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Donor Management Software: Improve Relationships and Fundraising

Donor management software, the program of multiple functions, has an overarching, primary goal: to better, deepen, and strengthen donor relationships. With both the centralization and organization of your donors’ data, you’ll be able to create the most complete image and understanding of each of your donors. (Because of your donor management software, you might even end up knowing your donors better than they know themselves!)

  • 9 min read
  • Sep 5, 2017 8:10:00 AM

Turn Guests into Givers: The 3 Building Blocks of Lasting Donor Relationships

Building relationships is not only a cornerstone of continual donor development - it's key to hosting successful fundraising events, too. Why? With high event chair turnover and staff spread thin, many organizations end up trying to reinvent the annual gala, auction or tournament from from the ground up, year after year. Investing more time in developing relationships now lightens the burden considerably for next year, asserts Noah McMahon, philanthropist, founder and CEO of Anonymous LLC (specializing in event production and philanthropic consulting).  "Relationships are like a web," McMahon says. "If you treat everybody with respect and don't expect anything in return, you end up getting so much in return." In today's post, learn McMahon's 3 building blocks to lasting relationships with donors, event sponsors and more to multiply the impact of every dollar raised. Then listen to the latest episode of our event fundraising podcast Events with Benefits (audio player embedded at the bottom of the post). Building Block 1: Start with the end in mind. "I've been involved in thousands of events over the past years, from events that raise over $10 million to events that simply raise awareness. But I probably spend more time talking people out of events than into them," explains McMahon. The first indicator of a potentially successful event is whether or not you have a goal. Events with no goals have no rudder. When planning your event, is everyone on the same page about what it is you're trying to achieve?

  • 5 min read
  • Feb 21, 2017 8:49:29 AM

6 Tips that Take the Stress Out of Managing Year-end Donor Data

Congratulations to all our nonprofits that participated in last week's fifth annual #GivingTuesday! Nationwide it was a rousing success: According to Blackbaud, online giving revenue was up 20% compared to Giving Tuesday 2015, fueled by a 33% increase in the number of nonprofits receiving online donations. With December campaigns well underway, you've probably noticed year-end giving pulls in a wider range of gift sizes than the rest of the year. This means plenty of new donors...and with that, an influx of new donor data. If you don't have donor data management procedures and software in place, this can be a stressful time. Invaluable information can fall through the cracks, weakening current and future fundraising efforts. On the other hand, storing donor data correctly and efficiently as it comes in can improve results for years to come. Fact is, almost every single fundraising campaign nonprofits execute revolves around donor data. By keeping a robust and accurate set of data—and knowing how to leverage that information—your organization can better get to know your donors and ultimately improve fundraising. In this article we’ll cover 6 practical steps to take the stress and worry out of donor data management. Learn how to: Use a donor database. Integrate your database with other fundraising software. Devise standardized data entry procedures. Clearly delineate data entry tasks. Segment your list. Clean your database once a year. Best of all, you don't need to be a professional data analyst to implement these simple best practices. So, let's get started! 1. Use a donor database. Effective donor data management starts with using the right tools. Luckily, there’s software out there built to help nonprofits manage supporter information: donor databases. Using a donor database, you can build comprehensive supporter profiles to track any data source imaginable. This gives you a clearer, multifacted picture of the people that care about your cause.

  • 15 min read
  • Dec 6, 2016 9:30:00 AM

How Well Do You Really Know Your Donors?

How much do you really know about your donor base? Sure, you might know some general facts such as their age and gender, but do you know what their interests are? What they do for a living? What motivates them to support your organization? What they like and don’t like about your fundraising events? Establishing a positive relationship and learning more about your donors is an important step toward hosting successful fundraising events. When you have an idea of what makes your donors tick, you’ll be able to tailor your events to match their interests and preferences. So how do you learn about your donors? The best way to acquire as much information as possible is to use several different methods. Here are 4 things to consider: 1. Web search A basic web search is a great way to start researching donors – especially when you know little to nothing about them. Try a Google search and look at their social media pages like Facebook and LinkedIn. While looking online doesn't really qualify as "in-depth research", you still might be able to learn some basic information like where donors work, organizations they are associated with, hobbies and recent vacations they took. Remember... pictures are worth a thousand words!  2. Surveys Surveys allow you to collect information about a large group of people. In your surveys, find out what your donors’ interests and hobbies are. You should also ask supporters what they would like incorporated into future events. That way, you’ll be able to pinpoint what donors liked or didn’t like about past fundraising efforts. A great source you can use to create free online surveys is 

  • 5 min read
  • Feb 5, 2015 11:01:00 AM

8 Ways to Cultivate Major Donors with Experiential Travel

Special events are the most widely used method for cultivating new major donors. Nonprofits host big events as an entry point for potential high net-value donors to come learn about the cause and meet the people behind the scenes (that's you), planting the seed for a relationship that moves them toward major giving. The toughest piece of this donor cultivation process - especially at a big fundraising event - is building that relationship. If you're busy running around and you only have time to introduce yourself to a few people, who do you spend your time socializing with? How can you tell which new faces in the room may be interested in - or have the resources for - becoming a major donor? Even once you've identified these people, how do you go about setting up a post-event meeting to further discuss their involvement? One of the best ways to zero in on these folks is through offering big-ticket live auction items like Experiential travel packages. Here are 8 steps for cultivating major donors using no-risk auction travel packages:

  • 7 min read
  • Jan 27, 2015 11:56:00 AM

5 Ways to Develop Donors with a Culture of Gratitude

Donor development can be an overwhelming process. The job of cultivating donors, engaging target audiences, building personal relationships and determining the proper timing of "the ask" are all crucial to achieving fundraising success. With each multi-layered step, it’s easy to lose sight of the single-most important part of donor retention: expressing your gratitude.  Gratitude is defined as the quality of being thankful or the "readiness to show appreciation for and to return kindness". This is an important concept that takes a central role in fundraising, but can sometimes get glossed over when the focus falls too heavily on numbers and figures. Being a grateful recipient shows your charity cares - not only about the mission at hand, but about the people who make it possible. Donors are people, not numbers. They want to feel appreciated for their contribution and reassured that their money matters. Whether they give $5 or $50,000, every gift is a reason to extend gratitude. Following are five ways gratitude can help you develop and strengthen your donor relationships: 1. Make gratitude the priority Whether or not someone is going to donate again shouldn't be the primary focus when expressing gratitude. While creating repeat donors is clearly an important part of developing your donors, don't give thanks just to get another gift; give thanks because it's the right thing to do. Donors deserve to enjoy their giving, and by showing your gratitude you let them feel good about their generosity. This is an important part of the philanthropic process and an absolute necessity in donor development.

  • 7 min read
  • Dec 2, 2014 10:00:00 AM

Importance of Individual Giving [GRAPHIC]

Individual giving is the biggest revenue stream for most Nonprofits, and it all starts with fundraising events.  According to Giving USA, gifts from individual donors accounted for 81% of giving in 2010, while only 19% of giving came from foundations and corporations. A more recent study conducted by Giving USA shows that this trend is continuing to grow. In 2014, corporate giving declined 3.2%, while donations from living Americans grew 2.7%. Individual donors are clearly necessary for Nonprofits to thrive.  For development teams, that means donor procurement, cultivation and stewardship need to be a focus every single day with the ultimate goal of establishing donor relationships that result in lifelong donors. Here we break down the above graphic to explain the continuum of donor development: The Donor Continuum Events (Entry Point) - Fundraising events like dinner galas and golf tournaments are the point of entry where prospective donors are identified and first contact is made through their participation at the event. This could include socializing during cocktail hour or connecting with new guests over an auction item they win during the event.

  • 4 min read
  • Nov 11, 2014 12:31:00 PM

10 Golden Rules of Donor Development

Donor cultivation is a critical part of achieving a charity's mission. Build a good relationship with donors and you set the stage for a lifetime of giving. Ignore the importance of donor relations, however, and your donors may become loyal givers elsewhere. Donor relations isn't just for corporate sponsors and foundations, either. In fact, according to Giving USA, 81% of Nonprofit revenue comes from living individuals and bequests, which means a good donor-relation plan will always focus on the individual givers. Consider these 10 golden rules to build donor-relation momentum and help your Nonprofit succeed long-term: 1. Be committed – Donor development should be a top priority every day. Think of it as a customer-service function. You want to provide a world-class experience that leaves donors happy, informed and engaged. If they have a stellar experience and feel valued, not only are they more likely to donate in the future, but they might suggest your organization to friends with similar interests who also have charitable dollars to give.

  • 7 min read
  • Nov 4, 2014 9:53:00 AM

6 Simple Ways to Engage Donors This Holiday Season

Many Nonprofits hold their fundraising events during these fall months before the holiday season hits. After the events are over and the holidays begin, donors may still be willing to give – so it's important not to end your fundraising efforts prematurely.  Studies show that online donations often increase during the holiday season. In a 2012 survey by Charity Navigator, 90% of donors polled said they donated during the year-end giving season. Online gifts rose 16% during the same period in 2013 according to The Chronicle of Philanthropy. This increase might have to do with the popularity of online campaigns like #GivingTuesday, which happen around the holiday season, but more importantly has to do with the spirit of giving during the holidays. Even if your event is over and done, it's important to continue fundraising efforts during the holiday season. Here are some simple ways your organization can reach donors and increase funds during the season of giving.  1. Focus on the spirit of giving and gratitude  Thanksgiving is a time to be thankful. Christmas and Hanukkah are holidays in which giving to others is emphasized. With that in mind, it's no wonder that so many people like to donate during November and December. Share stories about your mission and inform donors about the people your organization is actively helping. Remember to show gratitude to donors, and do so in the spirit of the season. Use this time to make phone calls, send emails and mail cards to emphasize how much you value each of your donors and their support. 2. Ask for gifts in-kind Donors who are passionate about your mission, but don't have the financial ability to give as much as they'd like, might prefer to donate items instead. Also referred to as in-kind donations, this is a form of charitable giving where goods and services, rather than cash, is donated. This type of donation can also apply to donors who simply have too many "things" they want to get rid of, such as: If a donors wins an iPhone 6 at a year-end party but already has a smartphone, he or she can donate it as an auction item for your next event. If the company where one of your donors works gets a new printer, they can donate the old one for your organization to use. Start a program to encourage donors to pass along their unwanted or extra gifts to supporters your fundraising efforts.

  • 8 min read
  • Oct 21, 2014 11:55:00 AM

Event Spotlight: How The John Crosland School Revived Donor Development with Their Annual Fundraising Gala

Any successful development officer will tell you that fundraising events are a crucial part of the donor development process. Events such as an annual gala are important for finding and connecting with donors to help set the stage for a lasting relationship that will move them toward major giving. Jennifer Nichols Director of Institutional Advancement Jennifer Nichols has more than 15 years of experience in philanthropy, marketing and public relations and is a seasoned fund developer, grant writer and program developer. Jennifer Nichols knew this when she joined on as the Director of Institutional Advancement in 2010 for The John Crosland School in Charlotte, NC. Over the course of 4 years, she has taken the school's annual "Picture This" Gala from a small, family-run event to the successful and widely recognized affair that it is today. We spoke with Jennifer get her story... What is the John Crosland School? We are a school for children with learning and attention differences like ADHD and Asperger's. Children who attend the school must have a diagnosed learning difference. The school is dually accredited and has been around for 35 years. We’ve reached 2 states, 8 counties and 21 cities. EVENT DETAILS Guests: 190 Tickets: $135/each Parents: $100/each Live Auction Items: 16 Silent Auction Items: 68 WINSPIRE EXPERIENCES   Winspire Experiences Sold: 13 Total Raised from Experiences: $17,400   TOTALS   Event Revenue: $172,320 Event Cost: ($84,518) Total Raised: $87,802 Why do you fundraise? We get no federal or state funding. Tuition covers roughly 84-86% of our operating budget each year and the rest is philanthropic. Individual giving takes care of the other 15%, which covers in-house reduced tuition (scholarships), development of new facilities and overall expansion. Two-thirds of our kids come from public school and a lot of those families have a difficult time paying. They raid retirement funds, sell homes – some families even move in from out of state - so philanthropy for us is not a luxury, it’s a necessity. We are dependent on fundraising, and knowing that we realize relationship building [with donors] must be very strong; because it’s not always coming from these families, it’s coming from outside in the community as people understand why we’re here and what community need we fulfill. That’s part of the reason our annual gala is so important. Tell us a little about your event, the “Picture This” Fundraising Gala. The gala has gone on for 22 years, but it had always been in the hands of the families. It was really considered a family night event. When I arrived 4 years ago, I changed it and made into a philanthropic event for reaching donors outside the school. We still have family festivals that are part of our philanthropic package, but they are smaller more focused fundraisers just among the families and extended group. We do this in-house where we put forth a goal – this year we bought an activity bus – so families are still connected to the philanthropic goals and the mission of the school. For the annual Gala, we really needed a donor event where we could do donor prospecting. Large fundraising events are a wonderful opportunity to bring our donors and donor prospects into the room and talk about where we are in terms of our mission, where we are in terms of our vision, and give them updates so that they are truly insiders. This year we did a pretty good job of getting donors in the room, but it’s just the beginning. We’re in the process of developing some extra efforts that we want to do starting in October – we have big plans the end of the year and beyond with regard to our donors. What sort of extra efforts? One thing that seems to be a struggle for a lot of smaller Nonprofits - or Nonprofits that have not been great at fundraising – is the development of a solid donor base. That’s one of the main reasons I came to this school, was because they didn’t really have one. They had some annual help among the parents, some help from a few grandparents and families of former students, but they had no real donor base. They had never really done any marketing or - what I would consider true fundraising efforts - certainly not philanthropic efforts. They were lacking advancement efforts - truly considering the holistic package for how to move the school forward. So that was what I came into. I had done projects like this before – I just knew there was going to be a lot of work involved. Knowing that, we just had to come together and agree on certain fundamental principles. What did the Gala look like 4 years ago compared to today?

  • 18 min read
  • Jul 10, 2014 10:30:00 AM

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