Earlier this month, we explored Donor Retention with Michelle Karpinski (Pretty Lake Camp). During this workshop, we learned about donor-centered recognition.
According to research by Penelope Burk, the essential components of donor-centered recognition include:
- Prompt, meaningful gift acknowledgement
- Ability to designate the gift to a program, service or project more narrow in scope than the charity’s overall mandate
- Measureable results report on the last gift before being asked for another gift
If all three of these essentials are present, donors report that
- 93% would give again
- 64% would make larger gifts
- 74% would continue indefinitely if the essentials continued
The bottom line was to not over-think the effort but to keep the donor relationship front-and-center while doing the essentials well: timely, genuine, and accurate.
Our direct assistance services bring a myriad of issues and concerns through our door. While each appointment paints problems with its own palette of colors and textures, one common thread runs through almost every meeting.
Organizational concerns always involve the Board.
Every business, club, and organization takes its cue from the top. Boards, in partnership with the chief executive, set the tone for the nonprofit organization, affecting its climate, culture, and effectiveness.
Collecting and analyzing data since 1994, BoardSource’s biennial reports provide one of the deepest dives into the state of board leadership and trends. Their January 2015 report, Leading with Intent, surfaces three key findings:
- Getting the people right is fundamental – Boards that aren’t thoughtfully composed relating to skills sets, leadership styles, and diversity of thought and background are less likely to excel.
- Boards need to get outside their comfort zones – Boards generally do well at compliance and oversight functions, but strategic and external work challenge them.
- Investments in board development are worth the effort – Building and strengthening a board takes ongoing, intentional effort.
BoardSource, Leading with Intent: A National Index of Nonprofit Board Practices (Washington, D.C.: BoardSource, 2015).
Many executive directors find the amount of time they must spend on board matters surprising. Even though they function as the ED’s superior, boards pose a volunteer management challenge of the highest order.
ONEplace recognizes the need for intentional board development efforts. Our quarterly Board Membership 101 workshop not only provides basic board responsibility training but also serves as a regular reminder for organizations to attend to their own board development. We also stand ready to work with you to develop a focused board recruitment and development plan.
Board service offers individuals unique challenges. It also offers unique opportunities for personal growth and enjoyment. Intentional board development helps your organization strike this balance.
In the spirit of practice what you teach, we’ve taken a deliberate, strategic approach to Twitter. We carefully considered several questions, including:
- What are the benefits of using Twitter relative to other social media platforms?
- What presence do we want to establish?
- What’s the best balance of original tweets, retweets, and promotional tweets?
- Who do we want to follow…and why?
Over the past several weeks, we’ve documented our experience online as well as off, and examined how to use Twitter as a metric for larger program goals, and how adding this effort affects our workload and schedules.
We’ve learned a lot. Lolita has been driving the effort and she presents her research, cases from local organizations, experience, and insights in Twitter Time for Kzoo Nonprofits on February 10.
We invite you to attend to learn, share, and see how Twitter may fit into your personal or organizational communications efforts.
In January, several viewed a video by Kerri Karvetsky (Company K Media) on how to Find Your Audience on Social Media.
Focusing primarily on Facebook and Twitter, Kerri identified various ways to locate and analyze followers as well as several tools (many free) to help get the most from your social media presence.
She presented several points from the recent Pew Research Internet Project report. Again, focusing on Facebook and Twitter, she highlighted a few important trends.
- Facebook is leveling while other platforms are still growing.
- Facebook is still highest use, and it’s graying – fastest growing group is 65+ while 30-49 group use is declining
- Twitter is growing in all age groups, especially in ages 18-29 and 30-49
- Overall Twitter tends to skews younger and more urban
For more information from the report, visit the Pew Research Internet Project website.
With New Year’s Eve just hours away, I again find myself at an intersection. In addition to being the calendar year end, it’s also the second quarter close of our fiscal year. And, as a holiday week, it’s a time of less (or different) activity.
I like these times. It’s an opportunity to look back and look forward, to evaluate and adjust, to celebrate and to anticipate.
In his book, Traction, Gino Wickman draws upon the work of Patrick Lencioni and others and recommends that top management gather off-site every 90 days to review the previous quarter and finalize priorities for the coming quarter. Why every 90 days? He says, “The 90-day idea stems from a natural phenomenon – that human beings stumble, get off track, and lose focus roughly every 90 days.”
Wickman cites examples of this phenomenon at work, and I could add a few examples of my own. While it’s easy to casually nod in agreement, I shudder at his observation that human beings “lose focus roughly every 90 days,” because…
…we cannot afford to lose focus.
Lost focus wastes time and energy, dilutes the purpose of the organization, confuses funders and donors, frustrates staff and volunteers, and eventually leads to all sorts of crises. As leaders of our teams, departments, and organizations, maintaining focus is at the top of our list of responsibilities.
So, take some time – a half- or full-day – every quarter to hit the Pause button and keep yourself and your team on track. It will save you time, increase your service quality, and promote job satisfaction.
Last month, we hosted a Chronicle of Philanthropy video titled, Building Long-term Ties with Young Donors. It discussed data from the Millennial Alumni Report and how it related to nurturing the loyalty of young donors. The video noted the strong philanthropic tendency of Millennials in volunteering (86% would volunteer) as well as donating (75% donate).
Enjoyable experiences with the organization, an opportunity to give back, and the ability to designate donations to a specific program motivate Millennial philanthropy. Millennials also want to see results.
Social media (especially Facebook, Twitter and LinkedIn) is tops in providing Millennials with stories, behind the scenes info, and successes. To maximize reach, the presenters suggest creating an Online Ambassador Program. The program engages volunteers in generating Shares and Retweets, and it’s considered a “must” for any online campaign.
Email continues to be the primary communication channel for calls to action and appeals. Emails should be very short with bold highlights and a soft ask (e.g., donate button).
The bottom line for Millennials (as for older donors) is to ask. Many reported that they didn’t give simply because they hadn’t been asked.
In a recent Harvard Business Review article, Dov Seidman observes that we’re moving into a human economy. Having once been an agrarian economy and then an industrial economy, followed by an information economy, we now are transitioning into a human economy where successful employees leverage their creativity, passion, character, and collaborative spirit.
Seidman quotes Peter Drucker (Effective Executive, 1967) in support for committing to values and connecting with purpose in the workplace. He describes Drucker as being ahead of his time. I think he was simply more attuned to his people than the flavor of his time.
Successful leaders throughout the 20th century valued the human element. Look at Jim Collins’ list of top CEO’s and you’ll find several who built long-lasting organizations that valued their people more than their profit.
What they recognized is that – be it agrarian, industrial, information or human – each was an economy, i.e., “a system of interaction and exchange.” Regardless of what commodity is being traded, it’s people that perform the interactions and exchanges. It’s people that make any economy tick.
Seidman also points out that the systems are changing. Business and organizational policies and practices are valuing the human element more, and business schools are also attending more to developing so-called “soft skills.”
More and more, institutions are recognizing what many business writers keep claiming: it’s all about relationships. It’s true now, and it has been true for decades. Perhaps mainstream leadership thought is catching up with this.
Last Thursday I enjoyed gathering at ONEplace with around 50 others to again explore the topic of community alignment. We spent good time hearing aspirations from each person, reviewing some statistics and concepts, and then engaging conversations – both in small groups and large group. At the end of the session, one thing was very clear to me.
We will never achieve community alignment.
I don’t see this as bad news or a negative statement. It’s simply grasping the fact that getting the 75,000 people who live in Kalamazoo or the 250,000 who live in Kalamazoo County to align around a common care may be an unrealistic expectation. And, even if we did agree on something (e.g., education is important), wouldn’t it be so high level, so unspecific as to appear unactionable?
We may never achieve community alignment as long as we define “community” as including thousands of people. In The Tipping Point, Malcolm Gladwell referred to Dunbar’s Law which says that once you hit 150 people, it’s time to start another community or open another location. Why? No one individual can be in relationship (i.e., in community) with more than 150 people. It’s too overwhelming.
Further, with 150 people we can achieve alignment at a deeper, more specific, more actionable level. A level where people can connect and impact can be felt.
Another relevant fact is that each of us lives within several communities. We have our neighborhood community, our work community, our religious community, our civic communities, our families, our friends, and more. Because we’re part of several communities, these various groups – aligned within themselves – may become interaligned due to our involvement in all of them.
(yes, I made up the word interaligned…don’t look it up)
So, a series of aligned communities may become interaligned as an individual takes part in all of them and carries their messages from one to another and another. This cross-germination may not align the wider community very specifically, but it may get it moving in the same general direction.
I’m still working on this one. It’s all to say that perhaps we’re expecting too much from community alignment and need to encourage a network of action-oriented interaligned communities.
What do you think?
In a recent interview, former President Bill Clinton discussed ten years of working on global initiatives. After enumerating the significant changes that have marked the last decade – increased reach of non-governmental organizations (NGOs), rise of social media, and diffusion of power – he made this bottom-line statement:
The only thing that really works in the modern world is cooperation.
In his foundation’s work they see that those efforts with at least one partnership between a corporation and NGO consistently do better than those without. And when you add governmental cooperation to mix, they do even better. He concluded:
If you want to have an effort that’s effective, you must be more inclusive.
This international dynamic is scalable. I’ve seen it manifest itself on teams, in organizations, and within neighborhoods and communities. It begins with a shared sense of cause and a common vision of our shared future. And, we’re beginning to understand this. Clinton pointed out that, today, we know that we’re interdependent, but we’re only about half way there to embracing that fact.
So, how do we become more inclusive?
I’m sure there’s no one right recipe, and it will take a lot of trial and error. Clinton acknowledges that we have to accept that we may not win every battle. Further, he encourages having patience, ridding ourselves of arrogance, dealing in facts rather than impressions, and relying upon cooperation.
Once again, it’s all about relationships.
One lesson regularly presents itself to me in a variety of forms – the importance of clarity over and above certainty.
Without going into all the gory details, suffice it to say that processes have stalled waiting for every last fact to be gathered, people have adorned their arguments with extraneous and jargonistic detail to prove the absolute rightness of their point of view, and meetings have been endlessly prolonged while meaningless minutia was debated. It’s exhausting!
In his book, The Five Temptations of a CEO, Patrick Lencioni names “choosing certainty over clarity” as temptation number three. While he affirms the importance of working with good information, he argues that many of us (CEO or not) take pride in our analytical skills and keen insights. Consequently, we spend too much time honing even-more-finely-detailed analyses into conclusions that get a nod but don’t move our organizations forward. Further, the higher impact issues before the group are left to the final few minutes of an already-too-long meeting.
Clarity, in contrast, means that you take a stand, and people understand the argument being made. They know points on which they agree and, perhaps more important, points on which they disagree. To speak clearly, however, requires us to set aside our fear of being wrong (or, at least, not-completely-right) and willingly invite others to challenge and improve our arguments.
Also, clarity makes accountability possible. Clarity of mission and purpose as well as clarity on individual roles and responsibilities means everyone knows why we exist, where we’re headed and who’s doing what. Everyone knows what’s expected and each person participates in keeping the organization on track.
In the study, Fearless Journeys, the researchers describe how several orchestras took on innovative ideas to invigorate their organizations. In the closing, the writer observed that what made all the difference was NOT the choice each made, but the fact that they dared to choose.