In this webinar, Lori L. Jacobwith from Ignited Fundraising and Steven Shattuck from Bloomerang will share their collective best practices for fundraising during times of fear & uncertainty. Lori & Steven have worked with thousands of nonprofits in good times and bad. They’ve seen what works and what doesn’t. They’re ready to bring some calm and solid actions to your overwhelm and fear.

Here are links including the Excel worksheet reviewed during the session:

Full Transcript:

Steven: Okay, cool. I think we’re ready to go.

Lori: Oh, my gosh. Well, let’s . . . I will stop sharing for just a second so you and I can be on screen just for a second and say . . . I want to say to you, Steven, thank you so much.

Steven: Oh, no problem.

Lori: And thank you to all the folks that have been patient with us. We are experiencing what you are experiencing in different ways. A little bit of uncertainty today. And thank you for pivoting with us, those that are. And those that don’t get to join us live, you will get this recording and we will be thinking of you throughout the session today.

So with that, just a reminder that wherever you are, home, with family, alone, in a place you hadn’t worked before . . . I know Steven tidied up the guest room.

Steven: Yes.

Lori: Wherever you are is just fine. Just be that. Know you can be nervous, you could be wondering what’s next. Just be okay with what that is. We want to make sure that we’re supporting you and you’re supporting each other. So with that, I will move us into our next slide and there we go.

As a community, I look to my colleagues and my friends in times like this. It was Friday. I don’t know. Midday. I was home babysitting my granddaughter, Sullivan. She’s one and a half. She had a fever and couldn’t go to school of course because of all that’s going on. And I texted my friend Steven Shattuck and I said, “Hey, friend, do you want to do a webinar on how to fundraise right now?” And it didn’t take him more than three seconds and he said, “Sure, I’m in.”

And so between then and now, 3,000 of you said you wanted to talk about this topic. So it’s our collective wisdom together, all of us on this session that makes us stronger. So thank you.

I don’t know if Beth Warner will be with us right now live but this screenshot is a picture of some refrigerator magnets that I got at an event probably maybe 18, 19 years ago. And they were for an organization that was having a fundraiser and they gave these refrigerator magnets to all of the guests who were giving money that day. But look at the words that they used, folks. Look at the words. Promote health, remain helpful, benefit people, remember us, build strength, practice compassion. I invite you to make your own list and share those words with your community. Do you have any at Bloomerang that you’re saying regularly these days?

Steven: Yeah, reliability is a big one for sure. You know, that’s what we’re trying to instill in our customers and also instill that they communicate to their beneficiaries, supporters, all those folks. So reliability is a big one for us right now.

Lori: I would say that you are that in spades today. Thank you so much.

So those of you who don’t know me, I am Lori Jacobwith. I live in Minneapolis where the Mall of America closed yesterday. I have been wanting to help people all my life. I babysat more than 50 families in my babysitting career and one of the things that I told my mom and dad was I wanted to help more people. So when I was a little girl, I thought I would be governor of Minnesota and then I could help the whole state of Minnesota. And then I worked for the governor and as I grew up and graduated from college and I decided I really didn’t want that job. But I also thought I might be a flight attendant. Went through all the interviews because I like to travel. What I realized maybe 10 years ago, 15 years ago is I am both of the things I wanted to be. I just have the titles wrong.

I call myself a master storyteller and fundraising culture change expert. I help organizations tell their stories powerfully so people will want to give them money. And I am honored to be here with all of you today and hope that you’ll glean some things and we’ll learn from you as well.

Steven: Well, that’s me. I mean, how can I follow such an introduction by Lori like that? But I’m Steven over at Bloomerang. If you don’t know Bloomerang, we’re a donor management software. We’re not going to talk about that today. It’s not really important right now although hopefully you do have something. But my biggest thing is just being a student. What they pay me to do at Bloomerang is research, collecting best practices, getting them out in the world. We do our own webinar series every Thursday although we’re doing one day a week this week just because of the extraordinary times. But I’m involved with a lot of groups that do research into donor loyalty and donor retention. Plus with all of our customers on the database side, I’ve got a few case studies and learnings that we’ve seen from our customers that we’re going to share today.

So thanks again for being here. Sorry it took us so long to get people in here but now we’re rolling. Now we’re going to have a good time. We’ve got some good advice for you. So I’m psyched.

Lori: Yeah. It looks like from your answers in our quick poll while we were getting set up that just about all of you are either considering sending something out or you have already. We’ve got some examples we want to show you of things that happened, sent out already that you could borrow from. Sooner rather than later is a good time to be sending.

And many of you, I think probably all of you have something canceled already so . . . or postponed. Postponing is just fine. So we want to remember that there’s a lot that we don’t know. And we may not be on plan B anymore. We might be on like G or F or . . . and what I do know and Steven and I were talking about yesterday . . . we’re going to probably get to Z before the end of . . . before the, you know, the curve flattens and we can all be going back to business as usual.

So please just know we’ve got this. We are smart people and we’re going to figure this out together.

This is about where we’re at right now and where my palms were about 15 minutes ago. A little bit of anxiety trying to get GoToWebinar working and here we are on Zoom, my best friends. I love them. When we feel anxiety, we are far less flexible. So if we can choose to take a pause . . . Steven is a great partner because he is unflappable. Find someone in your life who’s unflappable who can help you in that pause moment to say, “Okay. What are we going to do next? What are our options?”

Really accepting that we don’t know a lot and we’re not going to know a lot for a while. But the important thing is, if we can make positive language choices. What were some of the ones we were talking about, Steven, that we wanted to make sure to do and model during the session?

Steven: Yeah, you know, things like, you know, going crazy and panicking and . . . you know, I think those words are important right now. So we’re going to try to remove those from our lexicons.

Lori: Yeah. And scared and . . .

Steven: Yeah.

Lori: People can feel scared. They can feel that feeling and we can honor that but we don’t have to incite that through our word choices that we’re making. So choose less dramatic language right now. It just heightens the feeling that everyone has. And if you can, breathe.

So we’re going to take you through . . . I’ll let Steven take you through what our agenda items are here.

Steven: Yeah, so we’ve got a nice mixture of kind of philosophical advice for you as well as very hard and tactile advice that you can put into practice even today if you want to. Not just from the data side but also from the communication side. We’ve got some examples that we have received and also had sent to us from other people we trust of what people are communicating right now. So you can kind of emulate those things in the next few days or so.

And then we’re going to open it up for questions. We really wanted to leave a lot of time for Q&A. So I know we started late because our other software crashed on us and it seems like everyone’s doing virtual meetings right now. They’re kind of at capacity. But I’m cool to hang out for questions. Lori, if you are . . .

Lori: I am.

Steven: I’ve got a couple of kids and a dog so, you know, if they barge in, don’t be alarmed. Maybe you all can relate to that.

Lori: [inaudible 00:09:03]

Steven: That’s right. So let’s get into it.

Lori: Yes, Rebecca, this is being recorded and we will share it and so, you know, no problem on sharing with others at this point. It said the meeting reached max capacity, Steven, so we’ll just let folks know that they can find this in different places, right?

Steven: Absolutely.

Lori: One of the things that I researched when . . . gosh, it was back in 2008 when I first was dealing with uncertainty and then even before that, 2001 I’ve been in the nonprofit sector for a really long time as my hair color will share is there’s really three things that we can be doing regularly right now. And of course, always practicing our best practices, right. But those three things are very simple. They are to communicate, dispel myths and listen. And we’re going to dive into that for you all right now.

There’s a couple of folks looking for a call-in number. I’m guessing there isn’t one, right?

Steven: Yeah, just audio through your computer unfortunately so we’ll just keep trucking on.

Lori: All right. You can . . . I can type that in if you would like or . . .

Steven: Okay.

Lori: I’ll let you talk a little bit about what we’re here to do and I’ll answer Claire.

Steven: Cool. Well, you know, I think timing is of the essence right now. If you have not already started communicating to folks, now’s the time. And people are waiting on you to communicate to them and you’ve got to answer these questions, you’ve got to bridge this gap between what’s really complicated out in the world and what your organization needs right now. So that’s going to be a big basis of the examples we share with you and some of the advice that we have for you today is how to bridge that gap between what seems really daunting out there and what folks can do for you right now and what you can do for folks as well. It doesn’t just have to be one-sided because not only do we help a lot of people but we can also check in with the people who help us and make sure they’re doing okay.

Lori: Yeah. Thank you to Sara who just shared the phone number. You guys are great and I can’t thank you enough for taking care of each other even on this session.

Here’s what my I guess motto or way of doing business has been for many years and it’s upmost of importance right now. As you’re deciding what to put into an email or say to your staff or talk to your children about, really what we want to be thinking about is what do we want people to feel, what do we want them to do and by when do we want them to do it. Some of you came to this session wondering can we fundraise right now and the resounding answer that both Steven and I would give you is yes. Some of you must fundraise right now, some of you will have different kinds of asking that you’ll be doing.

Pay more focus though on what you’re causing people to feel. They will . . . you’ll stand out in a sea of demands and expectations when you cause people to feel something that’s a little bit calmer and a little bit different. So we have a pretty simple donor checklist. Thank, check in, share mission moments and money story, and provide options.

Do you want to say something about just how important thanking and checking in is and then I’ll do the last two, Steven?

Steven: Yeah, absolutely. I mean, this is a good checklist for any situation honestly. It’s even more important now for a lot of reasons that I don’t think I really need to explain to you. That’s why we’re on the webinar here. But, you know, thanking donors. There’s a mountain of research that says that’s the best thing you can do at any given time but now when your donors may also be feeling some anxiety about their current life, it’s a nice way to reach out to people without necessarily asking for money although we are going to recommend that you do ask for money right now. This is not meant to be a replacement but it’s a nice way to maybe prime the pump for an ask later on in sort of a human way that lets people know that, you know, you’re not just in there trying to get people to give you money.

You also want to be checking in with people, making sure they’re okay. We know most of us are all working from home. Maybe we’re worried about losing our jobs. So I think that they will remember you because you did those things versus other organizations or businesses for that matter who don’t do those first two steps first before going in and asking for that support.

So I think it’s a nice way to start your communications rather than sort of panic. There, I said the word I wasn’t going to . . . we weren’t going to say but to just kind of get an ask out there because you’re worried about it. And we’ve got some research to kind of back this up in a second but Lori’s kind of the master on those mission moments so I’ll let her explain the bottom two.

Lori: It’s pretty simple. You want me to put a face on what’s going on right now. You want me to understand what it takes financially to do that. And if there’s been some increases in your costs from even Friday to today, you want to start to include that and I’ll say more about your money story in a little bit here but provide options to me. What could I do instead of coming in to help you at the food bank because you’re only having essential staff? Maybe I call people, elder donors and make sure they’re okay. There’s other things we can be doing virtually together.

And as Steven said, no. this is really a key time to be doing best practices. Research says when a donor perceives that you’re producing outcomes, they know what to expect from you. Like they’re going to be inspired and they’re going to learn that there’s something more to do when they are allowed to connect with you so do answer the emails and the phone calls that you’re getting. When they feel they’re a part of something important, when they’re really, you know, seen and appreciated, and we know who is being helped by our dollars today, that’s when we actually do more.

And you’ve probably heard about some folks who have more means than I do and maybe Steven too who are making million-dollar contributions to different kinds of organizations, both international and local. I know there are some stories here locally, one that I’ll share with you in a little bit. People don’t stop giving. Not everyone. Some folks cannot give. So be cognizant of that and the research will bear you out when we get on the other side of this.

So I’m going to tell a quick story here. Friday, as I said, I was baby . . . well, grand-parenting, not babysitting. And someone who may be on with us now, Christie Holderegger from Volunteers of America, Northern California, Northern Nevada earlier in the week last week had already been dealing with more with the COVID-19 situation than we had here in Minneapolis. So she had gathered a bunch of Volunteers of America, affiliates via email. We’ll be having a call tomorrow just like this one to talk about their mission specifically.

But Christie emailed me and said, “I need to send something out. Can I send you some copies?” So together, you know, we tweaked . . . I tweaked her really well written words but what I wanted you to see is the language is about you and your as well as who we’re serving. You know, we’ve learned from Tom Ahern that . . . count the number of yous and yours in your communication. I say also put a face. So this is the safety of our clients, staff and volunteers is our top priority. This is what the email looked like. And the very next thing that I saw was . . . as one of our most important supporters. So I felt like I was important, I’m loyal. I wanted to read on and learn more.

Language that they chose to use was, “We’re more concerned than ever for the wellbeing of those who have been called to serve.” Notice it didn’t say help. It didn’t say anything about rescuing. The fragile seniors, isolated veterans, former foster youth, weary families and all those who struggle with mental illness and homelessness are often disconnected from loved ones and support systems. Volunteers of America in many cases is their only family. They made sure to tell us . . . bold language here that they were postponing their fundraising event. Told us to stay tuned. But then they also explained they have a gap in funding from what they expect to receive in government funding and what they . . . the total cost, the actual cost of their programs of $2.9 million. And we make that possible, the people who are reading that.

So it was a very helpful, educating email and thanked us at the end. It also did something I didn’t take time to put on the screen here but the CEO had sent it out. It went out under his name. He asked everyone to do one thing. And if you’re a faith-based organization, I would encourage you to do the same. Leo asked everyone to pray for the folks that are being served by Volunteers of America. It is something we can do that doesn’t cost us anything and it was something that we can do that’s effective and timely and frankly, it makes us feel like we’re doing something, right.

Your thoughts, Steven?

Steven: Yeah, I love that email. It was funny. You know, we were putting this presentation together and I had that research that talks about, you know, donor centricity and telling stories and getting people involved. And I hadn’t shared that with you yet but you came to me with that email and I thought, “Wow. That just checked every box off there.” So I said this in the chat but we’re going to send everyone all these examples. We’re actually compiling a library of the things we’re getting. But look to these pieces and kind of, you know, try to emulate them because whether they meant to or not, they are following those research-based best practices. So yeah.

Lori: So given that I do some work with Volunteers of America around the country, I was going to, with my husband, Mark, we were going to drive 19 hours to a fundraising event scheduled on April 21st and of course, it’s postponed. I imagined that the person who sent me this text, Lisa Brandenburg, the vice-president of development at their organization was sitting with her phone texting all of the folks that were what I would call special friends and some of the major donors. So I got a text at 8:30 in the morning shortly after they decided to postpone. And this was personal, to me. Now she might have copied and pasted it into different people’s. I don’t know. But I felt special. And I felt like they were paying attention to the messaging. They had a 100 . . . it’s an 800-person event, folks. So it’s not like she was having to send to just a couple of people.

Then just a few minutes after that, they also sent a calendar invite to everyone who registers for their event and their table calls. I got an updated calendar invitation for the new date. That’s fast. That’s timely. That has us feel special and like you know what you’re doing which is exactly what we want.

So it’s really what you say, how you say it, how fast you’re saying it, are you pausing to hear what is needed right now. That’s what’s most important.

I’m going to give you another example. I told this story to Steven yesterday and I don’t know if the folks from Interfaith Outreach are on. Some of them were planning to join us but I was talking to my sister. While we were doing slides, I took a break and talked to my sister yesterday morning. And she’s a teacher. School is now closed and she said, “It is really a different day than I’ve ever had before. My son is home from college. His college is closed. My daughter’s home from . . . you know, Grace is home from high school.” And she said, “I got this email, Lori, from Interfaith Outreach right here in Plymouth and I wanted to open the email, you know, amongst all the things that I was being barraged with because the subject line was so tangible for me.” And then she said, “And I looked at it and it was so specific. The first thing it said what I could do . . . because people are asking how to help and I didn’t know how to help.” She said, “The first thing I could do is to fill some emergency bags or feed a family of four. So we’re a family of four. We’re going to feed a family, a couple of family of fours today.” She made a contribution yesterday because she got this email.

Now what the serendipity is, this organization just finished a training that I deliver for six weeks. They’ve just finished that two weeks ago and we talked about being specific and making sure that the subject line of your email causes people to want to open. I loved it. I was so proud of them for doing this and I was so pleased that my sister had no idea and, you know, there we are.

Then you go to their donate page and notice the images that they’ve used. Your gift, $9. When you give a dollar, we can purchase $9 of food and goods. The largest amount is first, not the lowest. It just makes it easier for us to know exactly what to do.

So you got to put images in. please don’t just send words out. A lot of examples we’ve seen have just words and if you put a face, even if it’s . . . you’re serving puppies and the environment and/or advocacy, there are people who are end users of your work. We want to know who that is.

All right, I’m going to have you talk about myths for a second.

Steven: Yeah. There’s a lot of myths out there. And I think that myths can really sort of paralyze you at times like this and it’s just so important to take a step back, look to the research because we do have a body of knowledge that tells us what we should be doing at all times and that is just sort of emphasized even more in times of crises like these. So let’s look at the first one. I think, you know, Lori said this one best. Stay calm. You know, we’re a trusted resource. We are feeding kids and saving animals and all these things. It’s important that we sort of exude a sense of calm in our communications and I’m going to talk about what those communications should look like. But Lori, you know, what is the calmness sort of in your mind as you think about these things?

Lori: Well, the main thing is I want to know that people are still being taken care of.

Steven: Yep.

Lori: What is it taking you to do that? I actually would love you guys to send out a picture of yourself working at your, you know, desk in the guest room or the basement to your donors on Facebook and saying, “Our 75 staff or our 3 staff are still doing this and this and this.” And a quote from someone whose life is still being affected because you’re able to do that. Some of you have essential services like shelter. Tell us about what’s happening.

In San Francisco I believe or Sacramento it might’ve been . . . maybe San Francisco. I heard that there is . . . you have to have a place to sleep. Homeless people are being told they cannot stay on the street which is nearly impossible. So what is happening? Tell us how that’s being handled. Are hotel rooms being rented? What . . . just keep us calm too with what you’re doing because you’re all doing things differently than you ever have before. What’s open? What’s closed? How can donors help you in ways they maybe didn’t before? Are there handwritten thank yous that could go out to folks? Can volunteers make phone calls to some of your folks that would normally come in for services?

I saw a picture on the internet, Steven, of a young man sitting outside the window at a senior care center and an elderly person sitting in his, you know, sort of comfortable chair but they were on the phone and he was just doing a well check to make sure that the person he normally goes to volunteer was okay and they were social distancing but they were still doing something.

The other thing . . . I think you and I are in agreement of this. Yes, it’s important to check the news but please reference the Center for Disease Control or whatever is equivalent to that in your country and your state or country Department of Health for the facts. If we are telling people what we think versus factual, that gets them a little flustered, uncomfortable.

Steven: Yeah.

Lori: And we’re using that language that can cause the drama to grow.

You want to talk a little bit about donor fatigue while my donor fatigue quote is on the screen there?

Steven: This one I’m kind of fired up about. You know, Lori just did a good job about talking about how we can dispel myths that people may be feeling about our organizations, but I want to dispel a myth here that maybe you are feeling internally. You know, we’ve got thousands of customers using Bloomerang and we did a live Q&A on Monday. I’ve been doing these webinars all week, it seems like. And the number one thing I’ve heard is, “Gee, everyone out there is communicating right now. Should we even bother adding ourselves to, you know, the noise?” And I just want to say don’t let that stop you from communicating.

All of you are nonprofits and I know all of you know that everyone you know is sending messages to their donors and their supporters. That’s okay, right. This is not like Giving Tuesday where we’re all going out on Facebook and sending emails that say the same thing. You have got to communicate something to your supporters now if you have not already done so. Don’t worry about the noise because I don’t think there really is a lot of noise. Your recipients, your email lists, your mail list. There’s probably not a ton of crossover to other organizations that are also sending their mailings and emails out to their lists. So even though you may be getting bombarded by a lot of things, that doesn’t necessarily mean that your email list or social media followers are also seeing the same things.

Now, of course if you are, you know, confined to a geographic area, yeah, they’re probably getting messages from, you know, the restaurants in their towns and things like that or maybe businesses that they patronize often. But the average American donor is only supporting, you know, two or three organizations if they’re kind of a middle-class household. And sure, they probably subscribed or maybe previously donated to others but don’t let this idea of donor fatigue stop you from getting the word out. People may be actually waiting to hear from you.

For example, I am a monthly donor to 11 nonprofits here. Most of them are here in Indy. There’s a couple nationwide nonprofits. And that’s more than most people normally give monthly. I’m just kind of a charity geek. That’s why it’s a little higher.

Lori: You’re so generous. You’re really generous.

Steven: Well, they’re small gifts. Don’t think I’m some big shot. There are a lot of $5 and $7 gifts which are important by the way. I don’t mean to belittle those. But I haven’t heard from any of those 11 nonprofits. And, you know, a couple of them, they’re on the front lines of what’s going on and I don’t know if it’s because they think that they can’t be communicating right now because there’s so much going out there but don’t let it stop you, folks. Please. I do not think that there are as much audience crossover as maybe you think is going on there. Certainly, people are, you know, seeing a lot on Facebook but reach out. Don’t let it stop you.

We’ve got research into this. Penelope Burk who Lori and I look up to a lot, she does an annual donor survey. Next year’s survey is going to be really interesting because of everything that’s happening but, you know, when we were talking about this webinar, planning it, a couple of quotes just stuck out in my mind. This is actual quotes from donors that she interviews every year.

This one speaks . . . you can see it on the screen. Speaks to the fact that some of those donors may actually be having emergency reserves within their own sort of bank accounts that they’re waiting to be asked for.

Lori: Right.

Steven: I always hold back. I keep some in reserve in case a special need comes along.

Lori: That’s a real donor quote, right?

Steven: Yeah. Right. And you all have special needs, right. This is the time. This is what maybe we have been holding reserves for. And another one. You know, this was an interesting one where a donor gave above and beyond and it was because there was personal contact from someone in development office. And we’re going to talk a lot about personal contact here in a second. I know we talked a lot about emails and mailings and things that were kind of mass. But folks, they are waiting.

So my main myth that I wanted to bust for you today is don’t feel like that you’re adding to the noise. There isn’t as much noise as you think there is. So don’t wait.

Lori: But remember that message has to have me feel a certain way. Like important and special.

Steven: Yeah.

Lori: It has to have me know what to do.

Steven: Yeah.

Lori: Like the food bank at Interfaith Outreach. They’re out of peanut butter.

Steven: Yeah.

Lori: I will go be bringing them some peanut butter as soon as I can.

Steven: Yeah.

Lori: I didn’t know that but I learned that through some of their social media posts. Give people options and tell them, you know, by when. We get weary of the expectation that we’re supposed to give.

Steven: Yeah.

Lori: There’s other myths and, you know, you’re fully funded by the government. You don’t need my money. Wait, you have a brand-new building. I just gave to your capital campaign. You don’t need anything. Oh, your clients only need you for that one time and then they’re gone. I know that many of you . . . it is a long journey that you walk alongside folks that you provide service for or you’re educating or you’re putting a roof over someone’s head. A number of you have typed in, “We’re an arts organization. We don’t feel as though our mission is as . . . whether it’s important or relevant.” It is as important.

Steven: Yeah. You’re all relevant. That’s another myth. That bottom myth . . . again, all of you are essential. Someone just typed in saying . . . and I don’t mean to put them on the spot but I love them for saying this, that they’re a library. They don’t think they’re essential. You are essential. I promise you. I’ve got two kids downstairs that . . . we’re first-time homeschoolers and we were going to the library three times a week. You are essential, all of you. I promise. Please, I’m begging you. Don’t feel as though there are other causes that are more, you know, deserving. You know, certainly, not everyone is saving lives and I’m not trying to say that everyone is equal on that footing but you’re important. So don’t let that stop you, please. I think, you know, if we ended the presentation here, you know, that would be a pretty good takeaway. But you all matter.

I mean, honestly, I love you all.

Lori: We both do.

Steven: Rolling with the punches with us with the technology and . . . I mean, you guys are great. So don’t belittle yourselves by any means.

Lori: And we’ve got some arts samples. I’ve got some examples of what’s being done at organizations in the arts arena so . . .

Steven: Yeah, we had some coming up.

Lori: The other thing, international development. You may have to put some things on pause. You may have to lay off some people. You want to tell the truth. Remember, dispel myths so people aren’t making up about you what the truth really is. If you tell the truth, you don’t have to remember what you made up. Right? So you want to be telling the truth.

Think about what your, you know, myths are that are running around in your head right now. What this time in our lives that we really don’t have a roadmap for is doing is it’s sort of shining a spotlight on things that might not be as shored up. So do people know exactly what your case for giving is? And I don’t mean a 12-page paper. I’m going to show you an example of a case for giving towards the end here of examples that get . . . I get it. I get what they do. I get why they require dollars and I get where I could fit in.

Are you being as clear? Have you taken the time to make sure people know what they could do? Authenticity is pretty disarming. We were pretty authentic earlier when we were not able to deal with what was happening on the other service and you guys hung with us, those of you how came over and the rest of you will see this, you know, replayed. We are all human. There is stuff that’s going to happen that has never happened before. Steven said, “Oh, it’s going to be okay.” And I said, “But this has never happened to me before, ever.”

And I think I might be saying that a few more times over the coming weeks as we all will. So what we’re looking to do with our supporters right now, no matter who they are . . . if you are a music school or you are a battered women shelter or you serve veterans or you clean the waters and the air, we are looking to build trust. And can you do like a 30 second commercial about trust and donor retention?

Steven: Yeah, so if you don’t know the gentleman on the screen, this is Adrian Sargeant. He’s kind of my go-to. He’s the godfather of donor retention. He’s been doing research into donor retention for many, many decades. And one of his key findings is that the donors who keep giving to organizations, it’s because they trust them. They trust them not only to provide the services they’re going to do but also to, you know, communicate that back to the donors and the supporters in a way that makes them feel like they’re a worthy cause and that that donor is a part of that cause.

So we’re going to kind of take that mantra and give you some very specific ways of how you can communicate that out to not just all your supporters but very sort of specific segments of your donor base because you don’t want to communicate to everyone in the same way. But I’ve got some . . . I’ve got a roadmap for you here coming up in a sec.

Lori: The other thing I would . . . just want to mention a couple of comments that people have made. So apart conservancy, telling people to go outside in the fresh air but practice social distancing. Be safe, be healthy. Awesome. Then there’s someone else who was saying, you know, in this time that we’re in . . . I’m just going to find it here on my screen. You’ve got questions about events, essential. Retirement communities. There are places you can’t go right now like retirement communities.

So what happened at my mom’s is someone, a donor decided to purchase Shamrock Shakes for everyone yesterday. All the residents got them delivered to their door because they are quarantined in their units. So that was a reach out that the organization did and someone, you know, came and made sure that that happened. It’s okay to be outside the box creative. I’m going to give a lot of credit to Christie Holderegger out in Sacramento for this document that we’re about to show. And I’m going to see if I can also bring it up on my screen so you could see it like in real time.

Last week we did some triage, a fundraising triage conversation about, “We’ve got to get a message out, we have to talk with people, we have to, you know, maybe reschedule our event. What should we say? What should we do?” So this came from a few minute call that Christie and I had. She typed it up. I gave her the credit for her . . . you know, making it look awesome. And we put it into a Google Doc. We will share this with you as a link. I’ll send you probably a Dropbox link so you can just all download it. But folks, it talks about, you know, getting that initial conversation started. So you’re letting folks know that you’re updating them . . . whatever it is. How we’re doing? Our event was canceled. They made sure to make some phone calls. They put some language in here.

I asked people to consider a popup on your website. Just let folks know where to go. Maybe volunteers go one place and donors go another place. But you want us to . . . your website is like the kitchen in your house. Mission experience is we will not be able to be in person for a while so what can you do on Zoom and online? And I’ve got some fun examples for you to share in a moment but your mission should overlay everything you’re doing.

So think about how do people feel when they experienced your mission. They feel joyful or safe or clean or proud. How do you cause that to happen? Through the virtual ability that we have on telephone or Skype or social media. You can ask. You can do small donor asks just on the screen just like we’re doing. Christie and her team at Volunteers of America will start a daily inspiration message that is very faith based. It may have quotes from the Bible or quotes from, you know, well-known folks or quotes from their staff about what’s going on or how to stay positive. And they’re gathering many of their volunteers who do other work to start to call some of their elderly population, their elderly donors. Are you okay? Do you have food? Are you . . . you know, how are you feeling? You’ll get a lot of voicemails but wouldn’t you rather get a voicemail that’s checking in on someone and having them feel great?

So just know I’ll send . . . I’ll make sure you get a link to download this and then create your own and please share it with us.

Steven: Yeah, customize it for sure.

Lori: All right. The third thing to be doing right now of course is listen to everybody. Yourself included. What do you need to get through this time right now? What do they need? We listen in two ways sometimes. We listen for the pause in the conversation so we can insert what we have to say or we listen to understand where you’re at. And that’s the place I want to be. This is so true right now. That energy and emotion and language, it’s all contagious. COVID-19 might be contagious but so is fear and panic and hysteria and calm and kindness and love and joy.

So Steven, this next example I didn’t even . . . you haven’t even seen yet and I don’t know if I’ll . . . maybe I won’t play the whole thing. I’ll just show this example. But end of the day yesterday I was still working on slides, as you know. This is a former client, Forgotten Children Worldwide. All their work is literally on the other side of the planet. They are based in the South and I want to say Carolina. I’m not even sure and I apologize to them that I don’t remember. But their subject line was, “Office closing but wait.” And Kelsey, their communication person used BombBomb to create a one-minute video and it said, “Hi, everybody. I’m Kelsey. I’m the communication person. Our office is closed but I just wanted to let you know we are thinking of you. What do you need? Please reach out to us. And if you’ve got things to contribute, our box for deliveries for food and clothing and all of that is available even though our building is empty. And we put also a lock box so if you wanted to make contributions in person, you’re able to do that.”

But the focus of the video was all about me, the donor. It did not ask me to do anything. It made sure that I knew that they were there for me. It was pretty cool.

Steven: That’s a nice one, Lori. And BombBomb, that’s a great tool, if you folks haven’t heard about that. It’s not free but it’s not too expensive but you can make really nice videos. But even if you don’t have something, you know, just a cellphone video with your . . . just selfie it, you know. I think that’ll be just as good. You know, you can pop it up on YouTube. But the lock boxes are . . . geez, that’s a great idea.

Lori: I know. I thought how brilliant.

Steven: Yeah.

Lori: That way they don’t have to have anybody coming in and . . . yeah. They’re still raising money because they have a bunch of construction that they’re doing so great. So this one, some of you have seen. Jennifer Garner is someone I follow on Instagram because she just makes me smile. And, you know, she’s human like us. She shows herself without makeup or falling or doing silly things. But just a couple of days ago she said, “To the Elsas and Matildas, to the Willy Lomans and Romeos, not to mention the flautists, the pianists, the gymnasts and the shot-putter, we want to see it and we want . . . show us what you’ve got.” And she said, “Use #jenlookatme.” And she will look at what you’re doing.

So literally thousands of people are sending in to Instagram or posting on Instagram with the #heyjenlookatme. They’re piano . . . you know, what they were going to play at the recital. There are kids doing their ballet. You can do this if you’re an arts organization. You can have us experience . . . and then send out to your donors.

Steven: Yep.

Lori: I just love that there’s so many things that people are thinking that are outside the box.

Steven: Yeah. This is like the behind the scenes time to shine.

Lori: Yes.

Steven: And it’s not even behind the scenes anymore. It’s just it’s like it’s outside the scenes I guess is the best way to say it. But anything your organization is doing service wise, small videos, you know, little video clips on the phone, photos, get them out there because we showed that research early on, that seven point research and that the number one thing that keeps donors loyal is that they perceive that you are providing value through their donations. So, you know, it’s always been a good time to share these behind the scenes photos but now it’s even more relevant and sort of expected because there’s no way for people to see these things in most cases.

Lori: I kind of hope it becomes the new normal that we are more engaged. I feel like I am more engaged with you, Steven, over the last few days because of what happened and we can see each other and be thousands of miles away.

Steven: Right.

Lori: Let’s choose to be connected with people, folks.

Steven: Yep.

Lori: And in that, we’re going to talk about the most important thing that I think the world needs to understand. Data is like money in the bank. So have at it, Steven.

Steven: Yeah, so I mean, I’m the database guy. So I’ve got some brass tack stuff for you of how you can start to look at your data. The first thing is if you’re going to be sending mail, email . . . and I know sending mail is going to be complicated right now. But anything you’re sending out, now is a really good time to perhaps make an investment in making sure that your addresses and phone numbers and email addresses are correct. Now I do not sell any of these things. I have absolutely no vested interest in whether or not you purchase them but if you have not done like an NCOA in a while, that will clean up your postal service addresses to match the USPS’s database. So you want to get your mail in those mailboxes for sure. NCOA, it’s a couple to few hundred dollars. There’s a million places you can buy that from here in the United States. Probably your database provider if you’re using Bloomerang or Raiser’s Edge or whatever you’re using. They can probably help you with that. Do it now.

If you were planning on doing that for . . . excuse me. Maybe your spring appeal. Great. Go ahead and keep doing it. Email and phone appends, same thing. They will match your phone numbers and email addresses, correct them, look for any new email addresses from your people. And deceased suppression. I know this is sort of a little bit of a morbid one. Oh, go ahead.

Lori: Can you pause for a second?

Steven: Yeah.

Lori: You know, Alison says, “What is NCOA?”

Steven: Oh, so NCOA stands for National Change of Address.

Lori: Yep, there you go.

Steven: So what [inaudible 00:49:05] do is you’ll give your data to the person selling the NCOA and they will compare it to the Postal Service’s database and clean up those addresses. And if someone moved, it’ll update their address with the new address which is really cool. So, you know, some of these people may still want to, you know, hear from you but they just moved. They moved in the interim since the last time you mailed them and maybe didn’t tell you that. For Canadians, I think there is an equivalent in Canada. You may have to research that on your own. This is mostly . . . you know, NCOA is just a United States thing but if you’re in Canada or anywhere else abroad, you know, try to find out if there’s some kind of service with a centralized mailing database where you can do these things.

But yeah. It only works if they have filed a change of address with the Post Office but I think a lot of people do do that when they move. And email and phone append, also a service that you pay a onetime fee for. And again, there’s lots more. And if you can’t find a provider or don’t know where to start, just send me an email afterwards and I’ll get you connected with someone because we make those referrals to folks all the time. And again, I’m not making any money on this. This is just something that will help you because you’re going to get those things delivered.

And then deceased suppression.

Lori: Oh, sorry.

Steven: If anyone passed away, it will also check death records here in the States and let you know that this person is no longer living. So again, the last thing you want to do is send mail to someone who’s not going to receive it for one but if they have a surviving household relative like a spouse or children or anything like that, you don’t want to be sending them mail, to that deceased relative. That’s not going to make them feel good about your organization. And some will be understanding but a lot of people won’t be understanding. We actually had a customer who invested in this separately and they sent condolence notes to anyone they found that had passed away just saying, “Hey, you know, Susan was a longtime donor. We were so sorry to hear she passed away.” You know, we just offer our deepest condolences from the nonprofit.

And one of them, the husband of the wife that had passed away, they actually wrote back to the nonprofit and said, “Oh, I didn’t even know we were giving to you. I had no idea those donations were coming through.” Because usually it is the woman in a mixed gender marriage or household that is making those decisions. And he wrote back and said, “Thanks.” And he also included a check. Now I’m not saying you want to hit these people up for money. That’s not what I’m saying but don’t . . . you know, send condolences and also your deliverability rates are going to improve. That’s really kind of the main thing. But it could also be an extra stewardship opportunity.

But if anyone has any questions about these things . . . I don’t want to go into the nitty detail about all of them but just, you know, email me and we’ll get that to you.

Lori: I’m going to move on to the segment but I want to answer just a couple of questions here that people have. If you are wondering how to do any of this with Bloomerang, just contact them directly. A bunch of folks are excited that you mentioned these things, Steven, so . . .

Steven: Yeah, get with me later on.

Lori: Everyone is virtual at Bloomerang right now and they’re there to [inaudible 00:52:22] questions.

Steven: Yeah. We are. We’re at home.

Lori: Yeah.

Steven: And then the other thing I would say is this is my number one piece of advice for you on this webinar besides the myth busting is don’t send the same thing to everyone on your list. That’s going to be really tempting because you’re going to want to send something out quickly which is a good thought. That’s a good thing to have. But that can really mean that your communications are not going to hit the mark with all those intended audiences. There’s no way to address every certain aspect of what your organization does and more importantly, what that donor is all about if you send the same thing to everyone.

So what you’re seeing now is an example of a segmentation grid that I would recommend all of you kind of download as a template and maybe see if you can do a similar thing. But let me walk you through what this is because it looks a little weird.

So Heather, customer of mine. Awesome, awesome Bloomerang customer. Raises a ton of money. High donor retention rates. Nice major gift pipeline, planned giving pipeline. You know, cream of the crop. She’s awesome. The key to her success . . . and she wouldn’t . . . she would be the first to say this, I believe. In fact, I’ve heard her say this on stage at a school foundation conference is we don’t send the same thing to every person on our list. We send a specialized piece to a specialized group of recipients.

And these pieces don’t need to be wildly different. You know, you don’t have to completely reinvent the wheel when you write a first-time donor retention letter versus a monthly donor letter versus, you know, a five year or more letter. But they are slightly different in that they speak to the type of recipient that they are. So not only does Heather create different thank you letters, appeals, newsletters, stewardship pieces for types of donors like a first-time donor, a lapsed donor, a longtime loyal donor, a monthly donor but she also adds an additional layer where it’s a persona.

So they are a school foundation so they have parents of current students, parents of former students, grandparents of both those. They have former students themselves so the alumni. And all of those pieces are tailored for that recipient. So I would strongly, strongly recommend that when you go out to kind of create these communications that we’ve recommended for you today that you take that strategy of not just crafting one letter, one email, whatever you’re doing and sending it to the whole list because that’s what leads to open rates not being very high, response rates not being very high because you can’t tug on every single heartstring specifically.

So I’ve got a list for you and we’re going to go through it here over the next few minutes of . . . I think the segments or the audiences that you should sort of zero in on for this specific situation that we have ourselves that we’re finding ourselves in. So these are my favorite segments. I’m writing a blog post about these that will go up on the Bloomerang blog tomorrow. I’m going to kind of flesh them out but let’s run through them really quickly. So I think there’s 9 or 10 here.

Thinking of Lori’s earlier slide where we’re thanking, we’re telling stories, we’re checking in with these people. We want to do that with these specific groups of people but we’re kind of going to do it differently based on who they are. So beyond your top donors, you know, the 20% that’s providing 80% of the funding. That’s definitely a group. But beyond that, I would look to people that had been giving to your organization for three to five years or more. So there’s a lot of research that says that when you have that length of giving, those are the best major gift and planned giving prospects. Check in with them and honestly, the letters to these groups can basically be the same except that you are acknowledging which group they fall into.

Lori: Right. It doesn’t have to be like the whole thing written over.

Steven: It can honestly be the first sentence. If you do that, you’re way ahead of most people. So, “Hi, Lori. We just wanted to check in and say thanks. You’ve been giving to us for 17 years. We are so, so thankful for that support. Especially in rough times like these.” Boom. And then the rest of the letter.

Monthly donors. Monthly donors . . . you know, I told the story earlier where they sometimes get neglected because it’s automatic, the dollar amounts are small. You know, $5, 10 donors. But they are your lifeblood in a lot of cases and also a lot of research. I know I’m citing research but not showing it to you but if you want those, I’ll send it to you. That they are also really good prospects for planned gifts and major gifts because they trust you so much to give you that credit card.

Again, “Hey, Steven. You’re a monthly donor. Thank you so much for being a monthly donor. It means so much to us in times like these to have that sustained support. Just wanted to say thank you for that.” And then the rest of the letter.

And again, monthly donors. I don’t mean to be all doom and gloom but if the economy keeps going the way it is and people are losing their jobs and household budgets get tight, these folks may look to that contribution as something they might want to trim out of the budget because it sometimes does resemble a utility bill or like the Netflix bill. But if you have proactively checked in, I think they’re going to remember you for that. You know, you said thank you. You know, you reminded them of that support. Do it now. I honestly would reach out to monthly donors ASAP. This afternoon, if you can, call them up. A voicemail is just as good. Just thank them for being a monthly donor because I would just hate it if that got on the chopping block.

Lori: Few things to follow up with what you’re saying here. A few folks don’t have a lot of staff and they’ve had to let off staff.

Steven: Yeah.

Lori: You have donors who could help you with some of the donor stewardship things we’re talking about.

Steven: Absolutely.

Lori: I get it. If you are a homeless shelter, you are swamped right now.

Steven: Yeah.

Lori: And there are also people that you could call and say, “I’m going to email you a list of just names. Could you check with these people if . . . we only have an email for them. Will you check with them by email and say thank you? Staff is really busy right now and we wanted to just touch base with you.” If we only have a phone number, will you call and leave that voicemail message? The one thing I recommend is whenever you communicate with someone, get some information back. Get an email if you only have phone. Get a phone if you only have email.

Steven: Yep.

Lori: Folks are asking should we be mailing right now. My caution around mailing and you might be in the same place, Steven, is we don’t know what next Tuesday is going to bring nor do we know what tomorrow afternoon is going to bring.

Steven: Yeah, yeah.

Lori: So mailings I would pause. I would pop up on your website things. I would put things on your Facebook page and on other forms of social media. I would email and I would spend the time on the telephone and we’re going to get to that in a moment. I just wanted to make sure that we answered a couple of those and then keep us moving.

Steven: Yeah, and Rebecca just chimed in saying that board members too are great people. Just took the words right out of my mouth. And there’s a lot of research that says that board members are the best people to do this. So, you know, I . . . honestly, today, make a list of all your monthly donors and get it in the hands of your board members and say, “Can you call or email these people one-to-one email just saying thank you?”

First-time donors, another really good cohort. Really, really low retention rates. Again, I would run a report of all of your first-time donors that have given in the last 90 days because 8 out of 10 of them aren’t going to give to you if you don’t reach out and really steward them. You know, spank them. Hey. Thanks for your first gift. We noticed you gave to our organization for the first time. Just wanted to welcome you into the family, answer any questions you have. I’d love to get to know you more. Because you want to recapture those people because if they stay in your database and never give again, you’re going to be spending money, you know, reaching out to them and doing mailings and things like that only for them to never give again.

And pick up the phone. If you have a phone number for these people, monthly donors, the longtime donors and first-time donors, don’t go and try to find their phone number. Don’t go to, you know, their office line and try to get to them through like the switchboard. If you’ve got a phone number, those are the people you want to call. Again, tons of research saying that phone calls help retention. It also increases their next gift size if they are called. Particularly from a board member. That’s what Penelope Burk found from her research. And our own Bloomerang research. We looked at the impact that our customers are seeing if they make phone calls. And the customers that we have that make phone calls are blowing the other customers out of the water in terms of retention rates and gift size and speed to that next gift.

So this is a great time, right. People are home. You’re home. Your events probably got canceled. Maybe you’ve got some spare time. And I know that spare time is at a premium here but like Heather said in the chat, the board members. Get them a call list. There may be no better thing that board members can do right now because maybe your meetings aren’t happening or whatever. And they’re awesome ambassadors for your organization so they’re great people to call. “Hey, Steven. Just wanted to say thank you for being a monthly donor. I’m a board member here at Volunteers for America. I love the organization. I know you do too. Just wanted to say thank you.”

That’s it, you know. You don’t have to overthink the script. But if you want a script, just email me. We’ve got some. And voicemails are just as good but pick up the phone. Monthly donors, honestly, I would do today because you don’t want to lose them. If you lose monthly donors, it’s going to be really tough.

Lori: Foundations, absolutely. This applies to foundations, family foundations or healthcare foundations. Language choices matter, attention matters. A number of you were talking about appeals that have either . . . I got two yesterday. Who knew that this was going to be the week that I got two appeals? But they were really well written, and they had very interesting stories and they had me pause and think, “Even though I wasn’t thinking of giving today, I’m sort of tugged to do so.”

If you mailed your appeal last week, you can also reach out to those folks and leave a voicemail to say, “We are not at the office. We’re directing folks to online contributions because of the gap that we have from what, you know, is covered by fees or government. And what it takes to deliver our service is this and we just thank you for what you’ve done in the past. We hope you’re safe. Wash your hands.”

These messages don’t have to be beggy and asky. I love this visual on the screen. Together we can. Now how positive can it be that we can do things that we never imagined before? Many of you have printers that are closed. You know, different places. You aren’t going to be able to do things the way you use to so, folks, stand out in the crowd. Be creative and craft messages that teach me something, inspire me and they have some sort of simple call to action. Put a face on what my impact is. Make the communication about me, not you. I got two emails that I will not ever show anyone else yesterday but they were, “We need your help. We will not close. Please give now.” And those words just feel like duty and obligation and they make me sort of feel cranky.

What about invest in our community together? Let me tell you about your impact. Here’s someone whose life will be different because when you give . . . even though we aren’t having that event, we’re still looking for long-term partners because we’ve got long-term solutions that we provide in the community. Just a little different choice of language. This is where stealth . . . and Steven and I addressed it at the beginning. We’re working in our lives to keep words like it’s really hard, there’s donor fatigue. We can’t do that. We don’t have enough time. We don’t have enough people. We don’t have . . . and some of us didn’t get enough sleep last night.

Steven: Yeah.

Lori: They won’t . . . what if we say, “We’re learning to navigate a different normal.” It’s not even a new normal because I’m not sure what the new normal’s going to look like yet. So our job will be to inspire you about what you’ve done in the past and what we could continue to do virtually. And what if we could make a dent in homelessness even during this time? Or what if we could have every child feel like they got to give their recital even though we didn’t have the concert? We’re looking for the very right people to be long-term partners. Make sure that you’re using language that has me want to stick around and not feel like, “Oh, they’re just squeezing more out of me right now.” Different kind of energy, different kind of thinking.

We’re talking about your money story. Where are you today and where do you have to be? Where do you have to go? So what is the gap between where you are today and where you have to be? That’s the dollar amount that you want to be talking about. On my desk I have a little Post-it note and from a client last Tuesday I know that their gap is 2,350,000 for this fiscal year that ends on June 30th because the CEO shared it with me on our coaching call about something else. He also said, “Lori, so far today we have raised from people like you who support us and are passionate $1,975,074.40.” And he said, “The honest truth is we’re about a $100,000 off of what we were at this time last year and that’s not ahead. That’s behind. So we’ve got some work to do to share our stories more clearly with folks.”

What he does is he makes it okay to talk about money. Because he’s not begging. He’s updating as a part of inspiring me about the work that’s being done. “Here’s what it takes,” is different than “Please give now,” or the most disengaging words which are, “Help us with our goal.” Frankly, no one cares about your goal. They just don’t. You do but I care about what my dollars do. I’m kind of on a mission. I don’t know if you can do this on Bloomerang. I’m guessing that you can. Can you put words in instead of the word donate in the button?

Steven: Yeah.

Lori: Yes. So these are donate buttons, folks. “Thank you for continuing to change lives.” That was in an email I got yesterday. In the afternoon I got one. “Invest in creativity and inclusion.” These are actual words that are used instead of “donate” or “give now.” Other words. My favorite is . . . because I don’t have kids and kids are my thing. “You helped a child today.” That’s the button I would want to click on. Or “I care” or “I support my community” or “I’m hungry to help.” “Yes, count on me.” “Every gift matters.” Think about your mission and what words would you want people to be inspired to click on so that your money story then becomes just a fact and a part of what you’re doing.

I want to tell you this conversation about talking about money and your money story, this is what I do and it’s actually like hours of conversation to help organizations. One that is probably on the call today who went from raising a couple of thousand dollars from donors to getting their largest gift of $1.6 million in a three-year pledge just a couple of months ago because they did this.

So because we don’t have hours, I wanted to make sure you know there’s two virtual opportunities you can spend time with me talking about this. I’ll make sure in the follow-up email that you know about the March 31st. Now . . . it used to be an in-person workshop but not anymore. The online workshop. And then I do a storytelling course to folks at Interfaith Outreach, the folks that did the email that my sister responded to. They just finished a course and I’m going to add another one. It’s just four organizations at a time and we work on your communication and your storytelling.

All right. So examples. How cool is this? This came on Monday on my Instagram feed. “When you’re washing your hands, take the 20 seconds to think of 3 things you’re grateful for.” But the logo is of the organization. I think that’s beautiful. I want to give to them even though they didn’t ask me.

If you’ve got things that you’re having to do that are different right now, put a face to it. “This is seven amazing things donors have made possible. Look how much good a gift to the American Heart Association, American Stroke Association can do.” You might have different things on your list of what’s happening than ever before. Share those and put them on your homepage, put them on your donate page.

Here’s the folks at Interfaith Outreach again. They did a Facebook post where they told they’re out of peanut butter. So they had a 1,000 people that this reached and 17 shares. They really explained that the community is taking action, you know, and there’s more to do. So that the next one reached even more people, 2,600 people, 23 shares. How can you help? And people were sharing this and sharing this because that’s what people are looking for. How can we help?

Steven: And the specificity. Sorry to interrupt, Lori. You’re rocking a bit. On social media, the more specific, the better. We need peanut butter. We need [inaudible 01:11:35] for diapers.

Lori: Yes.

Steven: Specific please. And you can do an Amazon wish list. I know Amazon is a little wonky right now. But specific please.

Lori: Yeah. If you’re not having your event right now, if you’re rescheduling it or canceling, you could send the invitation out online and cross out the words attendance.

Steven: Yes.

Lori: And say, “Your gift means more people will have a voice from this day forward.” And you can ask for that gift on the day of. So in Sacramento, that smart team there, they had chosen the day of their event as their giving, statewide giving day. So they’re planning to . . . it was going to be a breakfast. They are going to deliver or have delivered croissants to all of the table hosts and they will have some video online. They’ll still do a 24-hour day of giving but they won’t have it be in person. They’ll show the video, they’ll have the CEO speak but it’s going to be virtual, folks. You can do an auction online. You can do text to give. The way to get me to care though is to use powerful images that convey your mission that have me remember why I care about you in the first place.

This is a couple of years old but when I was working, doing some work with the YMCA here in Minneapolis, we created 10 ways to be a YMCA superhero. They were things like by respecting and uplifting every person you meet. That was the first one. Promote peace, justice, freedom and dignity for all. You could listen and learn for all people. You could encourage a girl in your life to dig deeper into science technology. You could share what you’re doing as a parent who is teaching or having their kids at home online. But number 10 of course was to make a gift. The people on this bookmark that we sent were real. This is a program purchase event. A facilitator, a teacher and a fitness member.

And this one almost makes me weep. I have a friend and colleague, Jennifer and she works with the Florence Academy of Art in Florence, Italy. And Italy has been just really struck by what is happening. A lot of outbreak with COVID-19. So this is the founder, Daniel Graves who recorded a one-minute video. I listened to it three times. It was really lovely and he said a lot in one minute. But they created, even though they’re closed, a contest called “A View from your Room.” And he says, “As most of you know, Italy is currently in lockdown. Even though the number of cases of the virus in Tuscany is relatively low, the Italian government has taken action to keep it from spreading. We’re encouraged to not leave our homes so we’re drawing, painting and sculpting in our rooms. We’re asking artists all over the world, in particular those affected by the virus to send us the drawing or painting of the view from your room. And we’ll post some of those submissions and offer a prize of one of our workshops when we’re able to reconvene.”

Steven: Wow.

Lori: This was one of my last examples and this is from . . . oh, I moved the screen over there. This is from an appeal that happened a couple of years ago now, but it is a case statement on a .pdf. What does your gift support? This is for the California Symphony of Art.

Steven: Hey, Lori, I don’t think we’re seeing it. Do you mind [inaudible 01:15:14]. Sorry. Sorry to interrupt you again.

Lori: I’m happy that you did. And let me go back. I took you off share. My . . . there we go. So this was a .pdf you could download and the Bitly links that we’re sharing, we’ll share in follow-up afterward but they’re all case sensitive. But notice it goes from $50 of what your gift will do and tells us flowers for the guest artist or $500 is tuition for one Sound Minds student for a semester. All the way on up to $20,000. And they had a match. They raised a lot, a lot of money. This was a campaign written up in the “Chronicle of Philanthropy” but it was specific. It had us know what our gift would do. Use the real-estate of your website, please, to let us know what your mission is and what your situation is and how we can be helping.

This is a local community generating organization, Pollen, Pollen Midwest and they’re really caring about us and they’re doing a virtual gathering tomorrow. You may do virtual gatherings with artists, with doctors, with nurses, with caregivers, with whomever it is in your community. Use technology. It could be just simply our phones. We start maybe to use our phones for phone calls.

So please don’t be lazy. You want to send inspiring communication that reminds us to feel proud we support you in the first place, hopeful, know what to do and by when and here’s your checklist again. Thank, check in, share mission moments and money stories, provide some options. Someone did ask if we’re calling elderly folks and they need help, what do we do. This organization was calling elderly donors who were their major gift donors. So they may be feeling isolated but they weren’t necessarily needing things like food and things like that.

So we want to hear from you before we go to questions and we’ve got a lot of them. I wrote quite a few of them down. What did you learn, if anything? And what are you going to do differently? So type into that chat box, that question box and let us know. I’m going to have you read some off, Steven because I’m . . .

Steven: Yeah. And I wanted to really emphasize that first example you showed, Lori, in that section of if you cancel an event, give people that option to just convert their registration fee or the ticket to a donation. I’ve seen that a lot. And I think if . . . I would be really surprised if 99% of people didn’t say, “Yeah, that’s fine. Go ahead and do that.”

Lori: Yes.

Steven: Do it now. The longer you sort of wait to cancel an event, that just limits you from being able to do some of these things we’re talking about now. They’ll understand. You know, no, I really would be shocked if someone said, “No, please refund me that money.” Like and that person probably wasn’t a true believer to begin with. And the people . . . yeah.

Lori: No, maybe they have someone in their family who just lost their job and don’t . . .

Steven: Absolutely, you know, and that’s fine. Yeah. And, you know, you don’t need to feel bad about it. And the people who respond, you know, emphatically and say, “Absolutely.” You know, keep track of the people who do reach back out to you not only to say yes but maybe go a little bit above and beyond because of that. And, you know, if you throw that event later on in the year and . . . you know, I think it’s okay to say, “You know what? We took that as a donation. Would you mind buying a ticket again? You know, it would so help us.” Don’t be bashful.

Lori: Yep. Give them the option. So let’s just say, you know, there’s a bunch of things people are saying that exude calm, give options, tell our story, postpone versus cancel, pause versus panic.

Steven: Yep.

Lori: Making sure that we’re creating a real scenario for people. A lot of people liked the idea of, you know, hey, look at me kind of thing. You can do that in your own communities. Hey, look at what we’ve accomplished today. I had one mom tell me that she created a sticker chart for her daughter because now she’s working from home and there’s no childcare and so she needs her daughter to do like . . . read three books while mom takes this call. And that little sticker chart is going to help keep some semblance of calm and order in their house.

Steven: Yep.

Lori: Rather than, you know, say too much about ourselves, we’ll just remind you we’re both on social media. We both have blogs. And boy, does Bloomerang have a great blog right now that is about COVID-19. Every resource you could imagine. All of our colleagues and friends. Steven and his trusty team have been capturing all of those links. It’s probably . . . I don’t know, you know.

Steven: Yeah, it’s big. That’s all we’re doing, you know. All we’ve ever done in marketing is share knowledge and do our own research. We have completely zeroed in on this specific topic, crisis fundraising, all of the stuff we talked about. We put together this giant library. Go to . . . we’ve got other webinars. You know, this isn’t the only webinar you’re going to see on this topic. Not just from us but, you know, please attend them because . . .

Lori: Friends and . . .

Steven: . . . yeah, people have other perspectives that we don’t. We’re not, you know, the be all, end all. Keep going to these webinars. I know it seems like you’re getting inundated with them but you’re going to pick up tidbits in each of them because so many people have worked with so many different types of orgs and seen different things. Don’t let this be the last webinar, please. And I know we got off to a little bit of a rocky start but I so appreciate you all hanging out with us. We’re going to get you all those examples. Go to the Bloomerang library. It’s just and we’re going to keep updating that for as long as this goes on. So stay in touch with us.

Lori: There’s a question. You know, I’d love to work with you just a little bit, Tony. You said, “I learned a lot that coming up with these kinds of super creative ideas are a lot harder for advocacy organizations as I think it is. Of the bazillion webinars I’ve been on for this type of thing, there are never, ever any cooler creative messaging examples for us.” So Steven, let’s take that challenge right now. An advocacy organization that, you know, maybe is . . . type . . . if you’ll tell us, Tony, what you’re advocating for . . .

Steven: Tell us what you do.

Lori: . . . that would be really helpful because that’ll help us hone in it a little bit more.

I have a group in town that does advocacy for renters. I want to hear a story about someone right now that maybe you are not able to help because no one’s at the office and you’re working to figure out how to support them virtually. What is it taking to do that? You don’t even have to tell me dollars but people. That’s a need that you have. So be creative and get yourself on your own camera and just say, “Okay, folks. We’re not sure what the new normal is but here’s what we’re dealing with today.” You will be surprised who has the answers for you. You may have a donor who has an account with BombBomb that could help you create a video that you didn’t even know.

What are you thinking about advocacy type organizations that they could be creative right now?

Steven: I think it all goes back. And Tony, I’ve got a couple of people of mind that I can connect you with because they’re way better at this specific issue than I am. But, you know, I think my main thing I would want to communicate to you and anyone else is again, your cause matters. It’s important. It doesn’t have to be overshadowed by the events of the day. And I think you can emulate what other people are doing, even if it isn’t an advocacy cause. So don’t . . . also don’t be afraid to do that. And I know that wasn’t a very appetizing answer for you, Tony. It was very meaty but I’ve got a couple of people I’m thinking of that I want to put you in touch with for some more specific help, yeah.

Lori: Some other folks, Sandra and others want to get in on that list. A classical radio station said, “Any examples for us?” Absolutely. As I was sitting here at oh-dark-thirty last night working on these slides, I had classical radio playing on my, you know, my speaker. The local Minnesota Public Radio Classical Station. And it must’ve been at the top of the hour. The announcer got on. It was about . . . I don’t know. One in the morning or something and he said, “Good evening. I hope you’re feeling calm. I hope the day hasn’t been too stressful. I am here to provide you with some enjoyment. I’ve got some great things picked out for you.”

And then he went on and I just . . . I heard that and went, “Oh, he’s talking to me.” And then remind us he didn’t because it wasn’t at drive time but you can remind us that we’re supported by you. We’re able to do this work because of you.

Steven: Yep.

Lori: Questions? Other questions? There’s a scarce . . . a security crisis in West Africa. We’re closing about 60% of our projects. How do we generate the additional support while we’re pulling back on programing and people’s attention is already shifting to local needs? I’ll take the first run at it if that’s okay, Steven.

Steven: Yeah.

Lori: I work here locally with the Center for Victims of Torture. Most of their work is done on the African continent and other countries and, you know, similar situation. What are they going to be able to continue to do? Especially if there’s a lot of quarantining or social distancing going on. So maintaining as much as you can some sense of service providing. If you are having to close, spend the time to calculate. And it can be messy math. What is the increase in cost right now to delivering your programs and services? And talk about that but not in a beggy way, not in a demand to give way because we’re not going to close.

Let us know since yesterday, to make sure that this person is safe, receiving asylum or whatever it is you do, our costs have gone from this to this or here’s what it takes. It used to take this yesterday and here’s what it’ll take today. We’re attempting to be creative. Here are some ideas that we don’t have answers for yet. It is okay to say, “We don’t know how to do this. This is what we’d like to do.” Let your community rise up to help you. Anything to . . .

Steven: I couldn’t add anything to that. I wouldn’t dream of it.

Lori: Shall we continue to sell tickets and promote a fundraising event that might be canceled in June?

Steven: I would cancel it.

Lori: Yeah, I would just . . .

Steven: Honestly, you know, there was a . . . sort of a scary report came out last night, the Imperial College Report. Just google that. Just google Imperial College. And it was pretty doom and gloom. I honestly think that there won’t be in person events . . .

Lori: Till the fall, if then.

Steven: Yeah, to the fall but what that report says is that there will be a resurgence in the fall so . . .

Lori: Because, we’ll all be together again.

Steven: Right. That it’ll get cold again and please. I am not a scientist. Please check the CDC website. But I think cancel it now so that you can convert those into donations or ask to now and then get some other campaigns out because if you don’t, I feel like you’re just going to be sitting there checking the news every day from now until June and kind of wringing your hands. And while you’re doing that, you can’t communicate anything to the registrants or the people that you want to register.

Lori: Be creative. You may cancel that event as an ask. You may cancel that event as an in-person ask.

Steven: Yep.

Lori: You could do this with however many people were intending to come and still tell your stories and still invite people to give but have it not be in person. But I’ll tell you what. It is more important than ever that you inspire and you put a face to your work.

Steven: Yep.

Lori: So someone asked, “If you don’t have the decision-making power in your organization to change the messaging, what do you do?” First thing I’d do is have them watch the webinar. Go to some of the sites that are saying, you know, “Here’s what to do now.” The most important thing to ask yourselves . . . I’ll go back to the very beginning is what do we want people to feel. You know, CEO, what are you thinking? What do we want people to feel? What do we want them to do and by when do we want them to do it? If that is what is contextualizing all of your decisions, you will make decisions that serve as many as possible. You’re going to have to do less with less. We did today. We just pivoted a little bit and . . .

Autism treatment. Our clinic is closed but we’re still providing some home services. My sister is a teacher of special needs kids. They were setting up yesterday how she will tutor and be with class with the students virtually one at a time.

Steven: Love it.

Lori: She will not be able to be doing whole class things but they will schedule times. So some of that, I get the technology doesn’t always work for students who have autism. So be creative. What could help? Can you send the parent something? Is there a caregiver that could get involved? Can you create a virtual community to start to brainstorm together?

I think we’re going to have to close out because I know people have to get to other places.

Steven: Yeah, we went a little long. Sorry about that but . . .

Lori: We did but you know what? This man makes me calm. In 2007 or ’08 I started to be on Twitter. And the first tweet I checked out was from Deepak Chopra and this is what it said, “Uncertainty is the fertile ground of pure creativity and freedom.” We are in a time that we don’t know all the answers so be creative. You are wanting to send out emails, you want people to help you. It is okay to give that email list to someone to help you and say, “This is confidential information. Please don’t use it.” It can be marked confidential. We are doing things virtually in a whole different way. My Homeowners’ Association that I serve on, we’re doing our meeting on Zoom on Saturday because we have to decide some things. Really, it’s okay to make decisions and then have to remake them because this first decision you made didn’t work. As we proved to you and showed to you in real time today.

Steven: Yep.

Lori: Folks, you’ve got this. Thank you so much, Steven, for being my partner in this.

Steven: Oh, hey, no problem. I mean, this is your idea. You reached out to me so I owe you. You put it all together.

Lori: Well, thanks to these amazing people for their questions. We will do our darndest to answer questions on our blog. We’ll continue to . . . we can download the questions that you had typed in the chat, so please know that we’ll answer them in whatever way we can find. And really, hang in there. Know that we are thinking of you and it’s going to be okay. We don’t know [inaudible 01:31:52] but it’s going to be different.

Steven: And don’t let this be the last webinar you watch or the last advice you get. We are limited in what we can offer. This is not meant to be the end. You know, we just wanted to share what we had been receiving and seeing. But there are so many other perspectives. I mean, we’ve got . . . you know, check out the library we put together at Bloomerang because there’s going to be lots more. We’re going to just keep updating it. And we’re going to also be compiling all the examples we’ve seen just so you can, you know, go through them and maybe see what other folks are doing and get some inspiration.

Lori: Rene, thank you for being here from Switzerland. How cool is that?

Steven: Yeah, wow. That’s awesome. Thank you. Hopefully, it’s not too late in the day there. But thanks for rolling with the punches on the tech side. There’s . . . so many people are working from home doing virtual meetings that I don’t know that this software is going to be able to keep up unless they bump up their infrastructure so . . . but luckily we had a backup and we made it happen so yeah.

Lori: All right. Yes, webinar recording will be shared.

Steven: Yep, we’ll get it to you.

Lori: Slides will be shared. Yes, the worksheet, the Excel spreadsheet, you can download. We’ll give you a way to do that. All of the above. Just give us a little time to get our ducks in a row. I have one duck but I need more ducks to get in a row after that. So you want to have that little person say hello?

Steven: I think . . . I thought there was a little person but there isn’t. I thought I heard a knock on the door. I thought we were going to have that . . . what was that? That CNN guy with the kid came in. That was hilarious. I was afraid that was going to happen but . . .

Lori: Well, thank you and I hope to hear from all of you, see you. Take care and keep us posted on what you’re doing that’s working.

Steven: Yep.

Lori: Bye, 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.