Planning for Growth: Setting Ambitious but Achievable Goals
DonorPerfect Community Conference 2022 session with speaker Jennifer Shropshire
Planning for Growth: Setting Ambitious but Achievable Goals TranscriptPrint Transcript
Lori: Okay. Good afternoon again and welcome to our session on planning for growth, setting ambitious but achievable goals, presented by Jennifer Shropshire. Jennifer is a principal in Shropshire Nonprofit Consulting, LLC. Her practice areas are strategic planning, fundraising, and Read More
Lori: Okay. Good afternoon again and welcome to our session on planning for growth, setting ambitious but achievable goals, presented by Jennifer Shropshire. Jennifer is a principal in Shropshire Nonprofit Consulting, LLC. Her practice areas are strategic planning, fundraising, and board development. Formerly she was Director of Development for the Walnut Street Theatre. In addition to her consulting work with the nonprofit center, she has been a clear circle facilitator working with nonprofit executive directors.
She holds an MBA from the Wharton School of the University of Pennsylvania, and a BS from SUNY Oswego. Recently, she has started a solo practice at Shropshire Nonprofit Consulting, LLC, continuing her focus on helping nonprofits navigate successfully within a changing landscape. Before I hand it over to Jennifer, I’d like to remind you all to be sure to add your questions to the Q&A tab, as you’ve been reminded at each session, so that we can answer them at the end of the presentation. Questions asked in the general chat may not be answered due to the constant scroll of the screen, depending on how many people are in the session. Jennifer, I’m going to hand it over to you.
Jennifer Shropshire: Thank you, Lori. Welcome, everyone. I’m delighted to be here and talk about one of my favorite topics, which is strategic thinking in a fundraising context. First, I want to acknowledge many of us are scared of change, or at least resistant to change. Today, I want to not just encourage us to embrace change, but to welcome it, and to see how positive change whether it’s a negative or positive change, but how positive it can be if we leverage it for the good of our nonprofit.
I first want to touch upon the kinds of changes, and you may be very familiar with this, especially over the past couple of years, but the kinds of changes that can affect your nonprofit. Some are internal, like a program shift, or a staffing shift, and some are external innovation, or shifts in social or the political landscape. Clearly, very volatile in the last couple of years. Natural disaster, also, something that can frequently happen and affect our nonprofit, and a public health crisis. Again, pretty obvious. I want to acknowledge the different types of change, that they are internal, or they can be external, and that they can be both challenges and opportunities.
One thing we can be sure of is that change will happen. We may not know exactly what will change, what will be disruptive, what the opportunity will be but I think we can count on something being different in our organizations. I have three mindsets I want you to consider for a few minutes here so that as fundraisers, as people in an organization, we can navigate that change, or at least strike a path thinking of these mindsets so that we thrive, not just survive it, but thrive it.
The first is anticipating. I love my adages, and my adage for this is fortune favors the prepared. Plan as if. I know people who pulled out their pandemic plan just as COVID-19 hit. Who had a pandemic plan? Those people who plan as if. As fundraisers, you can do something very similar and I will walk through that. Part of it as fundraisers is not thinking that that donor or funder who make up so much of our budget is going to be around forever. Let’s plan as if they aren’t. Let’s build that diversified base of support. Pivot.
Another mindset I want you to think about, my adage is never waste a crisis. In that crisis, I know it can be traumatic, I know it can be destabilizing, but somewhere in here, your team, and I’m emphasizing team, can find the lessons, or find the potential, or find that opportunity there that can have a positive impact on your nonprofit. Again, as fundraisers think about leading with empathy and humanity towards your donors. This is an opportunity for connection, which for me is the crux of fundraising, to connect the donor to your nonprofit. I’m not saying exclusively this is an opportunity to ask for funds, I’m saying your donors might be experiencing some of what this crisis is. Connect with them, build that relationship, build that connection.
Third mindset that may happen as a moment of change affects your nonprofit is jump. I say fortune favors the bold. Discard this analysis paralysis. Don’t be caught flat-footed, be courageous. Think about that opportunity, have a calculated risk. Think about what the risk is, and have it calculated, but again, do not get caught up in analysis paralysis here. Building blocks for thriving. I will touch on this. Each of these could be their own hour-long, or day-long, or month-long conversation. The organizations that I know have succeeded and thrived in the past couple of years have one or more of these building blocks in place, probably more.
Strategic plan. That tells you where you’re going, that invites people to be part of your journey. Knowing your value, knowing your place in your landscape, and the value of your nonprofit, and where that nonprofit can make a difference in this moment of change. Case menu of opportunities. Raise money for what. Don’t just raise money, because people have it there. Make sure you have a small list, meaningful list of purposeful fundraising close at hand that your team, your organization is prepared for. Then, there are two really important to me cultural aspects, the culture of collaboration and the culture of inquiry.
I emphasized team before, I’m going to emphasize it again. The collaborative teams and staff. Staff and board, staff and community, staff and partners, they are more positioned to thrive, not just survive. Culture of inquiry is asking questions, especially the tough questions, asking questions of yourself, and others. Understand your moment, your nonprofit’s relationship to the moment. That’s a magpie there, and that’s to remind me and remind you, don’t be a magpie. Do not get distracted by that glittery, opportunistic, shiny hope that takes you off your path. I know we all have experienced this, or have been tempted by this over the years.
Let me give you some tools that I think might help, because every moment of change is not your moment. You already have these tools, hopefully. These guiding principles are your compass. Your vision for your organization it’s compelling, it’s aspirational. There’s a contrast from where you are now as an organization, to where you might be in the future with the resources to move forward. It connects to your value as a nonprofit, where you fit in the landscape. Values, another tool, shared values, not your personal values, but our articulated set of shared values in your nonprofit.
These are your rudders when faced with crisis, opportunity, or ambiguity. Again, in April 2020, I was working with two organizations in particular, who had just finished articulating their values as part of their strategic planning process. They knew what to do. I don’t mean they knew exactly what to do, but they knew what their filter was, their decision was, is they fell back on their values and mission. Your mission is your contemporary relevance, and your accountability. These are your tools that will help you know how to react in your moment. As a team, I’m encouraging you to think about the opportunities for growth and mission or giving or need. This is what you do not compromise on as you think about your guiding principles, but people, how does it affect the mission? Is this an opportunity for your nonprofit to step into and deliver more for the people? Is there need increasing, how are your donors and funders feeling about this moment? Is this an opportunity for you to connect with them and build from that?
I think as fundraisers, we operate in the intersection of all these pieces. I know we’ve probably been trained to think we’re about the donors and the funders. I’m saying we’re about the donors and the funders, we’re about our nonprofit, the mission and we’re about the impact on people. This will help guide us to the future in this moment. What has happened to our people, our nonprofit, our donors and funders, and how can we build from that.
Okay, so let me do a case study, and let’s talk together about that. Here’s an organization where their mission and purpose is ensuring that low-income homeowners have safe and healthy homes and they use primarily volunteer resources to do that. Now, here is their value. Remember I mentioned nonprofit’s value a couple of times. This is not necessarily your mission. It’s what you bring to the table. In this case, expertise and designing and executing high-impact projects that center homeowners while providing a meaningful volunteer experience and meeting the needs of partners and sponsors, so it’s very layered.
I’m going to run through several scenarios with you about how this organization has leveraged a moment of change and has grown because of that. Some underlying fundraising strategies for each, are building loyalty in donors, informing the donors, so they feel knowledgeable, and then engaging them. These to me are key fundraising strategies and almost any situation separate from the tactics, but the underlying strategies.
Scenario one, anticipate. We’re going back to planning as if. In this case, the nonprofit was a program of a university and people graduated. They created a nonprofit that was regional. They had to build past their typical donors that had been supporting them year after year and make a case for why they’re a regional nonprofit. The strategic goal, as I’ve described it, is scaling up, is building. How did they do that? They did peer-to-peer outreach. They raised the profile that introduce new donors and new funders. They established themselves as a regional organization.
Now, I’m talking both the program side, but for us, for the fundraisers, I’m saying as a fundraiser this is what you need to do to have people understand and match the perception of the organization to the reality of this growing organization. Here is where your CRM, for example, might be a really helpful tool, because it’s truly a relationship management tool. Who knows who? This will feed your peer-to-peer outreach. How can we track the people? How can we organize the people that we’re collecting rapidly as we build the base for this nonprofit?
Another scenario later on, and we can anticipate this. We know that eventually, the executive director might retire, so plan as if. I always think about how this nonprofit works so hard to have consistent messaging, frequent messaging. I don’t mean daily, I mean, periodic consistent reinforcement of what an organization is about. Throughout, they lifted up the executive director as the face of the organization. They understood the connections, the people who were connected to that executive director, they kept track of that. They knew the relationships. When the executive director retired, they were poised to make hay from this moment, right?
This goal in this case was reinforcing the community and credibility of the nonprofit. Again, it’s building but it’s building in a different sense. Conducting an endowment campaign for the beloved part of the organization that the ED really supported and really championed. That really facilitated, collecting tributes and memories and deepening the connection again between the donor, the funder, and the nonprofit organization.
Think of it as a consistent storytelling, in ways that can be internalized and people can repeat to others so they become your ambassadors, or part of your ambassador pool, which takes me to the next scenario. This is jump. This is the opportunity. This is the moment of innovation or something just that you had never this wonderful opportunity, you would never expected. In this case, this organization was an affiliate of a national organization and had the benefit of, because of that connection, the national organization would call and say, XTV show, or TV network wants to do a project, or X multi-national brand wants to do a project.
Back in the early days of online voting, both of those things happened more than once, and they never give you quite enough time to truly be prepared about that. You’ve never done it before. It is really jumping. It is really being courageous. I think as fundraisers, we can really think about how to invite people to this moment, how to engage, and have them co-create. In this case, we created a system of ambassadors. That was my segue.
It wasn’t just the board or staff reaching out to people to drum up support for online voting, which needed to be daily in many ways over a six-week time period. We created, I think it was 50 or so ambassadors. They used their network and they used their network. I’m happy to say that we won the $50,000 that was one of a few organizations that were eligible for that. Enlisting ambassadors to build that sense of ownership was where this comes into play. When I say we won, I mean we won, the ambassadors said we won. They had ownership.
They opened the doors to engagement, so when it came time to do the project, we had volunteers lined up for days. We had so many opportunities to connect people, to build the relationships, to introduce people to the work that we’ve done. That’s important to be able to turn to your base quickly and have them be part of that journey with you. We were making this up as we went along, really important.
Then there’s the pivot. Both of those scenarios were opportunities. This pivot is a challenge, which I want us to turn into an opportunity. The example is a natural disaster. Unfortunately, there seems to be a natural disaster that happens frequently, sometimes close to home, sometimes it affects our people. A couple of cases here, the volunteers from this organization were supportive of other communities. Go back to that value. Expertise and designing and executing high-impact projects that center homeowners’, meaningful volunteer experience and meet the needs of partners and sponsors.
That is hugely valuable, especially in a time of crisis because natural disaster have to act quickly, need to be there to help people feel safe, safe and healthy homes, and to rebuild. Being able to mobilize with one of the tools that you can use as a fundraiser to help people mobilize. Tools to share real-time progress and raising money, because that shows people that they want to feel like they’re making a difference. How can we show them that they’re making a difference, their contributions? Tools to communicate frequently in a cost-effective manner. Lots of information, lots of engagement.
It’s all supporting that strategy, those underlying strategies of loyalty, to be informed, to have the donors be informed, your volunteers turned into donors to be informed, and to be engaged. Opportunities to be engaged, reinforcing them. Now we’re talking about how to really leverage and manage that growth. There’s several dimensions here, but I really wanted to frame out for you, and to have you ask some provocative questions of yourself, your team, and your nonprofit as a whole. I’ll start at the upper left here because it comes down to program.
How are we measuring the missional impact or effectiveness of our work? I don’t just mean quantifiable measures, there are some things that can be quantified. There are many more things that really rely on qualitative measures. That’s important. I’m not saying it can be precise entirely. I’m saying we want to know whether or not we’re moving in the right direction, and we want to be able to communicate that to our donors.
Now, I’ll go to the right here, workforce. Our staff and volunteer capacity and skills aligned with our new workload. Again, I’m thinking of this from a fundraising perspective. In the stories that I was telling you about this nonprofit, we had a challenge, it was a small step, it started as a teeny organization, just the volume of support and interactions affected what we needed in order to support those new relationships. In some cases, volunteers might be appropriate to helping that. In many cases, it might affect the number of staff people or the kinds of roles your staff people undertake. If you’re really going to leverage this moment, and it’s really moments, can you also figure out how to lay the groundwork to manage the growth as well. Aligning the skills and capacity of staff and volunteers with that workload?
Board of Directors. I heard the tail end of the keynote, and there was a question about board of directors. This is the group that is your governing body, and also your primary ambassadors. How might we equip the board for greater ambassadorship? Yes, that leads to fundraising. My first question is, can we help the board members, be equipped, be confident in telling the story of our nonprofit? Do they know the value of the nonprofit? Do they know it cold? Can they relate that to others in a way that invites others to participate? Board of directors, very key, obviously in fundraising, but plan for this. Plan to build and have them practice along the way, so when the moment comes, that big moment, they’re ready.
Now I’m going to go over to financial. How might the changes in transactions or donor restrictions affect our systems and security? Now, hopefully, you connected with your financial person, just like you’ve connected with your program person, and you really are working as a team on this. I’m asking questions that I want you to ask yourself and your team members to anticipate. I don’t want you to be flat-footed. I don’t want you to say, “Oh, we can’t even acknowledge our donors properly, because we’re not prepared for that.” Or, “We have this influx of support, but our systems aren’t very secure.” Or, “Our database isn’t set up properly, we have this database that someone created for us out of Excel.” I want you to have the tools in place and to anticipate growth as you embrace those tools.
Data is a huge one. What tech and training can enhance our ability to collect track reports, steward, and analyze data? I also want to say here, there’s data that you need as a frontline fundraiser. Maybe you’re the chief advancement or fundraising officer in your nonprofit and I am a fan of maybe 20 different metrics, which I obsess over and wake up in the middle of the night and say, “How’s my donor retention doing?” Think about that data. Also, think about the data that you share with your development committee. Are you sharing the data that they need in order to do their job in leveraging the engagement of your board, in storytelling, in outreach, in fundraising?
Think about the level of data, the metrics that your board members need as a whole in order to make good decisions in support of fundraising. Where to invest resources. What are we expecting as an organization to know what is predictable in our fundraising? Contingent upon getting support, restricted or unrestricted. Think about the difference between the metrics that assess donor behavior and the metrics that assess the performance of the fundraisers.
The last piece here, I want to spend even a little bit more time on, its external communications. How can we capitalize on the moment to sharpen our messaging? Let me go back for a minute to these scenarios. I started to allude to this, I want to go back and reinforce it a little bit more. In the scenario about anticipate, the moment was going from a local program of a university, to a regional organization. What’s the messaging that really sharpens that, that gives the credibility of being a regional organization? We talked about not just being less Philly, but being Philadelphia, impacting the low-income communities of the region.
This is a time to clarify for people that kind of change in messaging, or the retiring Executive Director. I always think about the person who’s the face of the organization, sometimes it’s more than one, but I think about humanizing that person when I talk about the stories and having that person be the face, yet conveying the universal message. What do people relate to when they see the executive director who is speaking about the impact? Safe and healthy homes is a vision that came out over time. For years, we had a much more complicated vision, but each of us I think, can relate to that safe and healthy home. Give the ED the resources to mobilize the team of volunteers to help ensure that people have safe and healthy homes.
Jump, this moment of innovation. For me, that message that I really want to make sure that you convey is “The We.” I don’t mean to overinflate people’s role. I want you to reinforce that ownership, that each of us can be responsible for adding our piece. Whether it’s dollars, whether it’s brainpower, whether it’s muscle, but it’s a sort of sense of responsibility in the community, of the community that makes it “The We.” That I think is important. Then we think of pivot for me, the underlying message is the story of immediacy. Yes, a little bit of urgency, but I don’t want it to be melodramatic. I don’t want it to be opportunistic. I don’t want it to be dangerous. As fundraisers I want us to point toward that castle to the vision, not to the danger, while not ignoring the danger, but having it be affirmative messages and proof points. I come here to the slide to me that really underscores how important our role is as fundraisers. I think what we do is we telegraph what’s important through the messages that we share in our appeals, in our thank you letters, on the website, in our conversations with donors and prospects. Every time we interact, we’re telegraphing what’s important.
I think we can train them. I think over time, we can train donors to be loyal, to be informed, and to be engaged if we clarify what is needed to advance our missional outcomes. Let me just say a moment on loyalty, because I’m acknowledging some generational differences in the way that donors give. I’m of the age where I straddle probably more than one generation, and my parents, and my parents’ parents trained me to be the kind of donor where we find our organization and we stick with it. I’m very receptive to the relationship pyramid that depending on when you started as a fundraiser, is very close to your training here.
Moving someone up the pyramid, they start in X dollars, then can we get them to be middle dollar donors? Can we get them to be major or large dollar donors? Can we get them to be legacy donors, to make a plan gift? We think if we stick with them, and we give them the information they need, and we build a relationship, that will happen, and it will in many cases. Then we have the generations who are coming of age, or have been of age, where that’s not the way that they give. They might really support a cause more so, or first before an organization. They may come in and out of your organization. They may be actively engaged and involved, and then go away and do that with 10 other organizations.
I still think we can build loyalty. I still think we can be persistent in giving them the information and understanding and the stories they need to understand the missional outcomes that we’re going for. Engagement is always key. When people feel it, when they experience it, when they’re part of the community, when they’re part of either the issue or the opportunity, that can be more than compelling and cannot be replaced. Here are the beginnings of affirmative messaging that I want to call out here, and underlying this might be the proof points.
When I think of proof points in your organization, again, it goes back to the value of your nonprofit, but elements that you can lift up to explain the truth of what’s happening. I am not a fan, never was, and over the past decades it’s been underscored, I am not a fan of being performative, of fluffing up your stories, or hiding the negative. It doesn’t mean you have to shine a light on everything that’s wrong. It means acknowledge and then point people toward what that hope and opportunity is. Positioning. Maybe I’ll go clockwise here, up or right. This is the role we play in our ecosystem. To me, that beginning says so much. We know who we are, we’re going to tell you who we are, we have an understanding of the ecosystem, we’re going to share that with you to an extent and tell you where we fit in, tell you our value.
Shifts. This could be positive, or this could be negative. This is what we’ve learned. To me, that’s hugely compelling. Implied in there is that there’s a contrast that we’re different than before. Either we found a new path, or something imploded, and we have to carve out a new path, but this is what we’ve learned. Invite them in that learning. Credibility. Our partners say they’ve chosen us because. What a great opportunity. Even if there’s a natural disaster or a negative disruption, if we were able as an organization to step up and step into our role, and invited even to be part of that, that to me is gold. Our partners say they’ve chosen us because.
Criticality. I think of criticality is that, to me, is what speaks to those middle-dollar donors. Small-dollar donors, we have that message of be part of a community, every dollar counts, your dollar combined with others makes a difference. Large dollar donors also, they understand the contrast. If you give us this, these resources will help us move that way, and you have that hopefully ability to have those one on one conversations for large-dollar donors. Then let’s see if we can strengthen our message to the middle-dollar donors, that’s critical. Think about your nonprofit, the middle dollar donors are those that are critical to your annual operating budget.
You lose a donor in the middle, you lose enough donors in the middle, you feel that in your budget, and you need to make up for that in a different way than you feel it if it’s a large dollar donor. Think about the middle dollar donors, this opening now is the time to invest in. That’s when I think they start to surprise themselves, surprise us and themselves. Where they step up to another level in terms of dollars, but a deeper connection, and a deeper ability to have an effect on our growth and sustainability, and ability to deliver on missional outcomes.
Shared celebration. I alluded to that in the case study I shared earlier. Our community is stronger because we found the resources with your help to deliver on a major project. Our community is stronger because we rallied together, and we were able to do something that we couldn’t do as individuals. Our community is stronger because more people know about our organization than they did before. Powerful, it’s shared celebration.
Then the last one, I will say here, is clarity. Again, this could be a shift that is caused by an external force or an internal force, and people might not quite understand what’s happening, or maybe they they think that we’ve lost our way and that there might be some mission drift, but maybe they just didn’t quite understand our messaging. It could be lots of layers going on here. For me, I like the opening of our focus has always been and then you zero in on what you want them to remember.
It’s a way of shedding some things that you aren’t doing anymore, or shedding some things that maybe aren’t clear or were misperceptions, but it’s affirmative, and you fill in the rest of that with your proof point. I leave you with where I started. I will entertain questions, but just as I finish this present presentation, think about how to thrive, not just survive, and think of these mindsets. Think about anticipating, planning as if, expect the unexpected. Even if it’s not specific, something is going to happen. Can you plan ahead, prepare, have that folder ready to open up, and move forward on, to build, to scale, to engage?
Pivot. What is the learning that your group your community, including your donors can learn from from these issues, from the dissonance, from the problems? How can we be stronger together so that we thrive together. Then jump? Opportunity is not a lengthy visitor, so be prepared to be courageous, be prepared to embrace, to welcome, to leverage change. Lori, are there any questions?
Lori: We do have some questions, yes. Let’s pull these up. The first question we had was in the light of change, do you ever refine your mission or does the mission remain, and the tactics are the elements that change?
Jennifer: I’ll maybe answer that in a couple of ways. I think that the mission, vision and values should be enduring, and that a moment of change shouldn’t change your mission, vision, and values. However, your organization is evolving hopefully, and the world around us is evolving. I think of a strategic planning process every three to five years, are great opportunities to look back on that mission and see if it needs to be refreshed. Sometimes the mission doesn’t change, but the mission statement changes. I don’t want someone’s mission to change because of a moment, because of a moment of change.
Lori: Next question is, what metrics do you find most useful to measure fundraising success, or use as indicators for when it is time to pivot?
Jennifer: Okay. I’ll go back to, maybe I’ll give one for each of those layers. At the board level annual growth rate is an obvious one to look at. How has your contributed income, let’s just focus on that, grown over time? What is the trend? And let me say, it’s not always up is good, down is bad. Think about what was planned and what was expected, but be mindful of what that is and have an understanding and make sure your board understands what are the factors that go into that. I also want board members to really think about what they can do. I want you as a fundraiser to lift up the metrics that talk about their engagement participation, and what they can do differently. Yes, board giving is one piece.
Again, not always bigger is better, because I’m hoping that you’re thinking of a diversified board. I believe still in 100% participation, personal participation, having a wide range of dollar amounts. Also think about a metric where it’s donor touches. Board member to donor or prospect touches, or outreach. You’re underscoring their activity, their effort in being outward facing. I wouldn’t count the dollars that they’ve raised, because I think that that will boomerang on you, but think about those donor touches.
On a development committee level, I think about the predictability, the degree to which you can anticipate the predictability of funding streams. Because there’s cycles in some cases, especially with grants. Planning ahead having that long term focus of, “Okay, we’re going to lose this funding for a little while. Have we built up enough diversification of other funding sources so we can weather that from that phase to the other phase.
Also again, thinking about engagement, volunteer engagement, and measuring those. Now on a staff level, that’s where I think about, and the part of the question was when to pivot? I think about the donor behavior in that, but I think it’s about understanding how and why the donors might have changed their behavior. Pivoting will come into play if you look more at the micro level about the particular appeals that you’ve sent out. Is it about changing the timing? Is it about changing the messaging? How does that compare to last year? Have we done the same kinds of things?
If you look at your metrics around events, and no one who enjoys a good event is going to have the first inclination to say, stop doing that event, because it’s fun, if you do it right it’s fun. You as a fundraiser need to really add up all of those dollars and say, if this is supposed to be a fundraising event, are we actually netting dollars in a significant way? If you count up, include all of the expenses. Now, there’s value in having events in other senses. Introducing people to the organization, engaging people. Just don’t– What’s the word I’m looking for? Don’t think that you are raising net dollars yet. If you added up all of the dollars, you really are just pulling off a really expensive fun event.
If you have your annual analysis on all of those levels, and I actually think it’s really helpful to have the board, the development committee and staff analysis, because they’re different themes for each. You do that over time, year after year. That’s when you might begin to say, oh wait, there’s a lot of variation here. This is a variance. Why is this here? Is it time to pivot? Is it time to keep stop, start. Is it time to get rid of that beloved event or beloved appeal, because we just like it, but it’s not being effective. Did I answer the question, Lori? Do you think?
Lori: I think so. Especially the fact that you covered so many levels. It doesn’t matter the angle that you look at it. There’s just so many variations. Let see. We have, how important do you feel having and gathering generational data is to learn about your prospects and donors?
Jennifer: Well, I love data, and I love collecting data as long as we really think about how we interpret that data. If you can collect as much information as possible about your donors, about your volunteers, about your supporters, that’s good information. Whether or not people are as willing to give that information either directly or indirectly is another case. The demographic or identity data try perhaps, but it may not happen. I also think it’s really just something that helps you, but it shouldn’t be completely driving your interpretation.
Think about how you can use the data to invite people, to have a meaningful conversation. Maybe your database is coded in a way that you can say, I want everyone from 25 to 35, I want to segment them. Maybe you have a way of doing that either a heuristic or a direct way and invite them to a gathering or focus group. Then that’s the beginning. Have the conversation say, okay, I want to learn about you. I want to know what you think about others who might be your peers. I love the data. I love collecting the data. Interpret in a way that puts meaning behind that data and isn’t just a spreadsheet.
Lori: It sounds like what we talk about when we work with users of DonorPerfect, because of course, DonorPerfect is one of those products where you can start adding fields or sections for data that you know you want to collect or add in there. I always make sure that they have an understanding that if it’s data that they want to add, it’s something that they’ll actually going to use. They have a need for it and use it towards something, as opposed to it being a nice to have. It’s more of a have to have than just nice. Wouldn’t that be nice to have that in there? You don’t want to make more work for yourself. You want to use the data that you’re you’re gathering. Like you have mentioned, ways that you’re going to measure that data and then what you can do with it.
Jennifer: Yes. To have the data, but then get your nose out of it so that it’s useful. Then taking it a different way, you asked a generational question, but I’m going to add something that also might help with understanding a different way of looking at the data and thinking about plan giving donors or plan giving prospects. The research will lead you to an understanding that it’s not necessarily the large dollar donor, it could be, but not necessarily, or the old, and old means older than me, young means younger than me, just so you know where my thing is.
It’s often the donor who’s the loyal donor, who’s the consistent donor, who might have been giving that $100 a year for the past 25 years. To maybe look at your data in a way that helps lift that up and say, “Let me see if we can have some conversations with these folks as individuals or as groups and invite them to think about how they might make a longer-term, more permanent commitment to the organization.”
Really the database is such a wealth of information if you know how to use it, if you use it, not just collecting information, but thinking of different ways, both who is in there and who isn’t in the database and why aren’t this group, this group, and that group in our database? What is that? How does that tell us? Where does that lead us? That might go back to the other question about pivoting. If you don’t have a particular group or groups, maybe it is time to pivot and figure out why and see if you can connect those donors to your organization.
Lori: I think you answered the question [inaudible 00:51:47] even. I love that your responses have multiple ways of looking at things, and you’re covering each aspect of the questions they’re asking. We do have another question that says, “Can you please upload the planning for growth setting PDF file again? The existing one is throwing an error.” She threw that into the Q&A, and that’s fine. Just so you all know, I am tracking it down, we are working on it. We will have something uploaded.
If I can, what I will do is make sure that another copy goes into the help and resource center that you can find under the exhibitors. We have some stuff that you can download from up there, but in case you can’t get back here, we’ll add it there just to make sure that everyone gets ahold of it. I think that’s our issue. Doesn’t have anything to do with you. It’s loaded up there wrong, or it’s not opening or something, I don’t know the whole issue.
Let me go back into the chat and see if there’s anything else in there. Let me see. No, still isn’t properly downloading. That’s where we are. Million-dollar donors, such a great segment. If you have interest in learning more about how DP can help you with the segment, join us on July 12th from 1:00 to 3:00. We’re having a workshop. I didn’t mean to plug that. I just started reading. I’m like, “Wait, no, she’s mentioning our workshop.”
That’s going to be another handout that is up in our help and resource center. There is the listing and the schedules for the workshops that we’re having after this. We’re going to be having– Jennifer, I don’t know if you knew we had. They’re just workshops to our workshops we’re doing. The trainers are handling over the next four months, one a month after this. It’s going to continue the conversation.
Jennifer: Well, that’s great. I think it is great to continue the conversation and to figure out what tools there are in order to go forward. I started as a fundraiser in 1987 when the tools that are available now weren’t even in many ways just even conceived of. I really encourage fundraisers who are starting in the career, or maybe they’ve been around for a while but to investigate the current tools, to investigate how to make your job easier. I’m not saying you still are going to have to put in the time, but to make your job easier, to understand your donors, understand the relationships, understand your prospects even.
The example I gave was a volunteer organization. How you can understand what motivates them and convert some or many of them into being donors, into being ambassadors. A lot the tools that you have as their DonorPerfect, or Constant Contact are just so essential to making that much more powerful, your outreach much more powerful. I love that the conversation continues and then people can delve deeper in certain areas and then know what resources are available to them.
Lori: Most definitely. Oh, hang on. Is there another question up there? I just saw it turn red. Unless something was upvoted. It shows up. Oh, no. People are putting stuff in the counter. All right. That’s still the handout, we’ll take care of that. All right. I’m not seeing any other questions that have come through. I think that’s all we have for today. Let me see what I have here. I think that’s everything. For those of you who have joined us and are still here, I appreciate you joining our session this afternoon. Jennifer, thank you so much for spending some time with us. Being able to present in this manner and give them such insightful information is certainly much appreciated.
Jennifer: You’re very, very welcome. Thank you.
Lori: Next up is our first power session on fundraising goals, and tracking growth, and we also have social media campaigns for donor acquisition from social to CRM. Again, I know it’s two tracks, but everything is being recorded. You will have access to all of the content. I hope to see you all shortly. You guys can exit out of here and jump into that session in a few minutes. All right. Thank you so much.
Jennifer: Thank you, Lori. It flew by.
Lori: It did. Was very fast.
Jennifer: Okay, but it was okay, you think? Is there anything I should have said that I can–Read Less