Ellen Bristol and Linda Lysakowski, ACFRE recently joined us for a webinar in which they showed how to figure out who’s “good enough” to justify investing your time and energy, and how to tell the difference between “worth it,” “so-so,” and “lose their phone number.”

In case you missed it, you can watch the replay here:

Full Transcript:

Steven: All right, we’ve got about a . . . well, actually my watch just struck 1:00, so I guess it’s officially time to begin. Ellen and Linda, are you okay to go ahead and get started?

Ellen: Sure.

Linda: Absolutely.

Steven: All right. Cool. Let’s do it then.

Good afternoon, everyone. Good afternoon if you are on the East Coast. Good morning if you are on the West Coast or somewhere in between. Thanks for joining us for today’s Bloomerang webinar: “Are You Good Enough for Me: A Different Way to Find Your Ideal Donor”.

My name is Steven Shattuck and I’m the Chief Engagement Officer over here at Bloomerang and I’ll be moderating today’s discussion, as always.

Before we begin, just a couple of housekeeping items. I want to let everyone know that we are recording this presentation and we’ll be sending out that recording as well as the slides a little later on today. So if you have to leave early or perhaps you want to review the content later on or share it with a friend, you’ll be able to do that. So just look for an email from me later on this afternoon with all that good stuff.

As you’re listening today, please feel free to use that chat box on your webinar screen right there. We’re going to spend some time at the end for Q&A, so don’t be shy about sending any questions or comments our way. We’ll see those throughout the presentation and we’ll try to save just as much time to answer those as possible up until about the 2:00 Eastern hour.

As you’re listening today, please feel free to send us some tweets. We always like to see your tweets as we go through the presentation. You can use our hashtag #Bloomerang. You can send it to @BloomerangTech and we’ll be displaying the user names of our two guests here in just a couple of seconds.

If you’re listening via your computer and if you have any problems with audio specifically, the audio quality is usually a little bit better by phone. So if you can dial in by phone, if you’re okay doing that, it’s usually a little bit better. So if you have any audio problems, try that first. There is a phone number on the email from ReadyTalk that’ll get you all dialed in and you’ll be able to hear us pretty well.

Speaking of audio, I should say that today we have two presenters rather than just our one presenter, which is great. But sometimes it’s very hard to sort of equalize those volumes. So you may hear a little bit of difference in the volume of our presenters, so please bear with us. If someone’s a little quiet for you, turn up your computer or your phone and then turn it back down when the next person comes on, so we just appreciate your patience with that during all this great content that you’re going to hear.

One last thing, just in case Bloomerang is new to you, I want to say a special welcome if this is your first webinar. In addition to these weekly webinars, we also provide donor management software. So if you’re interested in that or if you’re in the market for that, we’d love for you to learn more. You can visit our website and even download a quick video demo. You can see the software without even talking to a salesperson. Who wants to do that, after all? So check us out if you’re interested in learning more.

Very, very excited for today’s dual guests. Two of my favorite people. Very glad to have them here – Linda Lysakowski and Ellen Bristol. Ladies, how’s it going today? So good of you to join us.

Ellen: Always a pleasure to be on your radar, Steven.

Steven: That’s too kind of you, Ellen. I want to go ahead and just brag on you two for just a couple of seconds. In case you don’t know Ellen, she is a self-confessed performance management geek and she’s a nut for metrics, and I can confirm both of those things based on our conversations leading up to this. She is the developer of a methodology called “Fundraising the Smart Way” and she’s going to talk about that as we go along today.

Her and Linda, Linda is a great friend of Bloomerang. Some of you may recognize Linda. She’s presented multiple webinars for us today. Her and Linda coauthored a great book called “The Leaky Bucket: What’s Wrong with Your Fundraising and How You Can Fix It.” They worked together numerous times to bring those principles to bear and they’re both going to talk about that today and I’m super excited.

So, Ellen, Linda, I’m not sure who goes first but I’m going to kick it off to both of you to get started so why don’t you take it away for us?

Ellen: I’m going to start the presentation. Linda and I trade back and forth, so you’ll hear me saying, “Take it away, Linda,” and she’ll kick it to me.

We’re going to talk about the big questions that we should be asking ourselves when we’re fundraising, which is, “Hey, are you good enough for me?” In other words, are you, the donor prospect, worth it for me to invest my scarce and precious fundraising time? Because most of us have spent too much of our fundraising time hoping and praying, “Oh, gee whiz, I hope this donor is going to think we’re good enough for him.”

This is a core issue in “Fundraising the SMART Way,” and it stems from what I love to call the “cousin Judy principle”. There’s a whole chapter in my book about my cousin Judy. This is an actual photograph of my actual cousin Judy. We grew up together. We were more like sisters than like cousins.

She’s a little bit younger than I am. She looks just the same now in her 60s as a grandmother as she did when she was a kid – pretty and sweet and accessible and so much fun to be around.

Now, she was so popular as a kid. Metaphorically speaking, the boys would line up around the block waiting for a chance to ask her out. Me, I stayed home weekends feeling sorry for myself.

Now, she wasn’t a cheerleader. She wasn’t dating the captain of the football team. She didn’t come from a rich family. She didn’t drive the snazziest car in the world. She was just good.

Years later after it didn’t sting so much, I finally asked her, “Hey, what’s the story with you in high school? How come you were such a big success?” She said something that has never left my mind, and it was, “I never questioned whether I was good enough to date any of those guys. I only asked myself, ‘Hey, are they good enough for me?'”

Thus was born the concept of “Fundraising the SMART Way,” or one of the elements in it. Mainly, are we obligated to chase around after every prospective donor out there just because they have money? The answer is no. To start with, let’s talk about your fundraising time real quickly.

Guess what? You don’t have much of it. Even if you are a full-time development professional, your fundraising time is really limited. If you’re the CEO or the Chief Operating Officer and you don’t have a development shop and you’re doing development part-time, you have even less time for this.

We actually have a little calculator that we share with people – you can get it off my website – called the Opportunity Risk Calculator. It shows how much time is left after you take away all the time that you have to dedicate to bring stuff like sleep and weekends and sick days and holidays and preparing for the board meeting and travel and to conferences and getting and maintaining your CFRE and all that stuff. You know you just have to do it and you can’t do all of your fundraising at 3:00 in the morning on Sundays because usually your donors aren’t awake.

Our discovery has been that the average development officer who’s working in an organization trying to raise let’s say $1 million a year, he probably put as much as $1,100 – in one case it was $18,000 an hour – at risk every time they go out and spend an hour cultivating a donor. So if your time is that scarce and it’s that expensive and it’s that risky, then you really need to know which donor prospects justify the investment of your time.

Linda, will you talk about what we’ve discovered in our Leaky Bucket project about the ideal donor?

Linda: Steven mentioned that Ellen and I coauthored “The Leaky Bucket: What’s Wrong with Your Fundraising and How You Can Fix It.” This book was based on a study that is available and if you haven’t taken it yet, I suggest you go to Ellen’s website and take The Leaky Bucket assessment yourself. It’s free of charge and you actually get a one-hour consultation with it included.

We found some pretty interesting results from this quiz and some of the questions that we asked of people really shocked and amazed us, and we’ve talked about that before in some of our Leaky Bucket webinars. But the one that we’re really wanting to address today, which we found pretty scary, was how many people had prospect qualification standards. In other words, do you at all qualify your donors before you spend any time trying . . . that $18,000 an hour or $1,000 an hour or whatever it is of your time, do you do anything do qualify those donors before you go and meet with them?

Unfortunately, about 15% of people had absolutely no standards at all. They just basically are chasing anybody that has a heartbeat and maybe not even necessarily standing erect but still is alive, breathing and, sure, they’re going to give us money. The majority of people, 61%, said they had preferences, like maybe they preferred people with wealth, maybe they preferred people who lived in a certain geographical area, but they’ve never documented those standards. It’s just, “Well, everybody knows this is what we’re looking for.”

Believe me, probably everybody doesn’t know what you’re looking for if they’re not documented. My favorite saying in fundraising has always been, “If it isn’t written down, it never happened and it probably never will.” So you want to make sure that your standards are documented.

About 17% said they do have profiles based on the capacity to give, and there are lots of tools out there that you can use to find out what a person’s ability to give. As consultants, I can tell you that Ellen and I are constantly, “Well, how do we get to Bill Gates and how do we get to Oprah and how do we get to Mark Zuckerberg?” Everybody knows who has the capacity to give, either on the national and international level, or even in your own local community. I don’t care if you’re in a large city or a small rural area or somewhere in between, everybody in town knows who the people are who have the capacity to give, but that doesn’t necessarily mean that they’re going to give to you.

What really dismayed us greatly was that only 6% of the people we talked to said they had documented profiles that not only included the capacity to give, but talked about donor motivations. Are these people likely to give to you? It’s not just the ability to give. It’s the propensity to support your organization that are really important. We were kind of dismayed by that and decided that we needed to do something to turn it around, and hence “Fundraising the SMART Way” came about.

Part of the questions that we have to answer in this process is why is your nonprofit worth funding. We were also disappointed in our results to see how few people had a case for support that explained why their nonprofit was worth funding. I don’t remember the exact figures right now, but it’s amazing how many people haven’t really thought about that. They just assume that everybody in the community knows about this wonderful work we do and we’re just the greatest organization.

But you’ve got to explain to people what difference you make in the world or in your community or in your state or in your country, wherever your mission takes you, and do you have the ability to deliver your mission. Do you have enough staff? Do you have the right people serving on your board? Those are the kinds of things that people want to know about whether or not your organization is worth funding.

So the first part of this equation is, “Is the donor worth my time?” and the second part of the equation is, “Am I worth the donor’s time?” or, “Is the organization worth the donor’s time?” So you’ve got to think about what your value-added is in this process of “Fundraising the SMART Way,” we help you determine what are the donor’s values? What do they find valuable? And then what is your value-added? So you can match those things up.

It’s really quite an interesting process. We’re going to delve into it a little bit here. But you’ve got to learn whether or not you can really have the traits that affect your donors. We’re going to use a couple of examples of some organizations with their permission.

One of our clients is Delta Waterfowl and one of the things that we’ve taken in through the exercise of knowing the mentoring stages of their program, but it’s been an amazing journey for them to find out what their value added is and what the values that their donors are seeking. What we came up with was a bunch of values that they had to offer the donor.

Some of these values included things like they’re very passionate about what they do. We’ve been working with them for several months now and they have about 14 development officers that we meet with on a weekly basis and they’re really amazingly passionate. We meet with them by video chat so we can see the trophies on their wall and things that are really important to them.

We know that they, as an organization, are just as passionate about their cause, which happens to be waterfowling and habitat conservation, as their members are. Their members are very passionate about this. They interviewed a bunch of their members and found out some of the things that really appeal to them.

For example, they have innovative programs, and there may be other waterfowl organizations out there, but they have some programs that nobody else offers. For instance, they’re willing to advocate and take on some tough issues. This was really important to their donors that they’re willing to take on the tough issues and sometimes advocate for things that may not be politically correct in some cases. But it’s important to their donors and it’s important to them.

Another thing that proved to be very important was that their information is based on science. They’ve done an amazing amount of research on the duck populations or behaviors or habitats, and these are the kinds of things that really appeal to their donors. Even if they find the science is flawed, they kind of stand up to it and say, “Okay, what’s the real facts behind this issue?” So they offer something that their donors feel that is valuable to them and that they can’t find anywhere else.

This is what you have to do, whatever your cause is, and you know we have probably people out there from the arts and human services and education, but you have to find what your donors are passionate about so that you have the values that appeal to their values. That’s what it’s all about – matching up values with you and your donor.

Ellen: Exactly. By the way, one thing to add about Delta is that they’ve been around 100 years. So when they say even if they find their science is flawed, well, there were certain things that wildlife science and wildlife biology believed to be true 100 years ago which was later discovered to be untrue. And they’ve never tried to say, “Well, we were right when we told you the Earth was flat.”

The question about the ideal funder really is who’s right for you? This is the cousin Judy principle at work. And for the gentleman who asked for her website address, I’m not giving it to you. She’d kill me.

There’s no one size fits all in fundraising. We all know that. But oftentimes our desperation for money, for meeting targets, for letting the board kind of browbeat us into going after their brother-in-law or whatever it is. The real question is who’s right for you.

It depends on three things – on your mission and its value added, and on whether their value-sought matches your value-added. “Value-sought” is a term we coined. Everybody knows the expression “value-added”, but it’s like if your value-added is that you’re an expert in selling green suits, well, you want to appeal to a population that wants to buy green suits. So that’s their value-sought. There has to be a mesh between those things.

The last is their capacity. We’re going to talk a little bit more about capacity playing a role, but it’s not the important role.

So how do we figure out the donor’s value-sought? This was a very interesting experience for a lot of people and it has to do with asking the donors three simple questions. I actually wrote a white paper you can download from the Bristol Strategy Group website called “Three Simple Questions That Get Donors to Give”. These questions are very helpful.

What do you want to achieve with your charitable giving? What difference do you want to make in the world by supporting charity? What do you want to avoid with your charitable giving? In other words, what societal problem, medical challenge, economic inequality, whatever it is, what do you want to avoid by giving money to a cause?

The then last one is how do you know you’ve chosen the right charity? If you sit down with some of your best donors, those donors and other constituents you know well, who like you a lot, and who you like a lot, and have a candid conversation. “Tell me why you give to us. Tell us what motivated you to give. Why do you give to charity in the first place? What role does being charitable play in your life?”

You have this amazing conversation. You have your data from a sample of those best donors and they help you keep track of those conversations. You’ll know because you will have heard from 10 or 20 or 40 or more of your donors what their motivations for giving are in general, and what their motivations are for giving to an organization in your niche, and what their motivations are for giving to you and staying with you. Feel free to borrow these questions.

Now, Linda, can you share with them the next three slides?

Linda: Sure. Some of the things that we found working with Delta is some of the things that the donors’ values were that they wanted waterfowling to be around for their kids and their grandkids, and maybe their great-grandchildren, and they wanted them to enjoy it as much as they did. Family values are important to a lot of donors. What they enjoy, they want to be around.

You could translate this into whatever type of organization you have. For instance, if you were a college or a university, you might have donors who feel that they want the same quality education to be available to their kids as they got at your university. So no matter what your organization is, think about that. That may not be important to everyone, but it’s important to their donors and these are the kind of things that they’re looking for then in future donors, so they have other donors who have that same interest in giving back to their kids and grandkids.

Likewise, giving back is a family tradition. That was something that is very prevalent, particularly when you get into major donors. People who come from a lot of wealth tend to see that giving back is a family tradition their parents and grandparents taught them. Even if they don’t come from great wealth themselves, they may come from a family who was relatively poor but still felt that it was important to give back to others. So that family tradition is something that was important to their donors.

There were some donors who said, “I have money and I want to make sure that my favorite sport continues.” Maybe not necessarily for their children and grandchildren, but for other people. That may be important to your organization. You may not be a sport necessarily, but whatever your cause is, people want to make sure that their favorite hobbies and sports and maybe their good health continues into the future.

Other people felt that supporting the science behind the conservation was really important. So there were a lot of people who gave because of the scientific research. I think it’s really important that you think about that.

The other statement that some of their donor’s made was that if they lost Delta, where would people who were really interested in waterfowling be without advocates like Delta Waterfowl to stand up for their rights and their causes and stand up for conservation. So those are the kind of things that they wanted to clone in their future donors.

So think about your organizations. Where would your organization be? If it ceased to exist, where would your funders get the same kind of services that they’re getting from you? What kind of research and science goes behind your organization? Almost everybody can find some things like this. You may have different statements, but these are some that are really important and this is what you want to find in your donor.

What’s important to them? What’s their value-sought? That value-sought is really, really critical.

Ellen: Can I add something here? That is this is a guideline. The Delta development team engages in conversations what was both current and prospective donors to ask questions, they don’t say, “Hey, is giving back a family tradition in your family?” They ask more subtle, more probing, indirect questions. But what they’re listening for is whether or not the candidate they’re considering cultivating shares these or similar sentiments about waterfowling.

By the way, we’re using the term “waterfowling” because it seemed more politically correct than “duck hunting”, which is what they really do. But they’re so ethical and their whole idea is to maintain habitat conservation and wetlands and keep people from pursuing rare species. Even if you’re squeamish about hunting, these guys really wear the white hat.

Sorry to interrupt, Linda.

Let’s talk about exchange of value. Go ahead.

Linda: I think this is what our whole purpose is in getting you to think about your values, the value-added that you have to their value-sought. If you don’t have that in a donor, if you can’t match up your values, it doesn’t matter how much money they have. People who approach donors strictly based on their wealth usually end up getting maybe a small token gift if a donor does not see that your values match up with the values that their seek.

We sometimes forget about that. We talk about our values and I often say many organizations, in fact every organization should have a written values statement. But I wonder how many of them actually think about their donors when they’re writing that value statement. In my experience, putting together value statements usually comes from a board and maybe the administrative staff sitting together in a planning session or some kind of a special meeting that they called to develop value statements.

They talk about what’s important to us. Yes, there are going to be things that are important to you, those lines in the sand that you’re not going to cross. You’re not going to give up your integrity and things like that. But most people, when they develop their value statements, they really don’t take into account are these values that their donors are seeking.

So what we’d like you to do is take that whole values statement an extra step and say, “What are the values that our donors are seeking?” Unless you sit down and talk to your donors, you’re not going to know what that is.

Ellen, do you want to do the next slide or should I?

Ellen: This is kind of complicated. You can do it, unless you want me to do it.

Linda: No, I’m glad to jump in. This is part of the exercise that when we worked with our clients, I find especially really exciting. We’ve taken through, and this is an example again from Delta, the value-added strengths that they felt that they had: innovative programs, willingness to take off on tough issues.

These are the things that they decided. Then they looked at their existing and their prospective donors and they said those three questions that Ellen suggested. “What is it that donors want to achieve? What is it that they want to avoid? And how do they decide which is the right charity that’s going to help them achieve what they want to achieve and avoid what they want to avoid?”

We put these up side by side and what’s really carrying through how their values match up with the donors’ values, and that’s what all these little red arrows are. I think this is really, really the critical part of this. To me, this is really exciting. We’re working with some clients now that when they interviewed their donors, they got such amazing value-sought statements from them and trying to match it up and you can see that some of their values-added match up with several of the values that donors are seeking. Some of them maybe don’t match as much and those are the things that maybe they want to deemphasize a little bit.

But when they interview 10, 20, 30 donors and find out that they’re all interested in similar things and that they match up with their value analysis, it gets people really charged up and excited to think about what they can do to drive home their values and what they can do to find other people that have those same value-sought. That what makes this really fundraising the smart way. Rather than just kind of taking a dart and throwing it at the board and saying, “Okay, here’s our list of donors. Who do we want to call this week?” this is a much more scientific way of doing it. But it also brings out a lot of passion in the donors and in the organizations.

Ellen: Before we jump to the next slide, I want to add something to this, which is that once you’ve done this exercise . . . by the way, this particular exercise, the funder’s value-sought, represented a specific funder whose name I no longer recall. The best way to do this is to run an exercise like this in which this list, I’m just outlining it in blue, representing your value-added strengths, is constant. But this side, funder’s value-sought is done individually with each of, say, 10 or more donors. Then we start to see common themes and common threads.

What arises out of these connections designated by the red arrows is a set of statements. The donor is committed to supporting a cause he believes is good. The donor is concerned about the loss of duck breeding habitat or loss of wetlands in general, and so on. That’s when we start to be able to describe the qualitative characteristics of the ideal donor.

There’s a secondary benefit to being able to describe those characteristics, and that is those characteristics work their way into all of your messaging, the language you use on your website, the language you use in direct mail and email marketing, the language you use in social media, and even the language you use when you’re face to face with a prospective donor.

Now, I am a little bit embarrassed to admit I wanted desperately to show you the ideal donor scorecard for Delta Waterfowl and for some reason Microsoft Excel decided it was on strike and I couldn’t figure out how to show their scorecard. So we’re showing you a scorecard instead that it’s actually a hypothetical and we often use it in our training. I hope you have a magnifying glass because right now it’s an eye chart. So Steven Shattuck was very helpful and he broke it up for me.

Remember, the theme of this conversation is, “Are You Good Enough for Me?” So here’s a piece of the scorecard. By the way, this is a very simple Excel spreadsheet tool. Here we have our example is an arboretum, a botanical garden, and here’s the donor’s name. Here’s something that tells us the actual score this donor got against the ideal score, telling us this donor ranks at the level of “A”. Well, a donor ranked “A” justifies the maximum investment of your fundraising time.

Now let’s go on a little bit and look at a couple of other things. I want you to pay attention to the bottom half of this screen, the value statement. We saw an example of the Delta Waterfowl value analysis and here’s how that same value analysis converted into value statements for our botanical garden, the donors passionate about gardening, travels extensively, wants to keep the arboretum open, concerned about loss of plant species, motivated to share wealth through philanthropy and so on and so forth. We also have a place to list donor capacity, which we come to later.

There’s a certain thing we like to look at which is often overlooked. By the way, this is the one we usually have the most fun with – the danger signs. What happens if the donors got the right money and they give them to the right organizations and they kind of like what we do, but they have a reputation of being a pot-stirrer or they have 17 levels of attorneys and financial advisors and functionary and you can never get face to face with them? Or big talk, no action? Or one of our favorites, they want to give you $500 to name the building after them?

So we need to be able to say, where these earlier slides tell us stuff that’s valuable and adds to their score, makes them more attractive to us, there may be other criteria that detracts from their score. Sometimes those criteria are enough to knock them out of consideration all together. Sometimes they’re just, “Okay, be careful about this,” an issue of managing objections.

Now, I’m not going to divert to take up from the questions. We have plenty of time to discuss this. But I can see some of you are kind of resonating with this. I wanted us to go over . . . Linda’s going to take us through the way we look at value-sought from the three major categories of funder. So, Linda, if you can do that for us.

Linda: Sometimes when we talk about donors, we think it’s all individual donors, but actually this method can be used with both individual donors as well as corporations and foundations. What we’re looking for when we talk to major individual donors about their value-sought, we’re looking for what kind of passion or conviction they have about philanthropy in general and are they particularly keen on our cause. If we’re feeding the hungry, is hunger an issue that really resonates with them.

We also are looking at what you want to avoid question. What kind of social problems are they trying to avoid? Let’s say you’re an environmental group and you’re trying to protect the water in a state or a city or a county or a country or the world, that’s more than a social problem; it’s a health problem as well. But those are the kind of things that we’re looking for. What are these major donors looking for as far as what convictions they have and how can they get involved, how can they volunteer, how can they donate to your organization, what kind of recognition will they get?

Those are some of the questions that we typically ask and talk to major donors as individuals about because they’re usually interested in all of these things, the things they really care about. Everybody’s got their own hot button. Some people are more passionate about healthcare. Others are more passionate about education. Others are more passionate about the arts, but those are the kind of things that we’re trying to find out from individuals.

Then when we come down to talking to foundations, we’re going to have some different . . . sorry, corporate sponsors. Corporate sponsors might be looking for other things, such as what kind of business opportunities might we gain by supporting your organization. Do we have access to come in and talk to your clients? Can we have a banner up at your event? Can we sponsor a program and maybe sit down and meet with the families that we’re helping?

A classic example of this, I once worked at a Boys & Girls Club that had an annual steak and burger dinner where the businesspeople came and ate hamburgers and the kids came and ate steak and it was a great opportunity for them to actually interact with the kids they were helping. So those are the kinds of things that businesses are looking for.

They’re also looking for, “Will this investment give us more community and leadership?” There are some organizations, if you’re a large educational institution or a hospital or a museum that people want to be involved with because it’s sort of the hot thing in town, I once worked for a museum and everybody wanted to jump on board and support this museum because it was all the buzz in the local community.

One of the businesspeople once told me that they knew I was doing a great job because when they went into this one famous bar and restaurant where everybody hung out, the museum was on everybody’s lips. Everybody was talking about it. So those are the kinds of things that businesses are looking for. They want to be a part of something that other businesses are supporting, and so they’re respected as leaders in the community and they want to be looked at as good corporate citizens too because I think most businesses are philanthropic, but there’s some self-motivation. If they can say, “I support X, Y, Z, our bank is supporting this local food drive to end hunger,” or whatever we’re doing, those are the kinds of things that corporate sponsors typically look at.

So the questions that you ask to a corporate leader might be very different from the questions you’re going to ask a major donor. Then a final category that we use this methodology with are grant-makers and grant-makers have their own motivations, their own value-sought. They want their grantees to succeed because they want to be known as, “We gave money to this organization so it could do X, Y, and Z and so it could cure this disease or stop hunger or alter the scene of domestic violence in our community.” Those are the kinds of things that grantees want.

They also are looking at things that they want to avoid. What is our brand of this organization going to help avoid in our community? Homelessness, whatever the cause may be. Then grantors are looking at we measure our success as a funder and the way they measure that is by looking at your measurements, how you’re measuring success as an organization.

So the questions that you ask each of these people may be different, but they’re all based on that concept of what do we want to fund? What do we want to avoid? What are our values that . . . what’s going to make us support your organization as opposed to maybe three other organizations in town that do similar work? All of those things are questioned.

We have kind of a formula that we wanted to share. That is take your value-added, what you have to offer, and add the value-sought, what they want, and if those two match up, what they’re going to equal is engagement or giving or donating or funding, however you want to word it. But you’ve got to have both areas of this equation to equal success, so you’ve got to have your value-added and their value-sought matching up.

Ellen: Now, at this point, some of you are asking, “What about capacity?” We know that capacity is important. You can have someone who’s got the exact perfect exchange of value and deep engagement and the ability to give you $50 every three years. Those guys don’t justify too much of your personal time. You want to be nice to them. They get the cards, they get the phone calls, they get the kiss on the cheek, but if engagement is not there, then having great wealth means nothing.

If engagement and capacity are there together, that’s fantastic. We’re big fans of prospect research but we believe that the right prospect research is going to give you good insight into past giving history, because that aligns with value-sought.

Now, just a few little handy tips and tricks. If you’re going to start raising funds on the cousin Judy principle, “Are You Good Enough For Me?”, then you have to cut this stuff out. No begging, no pleading, no, “Hey, help me out,” “Do me a favor,” “The roof is leaking,” “I’m in a jam,” “Poor us.”

The other thing you have to avoid is the usual suspects. Linda and I talk about this all the time. You know what? Don’t go bug Oprah and Mark Zuckerberg and Bill Gates and your local versions thereof. They have erected barricades to the nine million people who want a piece of the action. You’re wasting your time unless you already know they have a mad passion for your cause.

There are a few additional handy tips and tricks. Linda’s better at this one than I am.

Linda: I think there’s some things you don’t want to do is arm-twisting by board members. We constantly want our board members to help fundraising but there are a lot of ways that board members can get involved in this whole process. It’s not always just going out and finding their friends and twisting their arm.

It’s funny because people who give like that will give maybe to get their friend, the board member, to shut up and go away basically. Sometimes we call that “go away money”. But they’re not going to continue to support you because they don’t share your values. They don’t have the value-sought to match up with your value-added. Some might and that’s what you want your board members to do is focus on not so much going out and twisting their arm for money, but find the people who do share your values because often donors and board members will hang around with other people who share their values.

Let’s face it, most of us, our friends might share our values, not maybe necessarily all our values. But if we’re passionate about something, we tend to hang out with people who are passionate about those things.

The other thing that I think is really a good tip is when you’re looking for prospect research services, don’t just look at the wealth. There are loads of sources out there and you can find a lot of stuff on Google about a person’s wealth, but what you really want to, and I don’t want to plug any particular agency, but there’s one program that Ellen and I both really like a lot is DonorSearch because they don’t always just look at the wealth. They look at the past giving of this person. Have they supported organizations like yours in the past? Because that’s really what’s going to give you some clues into this even before you sit down and interview these people.

That other end is that your ideal donors need a lot of stewardships. To make sure that you are providing the stewardship that goes along with that donation so that they are repeat donors, that’s really, really critical.

I’m going to let Ellen talk to you about the book and reading “Fundraising the SMART Way” for even more insights. Ellen?

Ellen: Sure. We’ve mentioned ad nauseum that this whole program is a summary of the methodology “Fundraising the SMART Way,” and I was very privileged to have that published by John Wiley & Sons as part of the Association of Fundraising Professionals/Wiley Fund Development Series. This book includes all the templates and tips and other resources in a companion website.

We’re offering it to you guys at $27, which is great because it’s about $49 at Amazon and if you download the PDFs, you can get the link to my website where you can buy it for $27. We wanted to also talk about some other offers we have for you guys.

“Fundraising the SMART Way” is delivered as a program. It’s actually a six-month project. We guide you through how to create your ideal donor profile and a number of other instruments and tools, templates, and the whole methodology to put your fundraising on a very systematic focus for the purpose of consistent and predictable income growth.

We operate it in two ways. One for large agencies with a fairly substantial price tag. But for smaller agencies, we like to bring together up to five agencies who work together in a collaborative learning cohort and, again, it’s a six-month program.

Sorry, I’m distracted.

We’re going to make this available to Bloomerang users at a discount off our standard price. So I briefly spoke to Steven about this. We’re going to publish stuff about it later. A larger agency is one that can delegate 10-15 people to the program. That means 10-15 people dedicated to fundraising, marketing and senior management. A smaller agency’s typically well under $1 million a year where you’re asked to delegate up to three participants.

We also offer the Leaky Bucket Assessment, which is for free. We’re just starting to offer a really interesting organizational capacity assessment tool. For Bloomerang users, that’s half off. It’s about $300 and you get a 90-minute consulting thing from that too.

So come to our website to find out more about “Fundraising the SMART Way.” Use the link that you’ll find on your PDF and it’ll even show you our five-minute video about how it works, complete your Leaky Bucket Assessment, and I’m happy to announce that even though Linda runs her own company and it’s very well-known, she has just decided to join Bristol Strategy Group as our Director of Nonprofit Sales. Can I have a whole lot of applause? Yay everybody, I’m so happy.

Thank you, Linda. So, Steven, we’ve got a few minutes left.

Steven: Yeah, we can do some questions. That was great, ladies. Thanks so much. That was really cool to see all the case studies and scorecards. I think people really like that scorecard. We had multiple requests for you to send that to them if you don’t mind sending out that scorecard.

Ellen: We can certainly send you . . . make sure that those who download the file can download the arboretum scorecard and I can provide you with a copy of a sample scorecard.

Steven: Okay. Can people also email you if they don’t get it for some reason?

Ellen: Yes, but please do.

Steven: Cool. All right, awesome. I’ll leave the contact information on the screen while we do some questions. We’ve got a couple questions here. Probably only have time for maybe two or three.

Got a question from Larry here about planned giving. He says, “Some of our donors would be considered land rich and cash poor.” They don’t make an annual gift to his organization. How can he determine if someone would be a good candidate for planned giving based on those facts, a visit or maybe a phone call about planned giving? So they’ve got a lot of land, maybe have some assets there but they’re cash poor. Would that still be worth it in your mind?

Ellen: By all means. You need the money today but you’re also going to need the money the day after tomorrow or the year after next. So the key question isn’t, “What are they going to give you?” and, “How are they going to give it to you?” It’s do they have their engagement to offer you? Because the more people are engaged with you, the bigger your brand becomes.

Planned giving requires quite a bit of investment on both parties’ parts. You can’t just leave the car running and come in and drop off a deed to 50 acres of land. You have to do the same kind of due diligence to figure this stuff out.

Linda, you want to add something to that?

Linda: I also think when you’re talking to donors, that question, if you remember when we talked to some of the people at Delta who talked about what prompted them to give, some of them said they want waterfowling to be around for their kids and grandkids. Those are the kinds of hints of this is somebody who is concerned about the future of your organization’s survival, so they would probably be a perfect candidate for a planned gift. So you can design some of your questions to ask people what’s important to them, and something like that surfaces, that’s an ideal planned giving prospect, I would think.

Ellen: I would too. In fact, what we usually find is that people who invest in this approach, it doesn’t have to be with us, but a similar approach, will end up creating an ideal donor profile for individual donors, corporate sponsors, grant makers, and planned giving donors. We even have a client that has . . . their founder is a celebrity and they have a special scorecard for qualifying celebrities. I love it.

Steven: You could even, correct me if I’m wrong, but maybe even do it for potential board members?

Ellen: Actually a tremendous tool for board recruiting. And gets you out of the, “Okay, he said he’d serve.” Poof! He’s a board member, and then you’re sorry.

Linda: I think we need to do the same thing for board members as we do sometimes in donors and that’s a pulse.

Steven: That’s a great way to sum up the whole presentation.

Ellen: Yeah. Was there something else we have time for?

Steven: Yeah, probably one more. Janet here, “Is it better to identify donors’ values through surveys or face to face meetings or both?” Is that something that can be done remotely, or should that always be a face to face meeting, you think?

Ellen: Well, two things here. First of all, surveys don’t hurt but they don’t get to the heart of the matter. What really seems to work is conversations. If you’re doing those first 10 or 20, we advise our clients schedule a phone call, have your list of questions, and make sure you’re calling somebody you already know well where there’s already rapport. They’re a board member, they’re already giving to you. There’s some kind of personal relationship, so you’re comfortable.

You start the conversation by saying, “Please give me half an hour of your time. I need a favor from you. I have some questions I’d like to ask you so we end up understanding donors like you better.” “I feel awkward asking this question.” But then later as you become comfortable, it’s just the way you engage your donor in a conversation for the first time, whether you do it by email, by phone or at a cocktail party or a networking event. Eventually, your messaging leaks into all your outreach and you only have those conversations when the possibility presents itself or the prospect passes the sniff test on preliminary screening or by a referral. I hope that made sense.

Steven: Makes sense. I love it. Well, we’ve got one minute left. Any last words? How can folks get a hold of you besides the info on the screen here? Anything else?

Ellen: Those are the best ways to get ahold of us.

Steven: Yeah, I thought so.

Linda: I was just going to mention that if people had questions that they didn’t get a chance to get answered, feel free to email us.

Ellen: I just want to briefly answer something that Lynn says, “Do donors readily sit down with organizations and discuss their interests?” The answer is they’re dying to be asked these questions. Nobody asks them, and the immediate reaction is, “Oh, thank you for asking. Oh, that’s brilliant.” You ask a question like, “Tell me about yourself,” 90 minutes later you’ve been sitting there nodding and taking additional notes. They say, “Thank you so much for your interest in me. You’re a brilliant interviewer.”

Steven: Yeah, because most people don’t take interest.

Linda: Exactly.

Steven: Well, we’ll leave it at that. This was great ladies. Thanks again for sharing all your knowledge with us. This was a lot of fun and I hope everyone listening in enjoyed it as much as I did. Thanks to you for listening for an hour out of your day. I know it’s a busy time of year so I always appreciate you hanging out with us on our Bloomerang webinars.

Lots of resources on our website that you can check out as well. I want to turn your attention to our next webinar. Not next week, I’m actually taking a vacation next week, so sorry, we won’t be here next week. I hope you’ll allow it.

Two weeks from tomorrow we’re back on our regular Thursday schedule. We’re talking about mid-level donors. If that middle section of your pyramid, you’re having some trouble with nurturing that, getting some people to give at that mid-level, check us out Thursday, May 19th. Maeve Strathy is going to join us, one of my favorite Canadians, a super smart Canadian fundraiser. She’s going to talk about all that mid-level giving.

So register for that. There’s lots of other webinars that you can see on our webinar page. You may see a topic there that interests you. We’d love to see you again sometime soon, hopefully two weeks from tomorrow.

Ellen, Linda, thanks so much. This was really awesome.

Ellen: Thanks a lot, Steven.

Steven: All right, and thanks to all of you. Look for an email from me later on today with the recording and we will talk to you again hopefully soon. Have a great rest of your week and a great weekend. Bye now.

Ellen: Bye.

Linda: Bye.

Kristen Hay

Kristen Hay

Marketing Manager at Bloomerang
Kristen Hay is the Marketing Manager at Bloomerang. From 2018 - 2020, she served as the Director of Communications for the Public Relations Society of America's local Hoosier chapter. Prior to that she served on several different committees and in committee chair roles.
Kristen Hay