $2 million a year organization.
Perfect, perfect. So hopefully all of our attendees can relate in some way to to what our panelists have done, both, you know, from a size of the organization perspective, as well as even for some of the fantastic causes that are out there today. So we’re going to lead this off first by, you know, how do you actually find somebody that is interested in in your mission in your nonprofits mission? And I had the opportunity to chat with both our panelists and they come from very different perspectives. So Donna, you’d like to lead off a little bit some of the play
Since that you source new new donors or or just even people that are interested in learning more about your organization? Sure, well, we probably the biggest area that we get our new donors from is through direct mail efforts. And I will let Olivia speak to that point. But what we also do is community events, of course, COVID, we are suffering a little bit with that. But that opportunity has always afforded us a really great network of new interested folks coming into our market and into our world, so to speak. So Charlotte, North Carolina has had a lot of growth over the years and a lot of transplants are coming in from other areas. So animal welfare seems to be something that a lot of folks are interested in. So we try to host events throughout the year to bring folks to us. So with regards to that, we then capture those folks information in our system, when they sign up for an event or register or make a gift or things like that. So then now they’re part of our donor, perfect system and network. And then now they can start getting analyzed, and hopefully included in upcoming mailings for acquisition that Olivia side of things will work on. So I’ll kick it over to her. Thank you. Um, so we work with a direct mail company called Newport one. And we all work with them to ensure that we’re mailing to prospective donors who really seem to have an interest in animal welfare. And they will use their past research to choose the correct list to really get us the most effective donors and grow our acquisition lists for us there, that also we will send them over lists of our lapsed donors. And they’ll include the reactivation of lapsed donors and our acquisitions as well. So really enjoy working with them. And we do three acquisitions per year. And it really helps to grow our donor base that we then enter into dinner. Perfect. Awesome, awesome. That’s good information. And Julio, if you could share a little bit about what your organization does to try and find new donors.
There are methods that are actually pretty simple. And now I’m actually really happy that we use donor search. But more on that later.
What we mainly do is, we’re pretty blessed to have a very engaged board. So a lot of prospects are originated that way, which is pretty organic. We’re definitely all over social media always posting about what we’re doing stories of our teen girls, we capture everything.
We do attend some events. We are Theo Shavon. Davenport, does a lot of interviews, for example, in the news, local news. And that, you know, gives us a pretty wide reach.
And that’s pretty much it, we it’s pretty simple for us.
That’s good information, though, I think, you know, the cultivation of social media, the events are ways that you were finding people that you may have not had any contact with before. And I guess I’d be curious from a process perspective, and not so much from the mailing list, because we know that we can sort of import those. But when you’ve got somebody that does find out about your org, what tools do you use to get them into the process? Are you using a signup form? Is it a paper based one electronic based, talk a little bit about maybe how somebody might transition from social media, to showing up inside of your DonorPerfect database?
Well, I think for us, we will try to direct people to email us or sign up for our newsletter, for example, that information is then connected into our DonorPerfect system via Constant Contact. So we utilize some integrated software there. And then we just have this like constant updating an auto syncing between the two software platforms, so that the information coming in from constant contact via email is coming into our database as well. Gotcha, gotcha. Julio, any thoughts on in terms of how they appear? Do they email you or do you use a form?
Well, both. Some people call us because they saw us like on the news, for example, we also use Constant Contact that is a great tool
at our events, if anybody joins, anybody buys a free ticket, so to speak, a seat at the event, we capture that information. We enter that into DonorPerfect ourselves. Still working on a more automated process. On social media. When we do like our newsletter, we encourage everyone to sign up for our newsletter.
On social media, we always direct everyone to our website, where we can capture their information their which we then upload to, don’t you
Perfect, perfect. I guess one of the other ways, and we chatted about this a little bit in our pre session meeting. And it ties together with the lists that I think the humane society uses is that donor search also does have the tool to be able to extract a marketing list of any size. And so one of the things that I found when I was using it is that there’s almost 250 million people that are inside of the database. And there’s 250 attributes that you can specify. So I can bring it down to people that like cats within these two zip codes, for example, and I could pull down a direct mail list to sort of do you know, what, what they’re describing from a direct mail possibility, and you can really narrow it to people that are likely to be into your cause. So, so certainly some some good examples here and some good information. So now to put the fundraising part into context. You know, one of the things that we want to focus on is, you know, we see a graduation of once a person is in your database. And maybe they’ve given one gift, we’ll call those individual donors, they can be promoted into a monthly program, or they may even be identified as a major gift donor. If you could each speak a little bit about how does that break down as a percentage of what you receive every year? What’s the percentage of individual to monthly to major?
Well, for us,
we raised last year, about $3.4 million. And we had 11,824, active donors to be exact. And out of that 3.4 million 60% of that was individual giving. And then within that 60% 11%, or 230,000, was monthly giving, and major giving, which we constitute as a gift of $1,000 or more was 22% of that total, which was equivalent to about 450,000.
Gotcha. And that’s one of the things in part of our growth and giving, we’re actually finding as we analyze all the gift data inside our databases in that anonymized ways is that almost 70%, I think, is what we’re seeing as a number right now is actually coming from major, major gift donors. And Julio, How about how about your organization?
So, for our fundraising, not grants, it’s actually quite a bit of our budget, about 40% or 25%. Of that our major donors, which for us is 5000. And up.
Usually, our our average donation is about $1,000. And these people come back year after year, individuals, and that’s anything less than, you know, and that’s like $50 to 4999.
That’s about 15%.
we, for monthly it’s, it’s kind of new to us, we’re just starting on that. And we have a few things we’re doing, for example, the butterfly club
that you can donate, donate for COVID, we started a COVID fund back in April. And you can donate monthly to that, but I can’t really speak on monthly too much yet, just because that’s kind of new for us and trying it out. It certainly is working. It’s showing promise, but we’re developing it currently. Excellent. Actually, that’s a great lead into the next question, which is, you know, what, what have you found to be effective to try and promote somebody into a monthly program. And Julio, as you kind of described, you know, we’ve had some speakers in the past that have discussed monthly, you know, giving that group of people sort of a membership or a label or a plan that they’re a part of, so they can identify themselves, as you describe the butterfly club and so forth, is one of those great ways.
And Donna or Olivia, if either you could speak on on the monthly program there that society there absolutely. So we have a PodOmatic monthly giving program that currently has about 640 donors and hoping to continue growing this year. And there’s several ways that we will talk to a donor and let them know about the program and how to enroll. Something we did last year is downloaded a list from DonorPerfect of donors who gave every month via direct mail. And we’ll reach out to them and let them know about monthly giving. The fact that it’s easiest way to donate and most effective way to donate. All you have to do is you enter your credit card information and you’re basically set as long as you’re willing to be a monthly donor. And so we’ll do that and then we’ll also work alongside Newport one or direct mail company to send a special mail appeal to a certain list of donors every year as well. And
And so that always works well, we ended up with about 20 new monthly donors just from people sending in checks and signing up to become monthly donors at the same time, which was great.
Something else we’ll do is a monthly donor email campaign to our donor base through constant contact. This year, we did something really fun over Valentine’s Day weekend, where our direct mail company offered to provide a new toy for revenue month donor that signed up. And this is a really cool way to get nine new monthly donors from between Friday through Sunday. So I’m really excited about that. And it encouraged donors to not only sign up for the program, but also know that they’re giving also provided a toy. So we love to do kinds of fun promotions to have monthly donor sign up. And then also, we were able to edit our donation pages. It’s kind of defaulted to show a one time gift or a recurring gift. And we noticed that by changing the name of the recurring gift to explain what monthly getting is that really helped to increase our monthly donor base as well.
Interesting. Yeah, I think people can identify donors can identify with the term as a monthly giver or a monthly donor type of thing. I think even inside of the DonorPerfect package, we’ve done a bit of relabeling to, to help people understand what the possibility is there. Olivia, I guess, if you were to enumerate how many times you make a specific solicitation, or a campaign to move into a monthly program, how many times a year do you ask for people to do that. So we do a direct mail through the mail, once per year, like just really specific a monthly giving package. And then we also do twice per year, a monthly giving become a new monthly donor opportunity, the email. But then something else included with our direct mail every month is an opt in option for on the back of the male that has returned with a gift and option to check off if they want to go head to come a month and go in there right then and there as well. Gotcha. Gotcha. Excellent. Excellent.
Well, I’m sorry to cut you off. But I just to add on a little bit, I think we did about two monthly current monthly donor upgrades as well, throughout the year. So about every six months, we’ll look at the list of folks and see who has upgraded or who hasn’t. And then just sort of try to solicit them to update and hopefully increase their their giving. And that’s really an important part is once they become monthlies to not forget about them, because they can actually be moved up the scale much like major donor campaigns and just ask them to give five or $10 More, whatever is percentage of their increase. Do you ever or has it has it come up to make a suggested increase?
Oh, yeah, absolutely. Olivia has come up with really awesome creative things. And we’ve done it by percentages. We’ve done it by dollar amounts. So yeah, we we tried to just always tie it into some sort of cute promotion theme and animal welfare is full of puns and silly little graphics and stuff. So we do have a lot of fun with that. And people seem to respond pretty well to it. Yes, we have an upcoming St. Patrick’s Day themed upgrade challenge that we’re really excited about.
Great, great gaming, gaming it for the holidays. Excellent. Excellent. Well, and then the other development areas? Yes, absolutely. About that. One of the things that we’re trying is, we’re we’re actually currently, I can’t speak on the success of this, obviously, it’s just starting. But one of the things we’re doing is what I would say our biggest driving force, so to speak is
every one every donor has whether based on our program, but once we educate them about our programs, they
a reminds them of someone they know everyone cares about someone, we all had a friend who was pregnant in high school, or a cousin or a sister, whatever.
So, for example, I have a cousin that was pregnant in high school, I saw what she went through, that didn’t have a whole lot of resources. That’s why I care about. So that is the case for I guess most people that donate for us, or that’s the biggest reason they would write. What we’re doing now is for starting with with our monthly program, what we’ll do or what what’s in it for them, so to speak is
if they want to donate, it’s targeted. So if you want to donate, for example, $100 a month to our girls program, which is the parenting students.
Then they’ll get constant updates about what’s going on with the programs, the groups, the individual girls, their stories, where they’re going on to things like that. So that
would, I think motivate someone to continue to donate or to increase their donation.
That’s something to think about.
Absolutely, absolutely. I mean, you’re you’re almost speaking from some of the best practice book in terms of fundraising is, when you have stories that you can tell to your donors that are going to resonate, is a tremendous opportunity for for them to give or increase their giving.
And, you know, one of the things that I wanted to touch on I will probably cover this in a webinar later this year, is that, you know, donors comes in all different personality types. And, and we’ve, I’ve actually been very curious to listen to some organizations that have used disc profiles, to understand whether or not their donors would respond more favorably to a story about a very sad situation, or perhaps statistics. And we know that this profiles, you know, you can be on either either side of that. So keep that in mind, when you’re making your petitions to your donors, that, that there could be more than than just one way to communicate to him a very meaningful cause, and to maybe move them into a monthly.
That’s a great point. And we’ve actually tried to incorporate some of that into our acknowledgement letters, as well as our impact report. So our acknowledgement letters, when someone makes a gift, we always tell a story, and have a picture of an animal that was affected positively. And then at the bottom of that letter, we have just a little small chart that just says like, you know, the statistics of what’s been going on, you know, number of animals saved or number of animals spayed or neutered, or just because, you know, you never know the person that’s looking at the letter and what’s gonna resonate with them, are they a numbers person, they’re gonna go right down to the number and the chart or the story and go, Oh, my gosh, that’s such a great story. And we’ve known with our impact report, we don’t call it an annual annual report, we just want to, you know, really focus on the impact we’re having in the community. And we use a ton of different graphics and infographics as well as some narrative stories. Because, you know, like you just said, there was a you have to be ready to talk to both sides at any, any moment. Right, right. Well, and the other thing that both of you mentioned, too, is Impact Reporting. You know, it was probably a decade ago that people were really trying to understand whether the nonprofit was efficient by looking on GuideStar. And figuring out how much of the costs went into admin fees, and so forth. And now that has evolved to the point where nonprofits really need to tell, you know, the story about how many lives were changed. And that’s really the impactful part of it. And the administrative part is just, you know, it comes along with it. But if you’re changing lives, then it’s huge. And that’s, that’s part of soliciting. And I imagine, it probably plays into sort of this next thing as well. So as we as we move into talking about major gift fundraising a little bit, that story that that gets told or your approach into start talking to someone about a major gift. It perhaps begins with them understanding some of that impact. But it certainly you know, you each have described to me two very different approaches or processes to this. And I’m going to start with the classic question. And I think that Donna, you had already shared what you would consider a major gift, I believe you said it was $1,000. Maybe if you could expand a little bit on where did that number come from? Why Why did your organization pick that? And does it ever change?
Hopefully, I’m actually working on making that change. Now, we went back when I joined the organization, over a decade ago, we really had no formal program development program at all. We were doing some direct mail. But we had no major gift program. And we really just started it from scratch. So we came up with a group title called circle of friends. And we, you know, came up with levels and, you know, the 1002, the 24999, and the, you know, the 2500, to the 4999. You know, and we just don’t have been stuck in that in that mindset for a decade. And but we’ve just been continuing to grow our programs and grow our fundraising sources. But I think we’re now at a point where we’re ready to go on to the next step within our organization and just increase that a bit. And I think our board has just been a little nervous to increase it. I don’t know exactly why, I mean, maybe they just feel nervous to say like, oh, gosh, now I have to give X amount, you know, more. But it’s just been something that I think it’s just our goal as staff is just to sort of educate the board and our supporters and just, you know,
it’s time to move it up. We have a much broader pool at this point of donors. And we’re definitely looking at four or five 600 donors in these in this circle of friends. So I think it’s time to kind of segment it a little bit more. We’re also going to capital campaign, we’re going to be building a new animal Resource Center here in Charlotte. So I think it’s time to also raise our sights a bit. And I think increasing our level of support for our circle friends will probably help us
Perfect, perfect. And holy if you could speak a little bit about the the amount that your organization considers to be a major gift, and how did you arrive at that amount and?
Well, it actually all started certainly way before my time here but
or ever average gift is $10,000. We, we get that from our most of our major gifts come from our anniversary event, November of every year.
Sponsors so to speak.
We feel that 5000. So if the if the average gift is 10,000
We feel that 5000 is not a stretch for most people
in any capacity involved in our organization.
Luckily, our board is always going to events always doing things always reaching out to their their circle.
pretty well to do people of course.
And I know that’s why the average is 10,000. But
there’s no, I guess,
reason why it’s 5000 no specific reason we just feel that it’s not a stretch for most people involved in our organization.
And it isn’t.
Gotcha, and maybe just as point of clarification. So as you describe the average gift is 10,000. Is that an average of the what you consider the major gift givers or is that an average across all giving?
matric gift givers? Gotcha. Okay. Yeah, you would be getting a whole lot of email, I think if that was your average gift size across all across all givers.
We, every organization would, would love to have that. So excellent. So excellent, actually two very different perspectives, I think in terms of how these major gifts have have come to be inside of your organization. And so you as you look at, you know, and again, thinking about the donor journey, these people that came in from an event or they look to social media, now they’re in their your database, and, you know, maybe they gave a one time gift.
How do they get into your major gift candidate list? What What data are you looking at that says, I really should be reaching out to this person and, and I want to stay maybe with?
We’ll talk about pre screened donors first is just how do you identify the ones that you may want to learn a little bit more about?
Well, for us, we we definitely use Smart Actions within DonorPerfect. So for example, when a gift is being entered by our gift processor, it is over a certain level, or if it’s a donor that we have recognized, as we know, of this person in the community, we assign ourselves as like portfolio managers, so to speak, and then the smart action will come in, so we’ll get an alert on our email that a gift has been made. So we watch for those to see sort of its net, which is a little bit more reactionary, of course, because the person has already made a gift. But we you know, three years of kind of having these,
these systems in place, we’ve been able to identify a bit of a portfolio. So we now will look for the recency of you know, how often are these people giving to us?
How frequently throughout the year, what are they responding to? What are the levels of the gifts on monetarily? And then what do we have going on at the time. So, you know, maybe we have a particular fund or need or match campaign or things like that. So, you know, we just tried to start then reaching out to those people, of course, thanking them for their gifts, and then preemptively trying to tell them about some things that are coming up. A big thing for me in our organization is that it’s very impactful when you see our work firsthand because you actually can tour our facility, we do have a physical shelter. So which people really like to do and what’s also kind of interesting is so many of our donors have never stepped foot in our shelter. And they’re, they’ve been such dedicated supporters. And a lot of times we hear that, oh, I can’t go there. It’s so sad, or I’m gonna cry, or they think like Sarah McLaughlin songs are playing throughout the hallways, which is not the case, it’s very happy playing. But, you know, we definitely want to get them in the in the door. So a lot of times it’s follow up saying, you know, thank you for being a donor for so many years or thank you for your most recent gift. Would you like to see what you’re supporting? And doing that, and I did that a lot when I first joined the organization, which I think started building a lot of great relationships and sort of planting seeds that then, you know, as the years went on, we had a little bit more of established relationships to go back to these folks and say, hey, you know, now we’re in a capital campaign, you know, would you consider a gift of, you know, XYZ and
So it’s just sort of definitely a process of building it over time. But I think it’s just some indicators that we look at is just some of their behavioral attributes of how they’re giving and how they’re interacting with our organization. That’s really interesting. So you’re actually looking at a little bit of the engagement factor to through the visitation and so forth. And are you recording when they make a visit? In DonorPerfect at all? Yes, yeah, we record all of our contacts in the contacts field. So if we reach out, if we send them a handwritten note, if we make a telephone call, we’re really excited now about the video feature. So we’ve been sending videos to donors.
So yeah, we try to record all of those actions. And then, you know, if we’re going to reach out to somebody, all our staff is trained to just, you know, go into the contacts first look at all the activities they have, we even have it set up through our direct mail and Olivia is work is basically every time they get a direct mail piece, that contact is going in there as well. So many contacts are very, very long, because they we do a lot of mailing, but we want to know everything that this person has received from us. Gotcha. Excellent, excellent. And holy, what do you look at in terms of whether or not you feel that a donor is a candidate for perhaps a bigger, bigger gift?
Sure, well, first, outside of DonorPerfect and donor search.
What we do is we just, we just push it up each time, again, this start from our board members, their circle, they know that our average gift is
in DonorPerfect. Since we just started using DonorPerfect last year, it’s actually been a huge help. And we only recently also last year started using donor search. In DonorPerfect, we run a report, a donation summary report, and we just look and we tried to increase it by 500, we don’t feel it’s a huge stretch. And then we’ll do that every year bill will not like we’ll do that every year going forward.
In donor search, when you when you do a when you start the search criteria, the report, we actually leave it pretty broad we’ll do like the industry is education, we don’t do a maximum or a minimum.
And then from there, you can do research on that organization and see what their average gift is. And we’ll ask something feels fair.
Compared to us. Another thing that we look at, which is actually very important, is how many, how many donations they make every year. If you have an organization that’s like 30, then it might be harder to get in. If you have it the other day, we ran a report, one organization that donates to education
1700 donations a year, so so we have a much better chance of receiving a donation from them. But that is certainly all thanks to donor search. And it’s much easier now than it was before. When it was all done manually. You have to think about this stuff.
Now it’s kind of done for you, which is really nice.
That’s actually really interesting. So asking for $500. More, we’re going to touch on that a little bit. As we discuss, how do you determine ask amounts, but
that’s actually really a really good point is, you know, everybody has the opportunity to grow. And some people from fundraising may say, Well, that could actually be a really dangerous thing to suggest. But but we’ll touch on that I think as we get further down in the discussion here, so
So graduating, the data that you look at inside of DonorPerfect from that initial gift to saying, Aha, I see engagement here, I see potential.
I’d like to get a little bit more data on this person. So I know how much to make the ask for. So this is where the complementary systems like donor search, where you can select and choose records in your database that you’re actually going to screen is the term and pull in wealth data so that you can understand what the donors capacity is.
And capacity is really just about dice defining, you know, what, what potential they could give. There’s so many other factors that that weigh into it as to whether or not they’re even inspired by your cause. Because, I mean, how many millions of nonprofits are there out there and trying to find that person that has both capacity and and that inspiration, engagement with your causes is really kind of key. So
Next question is really, you know, with the donor search data now, how do you identify a candidate, you’re going to now progress into what a lot of people in the major gifts space will call that solicitation process.
So Donna, if you’d like to sort of, you know, begin.
Yeah, absolutely. So donor search has been really, in inspirational, influential with helping us with our capital campaign. So we have so many donors in our system, I think we have over 55,000 records. And
it really enabled us to do what we did as a wealth screen to really kind of start our process. So, you know, we had these great records, and the donor search team helped me identify certain criteria to, to put in to try to see, okay, who’s gonna bump out as potential here for our campaign solicitation. So it bumped out so many records, it was it was crazy, we have so much robust data in our system, but we had no idea where to start. So the the system was able to, you know, we put in like 5000, I think we selected for 5000 records to come out out of the 50,000. But it helped us sort of and where to get started. So we looked at the certain ratings, that donor search has something called the DS rating, which is their higher likelihood or less likelihood to give to, you know, if your charity was like their number one or number, top three charities, you know, what’s the likelihood to give to you, and then from there, it goes on to the RFM, recency, frequency monetary scores. It also gave capacity range based on wealth, which was really, really interesting to us is, you know, when we were pulling in, I was in the system the other day, and I’m looking at charts and reports, and there are donors sitting in the 1 million to $5 million range, and it’s like mind blowing, and then like, I click on there, and like, Who are these people? Do I know them already? You know? And, and, of course, some of them? I did? And I was like, well, dang, we didn’t get a gift of that level, you know. So it’s something definitely take with a grain of salt, you know, so it’s interesting information, everybody puts their own information in there, too, just to see like, hey, what does it come up for me, and, you know, I, you know, there’s certain things in there that, you know, I know, I’ve given to other charities, but it’s not indicated in donor search. So it’s not 100% Perfect, but it’s such a great jumping off point that it’s, it’s definitely so worth it to be able to kind of store your data, and just have a spot to start with. So we took that initial list, and that became the groundwork for our starting our campaign solicitations, and knowing where to start in your 50,000 records, even narrowing it down to Okay, let’s focus on these 200 donors and just speak to them. And they already have the inclination they’ve already given to the cause. Now, it’s, Hey, we have this huge project going on. And we know you’re passionate about it. Can you help us get there? Can you consider making a gift of the, you know, a much higher magnitude because this is a big project?
And, you know, happy to report that, you know, four years of fundraising in we’re at $30 million for our campaign. So it’s definitely been pretty successful so far. Wow. Wow, that’s great success. Awesome. Awesome. So, in Julio, as you begin to take a look at some of those that are candidates, what what data that comes from donor search actually has been very helpful for you to decide who to make the ask to?
Well, two most important things or, like I said, the number of donations and in the range.
We kind of have a especially now that we’re using donor search to kind of have a, a Be not afraid approach. So you know, the worst thing someone says said, say is no, or not interested or camped.
So why don’t we do a screen?
Like I said, we make it pretty broad.
And we look at each individual organization, but it’s, we leave it, we live in pretty open pretty wide, because we can look into each thing ourselves. And we’ll just ask everyone, or we will now but
and, you know, it’s okay, when when people say no or, or they’re out of money for the year or whatever. At least we asked to keep us in mind. We’ll take their information and then we’ll have constant contact with them going forward. So it’s
Really for, for everyone listening, the most important thing is, just don’t be afraid to ask.
That’s the key thing,
as opposed to targeted data, in my opinion, and that’s what we’re doing. Now, obviously, it’ll be refined as we go. We are pretty new to this to donor search. So, you know, we’re, we’ll get better as we go along.
Excellent, excellent. So
and that’s a great lead in to something that is not always systematic and major gift fundraising. And that is so great. So you know, I’m a software guy, you know, I work for DonorPerfect, we can run reports until there’s, you know, stacks of paper everywhere. But at some point, somebody’s got to actually pick up the phone or go talk to this donor. And the part that isn’t necessarily written in the software is, what do you say,
to start the conversation with somebody that you might be right about to ask for a six digit gift?
Well, for me, and for us, we want to hear from them. First, we want to hear why they even are giving to us, I want to know their story, they want to tell us about their pets, they want to show us pictures about their pictures of their pets. So that’s always been our focus is just why, you know, there are so many amazing organizations, and then also with animal welfare, there’s a lot of national organizations. So there’s becomes a lot of confusion in our field of, well, I, you know, I live in Charlotte, North Carolina, but I supported the Humane Society of the United States, doesn’t it just trickle down to the Charlotte market? And I’m like, No, it doesn’t. So there’s a lot of education that has to go on to about where the money is coming from, how we get supported and where their dollars go locally. So we we really like to just start with conversations with our donors of you know, that making sure they understand that, but then also hearing why they give and why they support us, and then trying to see where their excitement lies is always really fun for me. Because, you know, animal people, everybody knows an animal person. Animal people are very interesting people, they’re very passionate, and they can be very
quirky. So, you know, we want to understand more about what makes them tick. So sometimes it’s a hot button for them, like sometimes donors are very into a particular facet of our work, for example, spaying and neutering or, you know, making sure the animals are not homeless on the streets of Charlotte, you know, so the sheltering piece is really important to them. So we like to understand more about that. And then once we kind of get a little bit more than understanding what’s really making them tick and driving them to give, that helps us kind of gauge our reference of what to present to them as an option for future support. Or, for example, with our capital campaign, a particular area of the building where maybe they want to have a naming opportunity for a past pet.
They’re into the medical side of things, and I’ll show them things that are in our spay neuter clinic or in our community clinic that’s to come. So it’s kind of really more hearing about what’s interesting to them, and then presenting them an opportunity. And I think most people, Julio, I couldn’t agree with you more. It’s like, I think something that nonprofit folks get caught up on is, you know, asking, and if it’s, they expect to be asked, and that’s why these people give, and they’re not going to give unless they’re asked, so we can’t be afraid to ask and ask big and I think, you know, a lot of times people say and I’d rather be asked for an that’s maybe a little bit too large and have to say no. But they’re they’re going to be flattered that you even thought of them to give in that range. I think that’s not necessarily a bad thing.
Perfect, perfect. And that’s it. That’s a great way to approach it is it’s not necessarily you know, the ask is such a small part of it. It’s learning and listening to your donor to understand where their their interests lie inside of your organization. Will you? How about you, how do you how do you? How do you find out more about that person before you make the ask?
Well, we do a similar thing we try to we focus on finding their Wi
Fi to see who they know, for example, we’ll do some research on LinkedIn or Facebook.
No, see what similar things, what events they’re part of. join that.
We don’t, we certainly don’t take a used car salesman approach.
You know, just ask people for money. They have to matter. And what we try to do when we reach out and really the first few times is really just try to understand them. kind of explain what we do a little bit you know
touch on it see what is similar? What is not.
And that is, long before we make an ask.
People are certainly flattered when you ask for an amount that they can’t do.
But like I said, just don’t be afraid.
But the most important thing is, understand the why.
And then we show them, you know, we invite them to our website. We have brochures,
we have video, we have Facebook, we have Instagram, many places people can check out our work. So we just show them that and see how they react to it.
Excellent, excellent. Well, that’s been some great content. And we’ve we’ve gone we traveled the donor journey from how might you find somebody to graduating them into a monthly and or major giver. And finally getting to that point of, of the ask for those big amounts that, that as we talked about before, we’re starting to see in the data that as much as 70% of all fundraising is living in that major gift space. And I see that, that our attendees have been really active in terms of asking some questions. So I’m actually going to take a dive into some of those.
And so the first one, and we’ll we’ll try and roll it back to the beginning of our conversation.
A person was interested in what does the cost of one acquisition mailing look like? And and how many typically come in on the acquisition list?
Probably pretty her Olivia.
She’s our mail girl.
um, so our most recent acquisition was in November of last year, and it probably brought in about 300, new monthly monthly donors. Some of them became monthly donors, but 300 donors. And then we worked with our direct mail company, to, of course, pay for it. And it was built into our guaranteed direct mail budget, which is just under 200,000, for total direct mail.
And I think the total new donors, which I would say primarily came from acquisition last year, because we really didn’t have many events, it was 4800.
Okay, that’s actually an interesting number. And then, you know, of course, there’s metrics that can talk about lifetime value of donors and things like that, that the cost of acquisition can get multiplied in later years, as we were just talking about, you know, graduating those donors through the system, right.
All right. And then the next question here is for the speakers are you making when people sign up for the newsletter, you making address information required, we are pained about this and ask for it. But don’t require it thinking that it will inhibit completion. But know that we’re missing out on a critical demographic,
as our subscribers are from all over the nation. So what are your thoughts on that? Do you have a rate at which people aboard a forum based on
I believe we’re just asking for email, and just kind of going with it from that perspective, because we do a monthly e newsletter. So we’d rather get them in some capacity than then in no capacity, if that makes sense. So because the we’re not really necessarily mailing to them a newsletter that we produce every month, that’s really more of a direct mail. But if we want to just kind of start interacting with them, we kind of start through social and then just their email.
same same with us. We really only asked for the email one, when they make a donation. We asked for their address. And
we don’t or newsletters aren’t, aren’t hardcopy. It’s all through, you know.
Okay, great. That’s a good way to start them out. And And our next question, I think, is really for Olivia, because they wanted to know, What language are you using to talk people into the monthly program? I think you’ve touched on it a little bit, but maybe some examples there
are so the exact language that I use for just changing their donation form a little bit is instead of saying recurring gifts, they’ll say monthly giving and to say that it’s easiest and most effective way to give the HSC each month and so giving them that option, just let them know what it is and what to expect instead of just listing as a recurring gift.
Say recurring gift. Sounds good bill.
So part of it is I suppose there’s the monthly component.
Do you address them because we were talking about
braids to in the conversation? And is there a way that you can also, or maybe a phrase that you use that now is the time to move up by x, or what do you find tends to work really depends on the upgrade challenge we had a couple of years ago and upgrade challenge called the heart of gold promotion. And in this promotion, we were able to look at different carats of gold and use that number to say, and increase your monthly giving to this amount and this kind of carat of gold. So it’s really cool. So we really just get creative with our wording and inspiring people to give up to like different parts of the challenge. Last year, we did a back to school monthly giving upgrade promotion, and created like a little wheel that could spin and whichever little piece of the wheel they landed on has certainly upgraded mount like $5 $10, whichever one they were,
just upgrade to that amount. So it really just depends on the challenge and kind of let the creativity is telling us during that time.
Something that we did several years ago to that I thought it was pretty successful with monthly giving. And it seems to be successful across the board with a lot of different sources of giving is it was a match challenge. So we had a donor that was willing to match X amount of new donors to the monthly program or X amount of upgrades. So I think if you have a donor, perhaps that’s maybe a current monthly donor or somebody that’s going to, you know, promise to increase their gift by x or match X amount. I think that’s really beneficial, because then it sort of has them almost part of this club, so to speak.
Gotcha. Gotcha. that’s those are some really, really good ideas in that club concept. I think I’ve heard that a good bit. And it’s, it kind of feels good to the donor.
Here, here’s here’s one that is frequently heard, and I’m
It’s just hitting the neck.
So one that we hear frequently in nonprofit circles is how do you engage your board members into taking action like asking for donations from their peers? I’ve sent scripts and ideas to them without success.
Would you like to leave with that one? Because I think you’ve had some good success with your board members.
Well, yeah, we’re getting a little bit of interference. I’m not sure if there’s something with your mic.
So coming through a little bit, staticky
No, I think we’re getting some static.
and maybe, you know, to the point of that question, I think I remember Claudia, we you had shared before was is that the you had some board members that actually were inspired by some of the stories that were there. And so your board is a very active board and one that participated.
You know, perhaps you know, the right into the cause more than just the board that comes in and rubber stamps every month, right.
Yeah, it’s important and make the rewards. Are
we always mentioned, they always ask
to make them.
Yeah. All right. Um, I know that was still a little staticky. I guess. Donna, can you speak a little bit to the board? Sure. It’s something that to be honest, we’ve always struggled with as well. And I think it just, it kind of really, you have to almost get creative as much as possible was just trying to educate them upfront and kind of be inspired to want to do it and like not like, you have to raise this module, you have to do the following. It’s really more and kind of what Julio was saying is like, what’s inspiring them and like, and give them with little wins, I think, too. So what we’ve also started with our donors, excuse me, with our board members is we really want them to thank our donors, so we want them to have those really good interactions before they’re even out there ever asking anybody for support. We have them thanking the donors for support, so they can start having those positive calls and conversations with donors and, and we give them a list every month.
And we break it up by, you know, different board members. So maybe they only have maybe three or four phone calls each. And then we just asked them to either call or write notes to these donors, and thank them for giving. So we want them to feel those like sense of wins and the positivity that’s coming from the donor, about hearing why they supported and then they get gives the board member, that sense of pride of being like, Oh, wow, you know, I’m on this board. And this is such a great thing. So I think when it comes time for them to go out, and perhaps make a solicitation, there’s so much more comfortable, and they have so much more in their like, in their arsenal of why this is such a great organization, and then they can have those experiences to draw on of, you know, well, I, you know, talk to such and such donor. And, you know, they said the same thing where that’s the, you know, giving them like a testimonial to share to a potential supporter as well. So, and we just tried to start small with them and give them you know, little solicitations, or just ask them to, you know, invite someone to an event or, or join a staff person too. So we never want them to feel like they’re, they’re out on their own, that they have to, you know, make these huge solicitations, because they’re really not fundraisers, you know, like, we want them all to represent our organizations. But we’re the paid fundraisers that we have to kind of support them through that process.
Excellent, excellent. Always a challenging thing with boards. And there’s so much more to cover. And I see that we’re right up on the hour at this point in time. I could probably go on for another couple hours and ask ask both of you all three of you questions in terms of this. There are still some more questions that are in the chat. We may try and follow up with them after the session, because I think they’re really helpful. One of the things that the DonorPerfect team wanted to ask all of the people that are attending this webinar is
if you could let us know, are you interested in starting a monthly gift program. And you can actually just say, monthly in the chat. And then we can follow up with you with some more content in terms of how to perhaps start one if you’re not already doing one. I think in this webinar, if you’ve already got one going, you’ve got some really great tips of ways that you can further engage and I think the graduation, moving them up to the next level is a great way also to increase your fundraising.
And and so yeah, if if each of you that are attending the webinar, have an interest and want to go ahead and put that in the chat. And just say monthly, that would be fantastic. I think similarly, if there’s anybody that’s that’s attending that would like to start a major gift program or like the more formalized that if you just want to type major in the chat, and then we can make sure that we have people follow up. At this point. It looks like we still have about 200 in the room. But honestly, it’s been it’s been fantastic. Thank you all for attending the session. And I really, really want to thank our panelists who have provided some great data and shared their time with the nonprofit community, the donor, perfect community. You guys were fantastic, great information and it’s perfect to have it from those two perspectives. So thank you very much.
Thank you all, everyone.
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