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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

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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

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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.
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    Conferences Donor Participation Project

    Marketing Automation Study Group (June/July 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.

    Sponsored by ThankView

    June 23 (12:00 pm EDT) – INFO session – Marketing Automation Study Group

    ​What is marketing automation? How can it help you provide a better donor experience and save time with reporting/analysis? Join this DPP Breakout session for a brief introduction to marketing automation strategies and software tools.

    June 30 (12:00 pm EDT) – Automate Your Donor Experience Workflows with ThankView

    ​Join JD Beebe, CEO of ThankView, and his team to build integrations that will take your donor experience to another level. Trigger a video message after getting a phonathon call? Add donors who watch a video message to a personalized outreach list? No problem! We’ll learn together how to build these workflows and others using Zapier and the ThankView API. (Free trial of ThankView included for DPP participants who schedule a training session.)

    July 14 (12:00 pm EDT) – Automated Solicitation and Upgrade Strategies with Nic Prenger

    ​Learn how to use MS Power Automate to integrate with your CRM and customize donor stewardship messaging, We will work through examples of building personalized chaser messages and upgrade invites to one-time donors over to monthly/recurring.

    July 21 (12:00 pm EDT) – Final Project Presentation

    ​Each participant will build their own workflow and share it with the group! We’ll then ruthlessly criticize each other’s work (just joking!) and celebrate our progress.

    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 Marketing Automation with this DPP Study Group

    • All sessions will take place over Zoom. Register to get the link.
    • All sessions 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

    Put It to the Test: They Might Be Fundraisers with Kirk Schmidt, STARS (8/11/2021)

    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 all know that you’re supposed to test. Most of us just don’t or do it in a way that doesn’t teach us much.

    Kirk Schmidt is a rigorous and innovative thinker in the area of fundraising analytics. Here is his message:

    The test itself it simple. Implementing it, avoiding pitfalls, and knowing what the test told you (and, sometimes more importantly, what it didn’t tell you) are what we are going to discuss. The principles discussed here apply to all A/B testing, but will be discussed in terms of direct response campaigns.

    Instead of any pre-reading, I would like everyone to think about this question: what would you like to test? Then, I want you to write down what you think the result would be, how do you test that, and how could the test go sideways.

    Kirk is the Director of Operations for the Foundation of STARS Air Ambulance, a helicopter EMS in the prairie provinces in Canada. In his current role he manages that teams that work on donations processing and systems, stewardship, annual giving, volunteer management, donor research, and data analysis. He has been in the nonprofit space for 14 years, focused on data and analytics, and advocates for better metrics and analysis in the sector.

    There will be a brief presentation followed by Q&A.

    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 Kirk Schmidt During our August 11 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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    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

    Gaming and eSports Fundraising: A New Frontier (7/14/2021)

    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.

    For this Donor Participation Project session, we’re excited to welcome DPP member Diego Scharifker from USO.

    Diego is the Gaming Partnership Manager – Corporate Alliances at USO. There, he has spearheaded their engagement with the online gaming and live streaming community to obtain tremendous fundraising results in support of the USO’s mission.

    In this session, Diego will be sharing the nuts and bolts of how he built the gaming and eSports program as well as the fundraising opportunities that his organization capitalized on in corporate and individual philanthropy.

    There will be a brief presentation followed by Q&A.

    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 Diego Scharifker During our July 14 Lunch Analysis

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

    Sign Up

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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

    Trust & Authenticity: The Nonprofit Communications Culture Shift with Dr. William A. Donohue (6/16/21)

    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.

    We’re honored to welcome Dr. William A. Donohue, professor of Communication at Michigan State University.

    Dr. Donohue has published extensively in the areas of conflict, communication, negotiation, and mediation while also conducting workshops and other intervention activities focusing on communication, leadership development, and conflict management. 

    He has extensive experience advising nonprofits on their communication and fundraising strategies.

    In this session, he will be discussing the culture shift caused by social media and the explosion of information that requires increased transparency, more authentic communication strategies, and leading with engagement.

    There will be a brief presentation followed by Q&A.

    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 Dr. William Donohue During our June 16 Lunch Analysis

    • Please bring 2/3 questions prepared and review this article as well as this paper.
    • 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 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

    Engagement to Major Gift: Lessons from Case Studies with Adam Platzer (5/12/21)

    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.

    In this Donor Participation Project session, we’re honored to welcome Adam Platzer, Assistant Vice President for College Advancement at RIT.

    Adam will be walking us through his work on Forward Fundraisers, a free resource where he studies the links between engagement, cross-organizational collaboration, and major gifts.

    He has prepared and analyzed multiple case studies that help us understand the sequence of events that lead to major gifts, starting at the very beginning of a relationship.

    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 Adam Platzer During our May 12 Lunch Analysis

    • Please review the case study videos prior to the session.
    • This event will take place over Zoom.
    • The session will be recorded and accessible post-event for DPP members only.
    Categories
    Donor Participation Project

    Donor Experience Mapping with Emily Taylor, teenyBIG (4/14/21)

    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.

    In this Donor Participation Project session, we’re honored to welcome Emily Taylor, Principal at teenyBIG, for a Workshop on Donor Experience Mapping.

    Emily will be providing a brief overview on experience maps and how to use them, followed by the joint development of a donor experience map based on the group’s knowledge. 

    Emily’s approach in this area is based on her background working in nonprofit management and industrial design. In the private and nonprofit sectors, she has helped design user-focused campaigns on everything from bicycle safety and light-rail advocacy to community chambers. She has a bachelor’s degree in industrial design from the University of Illinois at Urbana-Champaign. Emily serves on the board of the Association of Consultants to Nonprofits, where she helps lead the organization’s outreach to Chicago-area organizations. She is also active in the Chicago neighborhood where she lives with her family, including serving as a parent representative working with Chicago Public Schools.

    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 Emily Taylor During our April 14 Lunch Analysis

    • 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 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.