Tag Archives: donor relations

GIVING SIGNALS: Clearly Defining Successful and Unsuccessful Donor Visits

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Feedback loops can be either positive or negative, causing things to quickly go from bad to worse or from good to great. Feedback loops can be applied to almost any kind of system—social, political, or economic—including nonprofit fund development systems. Over the last few years, a typical feedback loop at nonprofits is one that has led to the abandonment of quality donor communications, particularly person-to-person visits and actual conversations with donors. One thing has led to another, which has led to another, which turned into a vicious cycle. Continue reading

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LEADERSHIP CHALLENGE: Senior Development Executive’s Role in Evaluating Donor Visits

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Nonprofit leaders are very good at tracking past performance—each donor’s giving history and each fundraiser’s contribution to the budget. However, nonprofit leaders tend to be far less committed to consistently and carefully evaluating our ongoing donor visits. In other words, our evaluations are so focused on past performance that we’re usually not as good at identifying future giving signals in our ongoing conversations with individual donors. Two conversations illustrate my point. Continue reading

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THE LISTENING HABIT: The Donor’s Story and the Organizational Story

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Many companies are attempting to brand themselves as having a deeply embedded culture of listening. I really don’t know if these companies and their employees actually listen to their clients and constituents any better than their competitors or if the listening promotion is merely a marketing slogan. What I do know is this: In thousands of conversations with donors over the years, I have come to realize that often THE DONOR’S STORY is just as important as your organizational story. Occasionally, it is FAR MORE IMPORTANT. Continue reading

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THE PREPARATION HABIT: Making the Most of Your Donor Visits

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Building long-term donor relations is an acquired skill that’s perfected over time. You can’t just wander in and expect to be successful because you “really, really love people.” Nor can you build a successful career by simply working hard. If it were as simple as that, a lot more fundraisers would be a lot more successful. The truth is, there are communications, management, and organizational skills at every level that are just down right essential. Continue reading

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RULE OF RECIPROCITY: Exchanging the Currency of Philanthropy

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One of the most powerful social norms is the rule of reciprocity. When we receive gifts, favors, invitations, or random acts of kindness, it creates a very real sense of personal indebtedness—a felt-need to pay back the favor. If, however, receiving gifts creates such a strong feeling of personal indebtedness, then career fundraisers are on the unfortunate side of that equation. Below are several ways fundraisers use the “currency of philanthropy” to build genuine reciprocal relationships among major donors.

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WINNING TRADITIONS: Philosophy and Approach to Team Building

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I interact with a lot of fundraising executives representing institutions of all sizes and degrees of success—from the largest hospital network in the North America to small shops with two or three fundraisers. It would be a mistake to assume that very large organizations do all things very well while the very small always lack resources to implement a good fund development strategy. Sometimes it works that way; often it does not. When it comes to maximizing an organization’s funding potential, there seems to be little if any correlation between size and effectiveness. It has more to do with a consistent philosophy and leadership team along with clearly defined roles and responsibilities. Continue reading

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STRATEGIC PLAN FOR FUND DEVELOPMENT—PART ONE: From the Big Ideals to the Nitty-gritty Details

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Over the last two years, I’ve been asking organizational leaders privately and publically if they have a strategic plan specifically for the fund development aspect of their organization. At a recent conference, I put that question to over 700 fundraisers. Only three raised their hand. The lack of response to this very informal survey and my follow-up conversations seem to beg two questions: 1) Is a list of fundraising goals the same as a strategic plan for fund development and 2) what difference does it make? Continue reading

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