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National Catholic Development Conference 2010

If you will be attending the National Catholic Development Conference in Chicago, please come and visit with me.  Brian Lacy and Associates will have Booth 322 from Sunday September 19 through Tuesday September 21.  On Monday morning at 9am we will host a roundtable entitlted “Interesting New Ways to Boost Direct Mail Results”.  Can’t make it to conference, but you live in Chicago and work in development, every evening great groups will be going out to dinner to talk about development.  Call me (860-478-9291) or email me (brian@brianlacy.com) if you want to join a dinner group.  I can likely hook you up wth a group interesting in the same aspects of development as you!

Regards,

Brian Lacy

What Women Want: Understanding Women’s Philanthropic Giving

September 9th, 2010 | No Comments | Posted in Marketing

women-and-moneyWomen, as a group, are increasingly impacting fundraising efforts in the U.S.; however, their philanthropic objectives can differ significantly from men’s.

Women tend to focus on specific sectors and want greater accountability for their gifts.

On the whole, women want to create new solutions, seek more contact and control, and want to be kept informed of the results from their giving.

Many also seek social networks within the organizations that interest them.

If women make up a significant portion of your donor base, you may need to change the way you speak with them and start listening for their direction.

The topic of women in philanthropy is finally gaining its due study. Several books and a growing number of philanthropic institutes have helped us to see a clearer picture.

Reinventing Fundraising, Realizing the Potential of Women’s Philanthropy, by Sondra Shaw-Hardy and Martha Taylor, focuses on the “Six C’s” of women’s motivation for giving:

* Create new solutions to old problems.

* Use their financial power to effect change rather than to preserve the status quo.

* Make a commitment (or commit) to the organization’s vision.

* Enjoy a personal connection with the institution or organization.

* Collaborate and work with others as part of a larger effort.

* Celebrate.

In concert with these motivations, women are seeking greater control of the resources they have produced and therefore expect greater accountability from the nonprofit organizations that they support.

Be transparent in your communications.

Report your results proudly and frequently.

Personalize your communications so that your donors get a greater understanding of the impact of their individual gift.

Women make charitable gifts to a variety of causes, but research shows the majority is designated for the needs of children, opportunities for women, education and health issues.

They also support causes that provide economic opportunities for all, promote diversity, and support the arts and the environment.

These gifts mostly go to support grassroots nonprofits or are restricted to grassroots programs if the gift is given to a larger or national-level organization.

It’s not just affluent women who make gifts, however. Women with annual incomes of less than $10,000, who are often homemakers with children at home, give an astounding 5.4 percent of their adjusted gross income to charity.

Many charitable organizations either have misperceptions about female donors or they have decided just to do things the way they always have – which many will admit is no longer working.

Women increasingly choose charitable interests separate and distinct from their spouse or family and it would be wise to approach them, not as part of a couple or a unit, but as an individual donor.

It’s time to identify and understand your female constituency, to speak to them differently, to ask for their involvement both financial and with their time and to consider them as one of the most important components of your donor base.

Katherine Swank, J.D., is a consultant at Target Analytics, a Blackbaud Company.

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10 Twitter Apps for Nonprofits

September 9th, 2010 | 1 Comment | Posted in Information, Marketing

twitter-birdHardly a day goes by where I don’t hear about some new Twitter initiative in the fundraising sector. FromBritt Bravo‘s recent Twitter chat to Roger Craver discussing the reach of Twitter and social media, Twitter’s influence on keeping donors engaged is undeniable.

If your organization isn’t utilizing Twitter to its fullest potential, Heather Mansfield, owner of DIOSA Communications, which specializes in social media and mobile marketing for nonprofits and small business, and keeper of the Nonprofit Tech 2.0 blog, offers 10 Twitter apps for nonprofits “that can also be used to improve website, e-newsletter, blogging and social media campaigns.” Here are the 10 apps she recommends.

1. Bit.ly: Allows users to shorten, share and track URLs. This is a must-use tool, Mansfield writes. “Without tracking how many clicks the links you post on Twitter are receiving, you are Tweeting blindly.”

2. TweetMeme: TweeteMeme ReTweet Buttons encourage the audience to retweet content on Twitter with a click of the button.

3. Favstar.fm: Allows you to see the “most favorited” tweets across Twitter at any given time, Mansfield says, and it also allows you to track your own tweets to see who is favoriting them.

4. Twibbon: Allows followers to embed icons on their Twitter avatars and spread them throughout Twitter.

5. TwitPic: Lets you share photos on Twitter.

6. 12seconds: Allows users to easily record videos and upload them to their 12seconds video channel to post on Twitter.

7. BubbleTweet: Allows users to embed video directly onto their Twitter pages.

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US News and World Report Rankings Adjusted

September 9th, 2010 | No Comments | Posted in Fundraising, Information

college-educationIn the realm of college admissions, today is a day to rejoice—or rant. It all depends on your opinion of college rankings (or, perhaps, your college’s place on U.S. News & World Report’s annual list).

Today the magazine unveiled the 2011 edition of Best Colleges. As you may have heard, some university in Massachusetts topped the list of national universities, and a small college in the same state took the top spot on the list of liberal-arts colleges.

Although some things never change, the ranking methodology does. This year, for the first time, U.S. News included the views of high-school counselors in its measure of “academic reputation,” perhaps the most controversial aspect of the rankings. Previously, the magazine used only an annual “peer assessment” survey of college presidents, provosts, and admissions deans to calculate this measure, which accounted for 25 percent of each college’s overall ranking.

This year, U.S. News lowered the weight for academic reputation to 22.5 percent (for national universities and liberal-arts colleges only). Ratings by nearly 1,800 high-school counselors surveyed accounted for a third of that measure, and ratings by college administrators accounted for two-thirds. In other words, the opinions of college officials carry less weight than they did last year.

Complaints about the peer-assessment survey were among the reasons U.S. News brought counselors into the fold, says Robert J. Morse, the magazine’s director of data research. Over time, participation in the annual survey has declined steadily (this year, 48 percent of college officials who received questionnaires responded, the same as last year). For years, Mr. Morse has said that U.S. News would invite other experts to participate in the rankings, if necessary.

“We went out and searched for people who had a stake in admissions, who had a certain expertise,” Mr. Morse says. “High-school counselors play a big part in college admissions, so we counted their votes.”

The significance of this change may be more symbolic than substantial. Sure, the power of the peer-assessment survey, long loathed by some college officials and high-school counselors, has been diluted. Nevertheless, reputation—that slippery and subjective thing—still matters a lot in the U.S. News formula. The mix of reputational experts has just become more diverse.

“The concerns people have about rankings will not be assuaged by giving high-school counselors a voice in them,” says James W. Jump, director of guidance at St. Christopher’s School, in Richmond, Va., and the departing president of the National Association for College Admission Counseling. “The idea that No. 9 is better than No. 20 concerns me. Ranking simplifies what should be a complex process.”

In other changes this year, U.S. News raised the weight of the “predicted graduation rate” to 7.5 percent, from 5 percent, of a college’s overall ranking. The magazine also expanded the number of institutions ranked in each category, and it changed the names of two categories (“Universities-Master’s” and “Baccalaureate Colleges”) that had puzzled readers.

U.S. News considered at least one change that it did not make. In June, Mr. Morse wrote on his blog that he and his colleagues might add “yield” (the percentage of admitted applicants who enroll) back into the rankings. In 2003, the magazine’s editors removed the measure from its formula amid criticisms that the rankings had driven colleges to become obsessed with yield. Never mind that colleges have long had plenty of other reasons to fret about yield, or that yield accounted for only 1.5 percent of a college’s ranking by U.S. News.

“In the end,” Mr. Morse says, “we didn’t want the discussion of yield to take away from the other changes we were making.”


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International and Aborignal Student Key to Canada’s Future

September 9th, 2010 | No Comments | Posted in Information

Prem_Working_to_Sustain_Economic_Recovery

Academic Ranking of World Universities – 2010

September 9th, 2010 | No Comments | Posted in Information, Marketing

World Rank

Institution*

Region

Regional Rank

National Rank

Score on Alumni

Score on Award

Score on HiCi

Score on N&S

Score on PUB

Score on PCP

1

Harvard University

Americas

1

1

100.0

100.0

100.0

100.0

100.0

69.2

2

University of California, Berkeley

Americas

2

2

67.6

79.3

69.0

70.9

70.6

54.2

3

Stanford University

Americas

3

3

40.2

78.4

87.6

68.4

69.7

50.1

4

Massachusetts Institute of Technology (MIT)

Americas

4

4

70.5

80.3

66.8

70.1

61.4

64.5

5

University of Cambridge

Europe

1

1

88.5

92.6

53.9

54.3

65.7

53.1

6

California Institute of Technology

Americas

5

5

50.3

68.8

56.7

64.8

46.9

100.0

7

Princeton University

Americas

6

6

56.4

84.8

61.1

43.3

44.3

65.5

8

Columbia University

Americas

7

7

70.7

67.4

56.2

47.6

69.9

32.1

9

University of Chicago

Americas

8

8

65.5

83.9

50.9

39.8

50.5

40.0

10

University of Oxford

Europe

2

2

56.2

57.6

48.8

49.8

68.5

41.1

For 11-500 Click Here!

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Where Do Online Donors Go Once You’ve Got Them?

September 9th, 2010 | No Comments | Posted in Information, Marketing

As part of our recent benchmarking at Pareto Fundraising, we were asked to look at the subsequent behaviour of new onetime cash recruits. In other words, looking at donors that are recruited online, where do they go once on board? What about direct mail donors? Do they follow the same stream or veer off into other vehicles?

Here’s what we found

Direct mail recruits tended to keep doing what they did originally. Ninety per cent subsequently kept giving through the mail. No surprises there.

Grapsas, Jonathon.jpg

The same mostly rang true for telephone recruits, 85 per cent continuing to give via the phone and almost 15 per cent through the mail.

For online recruits, there are slightly more varying (and perhaps surprising) results. Around 75 per cent continued giving through the method of recruitment, around 15 per cent then gave through the mail, and the remainder through a combination of other channels.

What’s the upshot of this?

Whilst some of this may appear on face value a little startling, all is not what it seems at first. In other words, the reason a large chunk of online-recruited donors moved across to donate offline does not necessarily indicate too much about their giving behavior.

It tells us more about their giving requests and cultivation. Many of our charities have much more sophisticated and coherent offline fundraising streams. Therefore, if the numbers are small, we tend to include donors in the bucket that allows the most flexibility, largest volumes, and has the most frequent communications.

And often that’s the mail.

I’m not suggesting it isn’t noteworthy – it dispels somewhat the myth that online recruits won’t give offline, but contextually I think it says more about programs than behavior.

So what should you do?

Test. If you have, or are planning to recruit, a significant stream of donors from one particular channel (let’s take online for a moment), then you need to be looking at how best that group responds when treated in different ways.

As suggested above, it appears that the behavior of various groups is dictated by our treatment – in other words, what we send them and how we send it.

At the moment we’re undertaking a head-to-head split test looking at whether a group of online recruited donors responds better to an online solicitation (in this case a survey) than to an offline (mail) solicitation (again, a survey).

We want to find the optimum way to treat this group. Initially we want to determine, with a survey ask that includes a cash request, what generates the best overall net return. Down the track we’ll measure the optimum suite of communications for this constituency, which could actually be a mixture of offline and online pieces.

Regardless of method of recruitment, always look for the best way to move onetime cash donors across to monthly giving. Monthly giving for our clients grew 9% in 2009, at the height of the recession.

Always look deeper. The data shared above could easily be misunderstood. It certainly wasn’t suggesting that online donors are necessarily ripe to move offline.

Remember that the decisions we make have more impact than environmental factors outside our control.

By:  Jonathon Grapsas

“This copywright article originally appeared in Canadian Fundraising & Philanthropy, www.canadianfundraiser.com, and is reproduced with permission.”

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Does “Do Not Solicit” Mean They Won’t Give

September 9th, 2010 | No Comments | Posted in Fundraising

(From CoolData Blog guest blogger Peter Wylie)

I think studying higher education alumni databases is a lot like studying a foreign Language. Take French. I’ve been a student of it off and on for over 50 years. I’ve gotten pretty good at it. So much so that native speakers often compliment me on my fluency. When they do, I thank them graciously and quickly add “Plus je sais, plus je ne sais pas.” The more I know, the more I don’t know.

For over a decade I thought I “knew” that alumni who tell their alma maters not to ask them for money meant two things: (1) Don’t ask me, and (2) I’m not going to give you anything. Then a good friend and colleague sent me some data for a project that may end up being pretty cool. Of the 50,000 or so records she sent, over 7,000 had a “do not solicit” tag. Okay. That’s clear. Don’t call ‘em. Don’t send ‘em letters or e-mails. And definitely don’t go knocking on their doors just because you happen to be in the neighborhood. That’s all pretty clear.

But I’m nosy; I checked to see if any of those 7,000 or so had ever given the school any money. It turns out that a little over a third of them had given some money. I couldn’t tell how much because my friend had not given me dollar amounts. Just whether or not they’d ever given a hard credit gift to the school. (We’d agreed that actual amounts would distract us from the goals of the project.)

I couldn’t stop there. I started digging around to see what some of the differences were between the ones who’d given and the ones who hadn’t. I think I found some interesting stuff. Of course, that doesn’t mean what I found applies to other schools. Maybe it does. Maybe it doesn’t.

For me, that’s not so important. What’s important is that young folks (like Kevin MacDonell, the creator of this great blog) who carry the vanguard of data-driven decision making in our field will take this topic farther than I have. And that can’t be a bad thing.

In the rest of this piece I’ll cover three topics:

  • Some of the interesting differences between the givers and non-givers (who say “Don’t solicit.”)
  • The model I used to “predict” the givers
  • Some concluding thoughts

Some Interesting Differences

In a moment we can take a look at Figures 1-6 that show some variables on which “Do not solicit” alums differ markedly when it comes to giving. Before we do that, however, I think it’s important to point out something we don’t know. We don’t know when or under what circumstances any of these alums told the school they did not want to be solicited. For example,

  • Did they do it recently or a long time ago?
  • Did they do it on a permanent basis, or just temporarily? It’s possible that some of them are parents of kids attending the school and their attitude for the next four years is, “Hey, I’m paying an arm and a leg for tuition. Until I’m done with that, please don’t go asking me for money while I’m in hock up to my underwear.”
  • Are they bent out of shape over the beloved football coach who was finally let go after ten consecutive losing seasons – something they may eventually get beyond? Or is it simply a case of, “I’ll give you something, maybe a lot, when I’m ready. In the meantime, don’t bug me?”

Again, we don’t know. But before any advancement person uses the results of a predictive model like the one I lay out here, they should consider these sorts of possibilities. More about that later.

Let’s take a walk through the figures. After each one I’ve made a short comment or two to make it clear what the figure is conveying.

There are huge difference in the giving rates among three types of alums. Undergraduate alums are almost twice as likely to give as graduate alums and more than six times as likely to give as non-degreed alums.

Alums who have attended at least one reunion are two and a half times as likely to give as alums who have never attended a reunion.

Alums who have never attended an event are less than half as likely to give as alums who’ve attended one event and about a third as likely to give as alums who have attended two or more events.

Alums who are members of the online community are twice as likely to give as alums who are not members.

Alums who were members of a Greek organization as undergrads are almost twice as likely to give as alums who were not Greek members.

Alums who are children of alums are two and a half times as likely to give as alums whose parents are not alums.

Clearly, these figures (and several I haven’t included) show there are a number of variables in the alumni database at this school that can be used to predict which “do not solicit” alums may be more likely to give in the future. One way to find out if we’re right is to (a) build a model that yields a “likelihood of giving score” for each of these alums and (b) begin testing the model.

Building a predictive model

I have to admit that, here, I was a bit torn about how much technical detail to go into. If I take you minute step by minute step through the model building process, I risk both confusing you and boring you. That wouldn’t be good. On the other hand, if I go too light on the details, you may say, “Come on, Pete, you haven’t given me enough info to see if I can test your results at my own school.”

So … how about this as a compromise?

Using multiple regression (if you know what that is, great; if you don’t, not to worry), I created a score for each alum where EVER GAVE (0/1) was the outcome variable and where the variables you see above as well as the following were the predictor variables:

  • Count of current volunteer activities
  • Count of past volunteer activities
  • Year the alum graduated (or should have if he or she had completed a degree “on time”)

The model generated well over 2,500 different score levels into which the 7,393 alums  could fall – way too many for anybody to get their conceptual arms around. The adjusted R squared for the model was about 36%. (Again, don’t worry if you don’t know what R squared means.)

I divided the 2,695 score levels into 10 groups of “deciles” containing about 740 alums each. As you look at Table 1, you’ll see these groups varied some in size. In Decile 1 (the lowest scoring 10% of alums) there are 726 people. In Decile 10 (the highest scoring 10% of alums) there are 739 people.

TABLE 1: Frequency Breakdown of “Do Not Solicit” Alums by Score Decile

If the model is to be useful in identifying “Do not solicit” alums who are likely to give, the number and percentage of givers should increase as the deciles increase. A look at Table 2 and Fig. 7 show that these numbers and percentages do just that. For example, in the first decile, of the 726 alums, only 12 (1.7%) have ever given anything to the school. In the tenth decile, of the 739 alums, 649 (87.8%) have given to the school.

TABLE 2: Number and Percentage of “Do Not Solicit” Alums Who Gave by Score Decile

Some Concluding Thoughts

You may have read other stuff I’ve written on data mining and predictive modeling. If you have, could be you’re tired of hearing me say that higher education advancement offices ignore most of the data they have on their alums as they go about the business of raising money from those alums.

Well, no rest for the weary here. This little study is a good example of what I’m talking about. Who would have thought there would be such striking differences between givers and non-givers who ask not to be asked? Not me. I just stumbled onto it because I was playing around with data that had been put together for a totally different reason. And I think that’s my point. When we’re talking alumni databases, there are oceans of data that could help us save a lot of money and generate a lot more revenue for some very worthy missions. But with the drops of analysis we’re currently doing on all that data, we’re not saving all that much money nor generating that much more revenue. We’re not. And that needs to change.

If you’re reading this, I suspect I’m preaching to the choir. It’s probably not you that needs the convincing on this matter. It’s probably the big bosses where you work that need the exhortation and cajoling. So the next time one of ‘em makes noises about spending big money on some product or service that’s designed to “prepare for the campaign” or whatever, you might say something like: “That’s cool. That’s great. But let’s not forget about all that data we’ve got just sitting there waiting to help us identify individuals who can play a major role in this project.” If they look intrigued, start pitching them. If they don’t, don’t give up. Take another run at them in a few months.

Back to the specific topic of this paper. Try to build a predictive giving model for your own “Do not solicit” alums. If you’re not proficient with using statistical software, find somebody in your school who is and get them to help you. If you have an Office of Institutional Research (or some similarly titled entity), that’s a good place to look. Just make sure the person you choose grasps the basic idea of what you’re trying to do and has the capacity to explain technical stuff in plain English.

Then do some in depth research on the high scoring alums that emerge from your model, especially those who’ve been generous givers over the years. Share the names with some of your colleagues, whether they’re involved in the annual fund, prospect research, or part of your cadre of gifts officers. My bet is that at least one alum is going to pop out of the mix who is teed up for a real nice appeal if your group comes up with the right strategy.

Good luck and let us know how it turns out.

(From CoolDataBlog guest blogger Peter Wylie)

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15 Donor Data Security and Privacy Questions

September 9th, 2010 | No Comments | Posted in Information

computerIn today’s online-obsessed world, data security is a major concern for donors and consumers alike. It’s vital for nonprofit organizations to gather and store as much information as they possibly can to engage donors and prospective donors and ultimately to get them to give. 

But in order for donors to provide that information, they must trust that your organization will use it appropriately — and that their data is safe and secure and their privacy is not violated. One slip-up or security breech and all credibility for your organization is lost. 

How can your organization ensure data security and donor privacy? In the Association of Fundraising Professionals‘ book “Internet Management for Nonprofits: Strategies, Tools & Trade Secrets,” authorsTed HartSteve MacLaughlinJames M. Greenfield and Philip H. Geier Jr. provide 15 questions to consider regarding donor data security in chapter 16, “12 Steps to Protect Your Organization and Donors from Fraud and Identity Theft” (Page 347):

1. Do your service providers have valid PCI DSS  and PA-DSS  certificates that are required today to process credit card transactions through payment applications?
2. Do all of your third-party suppliers and vendors that handle credit card transactions for you have valid PCI DSS or PA-DSS certificates?
3. How do you protect your donor’s confidential data in your organization?
4. Are your organization’s databases that store, transmit or process cardholder data encrypted to PCI DSS standards?
5. Who in your organization has access to sensitive donor information and cardholder data?
6. Is all cardholder data locked up, or is it left out so that unauthorized staff has access?
7. Do all people handling cardholder data have criminal and credit checks done as part of your hiring practices?
8. Is cardholder data processed, stored or transmitted on or between computers in your office or from call-center staff without proper encryption?
9. If cardholder data is stored, does it need to be?
10. How is cardholder data handled when collected by phone or in the field?
11. In times of disaster-relief campaigns, how is cardholder data transported between offices or collection offices?
12. How long do you store cardholder data?
13. Are your website and other applications coded to the security standards of the Open Web Application Security Project ?
14. Do you have written security policies outlining procedures and processes?
15. Do you provide security education for all staff and volunteers?

1. Do your service providers have valid PCI DSS  and PA-DSS  certificates that are required today to process credit card transactions through payment applications?

2. Do all of your third-party suppliers and vendors that handle credit card transactions for you have valid PCI DSS or PA-DSS certificates?

3. How do you protect your donor’s confidential data in your organization?

4. Are your organization’s databases that store, transmit or process cardholder data encrypted to PCI DSS standards?

5. Who in your organization has access to sensitive donor information and cardholder data?

6. Is all cardholder data locked up, or is it left out so that unauthorized staff has access?

7. Do all people handling cardholder data have criminal and credit checks done as part of your hiring practices?

8. Is cardholder data processed, stored or transmitted on or between computers in your office or from call-center staff without proper encryption?

9. If cardholder data is stored, does it need to be?

10. How is cardholder data handled when collected by phone or in the field?

11. In times of disaster-relief campaigns, how is cardholder data transported between offices or collection offices?

12. How long do you store cardholder data?

13. Are your website and other applications coded to the security standards of the Open Web Application Security Project ?

14. Do you have written security policies outlining procedures and processes?

15. Do you provide security education for all staff and volunteers?

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    The Tactic We All Love To Hate

    September 9th, 2010 | No Comments | Posted in Fundraising

    love-hate-baby

    Sometimes the world of raising charitable funds can be frustratingly counter-intuitive. Nothing proves this point more than the ever-present role of telefundraising in Canada today.

    Stop and think about it. When was the last time you heard a colleague, a friend or a family member say something positive about raising funds by phone? Of all the fundraising tactics and methods I know, certainly none generate as much irritation, anger and frustration as the old ‘call at suppertime.’

    Let’s stop and think about this together for a minute. Surely, we can figure it out.

    Telemarketing has a bad rep

    In my opinion, telemarketing in the charitable sector has built such a terrible reputation for a few important reasons:

    Charities call strangers. In our opinion – and our experience – the phone is rarely (if ever) an appropriate tool for donor acquisition campaigns.

    Telemarketing scriptwriters insist on leading off the call with the old and very insincere“how are you tonight?”  The caller often launches into the pitch before listening for an answer. You can call me old fashioned, but that’s rude, isn’t it?

    Many (and I’d say most) telemarketing companies seem to fundamentally misunderstand the medium – as ridiculous as that sounds. The telephone is a tool for conversation. That means two-way communication. What drives us nuts about telemarketing is that most of it is too one-way. Initiates at seminary school are often taught that ‘we have two ears but only one mouth.’ Those pushy people on the phone should take heed of this sage advice.

    And – related to the point I’ve just outlined – too many telemarketers are (and are obviously trained to be) simply unwilling to recognize the word ‘NO.’ I’ve been exposed to phone training rubrics where the phoner is not to accept the word NO until the third time it’s said. How ridiculous is that?

    The phone as a tool for good

    I’m a fundraising consultant – an (alleged) expert in my field. Despite all my harsh criticism, there’s no question in my mind that the phone has an important role to play in philanthropic marketing today. My colleagues and I are dedicated to helping clients build deeper human connections with their donors. And despite its sometimes awful rep, the phone can be a powerful tool in doing just that.

    My FLA colleagues and I research the who, what, when, where, and why of charitable giving all the time. It’s abundantly clear to us that annual giving is now a three-channel stream of mail, phone, and online giving (in that order). Choosing not to use the phone because you just don’t like it leaves a lot of money on the table.

    To start with, the call is going to go much more smoothly when the caller explains WHY she’s calling ME. For example, “Leah, we’re calling you because you’ve been a monthly donor to Save the Pussycats for ten years now – and we want to tell you about an important new campaign that’s just getting started.”

    The smart charity will take advantage of the conversation to ask me a few questions. This both makes me feel like my opinion matters – and it gives the charity more knowledge about who I am and what I want and expect from them. Even simple customer-service type questions work well here.

    The smart charity will let me choose how to hear from them and how to get in touch with them. If I ask to get a package in the mail instead of talking on the phone – or to look at the information on the web site – let me! I’m driving this bus – not the stranger who’s just taken me from homework time with my 9-year old.

    Maximize revenue and minimize complaints

    This month, I have four specific tips for you:

    Look carefully when choosing your phoning agency. Make sure they have a ‘conversational culture’ when it comes to their customer/donor contact programs. Avoid those agencies that push the ‘stick to the script’ approach.

    At FLA, we only select phoning agencies which will let us – and our clients – listen in to live phoning any time. We strongly encourage our clients to spend a good deal of time listening to the conversations they have initiated.

    Use the phone strategically. Target phoning for specific reasons to specific donor segments. For example, we love the phone to welcome new donors, to convert single-gift donors to monthly gifts, to reactivate lapsed donors and sometimes to sift for the best legacy gift prospects. We have NEVER recommended that a client use the phone for donor acquisition.

    Never, ever, hire a telemarketing agency that charges on a percentage of revenue raised basis, takes any ownership whatsoever of donor information, guarantees break-even results (if it sounds too good to be true, it probably is) or insists on a long-term, multi-year contract.

    Jose van Herpt is a member of FLA Group, a consulting firm that works with Canadian charities to engage donors at a truly human level and build donor loyalty and commitment. FLA welcomes your ideas, comments and criticisms about this tip.

    “This copywright article originally appeared in Canadian Fundraising & Philanthropy, www.canadianfundraiser.com, and is reproduced with permission.”

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