The FBook

Posts Tagged ‘communication’

It’s Not What You Tell Your Donors, It’s How You Say It

In change management, consulting, Fundraising, nonprofit organizations on February 5, 2014 at 10:52 pm

Image.

I’ve seen my share of “donor death” due to the academic delivery of every specific detail relating to an organization’s mission.  It’s not pretty. First the eyes glaze over and the face slackens, the brow slightly furrows, then the fingers fret with each other as the donor begins to avert his eyes. This is quickly followed by phone checking, paper rustling, and long loving glances at wristwatches.  When this happens, there is no question that the end is near.

When a donor goes into this death spiral, the organization must work harder to keep the donor engaged and interested. Hard work requires more resources and additional resources are expensive. It is far more effective for organizations to understand the dynamics of donor engagement before the meeting.  Spending a minimum of upfront time, determining how to tell your organization’s story in an effective and engaging manner rather than reporting your organization’s destination will pay dividends.

Nonprofits as an industry, we are in love with our science. We love the academics and inner workings of our profession. It’s our passion for the science of what we do that drives us to perform. But frankly, for our donors, it’s the pedestrian, everyday results they can relate to that fires their engines.  I am reminded of a 1970s advertisement produced by Crispin and Porter, that illustrates this point (see above). Telling someone you need to get to a destination is uninteresting and even boring when you compare it to sharing with someone your need to connect with humanity, your family, your loved ones. Same message, but a very different emotion attached to that message.

Check your language. Review your letters, materials, your website. Are you alienating and potentially killing off your donors with your technical speak? Are you telling them where you need to be, rather than sharing with them what or who you want to become. They don’t need the details or the destination. They need the information that will spark their emotions, encourage engagement, and keep them excited about your cause.

The Secret of Fundraising Revealed

In Discussables, Fundraising, nonprofit organizations on January 27, 2014 at 10:49 pm

telling-a-secret

The one question I receive consistently in working with nonprofits is this “Sondra, what’s the secret to fundraising?” While my ego would like to answer with some profound, deep, complex revelation, it’s really much more simple than that. The secret to fundraising is in how we treat others. It’s about respect.

Turn your clock back to 1950, a time when respect, courtesy, grammar, and poise were paramount. Sensitivity, decorum, and grace were at one point held in high regard. It was a reflection of your character to be considerate, conscientious, forthright, and restrained.

Now take that picture, and apply it to your philanthropy.  How do you speak with you donors? With your board?  With your team? Do you hold true to your promises, your word? Ask yourself, are you showing true gratitude for the gifts your receive? How have you shown your gratitude? Have you called the company right after receiving the gift, do you ring them every month to tell them how your work is proceeding, are you happy to make time to visit them periodically, just because they went through the trouble and consideration of supporting you?  And it doesn’t need to be a company, how about a person? Think about the last gift you received. How did you respond? Did you open the envelope and send it to finance, to work out the details of posting and sending your form thank you letter? Our ancestors would have done more than that. They would have valued the generosity of that gift, put on their coat and hat (yes, they wore hats back then) and visited that donor. Even if the donor had no time for them, the action meant everything- the donor knew his gift was not only received but tremendously valued.

One of the barriers created by our technological age, is the deterioration of face time. The lethal combination of too much to do, too little time and the convenience of electronic interactions, has made us shallow and self absorbed. We focus on getting through the actions, ticking off the to do’s, but missing the point of the light of day. In our field, that light of day is spent 99% of the time in conversation with, appreciating, and showing our enormous respect for our donors.

Phone that donor. Respond to that email for your sponsor. Better yet, initiate that interaction before they have to – find a way to make them the center of your day, every day, and you will have discovered the secret of fundraising.

Use these mid winter months to GROW, not slow, your organizations philanthropy

In Retail ideas, strategic planning on January 19, 2011 at 12:14 pm

Most nonprofits experience a significant lull in donations and donor activity in the months of January and February. The post year end doldrums.

Donors are slow to give, having distributed their 2010 charitable contributions during the ebullience of the holiday season.

Consumers are recovering from gift purchases.

The weather makes for hermits, with snow, ice and early nightfall urging more indoor, stay at home activities.

And snow birds have fled for warmer climates, leaving their local neighbors and friends to fend until spring.

This is the perfect time to grow your philanthropy program!

No other time in the calendar year do you have the potential to capture your audience’s undivided attention.

With all of the inactivity your donor and prospective donor is engaged in, you can offer a variety of options to help keep them entertained and informed, from the comfort of their warm living rooms.

  • Give them good reading for a cold winters night. January and February are the perfect time to send out newsy information on your group, your past success, your future plans.  Make sure your communication is meaty and news worthy, capturing the weather dulled eye of your constituency.
  • And to make sure those e-newsletters get to the right place, this is a perfect time to clean up your database.  With the reduced number of donations being processed and less visits to be made, your staff should spend time tidying up. Use an email verification software provider or staff can correspond and validate emails themselves. Capture address and phone while you are at it.
  • While you’re assessing, audit your grant programs, ensuring that you are on track with grantors expectations.  Send love notes to all your grantors, with New Year greetings and a true note of appreciation for what their funding has provided to your clients/mission.
  • Spruce up your website, e-newsletters and social marketing plans for the coming year.  Increase the frequency with which you are sending e-notices on your organizations marketing efforts, driving traffic to your newly spiffed up site.
  • Your staff has unique insight and talent, let others know! Identify media outlets and negotiate opportunities for your staff to contribute articles or podcasts on activities of interest, connected to your mission. A schools newsletter might appreciate a guest blogger or author writing about the importance of home support in education. A local grocer might find an article from an expert in the field of nutrition, valuable in their marketing to their customers.  Nows the time to get those pieces written and published. And don’t dismiss national journals. They need good writing too.
  • Lay the ground work for your spring appeal. Collectively send out notice to your annual donors, giving them insight and a sneak peak at your case for the spring and summer months.
  • Train your board. Your board meets regularly and has clearly defined agendas. Make the January or February agenda one that focuses on philanthropy.  A little bit of elbow grease and knowledge sharing by the board, will prepare them for an active and engaged year.
  • If you are planning a feasibility study, plan to launch it now. Most study participants can be reached by phone or online, so travel is less necessary.  Staff has more time to devote to feasibility study efforts. And the sobering months of January and February will flavor the feedback from your constituents, providing a more realistic and conservative view of your organizations ability to raise those funds through a campaign.

Talk about transparency

In Random on October 22, 2009 at 12:24 pm

In the age of brand image as king, consumer driven marketing, it is something when a company or organization goes no holds barred in providing its public with this level of transparency.

Middlesex Hospital has a very cool and very risky new feature. I have to believe that they wouldn’t be putting themselves out there like this if they weren’t 99% confident that they can meet expectations of their consumer public, no matter what the challenge.

I respect this in a team. This is transparency.

http://www.middlesexertime.com/?utm_source=banner&utm_medium=banner&utm_campaign=q42009

“Locard’s Exchange Principle” or “Some armchair philosophy to start your morning”

In Random on September 30, 2009 at 9:34 am

When someone comes in contact with another person or place, something of that person is left behind, and something is taken away.
“Locard’s Exchange Principle”

Edmund Locard was a 20th century forensic scientist and director of the first crime lab in Lyon, France in 1910.
His theory postulates that wherever two things meet, evidence exists of their meeting. In his case, he was speaking in terms of crimes against humanity.
But in recent years, his theory has been used in terms of more positive meetings as well. Although it continues to be used in crimes, including white collar crimes of a business and financial nature, it has been applied to explore interactions that result in the advancement of positive outcomes: mentoring, coaching, management, consumerism and philanthropy.

How does the theory apply to you in a positive way? What ‘fingerprints’ exist due to your personal contact with others. Globally it is evident that the work of nonprofit organizations change individual lives. But Locard was speaking on a more singular interaction, the one on one imprint of a conversation, written communication, action.
A mentor hypothesized yesterday that “relationships are the conversation”. That everything else before and after: your thoughts, inner dialogue, intentions are not a relationship, it exists only within the communication you are having with the other person. And to review that communication, in the moment and after, to assess your relationship.
How often do we think in terms of communicating with the intention of enhancing the relationship? Of the relationship as a means of leaving an imprint, of employing Locards theory?

I for one believe Locards theory can be applied universally. Maybe it deserves a plaque above our desks, on our walls, on our hearts, to help us remember that we are not moving through this world alone, but in connection and concert with everyone and everything around us. And that we are leaving an imprint.
Talk about authenticity.

Ken Grimsley on Workplace Stress

In Rants on September 22, 2009 at 4:28 pm

job surveyFrom Ken Grimsley:

Working in diverse corporate cultures with the Fortune 100, small businesses and nonprofits as consultant and staff member, I’ve seen some vivid examples of stress.

Other than the impending terror of losing a job with a bloated mortgage and work overload beyond reason, here’s my Top Five (can you add more?):

1. Gossip. Triangulation and back-biting is only slightly less brutal than a dog fight. Several women executives have told me that it’s far worse with women employees, but I’ve also seen it with men. Managers, Directors, VPs, and yes, eve in the C-suite. This insidious practice snowballs in and between departments faster than an Obama Tweet announcing tax refunds.
2. Process. Inefficient coordination that wastes time kills spirit. Result: stress from spending two hours to do a half-hour of work, or from revising work that was done improperly. This includes processes that are too dependent on a “rock star” leader (the latest unfortunate exercise of ego), or too dependent on an ill-defined group without a coherent process with accountable metrics.

3. Communication. It’s not just that this is an expertise of mine, it’s a real stress beast in large and small organizations. Poor communication from the C-suite, from team leaders, and among team members spells disaster. Issues become nightmares, objectives become barriers, and anxiety swells bigger than credit default swap debt. Having a workload without clear communication strategy is like having the latest Mac Pro notebook without the use of the screen, or having an iTouch you can’t touch. Effective communication strategy and tactics are indispensable weapons for battling the stress beast.

4. Leadership. Lack of a clear mission and an inspiring vision will start a Tsunami of doubt that will crash into a flood of stress. People will drown in ambivalence, lack of motivation, lack of hope, and lack of confidence that their position or company has meaning or a future. Leadership doesn’t come from the hubris of certain Wall Street CEOs gaming to profit from the loss of others (charging taxpayers a high price for the “free” market philosophy); genuine leadership proves itself through innovation and vision which inspire others to do their best. This leads me to…

5. Engagement. Without an engaged workforce that believes in its mission and understands the value of its contribution, stress from any number of sources will grow like weeds in a foreclosed Vegas suburb.

Other stress catalysts, my Top Ten:

1. Bad coffee. And too much of it.
2. A new manager with something to prove.
3. A supervisor who dates your former spouse.
4. A CFO who keeps getting calls from Treasury Secretary Geithner.
5. No windows combined with small cubicles that have too many plants.
6. Keyboards sticky with sledge from other users.
7. An “updated brand campaign” every other month.
8. Internal news bulletin that “a new change initiative will save time”.
9. Meetings. Any meeting. Ever.
10. Company parties that involve Karaoke.

Ken Grimsley

All you do to me is talk, talk, talk talk talk (with a nod to Coldplay)

In Rants on August 17, 2009 at 5:42 pm

Two problems with communication:

1) too often it is assumed that is has been accomplished.

2) the voices in our head drown out the words of everyone else.