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A capital campaign during a global pandemic? What?!
Actually, yes, it can be done and it can succeed. How can an organization conduct a feasibility study? Pivot like many have and consider engaging a consultant who is willing to do interviews via Skype, Zoom or Meet. A good adjunct to virtual interviews is a survey sent to your Board and other insiders. You'll find people are willing to talk, willing to give advice and to be heard.
One of my clients, in the quiet phase of a $6.5M campaign, used the pause between March and late June to get behind-the scenes work done, including a case for support and other donor-facing materials. Their website has been completely updated, including a password-protected campaign page. (Password protection will be eliminated during the public phase of the campaign.) We secured 100% Board giving and a lead gift, updated policies began segmentation based on wealth screening results and prioritized prospects. Now that things are opening up a bit more, the executive director has been taking prospects to the site where the building will be located and walking the property, which is adjacent to an open space reserve in the beautiful Colorado mountains. Of course, masks are worn and social distancing is followed. Now, we are planning an on-site gathering of less than 25 at the location for campaign insiders. And, we are currently at nearly 40% of goal.
What we've found is people are hungry to be engaged, especially with something that will be beneficial to the community. People are eager to be outside and desperate for some social contact, even if at a distance. And, your donors particularly are concerned about the organizations they support. So, find out how they are, and then tell them what you need, whether it's for general operating or for a campaign. Try your hand at a socially-distanced small event, or for those who are at higher risk of COVID-19, do virtual events.
It's the new normal.
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In our never-ending search to find something new and hot in the wide world of development, the term 'storytelling' is reaching a buzz-word saturation point.
Of COURSE we want to tell stories, that are compelling and evoke emotion in our donors and prospects.
We also run the risk of being so copy-heavy we turn people off. Copy is king in direct response, but with other channels, we may be better off to take the nigh ancient advice of a young Rod Stewart and remember "Every Picture Tells a Story." Great old song, but how does this relate to fundraising and being donor-centric?
Let me repeat: Every picture tells a story. In other words, fill your multi-channel marketing -- your website, blog, Facebook page, Insta, etc. with pictures that show what you do, how you serve and what sets you apart. Differentiate yourself from the competition. Be the pink squirrel in a world of brown and grey ones.
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When it comes to capital campaigns, axioms abound. Quiet phase ... publicly announce at 50% of goal ... sequential solicitation ...
All of these are standard best practices, yes, but there are exceptions to every rule.
Currently, I'm working with an organization thrust into a capital campaign after they were informed the building they rent space in is going to be torn down. They learned that this spring and need to be out by the end of the year. This is a grassroots organization around for half a century (seriously) but without a development department. (Remember: executive directors do ALL the things.)
This isn't a matter of allowing an organization to die. This is a matter of vital services to a vulnerable population. So when I agreed to take this on, I said failure is not an option. And we are doing things just a bit differently.
I did insist we get the donor database, as well as volunteers, screened. (Thank you Donor Search!) I put together things like a campaign plan, gift acceptance policy, confidentiality policy, board expectations, pledge forms, and vetted the highest rated from the screenings. Did some ask trainings, trained the board ... all of these are business as always.
EXCEPT some key differences.
We are going somewhat public this week at 30% of goal. Why? Necessity. We are using the bully pulpit of a major fundraising event to spread the word and leverage a very necessary sense of urgency to current supporters. We are handing out pledge forms to each attendee and have created a flier to share next steps.
A volunteer campaign committee chair has stepped up who is known in the community and respected. I'm getting him up to speed by the end of this week. Then we will tackle the high net worth solicitations.
We are planning a media blitz in August with an announcement of what has been raised to date to make it really public.
And we are focusing on some major foundations who want to keep the vital services this organization provides available and flourishing.
There are a lot of growing pains going on, but in the end, this fine nonprofit will be stronger and more self-sufficient. To quote George Zimmer, "I guarantee it."
This entry is cross-posted thanks to Donor Search.
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Our last post gave an overview of how to apply some simple segmentation techniques to your data base with a focus on starting or building a planned giving program. We touched on the notion of "RFM" or a measurement of a donor's recency of giving, frequency of giving and how much they are giving.
If you haven't had your data base screened, or your screening vendor doesn't provide a total RFM figure, you can, with a little work, do it yourself. Here's how.
CAVEAT: before doing this, remove any existing planned givers from this exercise.
For the annual fund, use RFM as a proxy for likelihood to make another gift. Donors with the highest RFM are the most likely to both give again and increase the amount of their gift.
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Whether you're kicking off a fledgling planned giving program or you're comfortably positioned with a legacy society, it doesn't take a data scientist to help you find your best prospects.
It DOES, however, start with your donor data.
Here's why data is essential.
We may think we know what makes our donors "tick" but chances are we are also making some assumptions with no - or little - basis in fact. The human brain is amazing, but it also has limitations. Present it with a bunch of data points and it begins to engage in confirmation bias. Work WITH the data to find out the impartial facts.
Besides being impartial, data also allows us to segment:
You can then focus in by doing some simple sub-segmentation. For instance:
Existing major donor + likely life income or blended gift prospect + age >55
Loyal annual donor + high potential bequest prospect + age >65
EASY PLANNED GIVING SEGMENTATION FOR THE YOUNG NONPROFIT OR SMALL SHOP
Look at the information you already have on hand.
Keep in mind age a mortality -- we are all getting older everyday. Not to be depressing, but the oldest Boomers are now on the other side of 70. And while it’s great to obtain a planned gift intention from a 45-year-old, you are more likely to realize a planned gift from an 80-year-old, as actuarial tables prove.
USING RFM TO FIND POTENTIAL PLANNED GIVERS
RFM is an acronym for recency, frequency, money. In other words, how recently did the donor give, how often do they give and how much do they give each time and cumulatively. The highest score for each ranking is 100, so the closer a person is to a total RFM score of 300, the higher likelihood they will make a planned gift if given the opportunity. Focus on those in your database with a total RFM >225 for best results.
SEGMENT USING VENDOR RATINGS
If you've paid for a wealth screening of your database, be sure to use those scores. Donor Search's DS score, WealthEngine's P2G score or iWave's ProScore come to mind. Cross-tab by capacity rank and giving to your organization. Many vendors overlay an RFM score as part of their service, so take advantage of that.
Next post will look at how to calculate RFM on your own.