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Donor Participation Project

Video Marketing for Fundraisers (5/18/2022)

If you want to use more video in your fundraising, join David Phu for a brief presentation and conversation on what you should be thinking about.

(Sneak peek: videos that work don’t require a huge production budget!)

About: The Donor Participation Project (DPP) convenes fundraising professionals who are concerned about the nationwide decline in donor participation (20 million US households lost between 2000-2016). 

We believe this can be solved by changing our fundraising practices and want to learn from peers who are moving the participation needle.

Discuss this Topic and Learn with Your Colleagues During our May 18 Lunch Analysis

  • Please connect with David on LinkedIn and review his latest posts so you are familiar with his general philosophy on video for nonprofits.
  • This event will take place over Zoom.
  • The session will be recorded and accessible post-event for DPP members only.

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We will only use your email for information about the Donor Participation Project and will never share your information with anyone else. Consult our information-sharing practices.

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Donor Participation Project

Starting from the End: Purdue’s Approach to Transformational Gifts (3/2/2022)

This session has passed. Join the Donor Participation Project to get access to our resource library with session recordings, member chat, and other benefits.

The Purdue Optimizes Development Support (PODS) concept is designed to optimize operational support with an end goal of maximizing our revenue generating potential at Purdue. Through the PODS, the Purdue for Life Foundation is creating a culture of shared purposes and responsibilities, while acknowledging the independencies that produce fundraising success.

Join John Dinkens, Michele Miller, and Amber Turner in a discussion about the A (acquisition), B (building), C’s (customization)—and D (data-driven decisions)—and how they use them within and across their departments and to effectively collaborate and increase Purdue’s ability to raise money.

About: The Donor Participation Project (DPP) convenes fundraising professionals who are concerned about the nationwide decline in donor participation (20 million US households lost between 2000-2016). 

We believe this can be solved by changing our fundraising practices and want to learn from peers who are moving the participation needle.

Discuss this Topic and Learn with Your Colleagues During our March 2 Lunch Analysis

  • This event will take place over Zoom.
  • The session will be recorded and accessible post-event for DPP members only.
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Donor Participation Project

New Marketing Realities for Nonprofits with Mark Schaefer (2/16/22)

This session has passed. Join the Donor Participation Project to get access to our resource library with session recordings, member chat, and other benefits.

We are privileged to welcome Mark Schaefer as the facilitator for this month’s Lunch Analysis.

Mark is a globally-recognized author, speaker, podcaster, and business consultant. He is a prolific writer and speaker whose work sits at the intersection of marketing, technology, and humanity. He has advanced degrees in marketing and organizational development, holds seven patents, and is a faculty member of the graduate studies program at Rutgers University.

He is the best-selling author of nine popular books including the
very first book on influence marketing. His blog, GROW, and podcast “The Marketing Companion” are ranked among the top-rated publications in the marketing field. His clients range from successful start-ups to global brands such as Adidas, Johnson & Johnson, Dell, The U.S. Air Force, and the UK Government. And he has appeared on media channels such as CNN, The Wall Street Journal, The New York Times and CBS News.

In this session, Mark will guide us through his research on where marketing is headed and how his findings in his books Cumulative Advantage and Marketing Rebellion apply to the nonprofit sector.

About: The Donor Participation Project (DPP) convenes fundraising professionals who are concerned about the nationwide decline in donor participation (20 million US households lost between 2000-2016). 

We believe this can be solved by changing our fundraising practices and want to learn from peers who are moving the participation needle.

Discuss this Topic and Learn with Your Colleagues During our February 16 Lunch Analysis

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We will only use your email for information about the Donor Participation Project and will never share your information with anyone else. Consult our information-sharing practices.

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Donor Participation Project

Why People Give: Fundraising Recommendations from Behavioral Science by Russell James, Ph.D. (1/19/2022)

This session has passed. DPP members can access a video recording, slides, and other materials shared by the presenter. We also hold a small group discussion the week after every presentation for further discussion and networking! Sign up here to get access.

In this session we will review some findings from experimental research and see how this can apply to effective communications in fundraising.  Beyond just gleaning a few tips and tricks, we will discuss how these findings reflect underlying realities about the process of charitable decision making.

Russell James, J.D., Ph.D., CFP® is a chaired professor in the Department of Personal Financial Planning at Texas Tech University where he directs the on-campus and online graduate program in Charitable Financial Planning (planned giving) and also teaches a graduate course in behavioral finance.  Prior to his academic career he worked in planned gifts fundraising and then major gifts fundraising for 11 years.

About: The Donor Participation Project (DPP) convenes fundraising professionals who are concerned about the nationwide decline in donor participation (20 million US households lost between 2000-2016). 

We believe this can be solved by changing our fundraising practices and want to learn from peers who are moving the participation needle.

Discuss this Topic and Learn with Your Colleagues During our January 19 Lunch Analysis

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Donor Participation Project

Manage Complex Projects with Airtable by Jaemi Loeb (11/17/2021)

This session has passed. DPP members can access a video recording, slides, and other materials shared by the presenter. We also hold a small group discussion the week after every presentation for further discussion and networking! Sign up here to get access.

We are honored to feature DPP member Jaemi Loeb, Senior Director of Cultural Arts at the JCC of Metro Detroit, in a demonstration of how she manages complex fundraising projects using the popular no-code tool Airtable.

Dr. Loeb is a long-time arts entrepreneur and tech enthusiast, which has made her obsession with efficiency and information quality seem like a job skill. Airtable’s powerful automation, data visualization, and integration tools make it one of the best databases on the market. But, it’s most powerful feature is that it is shockingly easy to use.

About: The Donor Participation Project (DPP) convenes fundraising professionals who are concerned about the nationwide decline in donor participation (20 million US households lost between 2000-2016). 

We believe this can be solved by changing our fundraising practices and want to learn from peers who are moving the participation needle.

Discuss this Topic and Learn with Your Colleagues During our November 17 Lunch Analysis

  • Strongly suggested pre-viewing from Jaemi: Airtable’s YouTube channel
  • This event will take place over Zoom.
  • The session will be recorded and accessible post-event for DPP members only.

Sign Up

Enter your email now to join any of our learning & discussion sessions and access past materials:

Register for Event

We will only use your email for information about the Donor Participation Project and will never share your information with anyone else. Consult our information-sharing practices.

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Donor Participation Project Resources

Lessons from the Donor Participation Project

August of 2021 marks the one-year anniversary of launching the Donor Participation Project. From those initial sessions with just a handful of participants to over 1,000 fundraisers today, the amount of learning has been incredible.

What is the Donor Participation Project?

The Donor Participation Project (DPP) convenes fundraising professionals who are concerned about the nationwide decline in donor participation (20 million US households lost between 2000-2016). 

We believe this can be solved by changing our fundraising practices and want to learn from peers who are moving the participation needle.

Lessons Learned from the DPP

All of our sessions are recorded and available in the donor participation project resource library.

Community

Our very first speaker, Angie Thurston presented on the importance of “deep community” for organizations that want to attract and keep millennials.

I believe her findings apply to all age groups. People seek community. Activities that create community have these characteristics:

  • They are recurring and happen with some frequency
  • They are participatory
  • They have a clear purpose. Ideally, that purpose is aligned with your organization’s.
  • And, because you can’t do it all, they often require volunteer leaders

These types of activities are also a great environment to create vulnerability loops, which is the fastest way to create trust. Trust is a requirement for any type of significant giving. So strengthening your nonprofit’s communities makes business sense.

Nonprofit Communications

Dr. Bill Donohue from Michigan State shared how poorly nonprofits are communicating in the new world of social media. Nonprofits should communicate in ways that generate feelings of trust and authenticity. They often achieve the opposite effect.

Here were his recommendations. Nonprofit communications must be:

  • Frequent. As in weekly or even daily depending on the channel. The annual report is a thing of the past.
  • Mission-focused. Every single piece of communication must breathe your nonprofit’s purpose.
  • Authentic. Forget highly produced fluff pieces. Think of something you could record on your camera.
  • Responsive. People will comment and have thoughts. Some of them will be negative! Modern nonprofits will be able to constructively engage with everyone.

Adam Platzer’s presentation on the path that leads from engagement to major gifts also emphasized how important it is that you respond in a timely manner. Timely as in within 24 hours! His motto?

Shock Them with Your Follow-up!

Adam Platzer

Another way to ensure timely communication and stewardship is through marketing automation. We organized a study group to explore this topic over several weeks.

To build trust, your nonprofit must be perceived as:

  • Competent. This is why timely responses are so important. Timeliness signals competency.
  • Honest. Are you telling the truth?
  • Benevolent. Do you have my best interests in mind? Or are you self-serving?
  • Open to feedback. Do you respond well to suggestions for improvement and other ideas?

Case Studies

Part of our group’s mandate is to learn from those who are successfully moving the donor participation needle. We were honored to have a chance to chat and learn from leaders at these institutions:

New Ways of Giving

The DPP also brought leading experts in these emerging areas:

Nicole Stern generously shared her game plan for automatically recurring gifts AKA monthly gifts.

Donors that give this way have much higher retention and give more lifetime. What is not to love?

Well, successfully building a monthly giving program involves reworking your business to make it “monthly giving-first.” It won’t work as a simple add-on to existing giving methods.

Leading with Engagement

Sustainable philanthropic success requires looking holistically at your fundraising operations.

We were fortunate to have a conversation with one of the leading proponents of an integrated, human approach to transformative philanthropy: Live Q&A with Jim Langley, Langley Innovations

Design thinking is a discipline that is especially good at helping us reenvision existing problems and find new solutions. In Donor Experience Mapping with Emily Taylor, teenyBIG, we actually got to collaboratively build a donor engagement map for a fictitious organization: teenyBIG University!

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Donor Participation Project Resources

How to ask for more fundraising resources

How would you advocate to your leadership for increased resources in donor participation-adjacent areas?

In all organizations, somebody above you will need to be convinced about the value of investing time and effort in areas like donor relations, stewardship, annual giving, or constituent engagement.

The Donor Participation Project got together in one of our Small Group Discussions to share ideas and strategies. Here is a summary:

Just as with a donor, you have to learn the language of your decision makers. Find out what information they feel they need in order to make their decisions and make your case there.

Design/share metrics with leaderships that reflect the impact of these areas. Not just “why is this number up, why is this number down.” Try to pull boards into looking at the operation holistically.

Analytics pay off! And you have to invest in analytics….it takes time and money to do it right.

Continual building of the pipeline is a requirement, albeit a low ROI process, but we still have to find those new prospective middle and major donors.  And ample time MUST be spent on stewarding existing donors in the way THEY wish to be stewarded…

Is development just about dollars or is it about relationships? The funny thing is that if you build relationships, it becomes a lot easier to get the dollars.

Try to focus on one or two headline items to prove that a relationship-based strategy works. For example, “retention rate of 2020 pandemic donors.” There is a lot of research that indicates that the second gift is pivotal to retaining donors. Most boards and VPs will understand the premise that it is much easier and more cost-effective to keep existing donors.

Also take into account that most people will not respond to your stewardship touches. That’s OK! You’re still reaching them. You will see their effect in their behavior (which means you should be measuring it as part of your efforts to prove your value).

Present your findings as a story. Yes, even organizational leaders are anecdotal and are oftentimes influenced by stories. A DPP member shared how she had made an effort to add personal notes from the CEO on monthly gift receipts, organized webinar roundtables to share what was on the horizon, and sent several notes to a particular couple with no response. Out of the blue, they reached out to her to “discuss their gift.” “Oh no, they’re cancelling their monthly gift!” she thought. Alas, that wasn’t the case. They wanted to send in a $100,000 stock transfer and mentioned all the communications they had been receiving.

Another way to approach the “people are lurkers” issue is to start small with your increased donor relations experiments. Start with your loyal and monthly donors so that you’re guaranteed early feedback before rolling an initiative out to everyone.

You can also increase your chances of a response with extreme timeliness. A DPP member shared good success with thank you emails from gift officers sent immediately after a gift (with the help of some marketing automation, of course).

With regard to endowment reports, another contributor was “shocked” when she pulled Lynne Wester‘s suggested endowment reporting value data:

The value of the work you do. Reporting is a vital component of our work, yet our time spent preparing reports doesn’t always resonate with leadership. You prepared reports for XXX funds, valued at XXX amount, sent to XXX donors, whose cumulative giving totals XXX amount. Share this with your leadership to show the worth of the reports and the time invested in them.” 

Other suggestions were more tactical: create remote job opportunities to fill staffing gaps and shortages. Recruiting from around the country will also diversify the staff.

In essence, more closes means more support staff needed on the back end (engagement/stewardship/donor relations). Show them verbally, visually, and then follow-up!

Contributors:

Deborah Best
Mindy Danovaro
Louis Diez
Jane Gulley
Dan Lombardi
Heather Thompson
Rob Zuback

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Conferences Donor Participation Project

Why you Need a Donor Innovation Officer with Dan Lombardi (10/13/2021)

This session has passed. DPP members can access a video recording, slides, and other materials shared by the presenter. We also hold a small group discussion the week after every presentation for further discussion and networking! Make sure to sign up here to get access.

Join DPP member Dan Lombardi, Director of Donor Innovation at Grand River Hospital Foundation, to discover what a “donor innovation director” does.

What does “donor innovation” mean? What do they focus on? How do they apply the concept of innovation silos?

Specifically, you’ll learn how this position goes beyond database management or engagement officer activities to promote holistic improvements to the donor experience across the organization.

About: The Donor Participation Project (DPP) convenes fundraising professionals who are concerned about the nationwide decline in donor participation (20 million US households lost between 2000-2016). 

We believe this can be solved by changing our fundraising practices and want to learn from peers who are moving the participation needle.

Discuss this Topic and Learn with Your Colleagues During our October 13 Lunch Analysis

Sign Up

Enter your email now to join any of our learning & discussion sessions and access past materials:

    We will only use your email for information about the Donor Participation Project and will never share your information with anyone else. Consult our information-sharing practices.

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    Donor Participation Project

    Advancement Job Fair (6/21/21)

    This session has passed. DPP members can access a video recording, slides, and other materials shared by the presenter. We also hold a small group discussion the week after every presentation for further discussion and networking! Make sure to sign up here to get access.

    **For privacy, this meeting will be held in Webinar format. All questions will go only to the moderator.**

    Join us to hear hiring managers from development shops introduce their organizations and answer questions.

    We’ll feature jobs from UTSA, United Way, Williamson College of the Trades, University of Miami, National MS Society, University of Denver, Kennedy Krieger Institute, University of the Incarnate Word, and more…

    Sign up quickly. Slots are limited.

    Job seekers

    • Join over 500+ DPP members!
    • Ask questions (anonymously, if you prefer).
    • Get ready to gain first-hand insights from advancement employers.

    Employers

    What is the DPP?

    The Donor Participation Project (DPP) convenes fundraising professionals who are concerned about the nationwide decline in donor participation (20 million US households lost between 2000-2016).

    We believe this can be solved by changing our fundraising practices and want to learn from peers who are moving the participation needle.

    Sign Up

    Enter your email now to join any of our learning & discussion sessions or access past materials:

    Register for Event

    We will only use your email for information about the Donor Participation Project and will never share your information with anyone else. Consult our information-sharing practices.

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    Donor Participation Project Resources

    What to Ask When Buying Tech (9/15/2021)

    This session has passed. DPP members can access a video recording, slides, and other materials shared by the presenter. We also hold a small group discussion the week after every presentation for further discussion and networking! Make sure to sign up here to get access.

    Buying fundraising technology can be confusing. Yet, we all know that the right technology can help you achieve more with fewer resources.

    How to approach vendors without getting drowned in neverending demos? How do you compare different products that all seem to be intended for slightly different goals? How can you make sure that you are enabling yourself and your institution to succeed?

    For the first time, the Donor Participation Project is convening both sides of the equation, buyers and sellers, for an honest conversation and sharing of best practices that will help all parties do what we’re best at: move the donor participation needle toward a more inclusive and representative donor base.

    We’ll be kicking off with a presentation by Julie Knight, Executive Director of Annual Giving at Carnegie Mellon University, followed by an open conversation with the CEOs of the major nonprofit technology providers.

    About: The Donor Participation Project (DPP) convenes fundraising professionals who are concerned about the nationwide decline in donor participation (20 million US households lost between 2000-2016). 

    We believe this can be solved by changing our fundraising practices and want to learn from peers who are moving the participation needle.

    Discuss this Topic and Learn with Your Colleagues During our September 15 Lunch Analysis

    • This event will take place over Zoom.
    • The session will be recorded and accessible post-event for DPP members only.