Sunday, February 24, 2008

Telemarketing 101

People give money to people. You can have the best cause in the world, but you’ll never develop major donors unless you make person to person solicitations. Unfortunately, Development Directors and Executive Directors don’t always have time to talk to prospects face to face. The next best thing is a phone call. There are many pitfalls to making telephone calls though, so I want to spend a few minutes talking about how to avoid novice mistakes when you solicit a prospect over the phone. Think of this a Telemarketing 101!

On the phone, the only tool you have is your voice! It is very easy for a prospect to say NO over the phone. You can’t read your prospects facial expressions and body language over the phone, so the phone call is the time to really tune in to what your prospect is saying – and isn’t saying. The first five seconds of the phone call are the most important. Start your conversation by stating your name, where you are calling from, and a link. For example, “Hi, this is Ted calling from The Nonprofit Network, one of our Board Members, John Smith, suggested I call you to tell you about some of the exciting services we are offering in the community.” The link, clearly, is the most important part. It will buy you another three seconds. Don’t make the beginner’s mistake of going on the next step without really listening to your prospect.

Now it is time to make a good ask. Why a good ask? Because most asks are horrible!

• When you make your ask, don’t sound apologetic.
• Don’t ask for an amount that is too small.
• Ask for an amount that's just beyond what this donor can actually give.
• If the donor refuses, don’t lower the amount, offer a payment plan.

A $1,200 ask might be refused, but an ask of $100 a month might not. When you make the ask, tell the donor that you have received positive responses to this campaign, that the donor will be honored on a donor wall (or in another suitable manner, then ask for consideration of a specific dollar amount. For example, “Ms. Prospect, The Nonprofit Network has received a tremendous response to our effort to rebuild the Main Street Theater. We would like to put your family’s name on the donor wall that will be on the outside of the theater. This requires a gift of $1000, $500 a year for two years. Will you consider a gift for this amount?”

With practice, you will get past the objections of most prospects, but only if you are able to quickly build trust and rapport. This requires practice, practice, practice! Call your friends and family and practice soliciting. Call people you know will make it really tough on you to get a donation! After a while, calling a prospect will become familiar and you will be more comfortable listening to prospects and overcoming their objections and you will turn prospects into donors!

Tuesday, February 19, 2008

Find a Money Getter!

Most nonprofits have a development staff of one! If you’re one of these one person shop or only have a couple of folks handling development tasks, a good way to pursue additional funding is to work with an independent grant writer or what I like to call a “Money Getter”! A good grant writer can help leverage a limited development budget by working on a specific project within their area of expertise. This can all be done without having to provide office space, benefits and a computer. Frankly, this can make a dramatic difference in a tight development budget!

There are some factors to consider when working with an independent grant writer. First and foremost, a grant writer should be carefully vetted. Grant writers being should have a proven track record of getting money - not of merely putting together a pretty grant. While volunteer grant writers might offer their services for the experience, a paid grant writer is there to do one thing – bring in money! Ask you prospective grant writer specifics about their grant writing history such as how much money they got, from how many foundations, in what time frame. Ask for a writing sample and references. Diligently scrutinize both! Ask for three references and make the calls. If you don’t call references, you could get scammed.

Once you have selected a grant writing consultant (i.e. Money Getter), you have to keep an eye on them. You should lead the grant writer through the instructions for the proposal they will be writing and be prepared to field any questions. A strict timeline should be established for first, second, and final drafts. Plan for having the proposal reviewed by objective readers and schedule adequate time for the consultant to make changes based upon your corrections and the input from objective third parties.

Independent grant writing consultants can be paid one of two ways, by the proposal or by the hour. It is considered unethical to pay grant writers a percentage of the amount their proposal brings in. Some funders will rescind funds if the grant writer receives a percentage of the grant award. The amount that grant writing consultants charge varies with the region and the grant writer’s skill set. Talk to other development professionals in your area to gauge what grant writing consultants in your regions charge. One word of caution, with grant writers you often get what you pay for!

With careful selection and good management, your development team can leverage its resources to bring in funds through an independent grant writing consultant. A good development team doesn’t have to be a large full-time staff, it can be a small full-time staff augmented by talented consultants! In development, brining in dollars often means knowing how to stretch yours!

Sunday, February 17, 2008

You CAN Find Individual Donors!

For nonprofit organizations, increasing your individual donor base is critical to keeping your organization alive. Individual donors are important not only because of the money they give to your organization, but because they also become ambassadors of the organization, telling others about the great things that you do. These ambassadors leverage their own contributions by encouraging others to also become donors.

Finding individual donors can be simple if you keep this simple acronym in mind:


Connection is the link the potential donor has to your organization. A good place to start identifying connections is through your Board, your employees, and your current and past client base. Clients who receive excellent services from a nonprofit organization often like to give back by making a donation.

Ability is your potential donor’s capacity to give. Donor walls at other organizations, your city’s business journal, and the Chronicle of Philanthropy are three ways to identify people who have the potential to make a gift to your organization.

Need is the potential donor’s desire to give. Many donors give to specific causes, such as nonprofits that work on behalf of children, women, or the environment. Know what causes your potential donor needs to support and make sure your organization is a good match. If your potential donor gives to a wider range of causes, be prepared to explain why your organization should receive a gift over other organizations.

Using the C.A.N. method, you will eliminate time spent on trying to develop relationships with donors that are unlikely to give to your organization and be able to focus on those that can give you support!

Tuesday, February 5, 2008

Adapt or Perish

The way that we give is changing. Before the December 2004 Indian earthquake and subsequent tsunami, few nonprofits had a way to donate online. Hurricane Katrina in August 2005 prompted the remainder of major nonprofits to figure out a way to let people donate through their website. These catastrophic events showed us that people want to give online and will give online.

Barring a natural disaster, how do you get people to actually use the donation button? The answer may be found in an ailing fundraising technique – direct mail. The Chronicle of Philanthropy reported in January 2008 a ten percent decline in contributions for the first three quarters of 2006, with some nonprofit falling off as much as 12 percent in the first three quarters of 2007. People who grew up before and during World War II have typically been the more responsive to direct mail, but with fewer of these fine folks around direct mail responses have fallen off.

Carol Rhine, senior fund-raising analyst at Target, noted in the Chronicle’s study that younger direct mail recipients are more apt to read direct mail and donate online. Ms. Rhine’s observations may well be the answer to marrying direct mail and online donations. Direct mail that gives clear online donation instructions will have the benefit of capturing traditional direct mail donors and will steer technology savvy donors to your site to make online donations.

So if you’re a nonprofit, what the bottom line? If you don’t have an online strategy or if your strategy hasn’t been your focus, you have to make to it your focus. In academia, there is a phrase “Publish or Perish.” For our world, it would be “Adapt or Perish.”