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“BUILDING STRONGER DONOR
RELATIONS SYSTEMS”
Colin D. Cumming, M.P.A.
Annual Funds Manager
Frederik Meijer Gardens & Sculpt...
WHAT DO I DO? WHAT HAVE I DONE?
1. I’m currently the Annual Funds
Manager at Meijer Gardens
2. I’ve been working as a
fund...
LEARNING OBJECTIVES
1. Understand donor relations and
fundraising from a historical
perspective
2. Understand how to integ...
HISTORY OF NONPROFIT
FUNDRAISING: WHERE IT HAS BEEN
WHERE IT HAS BEEN: WHAT WE KNOW
•Over the last two decades, the number of nonprofits has grown
exponentially.
•In order to...
WHERE IT IS: 2016 FUNDRAISING
EFFECTIVENESS REPORT
KEY FINDINGS AND WHAT THEY TELL US
•Nonprofits with annual revenues of $500,000 have
seen a 10.7% increase in what they ra...
WHERE IT IS GOING: DONOR LOVE
WHERE IT IS GOING
•“Triggered email can deepen
your relationships with online
donors” – Future Fundraising
Now
•“The Futur...
RETENTION = $$$
BEYOND $$$
1. There is a dollar amount attached to treating your donors well.
2. Donor relations and retention allow for s...
BEST PRACTICES IN FUNDRAISING
AND DONOR RELATIONS
WHAT ARE DONOR RELATIONS?
­ “Donor relations is the comprehensive
effort of any nonprofit that seeks
philanthropic support...
ACKNOWLEDGEMENTS
I. It must be prompt
II. It must reference the
campaign, fund, appeal
to which the donor gave
III.It must...
DEMONSTRATING IMPACT
•Print newsletters
•E-blasts
•Send an introduction
video
•Send a personal email
with a testimonial
•I...
DONOR COMMUNICATIONS AND AUTHENTIC
‘TOUCHES’: HOW MUCH IS TOO MUCH? TOO LITTLE?
•“As cultivation strategies, printed mater...
EXAMPLE: HUMAN SERVICE AGENCY WITH TWO DIRECT
MAILINGS A YEAR: ONE IN DECEMBER; ANOTHER IN JUNE
Dec: Thank
you letter
Jan:...
RECOGNITION
o Donor Wall
o Campaign Signage
o Special Events
o Swag
• Magnets, coffee cups, bags,
photographs, postcards, ...
DONOR CENTRIC REPORTING
1. Giving Pyramid Report
2. Consecutive Donor Report
3. First-Time Donor Report
4. Donor Retention...
MAXIMIZE YOUR DONOR DATABASE
WHAT CAN THIS LOOK LIKE?
SOCIAL MEDIA
STEWARDSHIP
YOU ARE NOT ALONE
•Board of Directors
•Communications staff are
‘copy’ masters.
•Program staff often have
the best stories...
DONORS RELATIONS DEMONSTRATED
ACKNOWLEDGEMENTS
What the letter does well:
1. Immediately thanks me for
making a gift
2. Links the gift to me personally
3. References Jam...
What the letter does well:
1. Thanks me immediately
2. Addresses the type of gift
that I made and how it will be
processed...
Nothing beats a personal note!
DEMONSTRATING IMPACT
RECOGNIZING DONORS
CREATING A SENSE OF COMMUNITY
HALL OF SHAME
THE DONOR RELATIONS MINDSET
1. Thanking every single gift
beyond an acknowledgement
2. Signing every thank you
letter pers...
MEMBERSHIP BASED ORGANIZATIONS
MEMBERSHIP BASED ORGANIZATIONS: THE
DIFFERENCE, THE CHALLENGE, AND THE OPPORTUNITY
•With membership, there are usually tan...
ARTS AND CULTURAL
ORGANIZATIONS
ARTS AND CULTURAL ORGANIZATIONS MATTER
•We aren’t housing the homeless.
•Arts often make divisive social commentaries
•The...
IN CLOSING…
•You’re doing a good job!
•What matters more: money
or time? Something else
entirely?
•Let’s work ourselves ou...
RESOURCES
Local:
Association of Fundraising Professionals West Michigan (AFPWM); Young Nonprofit
Professionals Network of ...
QUESTIONS? COMMENTS?
CONCERNS?
Email: cummi165@msu.edu
Phone: (248) 705-6172
Twitter: @ColinCumming
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Building Stronger Donor Relations Systems

In recent years, phrases like “culture of philanthropy” and “donor centricity” have hit the field by storm, often with budget-breaking strategies for implementation and little information about where to start when one may not be a decision-maker. Thus at the Johnson Center for Philanthropy's Brown Bag Lunch & Learn Series, I facilitated a discussion about the importance of donor relations when it comes to long-term fundraising success and ethical fundraising practices. I also talked about the role of fundraising in the context of arts and cultural organizations.

The goal of the event was for participants to walk away with easy to understand ideas for their own organizations and volunteer roles. I discussed: Donor relations and fundraising from a historical perspective; How to integrate engaging donor relations practices into your fundraising program; Fund development challenges specific to membership-based organizations, arts and cultural organizations, and organizations that frequently request general operating funds.

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Building Stronger Donor Relations Systems

  1. 1. “BUILDING STRONGER DONOR RELATIONS SYSTEMS” Colin D. Cumming, M.P.A. Annual Funds Manager Frederik Meijer Gardens & Sculpture Park Brown Bag Lunch & Learn Series August 31, 2016
  2. 2. WHAT DO I DO? WHAT HAVE I DONE? 1. I’m currently the Annual Funds Manager at Meijer Gardens 2. I’ve been working as a fundraiser for over three years 3. Along the way, I’ve taken the time to get to know donor relations 4. “Donor-Centricity,” “Culture of Philanthropy,” “Relationship Fundraising.”
  3. 3. LEARNING OBJECTIVES 1. Understand donor relations and fundraising from a historical perspective 2. Understand how to integrate engaging and authentic donor relations practices into your fundraising program 3. Understand Fund Development challenges and opportunities specific to Membership-based organizations and arts and cultural organizations
  4. 4. HISTORY OF NONPROFIT FUNDRAISING: WHERE IT HAS BEEN
  5. 5. WHERE IT HAS BEEN: WHAT WE KNOW •Over the last two decades, the number of nonprofits has grown exponentially. •In order to be successful in fundraising, we have to acquire new donors. •Individual donors are motivated to give for a wide variety of reasons. •Donors give relative to their means. •Fundraising is not about raising money.
  6. 6. WHERE IT IS: 2016 FUNDRAISING EFFECTIVENESS REPORT
  7. 7. KEY FINDINGS AND WHAT THEY TELL US •Nonprofits with annual revenues of $500,000 have seen a 10.7% increase in what they raised. •79% of increased revenues came from news donors. •The retention rate of new donors is 29%. •Something is causing donors to not make a second gift to an organization they once deemed worthy.
  8. 8. WHERE IT IS GOING: DONOR LOVE
  9. 9. WHERE IT IS GOING •“Triggered email can deepen your relationships with online donors” – Future Fundraising Now •“The Future of Fundraising Is Peer-to-Peer” – Philanthropy News Digest •“Does Your Nonprofit Need A ‘Chief Customer Officer’?” – the Agitator
  10. 10. RETENTION = $$$
  11. 11. BEYOND $$$ 1. There is a dollar amount attached to treating your donors well. 2. Donor relations and retention allow for steady and predictable growth. 3. As nonprofits we have a commitment to represent the communities that we serve. 4. Once a donor hasn’t given for three years, their likelihood to give again slips to 2%.
  12. 12. BEST PRACTICES IN FUNDRAISING AND DONOR RELATIONS
  13. 13. WHAT ARE DONOR RELATIONS? ­ “Donor relations is the comprehensive effort of any nonprofit that seeks philanthropic support to ensure that donors experience high-quality interactions with the organization that foster long-term engagement and investment.” (Association of Donor Relations Professionals) ­ Many nonprofits work with one, two, or no full-time staff dedicated solely to fund development.
  14. 14. ACKNOWLEDGEMENTS I. It must be prompt II. It must reference the campaign, fund, appeal to which the donor gave III.It must be personal IV.It must contain accurate information V. It must meet IRS standards
  15. 15. DEMONSTRATING IMPACT •Print newsletters •E-blasts •Send an introduction video •Send a personal email with a testimonial •Impact Report •Annual Report
  16. 16. DONOR COMMUNICATIONS AND AUTHENTIC ‘TOUCHES’: HOW MUCH IS TOO MUCH? TOO LITTLE? •“As cultivation strategies, printed materials, and mailings are never enough. Personal contact is needed.”– Stanley Weinstein , ACFRE •The general rule of thumb is that there should be 7 touches for every gift made •What is your ratio? Does is vary among constituents?
  17. 17. EXAMPLE: HUMAN SERVICE AGENCY WITH TWO DIRECT MAILINGS A YEAR: ONE IN DECEMBER; ANOTHER IN JUNE Dec: Thank you letter Jan: Monthly e- newsletter Feb: Thank you phone call March: Monthly e- newsletter April: Annual report April: Monthly e- newsletter May: Print newsletter June: Ask
  18. 18. RECOGNITION o Donor Wall o Campaign Signage o Special Events o Swag • Magnets, coffee cups, bags, photographs, postcards, etc. o Online Honor Rolls and Digital Signage o Honor/Memorial Program
  19. 19. DONOR CENTRIC REPORTING 1. Giving Pyramid Report 2. Consecutive Donor Report 3. First-Time Donor Report 4. Donor Retention Report 5. Donor Giving Channel Report 6. Lapsed Donor Reacquire Report 7. Donor Increase Report
  20. 20. MAXIMIZE YOUR DONOR DATABASE
  21. 21. WHAT CAN THIS LOOK LIKE?
  22. 22. SOCIAL MEDIA STEWARDSHIP
  23. 23. YOU ARE NOT ALONE •Board of Directors •Communications staff are ‘copy’ masters. •Program staff often have the best stories. •Volunteer managers often know more than most what motivates people to give.
  24. 24. DONORS RELATIONS DEMONSTRATED
  25. 25. ACKNOWLEDGEMENTS
  26. 26. What the letter does well: 1. Immediately thanks me for making a gift 2. Links the gift to me personally 3. References James Madison College and what it’s all about 4. Provides contact information for questions What may be missing: 1. Acknowledge me as a alumnus of James Madison college 2. Have a personal signature or note – we’ve shared a beer 3. Quality of letter
  27. 27. What the letter does well: 1. Thanks me immediately 2. Addresses the type of gift that I made and how it will be processed 3. Provides contact information 4. Provides live updates of what the fund is accomplishing right now What may be missing: 1. It was received well over a week after I made the gift 2. Offering to discontinue donations in the body of the letter.
  28. 28. Nothing beats a personal note!
  29. 29. DEMONSTRATING IMPACT
  30. 30. RECOGNIZING DONORS
  31. 31. CREATING A SENSE OF COMMUNITY
  32. 32. HALL OF SHAME
  33. 33. THE DONOR RELATIONS MINDSET 1. Thanking every single gift beyond an acknowledgement 2. Signing every thank you letter personally with a short note 3. In the pipeline: donor impact report, storytelling and sharing via email.
  34. 34. MEMBERSHIP BASED ORGANIZATIONS
  35. 35. MEMBERSHIP BASED ORGANIZATIONS: THE DIFFERENCE, THE CHALLENGE, AND THE OPPORTUNITY •With membership, there are usually tangible benefits involved. •Donors choose to be a part of an organization. •Donors can be solicited repeatedly. •The Membership team wants people to upgrade their due; The Fundraising staff wants people to contribute in addition to their membership dues. •Membership and development needs to work together. •There is advantage!
  36. 36. ARTS AND CULTURAL ORGANIZATIONS
  37. 37. ARTS AND CULTURAL ORGANIZATIONS MATTER •We aren’t housing the homeless. •Arts often make divisive social commentaries •The grass is always greener on the other side. •However, 3.2 percent, or $504 billion, of GDP in 2011 was attributable to arts and culture. •You don’t need to excuse your cause. •“For those who love them, the arts are not frivolous. They’re not extras or nice- to-have. They’re what gives life depth and meaning. They’re how people come together – to wrestle with big questions, to understand the human condition, to expand their worldview.” – Hands on Fundraising
  38. 38. IN CLOSING… •You’re doing a good job! •What matters more: money or time? Something else entirely? •Let’s work ourselves out of the job…kind of.
  39. 39. RESOURCES Local: Association of Fundraising Professionals West Michigan (AFPWM); Young Nonprofit Professionals Network of Grand Rapids (YNPNGR); The Johnson Center for Philanthropy at Grand Valley State University…of course. National: Association of Donor Relations Professionals (ADRP); the Council for Advancement and Support of Education (CASE); The Chronical of Philanthropy; Indiana University Lilly Family School of Philanthropy Excellent fundraising blogs: Donor Relations Guru; Veritus Group: Passionate Giving Blog; Certified Fund Raising Executives (CFRE): Leading Edge
  40. 40. QUESTIONS? COMMENTS? CONCERNS? Email: cummi165@msu.edu Phone: (248) 705-6172 Twitter: @ColinCumming

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In recent years, phrases like “culture of philanthropy” and “donor centricity” have hit the field by storm, often with budget-breaking strategies for implementation and little information about where to start when one may not be a decision-maker. Thus at the Johnson Center for Philanthropy's Brown Bag Lunch & Learn Series, I facilitated a discussion about the importance of donor relations when it comes to long-term fundraising success and ethical fundraising practices. I also talked about the role of fundraising in the context of arts and cultural organizations. The goal of the event was for participants to walk away with easy to understand ideas for their own organizations and volunteer roles. I discussed: Donor relations and fundraising from a historical perspective; How to integrate engaging donor relations practices into your fundraising program; Fund development challenges specific to membership-based organizations, arts and cultural organizations, and organizations that frequently request general operating funds.

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