2011 AFP Conference

What’s in a name?

By Sean Triner

“What’s in a name? That which we call a rose By any other name would smell as sweet.”

William Shakespeare, through Romeo and Juliet, may have had a point. But actually, a common knowledge is useful, especially in teaching.

I presented two sessions at AFP last week, to a mostly American audience and spoke about two things – what we in Australia call regular giving and a method of recruiting them, called face to face.

By regular givers, I mean someone who has money debited automatically again and again in an agreed time period, usually monthly.

By face to face, I mean the act of speaking with someone, in person, and asking them for such an automatic donation.

These two names don’t really work.

To many fundraisers, a regular giver is, understandably, someone who gives – um – regularly. This could include people who donate every Christmas. So regular givers is not the right term. The Canadian approach is to call them monthly givers, but this doesn’t quite work either, since some are quarterly and some are fortnightly.

As for face to face, many fundraisers have, for decades, referred to the act of asking major donors for money, in person, as face to face. So this confuses people. Even if you define what you are talking about, people need to train their minds to the crossed meaning, which reduces the impact of the point of the teaching.

My proposed solution is to grab the best descriptions that exist and make them universal (for English speakers anyway – I don’t know where to start with Chinese or Spanish equivalents).

I recommend for monthly donors / regular donors / automatic debitors we take on the American descriptor: “Sustainer”. It makes sense, isn’t a re-branding of the word and is not ambiguous.

For face to face / street fundraising / chugging we should go with the old British descriptor: “Direct dialogue”. I won’t even complain about the inevitable American misspelling (dialog) which is more environmentally friendly anyway. (Think about it).

Anyone want to help me with the re-branding campaign?

Video blog: Sean’s wrap up of the 2011 AFP Conference

Sean is currently in North America braving sub-zero temperatures and Spring snowfall, and last week attended and presented at the 2011 AFP Conference in Chicago.

Speakers at this year’s conference included President Bill Clinton, actress and philanthropist Queen Latifah, and Founder and Chief Shoe Giver of TOMS Shoes, Blake Mycoskie.

In our first ever video blog, Sean is joined by Samantha Wight, one of our North American account managers, to discuss his experience and opinion of the conference, including:

  • What advice Bill Clinton and Queen Latifah offered fundraisers
  • How the biggest US fundraising conference compares to those in Australia
  • Who should consider attending the next AFP Conference

Cost of fundraising is the wrong measure

By Sean Triner

Several people at the AFP conference talked to me about how cost of fundraising (or required return on investment – ROI) was a challenging obstacle for their fundraising efforts. Especially if they were a small organisation or had a challenging ‘type’ of cause. For example, it is easier to raise money for breast cancer than cystic fibrosis.

The state of Oregon in the USA is the latest place to totally misunderstand this concept.

Dan Pallotta tells you more here. He also puts out a useful argument to present to your board about why it is the wrong measure.

First presentation at AFP: Monthly giving online

By Sean Triner

Here is my first presentation from the AFP Conference – I hope that you find it useful, whether you were there or not.

Second presentation at AFP – do your 5 day job in 3 days!

By Sean Triner

Today I presented a session titled “How to be so good at fundraising you only need to work afternoons 3 days a week”. I was a stand in for Jonathon Grapsas. He came up with the title which is clever way of saying – do your data analysis!

This presentation is much more detailed, with the case studies not hidden so a massive wealth of information for you, even if you didn’t make it along.

Hope it is useful.

Afternoons, 3 days a week

View more presentations from Pareto Group

AFP 2011 – Harvey McKinnon on monthly donors

By Sean Triner

Blogging from Harvey McKinnon’s session at AFP. He is talking about ‘How to Build a Highly Successful Monthly Donor Program’

Right from the beginning, some data – all organisations should be able to get 5% of their current donors to monthly giving. Some will get 20%.

Shocking! Of 300 or so fundraisers, no one put their hand up to having more than 5,000 monthly donors. Nearly all had less than 500. But at least half had some form of monthly giving program.

The USA really is behind Europe and Australia on embracing and growing monthly giving.

Why bother?

Monthly programs…. 1. Increase income – value of the donor will at least double 2. Better relationships 3. Donors stay longer – monthly donors stay for ten years on average 4. Predictable – the money just keeps rolling in 5. Savings 6. Income grows over time 7. Convenient for the donor

Although some monthly donors make their payments by cheque, as opposed to EFT or credit card, they tend to be worth half of their automatic debited peers.

Myths about monthlies…

1. It didn’t work – it may not work straight way, but you need to get the proposition right 2. Small amount of money – it is a lower average donation, but not over a year 3. Worries about access to bank and credit card info – insignificant number of people 4. Are donors too old – some old people will sign up, it is still worth it

So, you want to start a program? What are the essential components.

1. A donor base 2. An appealing mission – accept that some organisations are easier to fundraise for, but it works for pretty much every cause that can get single donors 3. An audit – what are you doing well? 4. Effective processing – must debit quickly and act when people drop off 5. Strong communications 6. Integrated marketing – don’t talk about it, do it 7. Senior management support

Harvey was saying to take people out of general direct mail appeals programs once they become monthly donors. He did say there are some caveats, but we find that monthly donors who used to respond to direct mail appeals should still get them – but perhaps fewer, and always personalised and recognising their monthly donation.

How much to ask for?

Try and tie the amount to something specific. ‘Your $50 a month will buy…’

According to Harvey, the easiest method of gaining some monthly donors is having a monthly option on forms. This has worked really well for many charities, but at some point you should send specific monthly donor asks (my opinion not Harvey’s).

Phones are a great way to do it too. In his opinion there is not a lot to decide between the phone and mail. I say do both.

Harvey reckons that face to face (direct dialogue) can be too expensive to start for smaller organisations.

Age is a huge factor on early attrition in Canada. This reflects the pattern in Australia. His data shows that average donations effect attrition too. The higher the average, the worse the attrition. To fix, always proactively downgrade young donors giving higher amounts.

Greenpeace and Amnesty are pioneers of monthly giving fundraising – check out their websites. They ‘slice the salami’ – 33c a day etc.

Was shown a direct mail stoning pack – sending stones the same size as those used to kill women accused of adultery. It was a campaign, but all responders were asked for monthlies. They got 25,000. (I think he said that much – it is a lot!)

Monthly programs are worth it. For example, a specific charity where the average monthly donor gives 6x as much as their non monthly counterparts. It takes a while, but it is brilliant.

You should look after the donors though. Send them invites to special events, open house, send cards – give them a good experience.

Great session. If you are at a conference and Harvey is speaking, even if you know about monthly giving, you should go watch him.

For more on monthly giving, search my blog for ‘regular givers’ and ‘fundraising is beautiful’ and listen to this podcast.

What do you say to identify a major donor prospect?

By Sean Triner

I am at the AFP conference in Chicago, listening to Eli Jordfald from the Lineberger Comprehensive Cancer Center at the University of Carolina.

Amazingly, 85% of the major donor portfolio was developed from existing donors – smaller gift donors. The majority of these were ex-patients.

In the US, major donor fundraisers talk about ‘The Discovery Call’. These are calls that connect people with what the organisation does. Physical, or by phone, they are not really cold calls. Yet fundraisers still dread them.

Her first angle is to look at people who are already grateful. Ex-patients are obvious choices, but other ‘alumni’ should be considered. But you have to be quick. People are not grateful forever.

Her list for prioritizing targets is remarkably similar to the Pareto ‘major donors next week’ program. – past donors – first time donors (everyone!) – alumni – board – donors to similar causes – screened grateful patient lists

The screening is wealth screening – similar to the service that Charlotte Grimshaw offers through Fundraising Research.

So you have a list, what do you do next?

Discovery calls. Whatever you do, at some point you have to call the prospect. And listen. These are not sales pitch calls (unless the donor is not a major donor prospect), they are question sessions.

The purpose of the first call is not to get a visit but to asses whether a visit is appropriate. Be prudent – is it worth it? Visits are expensive. And in that first call, be upfront about title. Also, she says not to worry about avoiding discussing diagnosis. Ie ask them about their diagnosis and treatment.

If you do determine that the prospect is not a major gifts prospect, it is fine to ask during the call. Unless they give you a reason not to ask – ie the person says they are broke, just lost their house, gone bankrupt etc.

So, you get to speak to them, what do you say?

– Opening – Assess interest – Validate capacity – Determine next steps

Examples of openers…. Introduce yourself, thank them for previous gifts and ask something like ‘I understand that you were recently at my hospital and I would be interested to hear about your experience there’

Examples of questions assessing interest…. ‘Tell me about your personal experience’, ‘How do you see your involvement?’, ‘Would you be interested in learning more about our research and clinical programs?’, ‘What areas interest you most in the field of cancer?’

Basically, ask why they believe in your cause.

Examples of validating capacity questions…. – ‘Did you work while undergoing treatment?’ – ‘Now that treatment is over, do you plan to travel?’ – ‘Do you have favorite organisations you like to support? …. Tell me about your involvement.’

Examples of questions to determine next steps… – ‘I’m planning a trip to (your town) next week, would it be convenient to meet in person?’ – ‘I would like to invite you to a unique tour of the new cancer hospital’ – ‘Would you like to tour (something else)’

For lower level people – ‘Would you like to be a member of the (donor club)?’

Now and then you will hear people say ‘you are in my will’ – in this case make sure it is documented and they have the wording right.