Last week was the 51
Annual International Conference of the Association of Professional
Fundraisers. The theme was
SHIFT as in
"shift your perspective and get a whole new focus on fundraising."
The conference truly
was international, with attendees from around the globe. London and Rome, Hong Kong and Japan, South
America and South Africa, Australia and Alaska, and many more!
Dozens of nonprofit thought
leaders including Tom Ahern, Penelope Burk, Simone Joyaux and Beth Kanter
shared ideas that inspired the nearly 3,000 of us fundraisers who were in attendance.
Here are a few
SHIFT #1: Stop talking about who you are and what you do.
How do you introduce
yourself? I bet you say "I'm Friendly
Fundraiser, and I work for A Great Nonprofit." Period. Maybe you add, "We're
based in Some Location and we serve Some Number of people."
Sure, who you are and
what you do is good to know. But what's
really important is WHY your organization does what it does...and WHY THAT
If you're not sure why
what you do matters, ask yourself "What would happen if my organization ceased
to exist tomorrow? Who would be
impacted? How would lives change?
Shout out to Tom Ahern for this donor-centered communications exercise.
SHIFT #2: Stop thinking about soliciting (fundraising) as
The easiest way to
raise more money? Connect with what's
already in your donors' hearts. Donald
Calne, a Canadian neurologist, coined the phrase "Emotion leads to
action." So, instead of "selling,"
focus on "telling."
Tell your donors
stories that are filled with emotion. Fear, anger, disgust, disappointment, sadness, happiness, hope,
promise. You get the idea.
Remember, most donors
want to help one person. So tell them a
story about someone they can help. Then tell them how their contribution will change that person's life for the better.
High net worth donors
(think Bill and Melinda Gates) and foundations want to solve larger
problems. Tell them the same story, add
the scale of the problem and the impact that their dollars will have. Tell these donors how LIVES will be changed with their financial support.
Hat tip to Stephen Pidgeon for sharing ways to match your message to your donors.
SHIFT #3: Stop saying "Thank you..."
No, I don't want you
to stop thanking your donors. I want you
change the way you say "thank you." Great gift stewardship works for all donors...and it will lead to renewed (and even increased) contributions.
Do you have different stewardship
levels for the different amounts of gifts you receive? You should. Every donor deserves a thoughtful (and timely!) thank you letter. A higher level donor should also get a
handwritten note or a phone call just to say thanks.
Remember that saying "thank
you" is just as important as making the "ask." Writing notes and making calls is a great way
to get your board members involved in your organization's fundraising.
Kudos to Sandy Rees for emphasizing donor segmentation as a retention strategy.
Send me a message and
tell me which of these "shifts" will inspire you to do things differently. I love hearing from you.
TIPS OF THE TRADE
Remember, there's more
to grant writing than just "writing." There's also more to fundraising than just
This month, I'm
sharing three presentations from the AFP International Conference. The slides are easy to understand, and their lessons will change how you think about fundraising.
Oh No, You Didn't! Real mistakes nonprofits make in
From About.me to Zillow. Using online tools and social
media in fundraising.
The Next Generation of American Giving. Matures, Boomers, Gen X
and Y, oh my!
Third Sector Consulting helps nonprofits find more funders and win more grants.
Send a message to start the conversation and learn how Laura can help you and your organization.