Monday, March 31, 2008

Planning Advice to Development Officers When Making a Major Gift Call with Board Members and Volunteers

Recently I was asked to answers questions about how development staff can prepare Board Members and other volunteers to make solicitation calls with them for an article in the Major Gifts Report published by Stevenson, Inc. When I received my copy in the mail I was surprised to see that the article was the front page featured article. Stevenson has granted permission to reprint the article and it is posted here in its entirety.

The article has a different slant than most of my posts and so you need to understand its lens. This is advice for a development officer in preparing a Board Member to make a Major Gift call.

Prepare Board Members, Volunteers for Team Solicitations
Before asking board members or other volunteers to participate in donor solicitation calls, know the roles everyone will play says Marion Conway, principal, Marion Conway Consulting (Verona, NJ).

“Does the Board Member represent the link to the potential donor as a friend, business associate or alumni of same college or does the Board Member just represent an added representative from the organization?” Conway says. “Their role may be different depending on their existing relationship with the potential donor.”

In either case, board members/volunteers should share with the prospect their connection with the organization and passion for its mission, their personal relationship with its work and events, how it benefits their family and community.

Discussing major goals of the strategic planning and the vision for the organization’s future is also valuable and appropriate, Conway says.

Meet in advance of the solicitation call to discuss these roles so there are no surprises at the call she says. Cover the type of questions they will answer, and which questions you will handle: “For example, if you have developed a list of program options that the donor might support, the board member or volunteer may help figure out which options are most likely to appeal to the donor.”

If the board member/volunteer has a personal relationship with the potential donor, it is appropriate for him or her to make the ask, says Conway, because it can be done in an informal and personal way. “If the board member/volunteer does not have a personal relationship with the donor, it is better for you to make the ask. In either case you should know what the specific ask will be.

This article is being reprinted from The Major Gifts Report with the permission of Stevenson, Inc. To receive a free sample issue, simply call, write, or fax your request to: Stevenson, Inc., P.O. Box 4528, Sioux City, IA 51104. Phone (712) 239-3010. Fax (712) 239-2166.
Marion Conway Consulting

Tuesday, March 25, 2008

The Wired Wealthy and Online Giving - A New Study Provides a Fresh Analysis

Whenever I write about anything related to fundraising I always begin with the disclaimer that I am NOT a fundraising consultant. However, I do blog about online giving in particular because I see it to be an important and growing trend that many nonprofits have not effectively tapped into. Today's Chronicle of Philanthropy reports on results of an interesting study of wealthy people giving online.

This post summarizes the results of this survey of over 3400 donors who had made gifts of at least $1,000 to a single cause in the past 18 months and donated an average of more than $10,896 per year to charities. 64% of the donors were age 45 to 64, and 57% had incomes of at least $100,000. 23 nonprofits participated by providing contact information for the study.

Here are some highlights of the results:
81% had made an online donation
51% preferred donating online
46% expect to increase the percentage of their giving online

56% say they get too many emails from charities
92% like getting year-end tax receipts by e-mail
83% want to get electronic updates on a charity’s finances and spending
81% dislike messages that take an urgent tone in seeking a repeat donation

The study put people into categories: Relationship Seekers, All-Business, and Casual Connectors. Although all groups are well educated, have good incomes and use the Internet for purchases, banking and other important transactions, their needs and what they respond to is very different.

Relationship seekers want to have a way to be emotionally connected to your organization. They will look for that emotional connection on your website and are much more likely to view a video than those in other groups.

The All-Business group is interested in a well organized website with an easy donation on line process and recognition. They like getting a tax receipt online at year end. They are not interested in reading all the interesting stuff on your website.

The Casual Connectors group is in the middle. They would like to get a thank you and annual report via email. They may do some research other than your website about your organization but they are not really emotionally connected and not really interested in monthly emails.

Another interesting finding - Most online givers thought of the process as efficient for them and for the nonprofit. They are not bothered at all by the 4-5% processing fee. People like to get the donation done when it is fresh in their mind. These givers also noted the benefit in rewards on credit cards as a plus over writing a check.

There is an important lesson to be learned here in addition to "Isn't this an interesting set of statistics?" It may be a good idea to tailor communication with large online donors according to their interests. Some smaller nonprofits I know obsess over written communications with donors who make $1000+ donations. They think it is important that the thank you be hand addressed and never use a label. They may include a hand written note in addition to the typed formal thank you. But we all seem to think that when it comes to email one size fits all is all right.

Why not provide an email thank you with a brief survey and find out what the $1000+ online donors want from you via email - Monthly newsletter, event notices, annual report, tax receipt, etc. Then tailor you correspondence with your online donors to meet their needs. Hmmmmm.....Just a thought.......

Click here for more through for a copy of the full report.
The Chronicle of Philanthropy

Marion Conway Consulting

Saturday, March 15, 2008

Marion Accepted in Kellogg College of Consultants and Other Nonprofit Consultant Resources

Kellogg Action Lab College of Consultants
I am proud to announce that Marion Conway Consulting has been included in the Kellogg Action Lab College of Consultants initiative. The Kellogg Foundation is an important grantor to nonprofits nationwide and overseas. Nonprofits in the program now have access to capacity building resources provided by consultants in the College. The project is managed by the Fieldstone Alliance and the Nonprofit Finance Fund, and consultants are carefully screened prior to being included in the program.

Charity Channel
Charity Channel has just launched a major new inititative and upgrade of their site. Today, I completed my listing on their new Consultant Registry. This is a good place to check out if you are looking for any kind of nonprofit consultant.
Charity Channel

NPO Central

If you are New Jersey or New York based, there are over 80 nonprofit consultants list on NPO Central. You'll find my name there too. Sue Caruso Green runs this site and has really established a network of nonprofit consultants in the NY-NJ area.
NPO Central

Marion Conway Consulting

Thursday, March 06, 2008

Strategic Planning - Basic Ideas to Start Thinking About It

Yesterday I presented a workshop on Strategic Planning for Nonprofits for a great group to work with at the Bergen County Volunteer Center. I orient this popular workshop for small organizations in particular. The evaluation forms indicated that participants valued learning a step by step process they could use and the resource material I provided. So today I am going to share some of that with you.

I strongly recommend that nonprofits choose a strategic planning model designed specifically for nonprofits. I use the Peter Drucker Foundation for Nonprofit Management model, now the Leader to Leader Institute, which is built around answering five basic important questions. This is a straightforward and flexible model for developing a plan. Check the link below for more information on publications that can guide you through the process.

My outline for a strategic planning process is as follows:

The strategic planning committee:
•Plans and organizes for developing the strategic plan
•Explores mission, vision, values, strengths, weaknesses, opportunities and threats
•Develops the strategic planning questions and conducts interviews and focus groups
•Researches and prepares an Environmental Scan
•Develops the Findings and Recommendation Report
•Leads a Board Retreat to develop the vision, mission, values, goals and objectives for the final plan.

Staff and Board:
•Support the committee’s work and participate as committee members
•Sets up processes and monitoring to ensure the plan is being implemented
•Communicates the plan to all constituencies including funders
•Connects the plan to program development, marketing and fundraising plans, volunteer and audience development

This past month I have been busy with facilitating board and staff retreats, and a church governance board retreat. In all cases we were doing “strategic planning activities” – not full strategic planning. All of the groups benefited for taking the time to work on mission, vision and values. Even if you are not ready for that full strategic plan, I highly recommend you consider this for a Board Retreat.

Give me a call----let’s talk about it.
Leader to Leader Institute

Marion Conway Consulting