Browse > Home / Archive: December 2014

| Subscribe via RSS

Phone Calls to Donors = Highly Profitable Fundraising

December 31st, 2014 | No Comments | Posted in Fundraising

Are you afraid of the phone?

It can be scary to pick up the phone to call a donor or a potential donor!

elderley-lady-on-phone

Especially when it’s so much easier to keep your polite distance and send a letter or an email solicitation.

But stop a minute and think about your donors:

Could it be that people are happy to talk to you on the phone?

Might they be happy to have actual human engagement?

But people hate getting phone calls, right?

“Actually, if the call is done right, then they are grateful to hear from you and you can’t get them off the phone!”

People don’t want BAD direct mail or BAD email.  They don’t want BAD phone calls either.

At the International Fundraising Conference in Amsterdam, I was fascinated by a blazing defense of the phone from Simon Scriver of Total Fundraising@TotalFR on twitter and blogging at changefundraising.com.

This post summarizes his very practical recommendations.  I hope they will jolt you to re-think your fundraising strategies. I’m actually quoting directly from his terrific presentation here.

“Face to face and phone will always do much better than online and mail fundraising.”

What? Could this be true? I know that face to face is the most effective way, but phone too?

Why you should consider the phone:

  • It’s relatively cheap. (Hurray for low-cost fundraising tools).
  • It can be very personal to the donor. (And that’s lovely, isn’t it?)
  • It supports every other medium – can boost direct mail response quickly.
  • It’s scalable: if you only have 4 donors – you can call them every month. If you have 400 you can easily reach them. If you have 4000 or 40000, you can amass armies of volunteers to call them.
  • Anyone can do them! Volunteers, staff, even donors can call other donors.

Look at all these important uses of phone calls:

WELCOME CALLS: Say thank you! Every single donor should be thanked on the phone if at all possible!

REACTIVATION CALLS:   Ask a lapsed donor to renew their pledge. Why not?

UPGRADE CALLS:  Ask a donor to give or pledge more because of an important new initiative.

phone girs on phone frown

Don’t be nervous about calling your donors on the phone!

CONVERSION CALLS: Call event attendees and ask them to become monthly donors.

Simon also shared what we can expect to raise if we used a smart phone calling strategy.

If you called your entire donor base. . . on average,

1 in 4 donors would give you more!

So if 25% of your donor base is 1000 donors, and all gave $25.00 more, then you’d have an additional $25k.

If 25% of your donor base is 5000 donors, and each of them gave $50 more, that would be 250k.

Run the numbers and see if they don’t get your attention?!

If you called all your lapsed donors,

19% would say YES!

Simon said that 50% won’t answer, 27% will say no and 19% will say yes.

Now, run those numbers and you’ll see how much money you are leaving on the table by not calling.

If you called event attendees and asked them to become monthly donors, 8% would say yes.

25% would say no and 67% would be not be able to contact.

It can even be fun to call your donors on the phone!

It can even be fun to call your donors on the phone!

Welcome calls to new donors boost retention by 30%.

Are you ready to pick up the phone yet?

Here are some smart guidelines for planning your calls.

  • Use the donor’s name right off. Confirm who you are speaking with.
  • Be personal. You are not talking from a canned script.
  • Identify yourself and your role.
  • LISTEN – Listening will tell you what to say next.
  • Let them see your phone number so they know who is calling. Your more passionate supporters are more likely to pick up the phone.

What does a good phone call look like?

You ask leading questions where the answer is “YES.”

  • You are concerned about this cause correct?  YES 

    I bet your donor would LOVE to hear from you and would be ready to give more if you asked!

    I bet your donor would LOVE to hear from you and would be ready to give more if you asked!

  • And you are making monthly gifts right now?   YES
  • Would you like to consider xx more a month?  YES

What to say on a phone call – words and phrases to use:

Hi, I’m xxxx, calling on behalf of xx organization.

Do you have time for a quick talk?

First of all we want to give you a huge thank you for your (gifts, volunteering, attending event) with us.

It’s awesome that you are doing this. (AFFIRMATION OF THE DONOR)

Do you mind my asking what was it that led you to make the donation in the first place? (GETTING DONOR FEEDBACK)

You may remember reading about xxx project that you helped fund.

Thanks to people like yourself, we were able to xxxx, and now here’s the impact of this xxxx.

What we are doing today – is a phone campaign so we can tackle this next important project.

We are asking people to increase their gift by xx amount and then they can help create xxxxx impact or reach xxxxx people.

Most people are giving in this range of $xxx to $xxxx. How much would you like to give?

Simon says that if you mention $75, they’ll give higher than that.

If you mention $120 they’ll give $135.

BOTTOM LINE:

Direct calls to donors can be an amazing fundraising tool. They can raise serious money for you and your cause.

Try these strategies. Are you willing to do this?

10/31/2014
By Gail Perry
Fired Up Fundraising

Donors 80 Percent More Likely to Donate If Entire Gift Goes to Mission

December 30th, 2014 | No Comments | Posted in Fundraising

Simple tweak could nearly double the amount given to charity

A representative from a charitable organization stops you on the sidewalk and asks for $100 to feed people starving in the developing world. And a large donor has agreed to match your donation. Still, you hesitate, because you wonder how much of that money will be sucked up by the salary of the charity’s CEO or the costs of yet more fundraising. “Don’t worry,” the rep tells you, “all of those overhead costs are paid for by another donor: So 100% of your money will help the hungry.” It may seem to be nothing more than an accounting trick—after all, the charity’s budget and operation hasn’t changed—but you will now be almost twice as likely to donate and willing to give 75% more money, according to a new study. It is yet more evidence that classic economic theory is wrong about how people make decisions.

There’s no such thing as a free lunch, even for charities. Even the most efficient organization must use at least a tiny portion of its income to cover administration costs. For example, the American Red Cross spends 10% of its $3 billion in revenue on administration and fundraising. Its nonmission spending has been controversial, but other charities have even larger overheads. To improve the health of mothers and babies, for example, March of Dimes spends 33% of its $200 million budget on administration and fundraising. Should people only donate their money to charities with the lowest overhead ratios?

According to current theory, “basing donation decisions on overhead is wrong,” says Uri Gneezy, an economist at the Rady School of Management at the University of California (UC), San Diego. Some charitable missions may simply be more expensive to administer. And if a particular mission—taking care of the poor children in your city—is what you really care about, then you should base your decision on efficacy, not efficiency.

But that reasoning is based on the assumption that people make their decisions like Star Trek’s supremely rational Vulcans. “Mr. Spock [donates] just because he cares about the outcome for the child,” Gneezy says, but this assumption is “a mistake” because it ignores the main motivation for giving: “It makes us feel good.” Anything that reduces that good feeling will lower the likelihood of a donation. And one of the biggest turnoffs is the perception that donations are being leeched by an organization, which economists call overhead aversion.

A charity can’t make its overhead costs completely disappear, but there is a way to make it appear to be zero from the perspective of an individual donor: First convince a big donor to cover the charity’s overhead costs, and then everyone else can be told that 100% of their donations will go directly to the mission. Based on the psychology of decision-making, Gneezy reasoned, that should boost donations by eliminating people’s overhead aversion.

Gneezy and colleagues started with a laboratory experiment. They recruited 449 undergraduate students and gave each of them a choice of donating $100 to one of two real but little-known charities: Kids Korps USA, “a nonprofit organization that engages young people in volunteerism and teaches them about leadership and civic responsibility,” or charity: water, “a nonprofit organization that brings clean and safe drinking water to people in developing nations.”

The donation information provided to help the subjects make their decisions varied. In some cases, a donation to one charity was part of a fund drive where the donation would be matched by a committed donor, either in a 1-1 ratio or a 3-1 ratio. In other cases, the donation would just be added to a “seed fund” that was already committed. And to test the overhead aversion hypothesis, sometimes a donation to a charity would come with the promise that 100% of the money would go to the cause, because the overhead was already covered by another donor.

Removing the overhead made a big difference. When subjects were told that all of their donation would go directly to the cause, they were 80% more likely to donate to a charity compared with the same charity with a seed fund, and 94% more likely compared with matching donations, the team reports this week in Science. Surprisingly, the rate of donation was the same when the donations were matched either 1-to-1 or 3-to-1.

Then the team did a real-world experiment. Last year, an unnamed educational charity mailed out a request for donations to 40,000 people divided evenly into four treatment groups: overhead-free, matching funds, seed fund, and a control group with no special terms. They were asked to give any amount they could, but were encouraged to give between $20 and $100. Sure enough, removing overhead boosted total donations 64%, yielding $13,220 compared with $8040 from the control group.

“This is a very clever study with obvious real-world implications,” says Daniel Oppenheimer, a psychologist at UC Los Angeles. Overhead aversion has long been known to be powerful, he says, even causing “people to prefer to give to charities with lower overhead that help fewer people than charities with higher overhead that actually do more good.” But a practical challenge will be to find donors willing to cover the overhead, because “large donors don’t like overhead any more than other donors.”

So should all charities try to switch to this strategy? Some who study charitable giving hope not. “Overheads are already a bad way to assess a charity,” says Toby Ord, a philosopher at the University of Oxford in the United Kingdom and the co-founder of the evidence-based charity ranker Giving What We Can. “So this takes a bad metric and either nullifies it or exploits it, depending on how you look at it.” Rather than using a “trick” to make a donor think they are more efficient, Ord says, charities should focus on improving their efficacy.

But Gneezy contends that no one is being tricked. Even knowing that overhead should not be an important factor in a donation decision, “I feel the same as our subjects do. … What I find nice about our solution is that it is a simple change in the name of the gift that makes us so happy about it—even when we are fully aware of this. It’s not a ‘trick’ or ‘nudge’ or ‘irrational’—it is a different feeling that we get from our donations.”

30 October 2014
By John Bohannon

 

3 Ideas to Improve (Almost) Any Fundraising Activity

December 28th, 2014 | No Comments | Posted in Fundraising

A few days ago, I attended a fundraising event. Frankly, it was very enjoyable — an interesting, unique way to spend an evening. Food, good conversation, a clear presentation of the offer …

And yet, it was about as far away from the typical fundraising event I have been to as it could be. And that was good — because it worked.

There were three specific things I observed at the event that I believe can help almost any fundraising effort — whether online, in the mail or in person.

First, the audience was selected specifically for this event. It wasn’t “one size fits all.” The venue was smaller and not centrally located — on purpose. The donors invited were those who were giving at a high level and prospects for more significant gifts who lived in the vicinity of the event’s location. No one had to contemplate driving halfway across town at rush hour to attend a large event where they may feel almost anonymous. Rather, they stopped off for dinner with friends and a unique program on their way home from work.

For direct mail, e-appeals and events, we often throw too much energy into one big thing — and hope if we cast the net far enough, we’ll get the results we need. While that’s more efficient in many cases, the smaller, more intimate event can allow more one-on-one interaction (or at least copy that feels like it’s directed to the recipient, not the world in general). Sure, this isn’t always practical, but it’s worth considering if communicating more specifically to many smaller segments — even with just a few paragraphs, a headline or a photo — will ultimately provide a better return on investment.

Secondly, the theme fit the event and the audience, and frankly, it was fun. No, we can’t always have fun with our causes, especially when we are dealing with life-and-death issues. But busy people have to select from many options of where to use their time, and reading an email or letter or attending an event has to be more appealing than every other competing option.

The event I attended wasn’t something for which I basically could have written the program before I even got there. It was surprising and out of the ordinary — but it didn’t neglect a solid ask (and rationale for giving), pledge cards and people who worked the crowd. How predictable are your events, letters and emails? Have they become “OK to miss” choices for donors simply because they feel too predictable? Think about ways to make your fundraising more unexpected, and maybe some donors will start paying attention again.

Finally, the staff on the nonprofit did a great job relying on outside support. In fact, when I met the development team, I was surprised to see no one panicking about the napkins or looking like he or she was desperately in need of a good night’s sleep. Instead, everyone was relaxed, greeting guests (and taking time to visit with them), and simply enjoying the opportunity to give their supporters a memorable evening while they raised support.

Too often, we (and this is very inward-focused, too) can’t let go. “Anything you do, I can make better” is our mantra. So even though we pay someone else (or use qualified volunteers) to write the copy, do the design or manage the event, we have to run behind and “fix” things. Ask yourself — is this because you can’t let go, or is it because you have relied on the wrong people to get the job done? If it’s the latter, you owe it to your organization (and yourself) to invite someone else to take over. Outside help can be the greatest thing in the world when it’s the right person or persons. When it’s not, don’t tolerate — change.

This old dog has been to many events over the years, but few left me feeling as good as this one — about the investment of my time, and most importantly, about the organization and why it deserves support. Ask yourself if your fundraising letter, newsletter, e-appeal or event will leave your donors feeling that same way. How will they answer these questions: Was this worth reading/attending? Do I feel better about the cause than I did before reading/attending this? How do they want me to respond after reading/attending this, and is that how I want to respond?

Don’t we own our donors at least that much?

By Pamela Barden | Posted on October 30, 2014

How to keep up your PACE with online engagement

December 27th, 2014 | No Comments | Posted in Fundraising, Website

There is a continuously evolving conversation about engagement online. Are we doing enough of it? How can we do it more often? Better? Across multiple channels?

I have a love-hate relationship with the term “engagement.” It’s often used in a nebulous context. And I believe it’s one of those buzzwords that’s thrown into conversations and presentations simply for effect. We should define engagement not just in terms of likes or sign-ups or hand-raisers but as real, grounded, sustained interaction that leads to a positive action. We should demand more of engagement and how we talk about it.

From connection to donation

As fundraisers and/or marketers for charities, you’re not just looking for connections; your endgame is the donation.

So what’s your next big idea to engage donors? Maybe a survey or Twitter chat or triggered email campaign? When thinking about what tactics you can use as part of an engagement strategy to drive deeper connections that result in desired actions, you should keep in mind these four pillars:

  1. Presence – Does your organization have a pre-existing ecosystem online (i.e. collection of identities belonging to your organization that make up your online presence) that can support new engagement initiatives? You’ll need a website, social identity and direct email communications for a good start.
  2. Access – You need to be where your constituents are. Selecting the right technological platform to ensure easy, low-cost access is critical. It’s important for the end user and for you as you look for innovative ways to connect.
  3. Content – What underlying message do you wish to communicate now and into the future? For engagement to be authentic, the content must ring true with the heart of your cause and why your organization exists.
  4. Expectation – What do you hope the user will gain from this experience? And what does your organization seek to gain?

Or PACE for short!

Why gamification fits the bill

For an example of this, look no further than gamification. Gamification, as defined by Wikipedia, is the “use of game thinking and game mechanics in non-game contexts.” In a charitable context, it’s essentially gaming with a conscience. It’s a great idea – and one that’s been hailed as the “next big thing” for almost 5 years. I’ve collected a few examples that showcase what charities are doing with it and how the application of this technique can lead to the kind of interaction that evolves into positive action.

iHobo – Depaul UK

 

A very novel idea from four years ago that literally placed the experience of being homeless in your hands via the smartphone. The app, no longer available, was free at the time and was employed as a tactic to raise awareness for Depaul UK. Read more about the app: http://thenextweb.com/apps/2010/05/10/ihobo-app-puts-a-homeless-man-in-your-pocket/

Hunger Crunch – Rice Bowls

 

A video game designed to make fighting hunger fun while also raising money through direct asks and in-app purchases that function as donations to support Rice Bowls. You can download the app or play online. Learn more and give the game a try here: http://www.hungercrunch.com/#play-game

It’s my life – Canadian Cancer Society

 

An interactive, game-like experience designed to make the user more aware about their lifestyle while learning how their choices and surroundings affect their likelihood of getting cancer.

Try for yourself here: http://itsmylife.cancer.ca/index-en.html#!page=0

How do these “games” fare when it comes to PACE? And could you see your organization applying these ideas to your cause?

Oct 27, 2014
By: Simren Deogun

BC universities release data on graduate outcomes

December 26th, 2014 | No Comments | Posted in Education

University graduates in B.C. defy urban myth, find jobs
Long-term salaries higher for university grads: report

The Research Universities’ Council of British Columbia (RUCBC) has released a new report, Putting Degrees to Work, which assesses the employment status of university graduates 5 years after graduation. The report is based on a survey of the class of 2008, and reveals that even though these graduates faced a tough post-recession job market, in 2013 graduates had an unemployment rate of 4.7%, compared to the overall provincial unemployment rate of 6.6% and the provincial youth unemployment rate of 12.9%. Graduates were earning an average annual income of $60,000. The report serves to highlight the benefits of a university education in the face of BC’s recent emphasis on skills training and resource sector-related jobs. “The success university graduates are having also shows that to keep BC’s economy growing, we need to graduate students at every level in post-secondary education, in science, in business, in the trades and in the humanities,” said Thompson Rivers University President Alan Shaver. “To keep growing and generating new jobs, BC’s economy needs more people with post-secondary credentials.”

In a province banking its economic future on the proposed liquefied natural gas industry and other resource projects, it is not just welders and pipefitters who are finding jobs.

A report released today finds people who graduated five years ago from B.C. universities have a lower jobless rate than the provincial average, and aims to shatter the myth that people with university degrees are chronically unemployed or underemployed.

“What it shows, contrary to some urban legends, is that a university education is in fact doing a very good job of preparing students for the labour market,” said Andrew Petter, president of Simon Fraser University and chairman of the Research Universities’ Council of B.C., which produced the report.

“Those who say a university education is out of step in today’s job market” may be surprised by the findings, the report says.

In April, the provincial government unveiled its Skills and Jobs Blueprint, and asked post-secondary institutions to focus in the future on “high-demand” occupations such as business, commerce and health. The implication was that philosophy and English degrees were not as valued.

That prompted university leaders to jump to the defence of a classic university education.

In an interview Thursday, Petter and UBC president Arvind Gupta said the new report proves universities are already preparing students in every discipline for the labour market.

“Young people have skills that employers are looking for and once they get into the job market they are able to leverage those skills pretty quickly and get much better outcomes over time,” Gupta said.

The report uses BC Stats data that tracked students who graduated in 2008, a difficult year to find employment because the world was gripped by a large economic downturn.

It focuses on outcomes for students who completed an undergraduate degree from one of the province’s six research universities: UBC, SFU, University of Victoria, UNBC, Royal Roads, and Thompson Rivers.

The report found that in 2010, two years after graduation, the unemployment rate among this group of students averaged 6.9 per cent, although it was lower for health and education grads and higher for engineering and arts grads.

By 2013, five years after graduation, the unemployment rate for this group fell to 4.7 per cent, well below the 2013 B.C. youth unemployment rate of 12.9 per cent and B.C.’s overall jobless rate of 6.6 per cent.

The lowest employment figures within this group were for arts and science graduates, 6.3 per cent of whom were still unemployed five years after university.

Petter argued the study shows that arts graduates might take longer to find a job in their field, but once they do their long term salary potential is much better than those with high school, college or trades diplomas.

“It takes a while for all students to get jobs. So the focus tends to go toward that anxiety and the focus on those who are, perhaps, struggling for the first year or so out of university. What this report shows is those students do get jobs and do very well going forward,” Petter said.

A chart in the report shows, two years after graduation, those with bachelor and post-grad degrees are earning salaries just slightly higher than young people with college diplomas or trade certificates. But, over the course of a lifetime, the gulf between the salaries is predicted to widen significantly.

“There is a huge amplification for people who have a university education … in terms of income and career success,” Petter said.

The university of today is different from previous generations; students are offered co-ops and internships to get practical experience, and the six research universities in this province have recently increased courses in high-demand fields such as health, business, engineering and sciences, Gupta said.

Terry Ho, 28, graduated with a business degree from SFU in 2008 and seamlessly moved into her first job with the firm where she had been doing a co-op term. She is a firm believer in university education, and said the success of graduates depends on how diligently they pursue employment after graduation.

“I have a few friends who did an arts degree and they have gone into education or psychological counselling, so it depends on how much work you want to do,” she said.

Matt Corker graduated with a commerce degree from UBC in 2008, did an international MBA, and is now the quality operations manager at Lululemon. His time at university, he said, provided him with volunteer and internship experiences that helped him get a job.

“The most applicable skill was the ability to work with others and make critical decisions,” he said. “I definitely have a strong desire to continue learning and that was fostered at UBC.”

Some of the students tracked in the report may have gone to another university or a college to continue their education in the five years after graduation, but Gupta said that does not diminish the success of grads from the six research universities. The report is intended, he said, to celebrate the importance of pursuing any post-secondary education.

The students captured in the BC Stats data represent roughly 20 per cent of all 2008 undergrads from the six research universities.

October 24, 2014
By Lori Culbert, Vancouver Sun

B.C. university degree a good investment according to Class of 2008 graduate survey

VANCOUVER – A B.C. university degree is a proven path to employment and a good investment in the future says a new report released today by B.C.’s six research universities, which tracks the outcomes of the graduating class of 2008.

Called Putting Degrees to Work, the report uses student survey data collected by BC Stats showing that five years after graduating, the Class of 2008 has lower unemployment rates and higher salaries than those who did not complete an undergraduate degree. Contrary to the view that university degrees aren’t relevant to today’s job market, the report shows that the vast majority of university graduates are working in fields related to their education.

“The Class of 2008 graduated on the cusp of the worst global economic downturn since the Great Depression,” said Andrew Petter, Chair of the Research Universities’ Council of British Columbia. “Today’s survey shows that the skills and knowledge these students acquired at a B.C. university prepared them to take advantage of the economic recovery.”

According to the report’s findings, the graduating class of 2008 had an unemployment rate of 4.7 per cent five years after collecting their degrees. This number was well below the overall provincial unemployment rate of 6.6 per cent and the provincial youth unemployment rate of 12.9 per cent. At the same time, those graduates were earning a yearly average of $60,000.

“Today’s economy is driven by creativity, innovation, and new ideas,” said University of British Columbia President Arvind Gupta. “That’s why the skills our students acquire are so important in today’s fast-changing labour market.”

In addition to tracking the Class of 2008, Putting Degrees to Work also shows how universities are responding to changing student demand. Degrees in engineering, applied sciences and business have increased by 34 per cent since 2006.

“Today’s students are very savvy,” said University of Northern British Columbia President Daniel Weeks. “And they are choosing fields that are in high demand by employers. That is leading to significant changes in university programming to meet the needs of today’s students. For example, at the University of Northern B.C., we are graduating more engineers than ever before, students who will be needed in B.C.’s emerging LNG industry.”

University of Victoria President Jamie Cassels said that the survey reflects what employers around the province are telling him. “Many of British Columbia’s leading job creators are looking for people with the kinds of skills that university teaches, from critical thinking to clear communication. That is one reason why we are seeing graduates in every program succeed in the job market.”

Royal Roads University President Allan Cahoon added that “continuous learning opportunities provided by universities like Royal Roads are extremely valuable to employers who are looking for graduates who can adapt and respond to fast-changing labour market demands.”

“The success university graduates are having also shows that to keep B.C.’s economy growing, we need to graduate students at every level in post-secondary education, in science, in business, in the trades and in the humanities,” said Thompson Rivers University President Alan Shaver. “To keep growing and generating new jobs, B.C.’s economy needs more people with post-secondary credentials.”

 

Report on “expectations gap” between students, post-grad life

December 24th, 2014 | No Comments | Posted in Education

When Clair Parker graduated from high school, her parents urged her to go to college and learn a trade. However, being a strong student and ambitious, college seemed like selling herself short. “Going to university was the automatic thing to do,” she says. “Prestige is the appropriate word to describe how university was presented to me in high school.”

Fascinated by economics and international relations, Ms. Parker signed up for political science at Carleton University in Ottawa. Although she wasn’t sure where she’d end up, she believed that getting a university education would lead her to a fulfilling career.

But when she graduated in January, 2014, she felt completely unprepared for a job related to her field. “When I came out of university, I wondered, ‘Why did I just do that?’” she laments. Ms. Parker is now patching together a living working at a restaurant and an artisan deli. She plans to enroll in a public relations program at Humber College in January, 2015, in the hope of landing a communications role in the food industry. “I just hope I come out actually employable,” she says.

Ms. Parker’s story is all too familiar. Too many young people flounder around the margins of their chosen field, bouncing from unpaid internship to short term contract to coffee shop job. Youth unemployment continues to hover stubbornly around 13 per cent, only 2 per cent lower than its peak during the recession and double the national average. And the unemployment rate doesn’t tell the whole story. According to a recent report published by the Canadian Labour Congress (CLC), the rate of those underemployed − people stuck in part-time or low income jobs, unable to secure full-time work related to their field − is double the unemployment rate.

It seems like a bleak picture. And yet, if some politicians and employers are to be believed, Canada is facing a severe shortage of skilled labour. Last year, a Canadian Chamber of Commerce report estimated that skilled job vacancies would hit 1.5 million by 2016. Those most in demand are said to be in the STEM fields: scientists, technologists, engineers and mathematicians. In multiple surveys, employers complain that not only are applicants graduating from university without the needed technical knowledge, but also with a lack of soft skills such as communication, analysis and collaboration.

Stephen Harper has blamed the situation partly on “people’s choices,” meaning that students are at fault for choosing to study subjects that are not in demand. Gwyn Morgan, the long-time executive and board director of some of Canada’s largest corporations, points the finger at universities. “Many high-school graduates who manage to gain the qualifications needed to enter STEM programs are turned away when they apply to university, even with good marks, because universities won’t reallocate money to open more slots for students in those programs,” he wrote in The Globe and Mail. He cites a 2013 CIBC World Markets report that argued that universities wasted funds on producing graduates in out-of-demand fields, such as arts and humanities, while turning away thousands of qualified STEM applicants.

Regardless of who’s to blame, a gap has emerged between young people’s expectations for their future (as cultivated by social norms, parents and even some guidance counsellors) and the realities of the labour market.

“We’ve directed kids to university who would normally not have gone to university because we’ve said that it’s the path to success,” says Janet Lane, director of the Centre for Human Capital Policy at the Canada West Foundation. “It’s an expensive way to learn what you’re best at.”

So wherein lies the truth? Is a university education still the leg up that it once was? A close look at the numbers reveals a more nuanced story, in which the right sort of education is still the best route to a good job, decent income and, even better, health and happiness. But what makes an education relevant to this brave new world doesn’t fit neatly into the “skills shortage” narrative, and not all universities are delivering.

Ms. Parker wishes her high school and university had done a better job of providing accurate information about viable career paths. “The Carleton website lists jobs you can get with specific degrees and under political science, it lists ‘diplomat.’ How many people get a poli sci degree and go on to become a diplomat?”

So if young people need to readjust their expectations for their future, what should they expect? How can they reconcile the story told by those decrying Canada’s shortage of skilled workers with the grim job market their generation is experiencing? And what kind of education will equip them to succeed?

ARE SCIENCE AND TECHNOLOGY DEGREES THE ANSWER?

“Our national welfare, our defense, our standard of living could all be jeopardized by the mismanagement of this supply and demand problem in the field of trained creative intelligence,” said James Killian, former president of the Massachusetts Institute of Technology. If Mr. Killian had used today’s preferred phrase of “STEM worker” instead of “trained creative intelligence” you could easily imagine his comment fitting into the debate over a skills gap today. But, in fact, he said this in 1934.

The point is that we’ve heard this refrain for decades: Too few young people are studying technical fields like science and engineering, companies can’t find qualified employees and it threatens our countries’ competitive advantage. So, get a degree in STEM and you’re practically guaranteed a job – right?

This is where the mystery begins. Why do so many people with STEM degrees end up in non-STEM jobs? According to a study conducted by the U.S. Commerce Department, only 25 per cent of the 15 million Americans who have a STEM degree work in a STEM job. And of all the people working in STEM fields, less than half hold a STEM degree. So, at least in the United States, you don’t necessarily need a STEM degree for a STEM job and if you do get one, it won’t guarantee a job in the field anyway.

Although we in Canada don’t track the STEM graduates like our American neighbours, these statistics offer one possible explanation for the experience of recent graduate Heidi Manicke. After earning a bachelor’s and master’s degree in German language and literature at Queen’s University, Ms. Manicke found part-time work as a translator and filled in the gaps with piece-work contracts translating documents for PhD students. “But it was too hard to scratch out a life,” she says, “especially here in Vancouver.” While researching her master’s thesis on the Berlin transit system, Ms. Manicke discovered a love of engineering. And so she decided to take what she thought would be an easier path to gainful employment and go back to school to earn a bachelor’s degree in engineering specializing in geology and hydrology at the University of British Columbia. She earned strong marks, volunteered for Engineers Without Borders and the UBC Engineering Undergraduate Society and completed three work terms at companies including SNC-Lavalin and Norwest Corp.

With all this experience, she was confident when she started applying for jobs last October, a few months before her January, 2014, graduation. But nearly a year and 130 applications later, she has only landed two interviews and no permanent job offers. “My mind is blown,” she says, adding that she has had her résumé edited by a recruiter and two executives of resource extraction companies. “I just don’t know what I’m doing wrong.”

Ms. Manicke is now working at a bike shop earning about $400 a week to “pay the bills” and is becoming increasingly worried about having to make student loan payments soon. She feels like she was sold a false dream. “Twice now I’ve been told that there is going to be a great career for me at the end a lot of hard work and then there is nothing,” she says. “I don’t have a sense of entitlement. I’m not looking for anything fancy. I’m happy going up north and earning my way. Just let me engineer something already.” (Shortly before this article went to press, Ms. Manicke received an offer for a job she interviewed for in February. The position is a three-month temporary contract for less pay than her co-op positions, but she is delighted. “It’s a fantastic opportunity to get started.”)

Of course, the numbers above are American and Ms. Manicke’s experience is only one story. However, over the past year, evidence has piled up suggesting that the statistics supporting the argument that Canada is facing a skills shortage may be flawed. Economist Don Drummond first sounded the alarm a year ago when he tried and failed to obtain or replicate the federal government’s data at the centre of the Canada Job Grant. Then TD Bank did its own analysis and found no serious mismatch between workers’ skills and the needs of employers, except in isolated job markets in Saskatchewan and Alberta. Then there were the revelations that the government depended on unsound data based on the online classified ad service Kijiji. And yet, the idea that a STEM degree leads to a guaranteed job lingers, influencing the decisions of young people like Ms. Manicke.

So is a university education still the excellent route to the good life that it once was?

HOW DOES A DEGREE RELATE TO A GOOD LIFE?

In April of this year, Statistics Canada released a new report that tracked people who graduated from university in 2010. It found that two years after graduation, the unemployment rate among graduates who entered the work force (didn’t go back to school for more training) was 5 per cent, two points lower than the national average. More interestingly, this number is unchanged from five years earlier when the economy was at the height of the boom. Average salaries for bachelor’s degree holders actually saw a 7-per-cent increase over that period after being adjusted for inflation.

So while it’s undeniable that this period of economic stagnation has affected the job market for young people more than older workers, a bachelor’s degree appears to insulate graduates from the harsh job market experienced by their non-educated peers. But not all university educations were created equal. As we’ve discovered, getting a STEM degree does not necessarily guarantee a job. So what should students concerned about their future look for in their university education?

David Helfand, president of the liberal arts institution Quest University in British Columbia, argues that we shouldn’t conflate education and training, that a university education ought to be about learning to think, not about acquiring a set of employable skills. To illustrate his point he recalls a conversation he had with Shirley Bond, B.C.’s minister for jobs, tourism and skills training. “A Quest education sounds great for some students,” he recalls her saying. “But B.C. needs 40,000 pipe fitters and you aren’t going to send them to me.” Dr. Helfand’s response: “That’s true, but we might supply the one person who can show you why you only need 10,000 pipe fitters.” The idea that learning to think, regardless of a student’s field of study, will prepare them for the real world may be difficult for young people to swallow while coping with anxiety about their future. But a new survey of 30,000 college and university graduates published by Gallup and Purdue University contains quantitative ammunition in support of Dr. Helfand’s assertion that education is about something more fundamental than gaining skills for a job.

Gallup, the large American polling company, started looking into what made workers productive decades ago. By conducting multiple surveys internationally, Gallup learned that people are more likely to be successful at work when they have great lives. As Brandon Busteed, executive director of Gallup Education, explains, the research pointed to five elements of a great life: purpose and motivation, strong social relationships, secure financial circumstances, living in a supportive community and good health.

And so Gallup set out to figure out what sort of education would increase people’s chances of having great lives and, by extension, great careers. Mr. Busteed argues that looking at well-being offers a much more valuable view of the outcomes of higher education than simply considering employment and income.

One of the most interesting results was what didn’t have an impact: the prestige of the university. As it turns out, highly selective schools performed the same on the survey as accessible ones. What had a big impact was the sort of education that a student received. The most important factor was whether a student felt “emotionally supported” during their undergraduate education. For graduates who reported that they had at least one professor who made them excited about learning, cared about them and provided mentorship as they pursued their goals, their chances of thriving in their personal life and being engaged in their work more than doubled.

Another key finding was that graduates who reported having “experiential or deep learning” were twice as likely to be engaged in work. The survey defined this sort of learning as doing a long-term project that took a semester or more to complete, experiencing an internship or being extremely involved in extracurricular activities.

These insights are interesting in light of multiple surveys in which employers complain that they struggle to recruit employees with so-called “soft skills:” the ability to effectively collaborate, communicate, problem solve and so on. Students who complete a co-op, community-based project, international exchange or genuine research experience in a lab (the sort of learning experiences that Gallup highlights) also have more developed soft skills.

“Employers call them the ‘soft skills’, but they aren’t soft at all; they are very hard to learn,” says Canada West Foundation’s Ms. Lane. She argues that university is where young people ought to be developing these skills and notes that Canadian companies are spending less on training employees with technical skills in the workplace than ever before. “There is no such thing as a ‘job-ready’ graduate. Everyone needs training.” The good news is that many of Canada’s universities are rising to the challenge and creating new opportunities for undergraduate students to apply their knowledge, work on long-term projects with real-world impact and develop their so-called soft skills. In this year’s Canadian University Report, we researched 61 Canadian universities with our lens focused firmly on which universities were innovating in order to create a truly high quality undergraduate education that would best prepare students not only to net a great job after graduation, but also thrive in all aspects of their lives.

Where Canada’s universities still need work is in helping students understand how their education, regardless of their chosen field of study, can be applied to life after school. But the students who have received this sort of education, value their experience. In the words of Lauren Tucker, who graduated in psychology from Brock University in spring, 2014: “The main strength of my education at Brock was that it focused on developing well-rounded students,” she said. “I not only know the material inside and out but can apply what I’ve learned to future roles.”

Textbook to paycheque

Here are the full-time (at least 30 hours/week) employment rates of university graduates in Ontario in common fields (though not necessarily in jobs related to their field), six months after graduation.

Nursing 92.4%

Computer science 90.4%

Business 88.8%

Engineering 87.6%

Mathematics 87.3%

Education 86.8%

Humanities 86.0%

Physical sciences 86.0%

Social sciences 85.5%

Agriculture and biology 82.2%

SOURCE: COUNCIL OF ONTARIO UNIVERSITIES

CREATIVE THINKING BY UNIVERSITIES

Some universities are rising to the challenge and creating new ways for undergraduate students to think about how their education applies to life after school.

• The Arts Pedagogy and Innovation Lab at the University of Alberta is piloting a program that has arts students engaged in writing assignments that are more related to the real world than straightforward academic essays.

• At Saint Mary’s University, students in any major have access to co-op opportunities.

• The University of Waterloo features entrepreneurship education through innovative programs such as its live-in community of student entrepreneurs known as VeloCity.

• At the University of Windsor, the Entrepreneurial Practice and Innovation Centre offers classes on how entrepreneurship relates to students in all fields, from computing to the arts.

• At Dalhousie University, students in any major can take a minor in sustainability, which involves completing a year-long project with a community partner.

So if young people need to readjust their expectations for their future, what should they expect? How can they reconcile the story told by those decrying Canada’s shortage of skilled workers with the grim job market their generation is experiencing? And what kind of education will equip them to succeed?

ARE SCIENCE AND TECHNOLOGY DEGREES THE ANSWER?

“Our national welfare, our defense, our standard of living could all be jeopardized by the mismanagement of this supply and demand problem in the field of trained creative intelligence,” said James Killian, former president of the Massachusetts Institute of Technology. If Mr. Killian had used today’s preferred phrase of “STEM worker” instead of “trained creative intelligence” you could easily imagine his comment fitting into the debate over a skills gap today. But, in fact, he said this in 1934.

The point is that we’ve heard this refrain for decades: Too few young people are studying technical fields like science and engineering, companies can’t find qualified employees and it threatens our countries’ competitive advantage. So, get a degree in STEM and you’re practically guaranteed a job – right?

This is where the mystery begins. Why do so many people with STEM degrees end up in non-STEM jobs? According to a study conducted by the U.S. Commerce Department, only 25 per cent of the 15 million Americans who have a STEM degree work in a STEM job. And of all the people working in STEM fields, less than half hold a STEM degree. So, at least in the United States, you don’t necessarily need a STEM degree for a STEM job and if you do get one, it won’t guarantee a job in the field anyway.

Although we in Canada don’t track the STEM graduates like our American neighbours, these statistics offer one possible explanation for the experience of recent graduate Heidi Manicke. After earning a bachelor’s and master’s degree in German language and literature at Queen’s University, Ms. Manicke found part-time work as a translator and filled in the gaps with piece-work contracts translating documents for PhD students. “But it was too hard to scratch out a life,” she says, “especially here in Vancouver.” While researching her master’s thesis on the Berlin transit system, Ms. Manicke discovered a love of engineering. And so she decided to take what she thought would be an easier path to gainful employment and go back to school to earn a bachelor’s degree in engineering specializing in geology and hydrology at the University of British Columbia. She earned strong marks, volunteered for Engineers Without Borders and the UBC Engineering Undergraduate Society and completed three work terms at companies including SNC-Lavalin and Norwest Corp.

With all this experience, she was confident when she started applying for jobs last October, a few months before her January, 2014, graduation. But nearly a year and 130 applications later, she has only landed two interviews and no permanent job offers. “My mind is blown,” she says, adding that she has had her résumé edited by a recruiter and two executives of resource extraction companies. “I just don’t know what I’m doing wrong.”

Ms. Manicke is now working at a bike shop earning about $400 a week to “pay the bills” and is becoming increasingly worried about having to make student loan payments soon. She feels like she was sold a false dream. “Twice now I’ve been told that there is going to be a great career for me at the end a lot of hard work and then there is nothing,” she says. “I don’t have a sense of entitlement. I’m not looking for anything fancy. I’m happy going up north and earning my way. Just let me engineer something already.” (Shortly before this article went to press, Ms. Manicke received an offer for a job she interviewed for in February. The position is a three-month temporary contract for less pay than her co-op positions, but she is delighted. “It’s a fantastic opportunity to get started.”)

Of course, the numbers above are American and Ms. Manicke’s experience is only one story. However, over the past year, evidence has piled up suggesting that the statistics supporting the argument that Canada is facing a skills shortage may be flawed. Economist Don Drummond first sounded the alarm a year ago when he tried and failed to obtain or replicate the federal government’s data at the centre of the Canada Job Grant. Then TD Bank did its own analysis and found no serious mismatch between workers’ skills and the needs of employers, except in isolated job markets in Saskatchewan and Alberta. Then there were the revelations that the government depended on unsound data based on the online classified ad service Kijiji. And yet, the idea that a STEM degree leads to a guaranteed job lingers, influencing the decisions of young people like Ms. Manicke.

So is a university education still the excellent route to the good life that it once was?

HOW DOES A DEGREE RELATE TO A GOOD LIFE?

In April of this year, Statistics Canada released a new report that tracked people who graduated from university in 2010. It found that two years after graduation, the unemployment rate among graduates who entered the work force (didn’t go back to school for more training) was 5 per cent, two points lower than the national average. More interestingly, this number is unchanged from five years earlier when the economy was at the height of the boom. Average salaries for bachelor’s degree holders actually saw a 7-per-cent increase over that period after being adjusted for inflation.

So while it’s undeniable that this period of economic stagnation has affected the job market for young people more than older workers, a bachelor’s degree appears to insulate graduates from the harsh job market experienced by their non-educated peers. But not all university educations were created equal. As we’ve discovered, getting a STEM degree does not necessarily guarantee a job. So what should students concerned about their future look for in their university education?

David Helfand, president of the liberal arts institution Quest University in British Columbia, argues that we shouldn’t conflate education and training, that a university education ought to be about learning to think, not about acquiring a set of employable skills. To illustrate his point he recalls a conversation he had with Shirley Bond, B.C.’s minister for jobs, tourism and skills training. “A Quest education sounds great for some students,” he recalls her saying. “But B.C. needs 40,000 pipe fitters and you aren’t going to send them to me.” Dr. Helfand’s response: “That’s true, but we might supply the one person who can show you why you only need 10,000 pipe fitters.” The idea that learning to think, regardless of a student’s field of study, will prepare them for the real world may be difficult for young people to swallow while coping with anxiety about their future. But a new survey of 30,000 college and university graduates published by Gallup and Purdue University contains quantitative ammunition in support of Dr. Helfand’s assertion that education is about something more fundamental than gaining skills for a job.

Gallup, the large American polling company, started looking into what made workers productive decades ago. By conducting multiple surveys internationally, Gallup learned that people are more likely to be successful at work when they have great lives. As Brandon Busteed, executive director of Gallup Education, explains, the research pointed to five elements of a great life: purpose and motivation, strong social relationships, secure financial circumstances, living in a supportive community and good health.

And so Gallup set out to figure out what sort of education would increase people’s chances of having great lives and, by extension, great careers. Mr. Busteed argues that looking at well-being offers a much more valuable view of the outcomes of higher education than simply considering employment and income.

One of the most interesting results was what didn’t have an impact: the prestige of the university. As it turns out, highly selective schools performed the same on the survey as accessible ones. What had a big impact was the sort of education that a student received. The most important factor was whether a student felt “emotionally supported” during their undergraduate education. For graduates who reported that they had at least one professor who made them excited about learning, cared about them and provided mentorship as they pursued their goals, their chances of thriving in their personal life and being engaged in their work more than doubled.

Another key finding was that graduates who reported having “experiential or deep learning” were twice as likely to be engaged in work. The survey defined this sort of learning as doing a long-term project that took a semester or more to complete, experiencing an internship or being extremely involved in extracurricular activities.

These insights are interesting in light of multiple surveys in which employers complain that they struggle to recruit employees with so-called “soft skills:” the ability to effectively collaborate, communicate, problem solve and so on. Students who complete a co-op, community-based project, international exchange or genuine research experience in a lab (the sort of learning experiences that Gallup highlights) also have more developed soft skills.

“Employers call them the ‘soft skills’, but they aren’t soft at all; they are very hard to learn,” says Canada West Foundation’s Ms. Lane. She argues that university is where young people ought to be developing these skills and notes that Canadian companies are spending less on training employees with technical skills in the workplace than ever before. “There is no such thing as a ‘job-ready’ graduate. Everyone needs training.” The good news is that many of Canada’s universities are rising to the challenge and creating new opportunities for undergraduate students to apply their knowledge, work on long-term projects with real-world impact and develop their so-called soft skills. In this year’s Canadian University Report, we researched 61 Canadian universities with our lens focused firmly on which universities were innovating in order to create a truly high quality undergraduate education that would best prepare students not only to net a great job after graduation, but also thrive in all aspects of their lives.

Where Canada’s universities still need work is in helping students understand how their education, regardless of their chosen field of study, can be applied to life after school. But the students who have received this sort of education, value their experience. In the words of Lauren Tucker, who graduated in psychology from Brock University in spring, 2014: “The main strength of my education at Brock was that it focused on developing well-rounded students,” she said. “I not only know the material inside and out but can apply what I’ve learned to future roles.”

Textbook to paycheque

Here are the full-time (at least 30 hours/week) employment rates of university graduates in Ontario in common fields (though not necessarily in jobs related to their field), six months after graduation.

Nursing 92.4%

Computer science 90.4%

Business 88.8%

Engineering 87.6%

Mathematics 87.3%

Education 86.8%

Humanities 86.0%

Physical sciences 86.0%

Social sciences 85.5%

Agriculture and biology 82.2%

SOURCE: COUNCIL OF ONTARIO UNIVERSITIES

CREATIVE THINKING BY UNIVERSITIES

Some universities are rising to the challenge and creating new ways for undergraduate students to think about how their education applies to life after school.

• The Arts Pedagogy and Innovation Lab at the University of Alberta is piloting a program that has arts students engaged in writing assignments that are more related to the real world than straightforward academic essays.

• At Saint Mary’s University, students in any major have access to co-op opportunities.

• The University of Waterloo features entrepreneurship education through innovative programs such as its live-in community of student entrepreneurs known as VeloCity.

• At the University of Windsor, the Entrepreneurial Practice and Innovation Centre offers classes on how entrepreneurship relates to students in all fields, from computing to the arts.

• At Dalhousie University, students in any major can take a minor in sustainability, which involves completing a year-long project with a community partner.

Published 
By ERIN MILLAR
Special to The Globe and Mail

 

Fundraising: 6 Clues to Help You Know When to Fold ‘Em

December 22nd, 2014 | No Comments | Posted in Fundraising

Like many of you, I’m sure, I have a dishwasher in my kitchen (and I don’t mean the human kind). Its job is simple: clean my dishes. But to be honest, it fails miserably.

The other day, while muttering unkind things under my breath to this appliance, I realized how much like some fundraising activities my dishwasher is. The thinking that led to this rather odd statement went like this: “This dishwasher does not do nearly what I expect it to do. But it’s probably got several more years of useful life. Replacing it is going to cost time and cost money. And what if that replacement isn’t any better? After all, other people use this same dishwasher, and it works fine for them. Maybe the problem is us, not it …”

Now, replace “dishwasher” for any fundraising program you are currently keeping on life support: “This [event/appeal letter/website] does not do nearly what I expect it to do. But it’s probably got several more years of useful life. Replacing it is going to cost time and cost money. And what if that replacement isn’t any better? After all, other people use this same [type of event/appeal letter/website], and it works fine for them. Maybe the problem is us, not it …”

The time to look for that next new fundraising success story is before what you’re doing is on life support. Trying to launch something new when the past failure is still on display for everyone — including donors — to see is like pushing a large rock uphill.

So how do you know when it’s time to move on to something else? Here are a few tips.

  • Income is in a constant downward spiral. Don’t do a knee-jerk reaction with one bad experience. But if it just keeps getting worse, slowly but surely, with every effort, ask yourself if it’s time to find a replacement. Are your donors telling you, in their quiet, passive-aggressive way, that they want a new option for giving?
  • Your sponsors or major backers are showing less enthusiasm. If folks at an event who sponsor mentions that they will keep sponsoring but they think the activity has gotten tired, listen. That’s possibly just one step away from them reducing or eliminating their funding completely. If a major donor mentions the annual appeal for X didn’t contain any new information or lacked a compelling case for support, take heed. Major funding sources are key stakeholders, and their waning enthusiasm is a message worth heeding.
  • Volunteers are harder and harder to recruit. While all fundraising activities don’t use volunteers, if one does, the “temperature” of the volunteers is a good checkup tool. If regular volunteers are less eager to commit, have a conversation to ask them why. Don’t make them feel guilty; instead, let them know they are necessary to help you make an important decision. A side benefit may be a volunteer who takes real ownership in a replacement fundraising activity because he or she feels like part of the team that birthed it.
  • The time involved is feeling excessive for the return. If you can’t justify the time spent — including the “free” time provided by volunteers — it’s reason enough to take a hard look and think about a replacement. “We’ve always done it” is not a good enough reason to continue something that is draining more time for less net income.
  • It’s just not fun anymore. I realize work, by its very name, is not constant fun. But when working on a particular project becomes the equivalent of an invasive medical procedure in your mind, it could be that the activity is no longer having the kind of positive income effect that makes the work to accomplish it a labor of joy. (It could also be that you have lost your enthusiasm for the job in total, but that’s another issue.) When something is just drudgery for you, take a careful, thoughtful look at it, and ask, “Is it me, or is it this activity?”
  • Your colleagues are dragging their feet (more than usual). Whether it’s providing human interest for the annual media presentation or providing contact names for an invitation list, lack of response for reasons other than sheer overwork may be a sign that it’s time to start thinking about a replacement. Again, you need to make that decision thoughtfully, but ignoring a lackluster show of support by your own colleagues is worth considering.

When you do decide to explore a replacement, remember these three rules:

  1. Don’t get rid of something if you don’t know what’s going to replace it. You’re a fundraiser, so I assume you need income. Be sure you can launch the new in time to replace the income from the old before you cancel it. Avoid cutting off your nose to spite your face, as the old saying goes.
  2. Don’t make the decision alone. If the fundraising activity involves volunteers and/or other team members, make them part of the process to decide when and with what to replace it. If it doesn’t involve others, bring your leadership in the conversation; you may be glad for co-ownership of the decision if things don’t go as well as hoped (and budgeted) the first time you try it.
  3. Don’t expect miracles. It can take time to shift people’s thinking away from “the way things always have been.”  We are creatures of habit. Allow anything new — a mailing, an event or whatever — enough of a chance to succeed.

This old dog knows how easy it is to procrastinate when it’s time to replace the dishwasher and equally how hard it is to give up on a fundraising activity that is at or near death. But isn’t it usually the case that when you finally do you ask, “What took me so long?!” Here’s to thoughtful change!

By Pamela Barden | Posted on October 09, 2014

E-Marketers! Think Like a Direct Mailer!

December 22nd, 2014 | No Comments | Posted in Email, Fundraising

E-commerce wizards believe direct mail is slow and cumbersome. It takes time to write, design, print, address, insert, pay postage and mail.

It is also expensive—currently 60¢ or more per piece.

Email offers take three minutes to write and send. Free.

What happens when a piece of direct mail goes to the wrong person?

  • You have just thrown 60¢ down the toilet.
  • The recipient is irritated at the nuisance of disposing of it.
  • You look like a jerk.

What happens when email goes to the wrong person?

  • You look like a jerk.

Example: We spent a weekend with friends and got into a deep discussion about writing and another about farting.

Sunday night from home I ordered two “thank you” book gifts from Amazon.com:

  • Fart Proudly by Benjamin Franklin

[See the image in the media player at upper right.]

I received an email from Amazon with pictures of these two gift titles.

Amazon’s message: Please review these two books. Start by giving them one to five stars.

Amazon’s KCRM (Kiddie Customer Relationship Moron) did not comprehend these were gifts. Asking the donor to review the gift books he sent is preposterous.

Takeaways to Consider

  • Even though e-marketing is free, putting a KCRM in charge of customer contact can make you look like a world-class jerk.
  • Email addresses are not data. Each is a real person. Treat them accordingly.
  • Always ask yourself: Would I send this email if it cost me 60¢?

October 17, 2014
By Denny Hatch

10 Places To Put A Link To Your Online Donation Page

December 21st, 2014 | No Comments | Posted in Direct Mail, Email, Fundraising, Social Media, Website

Your online donation page is not the baseball field from the movie Field of Dreams.  Just because “you built it” doesn’t mean “he will come”. Your donors are not the ghost of Shoeless Joe Jackson, magically finding their way to your online corn field.

You must help your donors find your donation page. Fortunately there are logical places you can add a simple Donate Now link that will guide your donors to your donation landing page.

Here are ten places to start:

1. From a spotlight on your home page

Most online donations are generated from your home page. Block out some real estate on your home page for a specific call for donations.

2. Your website navigation

From a Google search, donors might enter your website at any page. Make sure they can reach your donation page by placing a prominent Donate Now button in your website navigation, preferably at the top right of the page.

3.  A “ways to give” page on your website

Nonprofits that want to maximize giving typically have a “ways-to-give” page on their website that summarizes different paths to giving to the organization. Make sure online giving is represented on that page.

4. Your Facebook page

Your Facebook fans are certainly potential online donors. Add a custom tab or external link from your Facebook page that drives donors into your donation landing page.

5.  From Status Updates and Tweets

If you are running a fundraising campaign, make sure your Donate Now link goes into your status updates, tweets, and other social media postings promoting the campaign. You can shorten the URL to make it fit.

6. Your email newsletter

Every nonprofit should be using email to solicit online gifts. Whether you are sending out a fundraising appeal or a regular monthly newsletter include an easy-to-find Donate Now button.

7. The email signature of every email your staff sends

Every communication your staff sends is an opportunity to capture a donor. Create a standard Donate Now link that will be added to the email signature of each of your employees.

8.  Confirmation pages and thank you emails

Do your sell products online? Do you offer online event registration? Add a link in the thank you communications to encourage those constituents to also give online. You can even include it in the thank you messages to your online donors. That way it is easy for them to find your donation page when they want to give again.

9. From your direct mail letters

Instead of writing checks, more and more direct mail donors are making their gifts online. Include your donate page URL in the letters and print newsletters you mail.

10. On the signage at your events

Do you want donors to make gifts to you while at your events? Of course you do! Make it easy for them by posting your donation page URL where it can be seen. Want to make it even easier to reach? Include a QR code or a text message opt-in to deliver the URL directly into their phones for easy mobile giving.

Where else would you place a link to your donation page?

Monday, October 6, 2014
Posted by

Golden Nuggets of Fundraising Advice to Mark the End of the Year

December 20th, 2014 | No Comments | Posted in Fundraising

Here are some golden nuggets of advice that were relevant throughout 2014.  Hopefully, you find them interesting and helpful as you gear up for a successful 2015!

  1. Are you ready to pursue institutional donors?  

If you are hoping to attract institutional donors – in this case, I mean traditional grantors such as private/public foundations, family foundations, company-sponsored foundations – evaluate as to whether or not your current programming is strong enough to compete with other grant applications or existing grantees.  It is competitive out there – understand this, and take a close look at what you are asking savvy philanthropic institutions to support.  Do your research and ask these hard questions – how does your programming compare against current grant recipients?  Does your program solve a specific problem?  Does your program have a measurable impact? Do you have tangible results or a measured, sizable impact you can share?    If you can truly answer “yes” to these questions, proceed in your prospecting and grant submissions.  If you cannot, consider whether or not it is worth your time to apply for grants, and/or whether you can revisit your programming and strengthen it to make it more competitive and helpful to your constituent base.

  1. Will a fundraising event be successful for your organization?

Just because other organizations have an annual benefit gala does not mean it is right for your organization.  Consider these four criteria for determining whether or not a gala is right for your group:

1) Do you have a substantial individual donor base?  If not, you may want to focus on smaller, simple events to attract individual donors and collect their contact information before trying to organize anything bigger.

2) Do you have individual donors willing to volunteer to help organize the event?  Volunteers are critical to the fundraising success of events.  They will be doing a lot of the asking for ticket sales, raffle sales, corporate sponsorship, etc.  If you do not have a robust group of volunteers to help, you may want to focus your energy on identifying those people first through smaller events and opportunities.

3) Do you have the staff capacity to organize an event?  It takes a great deal of time to organize the event volunteers and vendors; track donations; prepare the event’s marketing and program; and send acknowledgements following the event.  Make sure you have an appropriate team in place before heading down this road.

4) Do you have access to potential corporate sponsors?  Sponsorships are a critical way of raising money through benefit events.  If you have a substantial number of corporate funders already, you may have some success with a benefit gala.  Otherwise, you will need a robust group of volunteers connecting you to corporate sponsorship opportunities.  You will not get support through blind asks.  You will need a relationship to secure the sponsorship.  Keep this in mind always.

  1. If an event is right for your organization, will the amount of time and energy it takes be worth the effort?

If you do organize a successful annual benefit gala, you may have noticed the articles that circulate around traditional gala seasons debating the importance of the benefit event.  It takes up so much staff time; it is expensive and exhausting.  Is the benefit gala necessary?  Can your organization eliminate this massive event and still engage donors, attract corporate support, and increase visibility?  I argue that, unfortunately, the answer is no – you cannot at this time.  I am not a fan of benefit galas myself.  They are absolutely time consuming and energy and resource sucking.  But, they are essential to your diverse fundraising plan.  The scale of your benefit event is negotiable.  However, at this time, people seem to require an in-person event, or opportunity, to connect with your organization; volunteer their time; share their networks and contacts; make personal or corporate donations; invite friends, family and colleagues to learn more; and hear about (and see) what you are doing.  Without the event, I believe individual participation and contributions to your organization would decrease – significantly.  People need something tangible to rally behind, and drum up support.  Events are one of those needed somethings.

  1. Creativity is critical to continued success

Development staff and Executive Directors should be creative, flexible, and innovative.  In order to keep your organization financially healthy and relevant, you need to change with the times.  Problems change as the world changes.  Your constituent base and its needs change; your donors change; your staff changes.  You’ve got to be able to offer programming and opportunities that reflect these changes.  Keep your eyes and ears open to the world around you – this is easier said than done when you are crushed with work every day.  But the best thing you can do – don’t surround yourself with “yes” men and women.  Surround yourself with honest, creative, smart professionals who value integrity instead.  And then listen to them when they offer you solutions, help, or suggestions.  If you can manage to do that, you will do better in the long run.

Wishing you and your team a happy holiday season.  Take some time off – reenergize and rejuvenate for the new year!

We hope 2015 is your busiest – and most successful – yet.