After #GivingTuesday comes #ThankUNoteWed. To honor the occasion, I thought I'd round-up some good tips, advice, examples, and suggestions to help you on your way. While there are lots of great ideas and suggestions, the two most critical pieces of advice are to acknowledge gifts promptly and personally.
In a recently concluded survey of 1200 fundraisers, Gail Perry of Fired Up Fundraising asked “What Keeps 1200 Fundraisers Up at Night?” The answers were almost all were management related, painting a picture of pretty unpleasant places for many fundraisers to work.
With the average tenure of Directors of Development now being less than two years and major gift officers being sixteen months according to a Nonprofit Times article out earlier this week, it seems fundraisers have good reasons for imitating the Runaway Bride, bolting out the door at the thought of making a long-term commitment to the organizations they serve.
In Gail's survey, fundraisers mentioned too much to do, too little assistance, too little support from management, confusion about priorities, changing priorities or changing goals mid-year, and an absence of a coordinated fundraising plan. Yuck!
No wonder we're unhappy with 57% of us planning to leave our current positions and 40% of us contemplating exiting the development profession altogether, according to Compasspoint's oft-cited Underdeveloped: A National Study of Challenges Facing Nonprofit Fundraising. study.
Part of our responsibility to our donors after receiving a gift is to report back to them about what the donations they’ve entrusted to us have accomplished. We know they want to hear from us about the impact of their donations.
If we’re good at donor stewardship, we do this in multiple ways and in an ongoing fashion.
- We call our donors and say things like, “Hi! The tractors arrived on site today and started clearing for the new building and I was just thinking about you and how you’ve made this possible.”
- We invite them to our campuses and show them work in progress or programs in action.
- We meet them for coffee and bring them pictures of something that happened last week that they wanted to see.
Informally, the updates are regular.
But every once in a while, we do formal updates through Annual or Impact Reports as well. As many of us plan this time of year to write and design our Annual or Impact Report, what should it convey?
This year’s Nonprofit Communications Trend Report, published annually by Kivi LeRoux Miller, highlighted the possibility of conflict within nonprofit organizations’ communications and development departments about role definitions, goals, resource allocations, strategies, tactics, and more.
And, just to prove how prescient the report might be, nonprofit fundraising and marketing bloggers have begun to slug it out online.
I suspect where communications and development cannot agree, collaborate, and talk things through, it is often the case that, in these situations, there is no culture of philanthropy. And while Underdeveloped calls on Development Directors to work to change from within the culture of philanthropy in organizations that lack it, it’s been my experience that in those organizations where no culture of philanthropy exists, the development director often lacks the power or authority to lead such change. By the nature of the problem, the development director is disenfranchised in these situations.