Tuesday, March 24, 2015

What does money mean to you?

Power. Happiness. Security. Freedom. Success.

In our last blog we talked about the importance of understanding your donors' feelings about money before you ask them for some. But before you start exploring your donors' attitudes about money, have you examined your own? 

It's important to understand your own feelings about money for two reasons:

1. You have to understand your own feelings about money before you can really understand someone else's.

Every time you ask for a gift, you have to put yourself in the donor's shoes - how would he or she like to be asked? There is no cookie-cutter approach; you have to tailor each ask to each individual donor, taking his or her unique attitude about money into account. How can you understand and empathize with a donor's emotions about money if you haven't taken an honest look at your own?

2. Your own personal feelings about money affect the way you ask for a gift.

The emotions that you attach to money are going to be present in you when you make an ask. Even if you're not aware of it, these emotions will be running in the background while you're talking to your donor about giving. According to financial expert Suze Orman, the three most common emotions surrounding money are fear, shame, and anger. If you're like most of us and you associate any of these emotions with money, then fear, shame, and/or anger are going to come up when you ask for a gift - and your donor is going to pick up on it, either consciously or unconsciously. If you haven't identified the emotions you associate with money, how will you be able to notice when they are affecting your ask?

So what does money mean to you? What adjectives describe your view of money? What words do you associate associate with the idea of money? What are some things that you feel money is or should be used for? Think about these questions and journal about them to really get to know the emotions attached to your idea of money. If you do, it's going to make you a better fundraiser.


Orman, Suze. The Courage to Be Rich: Creating a Life of Material and Spiritual Abundance. New York: Riverhead, 2002. Print.

Tuesday, March 17, 2015

Making an ask? You need to know THIS.

You've got great camaraderie with your donor. You know where her passions match with your organization's mission. You know that it's a good time in her life to ask for a gift. You've set up the appointment. You're going to make the ask.

But do you know how your donor feels about money - money in general?

Every donor has her own individual, unique attitude about money, and it's important that you know how your donor feels about money before you ask her for some.

In our culture, talking about money is considered taboo. We are taught that money is a private matter that should not be discussed in public. This cultural attitude sets the stage for people to attach some very powerful and emotional feelings to the idea of money.

Imagine that you ask Mary for money in the same way that you ask Bob for money. Mary smiles and eagerly takes out her checkbook. But when asked for a gift in the exact same way, Bob gets uncomfortable and shuts down. This could be because Mary and Bob have very different emotions attached to the idea of money. Mary may feel that money is a power and a tool for doing great things in the world. Bob may feel that money = self-worth, and he may feel inadequate because he doesn't think he makes enough money. So you can't ask Mary and Bob for money in the same way; you have to tailor your ask to each individual donor, taking their attitudes toward money into account.

In an article for The Chronicle of Philanthropy, fundraising expert Ian Wilhelm discusses a study done by British researcher Beth Breeze. This study, which surveyed people about their money beliefs and giving behaviors, concluded that fundraisers need to take into account donors' perceptions of their own wealth.

"It's fascinating that people who have exactly the same amount of wealth can either be relaxed and feel they have enough to spare to give a nice chunk away, or can feel uptight and worried about letting go of any of it," said Breeze. "Someone being targeted may not agree they have much to spare."

Moral of the story: understand your donors' feelings about money before you ask them for some.

Friday, March 13, 2015

3 Reasons Why You Need A Strategic Plan

"If you don't know where you are going, you'll end up someplace else." - Yogi Berra

When you're at work, can you see how your daily tasks fit into the "big picture"? Are the different departments in your organization working together toward the same common goal? Is it challenging to get things done on time?

Earlier this year we wrote about one of the keys to achieving fundraising success.

Here's another key to achieving fundraising success: a strategic plan.

Strategic planning expert John M. Bryson defines a strategic plan as "a deliberate, disciplined effort to produce fundamental decisions and actions that shape and guide what an organization (or other entity) is, what it does, and why it does it.1"

Why is having a strategic plan important for achieving fundraising success? Here are 3 reasons.

1. A strategic plan gives a sense of orientation and direction.

The clearly outlined objectives in a strategic plan act as the roadmap that orients an organization so that everyone knows where they are, where they need to go, and how and when they are going to get there. Fundraising is hard work, and it's only made harder when you don't have a clear understanding of what is expected of you or if what's expected of you keeps changing.

2. A strategic plan creates an environment of efficient, focused teamwork.

It's hard to do your job as a fundraiser if you're going in one direction, your CEO's going in another direction, and your board is going in a third, completely different direction. With a strategic plan, everyone uses the same roadmap. This means that everyone - and every individual department - is on the same page and working toward the same goals. Instead of conflict and chaos, you've got a team effort. When everyone is using the same roadmap, your organization becomes an efficient machine - and fundraising becomes a lot easier.

A roadmap also helps you to avoid making wrong turns or being blown off course. If, for example, one of your superiors suggests something that doesn't forward your fundraising goals, you can politely say, "That's a great idea and it's something we should talk about in the future. But right now, it's not something I can address because it's not part of our strategic plan."

3. A strategic plan supports your organization's integrity (and that's really important to donors).

A main part of a strategic plan is a schedule or calendar with all deadlines mapped out. Having this type of timeline - and sticking to it - helps to ensure that promises are kept and outcomes are delivered in a timely manner. This builds your organization's integrity, which in turn builds trust between your organization and the public - and research shows that people give to organizations that they trust2.

Interested in learning more about strategic plans or how Giving Focus can help you with yours? Contact Andrea today.

1Bryson, J. M. (2004). Strategic planning for public and nonprofit organizations. San Francisco: Jossey-Bass.

2Sargeant, A. (2001, November). Public trust and confidence. Charities Aid Foundation Annual Conference, London.

Tuesday, February 24, 2015

What's Your Public Image?

Do you really understand your organization?

Are you, your staff, and your board all on the same page when it comes to the image of your organization that you want the public to see? Do you feel confident that everyone in your organization is able to convey that image to the public?

Donors need to experience a connection to or relationship with your organization before they will even consider making a donation. But before this relationship can begin, donors first need to have a clear picture of your organization and what it does.

This is where an internal case statement can help.

An internal case statement conveys the role that your organization plays in your community through client success stories and facts/figures. An internal case statement gets everyone in your organization literally “on the same page” regarding your organization’s image and how to communicate it.

An internal case statement is the go-to document when someone asks, “Why should I give?”

An internal case statement is the anchor for the team requesting donations – both staff and board members.

How are people already talking about your organization?

When you’re creating an internal case statement, a good place to start is by finding out what people are already saying about your organization. You can do this by conducting interviews with clients who have had great benefits because of your organization. Write down their most moving success stories and quotes in your internal case statement. Then, when you’re trying to inspire someone to give to your organization, you can share real stories and quotes from people whose lives have been transformed because of donor gifts.

Another way to find out what people are already saying about your organization is to conduct surveys or focus groups. You can hold multiple focus groups with the different categories of people that your organization interacts with, such as your clients, vendors, and current donors. Through focus groups, you can learn the words and phrases that the community already uses to describe your organization. You can learn what makes your organization unique. You can learn what inspires people to give to your organization. Record what you learn in your internal case statement and use it when you talk about your organization with the public.

Andrea can help you conduct interviews and focus groups – contact her today to learn more!

What else should an internal case statement include?

According to communications expert Tom Ahern, an internal case statement should answer these 5 key questions:

1. Why you? What's so special about your organization that makes it worthy of donations?

2. Why now? Why do you need donations right now?

3. Why you, the donor, might care? Why you, the donor, are so important?

4. What is your organization's history? (This is mostly for donor "reassurance.")

5. Do you have any additional bright ideas? Include them here - and see how they play out.

While it can be time-consuming to create an internal case statement, having one is a tremendous tool for creating, refining, and communicating your organization’s image with the public.

Once you have an internal case statement, the next step is to make sure that your staff and board become very familiar with it so that they can pull from it whenever they are interacting with your public or are inviting prospective donors to give. After all, if your public can't get a clear picture of your organization, why would they give?

Andrea has worked with many non-profits on their internal case statements - both in creating the document and in training board and staff members on how to use it. Contact Andrea today to learn how she can help you develop and convey a clear public image.