PLUGGING THE LEAKS: The True Impact of a 1% Increase in Your Donor Retention Rate

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Trying to fill a bucket that leaked as quickly as you could pour water into it would be a frustrating way to spend your day—or your career. That’s how many fundraising professionals feel when all the gains they make in donor acquisition are lost in the next year to donor attrition. Below is a summary of the Fundraising Effectiveness Project’s 2016 report along with a few of my own comments about strategy and the true impact of an increased donor retention rate. Continue reading

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CULTURE OF PHILANTHROPY: What Nonprofit Leaders Can Learn from the Industry-leading Customer-service Company

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Over the last few years, there’s been lot of discussion among organizational leaders about the culture of philanthropy. Many have asked, “How do we create a culture in which people will want to give to our organization?” The question, however, is fundamentally misdirected. What organizational leaders should be asking is, “How do we create a cultural of philanthropy within and among our own organizational staff and stakeholders?” Continue reading

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THE FAMILY STORY: Recognizing Our Opportunities for Legacy Gifts

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For ages on end, people have derived their sense of place and purpose in the context of multi-generational family stories. Unfortunately and for various reasons, fewer and fewer have that experience today. In this blog I talk about my 12-year involvement in the gatherings of one exceptional family of donors and about one important lesson for planned giving executives.  Continue reading

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TWO HURDLES: Overcoming Donors’ Greatest Anxieties with a Blended-gift Approach

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Before making any major or planned gift, donors have to answer key questions about inheritance strategy and their own financial sustainabilty. Concerns about leaving significant amounts of wealth to the next generation have always lurked in the back of donors’ minds. What we are seeing over the last few years is increasing donor anxiety over what they will need for the rest of their lives. Whether that is good news or bad news for planned giving has a lot to do with leadership philosophy and perspective. Continue reading

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BEATING THE ODDS: Five Donor-Relations Strategies That Impact Bequest Fulfillments

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In the previous blog I explained why the fulfillment rate of donor bequests was either good news or bad news, depending primarily on whether or not organizational leaders truly believe they can have a positive influence on revocable commitments. I want to finish my thoughts about bequest retention with a few practical suggestions on how the best fund-development departments beat the odds and prove that the negative statistics do not apply to them. Continue reading

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NONPROFIT BATTING AVERAGE: Increasing Your Organization’s Bequest Retention Rate

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The results of a twenty-year survey among donors with charitable gift commitments in their estate plans revealed that the retention rate at the ten-year mark was about 55%. In other words, almost half the respondents reported that they no longer had a charitable gift in their estate plans. Somewhere in that ten-year period they had revoked the revocable bequest. That survey constitutes either bad news or good news, depending on whether your organization has a progressive or regressive perspective. The follow post explains how and why. Continue reading

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THE FUTURE OF NONPROFIT NAVIGATION: Missing Data That Leads to Bad Decisions

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As an instrument-rated pilot with hundreds of hours in the cockpit, I understand the importance of focusing on data on my dashboard, particularly in stormy weather or when the way ahead is uncertain. When an inexperienced pilot gets into trouble, it usually begins with a single wrong assumption based on incomplete or incorrect interpretation of the instrument data. That’s followed by a series of bad decisions, each compounding the problem. I often see that same scenario repeated in nonprofit decision-making. Continue reading

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