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Article edited - 12 steps to get your organization to tomorrowDocument Transcript
May 25, 2010FundRaising Success12 Steps to Get Your Organization to TomorrowBy Joe BolandWhat if there were no new donors? That was the first question nonprofit veteran Roger Craver asked in hisfounder of DonorTrends and editor of TheAgitator.net, said that is the reality today — with declining acquisitionrates, rising acquisition costs, declining retention rates and declining income playing factors.The key, he said, is to act today like there will be no new donors tomorrow and stop looking for the silver bullet.“The real magic lies in the fact that we need to start loving our donors,” he proclaimed.In order to do just that, Craver outlined 12 steps to help your organization survive and thrive into the future.1. Focus on retention“There is nothing more important than working on keeping what we have,” Craver said. Fundraisers shouldknow their donors’ giving histories and tendencies, including their preferred channels of communications/giving,gift amounts, frequency, etc., and upgrade/downgrade accordingly.And of course, “every fundraiser worth his or her salt should know what the retention rate was five years ago,three years ago, now, and what it will be in the future — and what you’re going to do about it.”2. Focus on share of walletCraver stressed that retention is not enough; you must be aware of what he calls “mission competition.” Inother words, how much do your donors give to you compared to the other organizations they donate to? Thereare literally hundreds of thousands of nonprofits competing with you for your donors’ money. How do you fit inand compare? “Look to increase the share of giving to your organization,” Craver said. Use external tools suchas merge/purge reports, wealth screening reports, and applications like TrueGivers to learn this importantinformation.3. Develop and test hypothesesAsk questions about your organization — What is going wrong? What is going right? What’s happening to otherorganizations in my sector? Who’s doing better and why? — hypothesize why and test. See if what you think isworking actually is working, and discover areas to improve where things aren’t working.4. Invest in researchThe more you know about your donors and your organization, the better understanding you can have abouthow to bring in funds and foster loyalty. Study your most loyal donors to find out what makes them loyal.Conversely, dig deeper to see what you can learn from your least loyal donors. The more research you embarkon, the more you can learn about your mission, message, channels, acquisition sources, etc., to better optimizeyour programs.5. Re-examine your product“Look at how people describe what you do and how you describe what you do,” Craver said. Is there adisconnect there? If so, why? Ask yourself questions such as: Should we emphasize a different part of theorganization or program? A new initiative to better compete with others? Are we still relevant? Is there newcompetition? Find ways to connect with donors and stay top of mind.6. Test your messageAny good fundraiser knows testing is essential — don’t let the economy prevent you from continuing this bestpractice. Test alternate messages, images, spokespersons/signers, premiums, positioning, etc. Craversuggested multivariate testing because it is fast, accurate and inexpensive. Also, he pointed out, “Almost 85percent of people that join an organization do research online before giving,” so test your onlinecommunications as well.7. Revisit prospecting tacticsThe timing, channel, audience may be slightly different than before. Test new prospecting techniques, andmake adjustments accordingly. Also, be aware of changing demographics. “Involvement is important,” Craversaid. “The end of the baby boom generation and all of Gen X and Gen Y — this involvement and ability to domore than just give money is important.” This generation of donors wants a larger say and more transparencyin where their dollars are going, and they want to be a part of the mission, not just funders.8. Identify and activate your missionariesCraver put forth these statistics: 84 percent of all donors prefer to be solicited by folks they know, and 20percent of most donor databases comprise missionaries/recruiters, i.e., donors who want to and enjoy