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March 21, 2014

OrangeGerbera's Blog "Our Thought" has moved.

Looking for OrangeGerbera’s blog? We’ve moved our site and blog to a new location.

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To our many subscribers… Yikes! It’s been a while. We’re happy to report that we’re back from our equivalent of backpacking around Europe and are once again publishing content at our new location. Won’t you please join us?


Donor Engagement and Missed Fundraising Opportunities

December 23, 2010

Some of you may be aware that in early 2010 I posted a challenge on my personal Facebook page offering to match the donations to Haiti earthquake relief for anyone who simply listed that they had made a donation and the agency(ies) they chose to support. Fortunately, this act not only weeded out a number of people who felt so offended by my offer that they unfriended me (ultimately a good thing), but it also resulted in a fairly sizable amount of money being donated to help aid the tremendous aid work under way.

Based on my research and ideas i got from the many responses posted on my wall, I selected two organizations with whom to make my matching donation. Both acknowledged my four-figure gift, but that’s when the two took different paths in engaging me as a donor.

I should note that each organization is HUGE and has more than ample resources to conduct proper donor engagement. That’s not to say that it’s OK for smaller organizations to shirk on donor engagement, but rather to point out that these organizations lack legitimate excuses for what I experienced. Read more…

December AFP Washington Martini Monday

December 15, 2010

Informal learning, the composite accumulation of knowledge from the infinite sources outside of traditional and formal education and learning opportunities (my definition) was the topic of this month’s Martini Monday. Martini Mondays are the newest networking opportunity for members and non-members of AFP Washington.

In addition to being free and accompanied by a discounted no-host bar, the gatherings offer a great opportunity to meet and share ideas with many of the area’s nonprofit professionals. Not surprisingly, most of the people I’ve met have been major gifts officers/managers. Regardless, I’ve been impressed with the vast knowledge and expertise of those I’ve had the pleasure of meeting, and have gone on to maintain collegial relationships with many. Read more…

See your fundraising through to the end of the year!

December 13, 2010

If you’re in fundraising and you’re planning to take the last week of the year off. Think again.

While by then you may have sent all of your solicitations and feel that all that’s necessary is to sit back and let the dollars roll in, you could be leaving dollars on the table. In a excellent wrap-up of year-end tips by one of my favorite nonprofit marketing bloggers, Jocelyn Harmon, reminds us not to give up on year-end too early, with email response rates for the last four days of the year being nearly equal.

In our experience, this is also the time when would-be last-minute donors have questions about their contribution. Perhaps the payment process is confusing and they have questions, or perhaps they have questions about making an in-kind donation or a gift of stock. Regardless of the questions, someone from your fundraising team should be available to walk your donors through the donation process.

If everyone on the fundraising team has already booked their travels and won’t be in the office, consider the following: Read more…

Year-end Appeals, Stories and Making a Connection

December 10, 2010

Have you noticed how more and more NPOs are beginning to get the message that their appeal letters should tell a story? Increasingly, sources are preaching that you have to tell a story and not just focus on statistics.

Statistics tend to remove the human element and often present problems from such high perspective that the average donor doesn’t feel that their $100 donation could possibly make a difference. Think along the lines of  “40 million suffering squirrels” versus “your donation of $10 can end the suffering of Sammy the Squirrel today”, and you begin to get the idea. While this is excellent advice and more orgs should be considering how to articulate the plight of their constituencies as the kinds of problems that average donors believe they can help solve, there is a danger in telling a story without making a connection with the org’s services. Read more…

Sustained Donor Engagement

November 29, 2010

A few weeks ago, OrangeGerbera had the privilege to help produce and speak at an event called Fundraising Fuel. By all accounts the event was a success. Sharing the stage with us were five brilliant fundraising and entertainment professionals who shared strategies for improving engagement at fundraising events through “infotainment”, new event formats, social media, viewing events as performances, and clearly demonstrating a solvable problem.

For our part of the day’s agenda, I spoke about sustained donor engagement, a method of donor relations that assumes we’re always working to further develop our relationships with our donors, and not only interacting with them in a series of asks in the form of events and solicitation letters.

A link to the summary information we sent out after the event has been included at the end of this post.

A high-level summary of the talk went something like this:

1. Fundraising is about relationships and developing genuine relationships with donors is similar to developing genuine relationships with friends. You don’t only reach out to friends when you need something from them, and the same should be true of your donors.

2. Plan for other types of events and touches (see the PDF) beyond the traditional fundraising event. Do this to take advantage of heightened donor engagement without the funny feelings associated with money, and to improve the results of fundraising events/asks when they do happen.

3. Look for and leverage unique and interesting characteristics of your organization to create opportunities to build deeper, more meaningful relationships with donors. Regardless of whether you’re in a cool space, serve the latest hip cause, or have nothing but a “boring” office full of workers to share; identify what draws donors to you in the first place and build on that. The PDF includes a simple exercise to help work through this with your team. My talk included examples, which I’m happy to provide upon request.

4. Pepper these activities throughout the entire donor relations cycle, develop repeatable processes and use the time and energy of every volunteer (especially board members!) to increase your staff’s capacity to support sustained engagement all year, and help fill the voids left by poor donor relations.

The benefits of this system include:

1. More donor loyalty when the tough times hit.
2. Less donor fatigue and attrition.
3. Higher, more effective utilization of your board.
4. More manageable workload for your staff.
5. Greater donor relations.

We wrapped the day with a Q&A panel and “genius bars” spread around the room.  One question directed to me during the panel was something like “What is the proper ratio of staff and volunteers to donors to be able to support successful sustained donor engagement?”

Caught off guard with this excellent question, my answer at the time was “Uh… good question. It depends on the types of activities and donors you have.” While this wasn’t the absolute worst way in the world to have answered, in hindsight I definitely would have answered differently. How would you answer this question?

Fundraising Fuel Handout (PDF)

The Golden Rule and Opt-in Marketing

November 23, 2010

Opt-in MarketingYikes, it’s been a long time since our last post. As I was reflecting on this earlier today and trying to decide how best to resume ‘our thought’, I noticed out of the corner of my eye one of those mail-in product registration cards that promise free goodies or in this case $30 in future purchases for completing and returning the card.

As a tool for capturing business leads, one could argue either way as to the effectiveness of this approach, not to mention the relative quality of information received from or the general value to the consumer. But that’s not the point of this post. In fact, by now you’re probably asking yourself what product registration cards have to do with the marketing or fundraising of NPOs. Possibly more that you realize. Read more…