If you have ever reached this point and struggled with your confidence to make the ASK, this webinar recording from Kristal Johnson will prepare you for the next BIG donor meeting.

Full Transcript:

Steven: All right, Kristal. My watch just struck 2:00 here on the East Coast. Is it okay if I go ahead and get this party started?

Kristal: Let’s get this party started. I’m ready.

Steven: All right. Awesome. Cool. Good afternoon, everyone, if you are also on the East Coast with me. Good morning if you are out there on the West Coast. Hope you’re doing okay. Thank you so much for being here for today’s Bloomerang webinar, “The Assertive Ask.”

And my name is 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.

And just a couple of housekeeping items before we get going here. Just want to let you all know that we are recording this presentation. And we’ll get that to you this afternoon, as well as the slides if you don’t already have those. 

So, if you have to leave early or maybe you get interrupted by a co-worker, maybe your boss comes in and needs something done real quick, I know the feeling, I get it. Don’t worry, we’ll get you that recording later on today. Just be on the lookout for an email from me with all that good stuff.

Most importantly, if you are listening today, please feel free to use that chat box right there on your webinar screen. We’re going to save some time for Q&A at the end like we always do. So, don’t be shy. Don’t sit on those hands. You can send those questions along the hour. I’ll keep an eye on those for sure. And we’ll try to get to just as many as we can before 3:00. You can also do it on Twitter. I’ll keep an eye on the Twitter feed as well.

And if you have any trouble hearing us through your computer, we find that the audio by phone is usually a little bit better. More solid, you know, doesn’t rely on those internet connections or browsers or software or anything too hard like that. So, try to give us a call on the phone if you have any trouble. There’s a phone number in the email from ReadyTalk that went out about an hour ago that you can dial in and hopefully hear us a little bit better.

And if this is your first Bloomerang webinar, I just want to say an extra special welcome to you folks that you’ve never been on these sessions before. Welcome. We love having you. We love doing these webinars. It’s probably the favorite thing I do here at Bloomerang every single Thursday just about. We missed a couple of weeks throughout the year, but we bring in great guests. Today’s guest is no exception, by any means.

So, if you have never heard of Bloomerang beyond our webinars, we are a provider of donor management software. So, if you are interested in that or just kind of want to see what we got going on, maybe if you’re switching [inaudible 00:02:23]. Not switching right now? That’s okay. You can still check us out. You can watch a quick video demo to see the software in action.

But don’t do that now because you are all in for a real treat. We have Kristal M. Johnson joining us today from beautiful Houston, Texas. Kristal, I’m so glad you’re here. Are you doing okay? How’s it going?

Kristal: I’m doing great. Thanks, Steven, for having me. I’m very excited.

Steven: Yes. I’m excited, too. This has been on the calendar for a while. We talked back in December, I think it was. It’s hard to believe that now this session is finally here, but I’m pumped for it. You all should be excited. Hopefully, you are.

If you all don’t know Kristal, you’ve got to know her. I didn’t know her until about six months ago, though actually we had a long-time webinar presenter for Bloomerang introduce us, our buddy Vanessa Chase. She was on our session last week if you heard it. She said, “Steven, you’ve got to have Kristal on. You’ve got to talk to her,” and I said, “Okay. I trust you, Vanessa. Let’s do it.”

And I got Kristal on the phone and we hit it off. I feel like we’ve been friends for years. We were talking about fundraising stuff, just kind of geeking out, and I looked at my watch and an hour had gone by, and we put this webinar on the schedule.

So, I just want to talk a little bit about Kristal’s background. If you don’t know her, you may see her name now that you have been introduced to her on this session. She speaks a lot at conferences, internationally does a lot of training. She’s helped folks raise over $200 million in her career. Pretty big number. You are going to get some of that knowledge over the next hour or so. The Assertive Ask is kind of the name of her own fundraising course, kind of her methodology on things. You’re going to get a sense of that as we go through the hour or so.

And one cool thing, we’re recording this in early May, but she’s got a brand new podcast coming out in June. So, we’ll definitely get you connected with that because you’re going to want to hear more from Kristal after this hour is through. That’s my official prediction.

So, Kristal, I have already taken up way too much time. Why don’t you take it away and tell us all about The Assertive Ask? So, go for it, my friend.      

Kristal: Thank you so much, Steven. It’s been a pleasure getting to know you. I’m glad Vanessa introduced me to you. And I have been familiar with Bloomerang for quite a while and some clients and other peers telling me how great it is. So, finally glad to meet you, and to be on this webinar, and present some great strategies for the listeners.

So, my name is Kristal Johnson. And The Assertive Ask was really born out of me being a fundraiser, people who were either brand new fundraisers and just were scared to know how to fundraise and how to ask for money. And I’ve been an assertive person for quite some time, and it was something that I had to learn because I really grew up introverted, actually. And we’ll talk about that a little bit later about the journey.

So, I want to show you what worked for me and then give you some resources to help you. So, our purpose today is really just one, and that is how to get a seat at the table. That is what I want to help you with today.

And I know that a lot of you use Twitter and Instagram. If you use the #AssertiveAsk, you can ask questions. That way, after the webinar, if you forgot to ask something and you just want to make a comment or you have a scenario, whatever you want to share, please do so using that hashtag.

So, the agenda. What I will cover today is donor engagement, because you need to know my journey to understand why this is so important and really why it can be truly easy when you implement five critical steps to prepare yourself for your next big meeting.

There are two key areas I want you to focus your conversation on. Then I have tips for introverts, extroverts, and ambiverts, and the number one strategy that you can implement at your next ask. I don’t care where you are in your fundraising journey, you can use this strategy. It does not matter. It is the strategy that helped me to get to the $200 million mark. So, I want to help you.

So, my story is I began my nonprofit development career in Houston. And I had three internships. When I was in college, I was just wondering what I was going to do, kind of where I wanted to direct my focus on. And so, in those three internships, grant-writing was one of the components. And while I was in college, I got the grant, and that really gave life to me wanting to help people, me wanting to start my fundraising career.

So, my first fundraising experience was working with a development team and we successfully raised $400,000 for several programs. And that night was very interesting because, in total, the entire team brought in $1 million. And that just changed everything for me. I knew the power of fundraising and I knew that I could no longer be introverted about it, that there were people relying on me to get money for their programs. I wanted to be successful. So, I knew that I was starting this path of crushing my shyness and getting assertive.   

So, my donor engagement story started with really three responsibilities that I had. And that was to acquire donors, acquisition. And a little lady by the name of Maria really helped me in my fundraising journey. She taught me everything I needed to know about being a successful fundraiser. And that was to acquire donors, the language, how to look at their body language, and kind of get what they’re saying to me without saying it.

The follow-up. How to go beyond a thank you letter, how to be personable if I happen to see them at an event which really is not happenstance or something that I planned, but I kind of run into them and start a conversation, what to say impromptu, how to keep the conversation going, and how to segue the conversation and talk about the organization that I’m representing. All of that is part of donor engagement.

And the process of keeping the donors that you worked so very hard to acquire, the retention part. You’ve acquired them, you’re following up, you’re cultivating them, you want to retain donors. Believe me. You’ve done all of this hard work in getting these donors, it’s harder to retain the ones you’ve already asked.

So, those were my three responsibilities. And those three really helped me to become assertive in asking, because really, the ask is in all three. Follow-up, acquiring them, and retaining them. Donors want to hear from you more than once a year through a newsletter. So, those are some of the strategies that I learned.

So, five critical steps before making the ask. I want to get these to you so you can understand how important they are.

Number one is do your due diligence. And this probably is something you can say 10 times fast and it may not even be grammatically correct, but I love the way it sounds because you will remember it. Do your due diligence.

You want to check the donor’s background. That’s pretty much what it means, such as their giving history. Now, if you are familiar with prospect research, you’re already doing your due diligence. You’re checking for their giving capacity, their past giving, their board affiliations, their preferred communication methods. Are they the type of person that likes emails versus you calling them all the time? And their relationships and associations that they have with people. Is someone on your board a friend of theirs or a connection of theirs? You really don’t know until you ask these questions.

And the events they attend. I put this last because I want to focus on this for a minute. It is very important to understand that your donors are busy and probably pretty social people. They are investing in more than one organization probably. Whatever your major donor [inaudible 00:12:12] with, if it’s $1,000, if it’s $10,000, if it’s $5,000 or more, you want to make sure that you know where those donors are if there are fundraisers happening in town, if there are big events in town, because you may want to position yourself and be at those events as well.

It really makes a difference. This is something that I got really good at and it made a difference in my numbers and my benchmarks, because I always positioned myself by finding out where they are, who they’re supporting. That’s your due diligence.

And I’ll show you a simple way that you can do that as well in your prospect research. We’ll talk about that in a minute.

So, keep this thought in the back of your mind. As you do your research, you want to think, “What is the interest that the donor will have in our organization?”

For example, and this is a real-life example, as well. I was working with a nonprofit that is affiliated with one of the colleges in town. They do events. They partner with the college, and they actually sponsor the event.

When I was working for them, I found donors that were actually alumni of that same university. Once they heard of what we’re doing and how we’re affiliated with that university and the university is supporting us, they became donors.

Now, they had no idea that we were having these events, and the college put out communications, they put out emails, everything, newsletters. They only knew because I did research with donors who were alumni of that university and they, in fact, became donors. So, you always want to make some type of connection.       

Also, ask questions that will yield a yes. You always want to ask questions that will yield in them saying, “Yes. I do support.” Like, “You went to this college, correct?” “Yes. I do support that college. I’m very familiar with them.” “You support this organization?” “Yes. I do.” You want to make sure that you come to the table with a game plan. You want your own agenda before you sit down at the table.

Social media is free prospect research, and I encourage you to go beyond LinkedIn. There are so many other ways to acquire donors, to research donors.   

The second one is you want to create a connection. You want to build the relationship before you make the ask. You want to invite the prospect for a tour. And let me explain what this is. I worked for organizations and they were really having trouble engaging their donors. So, what we did, we implemented tours. Twice a month, we would invite officials from the community, the local precinct, their networks, their contacts, people in the community, our volunteers, current donors, prospective donors. We invited everyone to schedule a time to come on the tour in case they haven’t seen the new changes or they’re not familiar with all of our programs. And it worked awesome.

It was awesome to do because there were five of us. I would start the tour, I would talk about the organization, and each one of us would take them on a journey. If you have two stories in your building, we would take them upstairs to see the programs, then they would come back downstairs, and the tour would end maybe with a light lunch or snacks, water and coffee. You don’t need to have a whole lot because you’re doing this twice a month. But you want to engage them somehow. And it worked great.

We acquired so many donors by simply taking the time to do a 20-, 25-minute tour twice a month. If you don’t have time to do that, you can definitely do it once a month or every quarter. I do advise if you do it every quarter, a big event, make it grandiose and advertise in your newsletter and invite a lot of people from the community. You want a good turnout if you’re going to do it less often.    

The next one is invite the prospect to your next fundraiser. This is very, very important. You don’t ever want to take for granted that everyone knows what’s going on in your organization. So, you want to get the word out.

You may have a fundraiser or event coming up and you invite your current donors to it or your current volunteers, but what about your prospects? You want to extend a special invitation to them. Call them. Email them personally outside of your newsletter distribution list. It’s that personal touch that makes a difference.

You want to engage the prospect using various communication tools. As I said, no two donors are alike. You want to make sure you know which donors like phone calls, which ones prefer emails, which ones just want a newsletter. That’s why when you see them at events, it helps, because you just happen to be running into them and you can really start the conversation and see what they’re about. It’s a method that I still use to this day and it works.

Volunteers make the best donors, and that is for a few reasons. First, it’s a great statistic for you to remember. Your volunteers are already investing their time in your organization. They want to see you win. They want to see your organization be prosperous. Most of your volunteers will become donors if they are engaged. Engage them in becoming a donor, monthly reoccurring donor.

And LinkedIn even has a feature . . . you might want to write this down. They have a feature called Nonprofit Interests where you can research people who are interested in becoming board members or volunteers for nonprofit organizations. I have found volunteers using this feature. And again, the name of that feature is called Nonprofit Interests.

Can everyone hear me okay? It says in the chat that some of this was garbled. 

Steven: Yeah. I think we’re okay, Kristal. I’m going to type it in the chat, too.

Kristal: Okay. Cool. Nonprofit Interests LinkedIn. Thanks so much, Steven.

All right. So, the next slide is talking about don’t be discouraged. In my career, it hasn’t been all roses, believe me, because there has been a lot of rejection. It comes with the job, I understand that, but when I was first becoming a fundraiser and getting into the swing of things, it was extremely difficult to take that rejection.

What I have learned is that an initial no is not a [inaudible 00:20:18]. It just isn’t. It’s one no. There may be another way that you need to approach them. It may take several attempts before a prospect engages with your organization.

And sometimes, if you’ve done all that you can, you’ve emailed them, you’ve called them, you have invited them to events, and you have engaged them every way you know how, know when to walk away. You’ll know it’s time to just let it go.

You can revisit. What I have done is I have disengaged myself from trying to engage a prospect, and then a year or a year and a half later, I will approach them. Most of the time, either two things happen. They forget all about me and the conversation, or they remember and they are in a better position to become a donor. So, reengaging them down the road may work for you as well.

The third critical step is to practice, practice, practice what you are going to say at the table, but definitely do not overdo it. When you practice too much, you sound rehearsed. And this is something that I did in the beginning of my career. I wanted verbatim, word-for-word what I was going to say when I got in front of this donor. I didn’t deviate from the script at all. And what happens is you sound so monotone. You don’t even sound like you’re alive. It’s just a bad way to approach a donor.

You second-guess yourself when you practice, you lose your passion, and you ramble. And when you get into practice mode and trying to remember your script, you appear nervous and your body language shows this.

So, do this instead. You want to set your goals for the meeting and create talking points. If you’ve ever had to give a presentation of any kind, webinar, in-person, conference, you can create your talking points, but it is not something that you memorize. You already know what you’re going to talk about from those talking points.

And let the donor lead the conversation. In discussing approaches with my peers, I noticed that some people will say they had to leave the entire meeting, that the donor really didn’t say anything, that they didn’t get a chance to talk, and the thing about it is you need to pace yourself. Let the donor tell you their initiatives and what they want to do with their money, what they want to see their money go towards. Let the donor do some talking as well.

And be flexible in your approach. Know who your [inaudible 00:23:27], who has a tendency to not say much of anything, then you need to kind of allow them to have silence sometimes, think about what you’re saying, and then you can go back into the conversation. But you have to pace yourself.

If it is a person who talks excessively, then you become the listener in the conversation, and that is okay. That is fine. You can still leave that table with them being a donor. It’s just you’ve got to know what type of person you’re approaching.      

Number four is very important, and I don’t see a lot of new fundraisers doing this. You need to review their social footprint. And what I mean by that is you need to take a modern approach. You want to look at the history of the potential donor’s social media posts.

Also, there is a phrase that I have that I use in workshops all the time. And please, Steven, if you could put this in the chat, because this is so important. You need to know the makeup of the three big social networks. The phrase is “Twitter is fast, Facebook is friendly, and LinkedIn is formal.” Instagram is a whole other story. But with Twitter, Facebook, and LinkedIn, those are the three that I concentrate on when I’m trying to engage a donor.

Twitter is fast. It is extremely fast. If you have someone that likes Twitter or they’re on Twitter more than the other two, then they usually just are typing in 140 characters or 280 characters or less, depending on what type of account you have. So, you’re not going to get as much engagement with them as you would Facebook.

Facebook is friendly. You can use the Messenger. People use Facebook Messenger more than Twitter’s message component. So, if you have a donor that leans more towards Facebook, then you want to engage them in a friendly manner. Have a long conversation in the Messenger if you have to. I’ve done it.

LinkedIn is very formal. LinkedIn is extremely different from the other two in that the conversations, the posts, even the hashtags are different on LinkedIn. So, if you are engaging a donor . . . say you use the Nonprofit Interests tool that LinkedIn offers, and you are trying to engage a volunteer or a potential board member. You want to remember the culture of LinkedIn, which is formal.

So, those are the three. LinkedIn is formal, Twitter is fast, and Facebook is friendly.

You can also put in the location tag and fundraising charity tag for your city. It is a great way to find and cultivate new donors. And I’ll give you an example. What I have used in the past is the #Houston. This is for Twitter. I’ll put in the #Houston and the #philanthropy and I have found three donors doing that for an organization.

Because what will happen is, when I put in those two hashtags, they have photos of the latest fundraisers and, “Thank you to Mr. and Mrs. Smith for giving to our program.” So, you’ll see those type of posts when you put in your location along with a fundraising hashtag, such as #philanthropy.      

Here’s another way to engage donors and to find donors for free. And this is another tip. Create a Google Alert. You want to create a Google Alert . . . say you’re going after a specific donor, and you want to know exactly what they’re doing, what fundraisers they’re supporting, organizations they’re supporting. Create a Google Alert with their name, or you can create a Google Alert with the organization that you are looking at to see who is supporting that particular organization. That is another way to find donors by creating Google Alerts.

My take on Google Alerts is they’re hit or miss, because sometimes I’ll get great results. And I receive Alerts every day. So, sometimes those results are great, and sometimes they are not even in the realm of the query that I entered. So, it’s a hit or miss thing. It’s not perfection, but it will help you in looking for donors and organizations that have donors that and you want to see who’s supporting them. Google Alerts will help you with that.

And number five, understanding your donor’s unique profile. No two donors are alike. They are not. They are very, very different in many ways. The donor’s motivation is their primary focus. Always keep that in mind when you’re sitting at that table. They care about what they care about. Your job is to make them care about your organization and to see if there can be a connection. So, shift your focus to anticipate their giving levels, their concerns. Alleviate them. Alleviate the concerns, and anticipate the questions that they might have by having your answers ready.

And this is a real-life example. There was a nonprofit I was working for and they were in the news for something that is really not favorable for them, and when I met with the donor, they knew this. And so, I knew this question was going to come up. I knew it and I was prepared for it. And I told them how we are remedying this situation, how we are changing the focus for the future, and this nonprofit pretty much learned their lesson, and we need their support in shifting the people’s perspective about that organization.

So, I was ready. I was ready because that was pretty much the second or third thing they said when we sat down. So, I wanted to alleviate their concerns.

Donor preference is extremely important. For example, do most of your donors prefer mobile giving or giving via social media? I know two donors who will only give to Facebook campaigns. That is the only way . . . and they give quite a lot, quite a bit, through Facebook. It at first was weird for me to grasp that concept, but as technology changes, donors change. It’s as simple as that.

So, do they want to fundraise on behalf of your organization? Will they make a pledge or volunteer their time? Do they have a history of making recurring gifts, monthly, quarterly, or yearly donations?

The way that you can find this out is if you go to Foundation Center, they have great tools for reviewing donors who are in your particular area. I use it all the time. And the list that I am referring to is free on their website. So, you don’t necessarily have to have Foundation Center to access this.

Do they prefer direct mail campaigns or donating tangible goods? I don’t know many nonprofits that are doing direct mail campaigns anymore because of technology and the wonderful various ways that we can reach and engage prospective donors, but is that something that’s still important to donors you’re trying to engage or the current ones you have already? Keep all of this in mind before you meet prospective donors.       

Two key areas to focus your conversations. When you meet is the future of your organization. [Inaudible 00:32:52]. They can look up your past. They can check out your past from your annual report or they can look on your website. They can look at your posts, social media. They can look at all of that and see what you’re doing or what you have done before or word of mouth. You want to really entice them and get them excited about what your organization is doing in the future.

The second area to focus your conversation is on the donor’s interests, their concerns, and their goals. Now, we talked about their concerns and I gave you the example of the nonprofit that I was working with, how they were in the news, but you also want to focus on their interests. Which programs are they interested in and excited about? What are their goals for giving?

You want to have what I call a whole conversation with them. You, of course, want to end the conversation with the ask, but in order to get there, it is a long . . . I call it total conversation. You want to know their interests, concerns, and goals when you leave that table.

So, I have some tips for introverts, which is what I used to be, extroverts, and ambiverts, which is what I am now. So, this is not a list that is exact because some of you may be both, some of you may be one. Some of you may be an extrovert and you thought you were something else. Who knows? But this will help you kind of figure out who you are.

Extroverts, they love social interaction. They love being the center of attention. And I can tell you, I don’t mind that at all. I don’t. They have a big group of friends.

Introverts are good listeners, and that is the absolute truth. Most people I know that I would consider introverted are excellent listeners. That is a quality that will take you very far in your fundraising career. It makes a difference because some people do not listen. Some people are just listening to respond quickly. So, being a good listener is very important.

And you can be an extrovert and be a good listener. Like I said, this list, just be flexible with it. Just understand this is not a hard and fast written rule.

Working solo and they have a few close friends.

Ambiverts, they listen and talk, they have a good sense of trust, and they need social and alone time. And I understand that totally.

So, tips if you are an introverted person, if you consider yourself an introvert. I want you to focus on the information and stats about your cause rather than focusing on your thoughts. Get out of your head.

One thing with these meetings that I was struggling with is I had to get out of my own head because it affects your conversation and you really can’t do both at once. If you are concentrating so much on your thoughts and what to say next, then you’re missing what the donor is actually saying. So, you’re not listening at all.

Your appearance and external factors. We can concentrate on, “Do we look good enough? Do we have on the right suit? This restaurant is so loud. I don’t understand. Can he hear me? Does he like the food?” We can concentrate on all of these things that just pull away our focus from what’s important.

You want to be authentic in your conversation and not use filler words. And what you can do to help you is to share a brief success story about your org. For example, if you plan to share a nonprofit story, make sure it’s one that really tugs at their heartstrings, but also shows off your statistics.

For example, if your nonprofit has a food pantry, you can talk about one of your clients, of course, being very confidential about it and just saying she or he. And then you can weave statistics in the conversation. That’s one way to do it. And that will really build your confidence.

The donor is not so much focusing on you. They’re focusing on the story you’re telling because people love a good story. They really do. They want to see the ending. So, you always end with the impact that your organization had on this person or people or program.

You want to gain an understanding of the prospect’s motivation. So, you want to reiterate what they’re telling you back to them. You want to make sure, “Well, let me make sure I hear you correctly. You’re saying XYZ.” It shows that you’re listening and you’re being participatory in the conversation.

Tips for ambiverts. You want to push your personality, because I consider ambiverts very balanced. You’re in the perfect position to make the ask because you have extroverted and introverted features. So, remain in that neutral position during a conversation. Be the listener, but also tell about your programs, but also have them lead the conversation.

And I thought this was so funny when I saw this. “Hello. I’m an ambivert. It’s nice to meet you, but please stop talking to me.” This describes me most of the time. I consider myself both. I’m an introvert, I’m a good listener, but I’m also an extrovert where sometimes I just love being the life of the party or the conference or the conversation. So I definitely have both in me.

Now, tips for extroverts. I think this one is the easiest to understand because I believe that most extroverts really know they are extroverts. They don’t need to be told. I think they know already. So, because I have some of these traits, I understand the struggle with when you get in these meetings and you’re animated, and lively, and you want to tell everything about your organization and how great of an impact you’re making.

So, my tips to you if you’re an extrovert is to dial it back. Don’t give in to awkward pauses because they only lead to rambling. And concentrate again on the prospect’s questions and concerns. Have answers for the questions they will inevitably ask. You do this by doing your research. You do this by understanding that your nonprofit [inaudible 00:40:44] lately, whether good or bad. You do that by alleviating their concerns.

The number one strategy you can implement at your next ask is really simple. Listen and pause. When we pause . . . if you’re the type of person that you don’t like dead air, you basically cannot take it if there is no conversation going on and you have to say something. Get rid of that. Listen and pause when you talk.

What the donor is doing is they’re absorbing everything you’re saying. They are already interested because you’re at the table. You want to pause when you talk and listen to what they’re saying and reiterate it to them so they can know that you understand them.

Donors want to be understood. They want to be valued. One way that you value them is to understand them totally. So listening and then reiterating what they’re saying makes a big difference.

So, I have a quiz, and I do this with all clients that I work with. I have them take my communication quiz because it makes such a difference as to what type of communicator they are. Being assertive is just a communication form. It’s just a type of communication. Either you’re assertive or you might be aggressive. Whatever you are, take the quiz and you can find out right away. It makes a big difference in your fundraising career, because it did mine.

And I have learned that people will forget what you said, people will forget what you did, but people will never forget how you made them feel. Someone gave me this quote by Maya Angelou in the beginning, almost 11 years ago now. And I have kept it and remembered it right before I sit down, talk with the donor, or meet a donor. You want them to leave that table feeling important, feeling like they were understood, that you want to build a connection with them, that they’re not just dollar signs. So, I hope that quote definitely helps you.

So, you can also get our newsletter. We send one out every single Tuesday with tips on being assertive, making the ask, sometimes grant information, but really helping you to get a seat at the table, strategies that you can use. And you can find that out at fundjoy.org.

All right, Steven. I think we have some time for our Q&A.            

Steven: Yes. We do. I’ve got about maybe 12 minutes or so. But first, I just want to say thank you, Kristal, for doing this today, and taking time out of your day, and sharing all your tips with us. There are a lot of tips. I was jotting them down when they were coming in. So, thank you. Hopefully, everyone else enjoyed.

And we got some questions already, but if you haven’t sent in a question, send it in because we’ve got some time. So, I’m going to kind of roll through them right now, Kristal.

A lot of people were asking about the tour indication. I love the tour. I think the tour is so underutilized. Can you kind of pull on that thread maybe for a couple of minutes? When do you ask the person to come in for a tour? Is it at the beginning of the relationship? Is it someone that maybe already is a donor but you want them to give more? Can they get their own tour? Is it a group tour? Can you kind of share what you’ve seen work and not work maybe with the tours?

Kristal: Yes. Absolutely. Well, let me start out by saying the organization that I work for, and this is a great question, they wanted me to offer the tours to everyone. And that was working for a time because we had community leaders, we had current donors, but what really happened is I started offering the tour to two types of donors because this is where my numbers went up. And that was the whole goal, to make my benchmark, to get money into the organization, to get individual donors interested in us. I offered it to, number one, lapsed donors and, number two, prospective donors who are resistant.

So, let me explain the first one, lapsed donors. Donors that we have had for a time and they have not given within the last year, those are the perfect people to invite for a tour. In that timeframe, something may be different about one of your programs, one of your programs within the facility. If you have anything new, a new campaign, invite them so you can reintroduce them to your organization. So, lapsed donors is one.

And then prospective donors who are resistant, because it may take more than a phone call and you meeting them. What if they’re the type of people who need to actually see what you do in action? That’s where you can invite them. So, lapsed donors and prospective donors who are extremely resistant.

Steven: I love it. So, the next question that a lot of people asked also, Kristal, is what about those folks who maybe don’t have a physical facility that kind of lends itself to a tour, folks that maybe aren’t a school or a museum or something that is very visual? What if you’re an advocacy group and you just kind of have a regular office environment? Should those folks maybe try to manufacture something, an event, or what would you recommend to those types of orgs? 

Kristal: They can do an event. But what I have done is with these type of organizations . . . I’ve had them as clients and I make sure for them to create a video, a video of volunteers talking about how they love the organization and the great things that they’re doing. Clients who have given permission to be on camera and talk about how the organization has impacted them. And then the tying message or the end of the message is always with the executive director and the team saying, “Thank you for your consideration,” or, “Thank you for supporting XYZ.” After I show them that particular video, it makes a huge difference.

Another thing that they can do is . . . like you said, they can have an event. I know that might not lend to some organizations because there’s a cost factor, but if that’s something that you can do, have an event, to have it at a facility, then please do so.

And at that event, you can have on the table something about your organization, what you’re doing, a few quotes. And while people are sitting down or coming in the room, again, have a video playing of what your organization does and clients that have given their permission to be on video in camera. You can have that looping in the background. It sets the tone for what you’re trying to do.

It is a relationship and it’s a connection. So, you need to work at it. It’s more than just asking them. It’s building. You’re building a connection. The way you do that is visually. So, that’s a great question.   

Steven: I love it. Very cool. Let’s talk LinkedIn. Got some LinkedIn questions, Kristal. I know you love LinkedIn. I love LinkedIn. It’s the best.

Kristal: I do. I love LinkedIn.

Steven: I think I connected with you right away after we talked. Speaking of connecting, connecting with donors, sending them that invitation to become a connection, how soon in the relationship is that appropriate? Should that be a first step? Will that maybe freak people out if they don’t know someone who they’re receiving a connection request from? Maybe should it come kind of in the middle of the relationship? What’s the etiquette there in terms of connecting or following folks on LinkedIn? What do you think works?

Kristal: Sure. One of the things I have done . . . and I have only done it through the Nonprofit Interests, because with Nonprofit Interests tool, they have two things. You can click if you’re interested in being a board member [inaudible 00:50:13].

Say you want to be a volunteer. So, what I have done is I’ll start the message out, “Hi, Susie. I got your information from the Nonprofit Interests tool. I see that you’re interested in becoming a volunteer for a nonprofit organization. My name is Kristal Johnson and I represent XYZ nonprofit. And our initiative [inaudible 00:50:44]. Can we talk a little further or can you send me your email or I can give you mine?” I’d leave it at that.

LinkedIn is the best tool. And I will say this, Steven, and people need to know this. Above all the social networks, Instagram, Twitter, Facebook, LinkedIn, I have the most success on LinkedIn by doing that simple script I just said.    

Steven: So, you’ll kind of search on their profile, find that angle, and then what I heard you said is that note that you can add to the request, that’s everything, right? Because if you just send a request without a note . . . I don’t know who this person is. It’s like all things. If you write a nice personal contextual note, that’s how you get the foot in the door. Is that fair to say?

Kristal: Yes. That’s a good point that you brought up. When you send the request, you want to change the wording, because I know there’s some wording, “I want you to join my network.” Erase all of that, delete that, and actually put in the script.

Steven: Cool. I love it.

Here’s one from Cathy. So I love this question. What do you do with folks that you reach out to who kind of turn you down not because they don’t like you but because they do like you? So Cathy, what she exactly said is, “What do you do when a donor says, ‘No thanks. I don’t need to know that. We know you’re awesome. You’re doing great work. I’m already donating. I’m going to keep donating’?”

What do you do with those people who are kind of engaged but also don’t want to engage with your further maybe is kind of a good way to put that? Should you leave them alone? Should you do something else with them? Press the issue? What do you think about those loyal folks that maybe don’t want to be bothered?

Kristal: I’ll tell you what . . . now this is for a prospective donor or a current donor she’s referring to?

Steven: Current donor.

Kristal: Okay. They just don’t want to be bothered. I have a timeline that I use. It is 3, 6, a year, 18. So, at three months, I will send them another . . . I’ll try again. I’ll send an email. I’ll call them, whichever one they prefer. If they’re a current donor, I already know which communication style they prefer. So, if it’s the email, a phone, whatever, I’ll try at three months. And then I’ll try again at six months if they’re a current donor.

If it’s a prospective donor and I have tried everything that I could, I have used all of my little tricks in the bag, nothing is working, then I will give them 12 months, and then 18 months. I’ll reach out at a year, and then I’ll reach out in 18 months. After that 18 months, if I have not acquired them as a donor, I move on.    

Steven: So, with every successive attempt, you just put more space in between the next one?

Kristal: More space, yes. That’s very important because they’re already . . . they’re not resistant once. I think what she’s referring to is somebody who has been resistant repeatedly.

Steven: Yeah.

Kristal: So, just put more space and more time in between.

Steven: Okay. Here is one from Alma. Brand new organization, don’t have a lot of stories in the bank, not a lot of history to the organization, can’t do a tour because there’s really nothing to show yet. What kinds of stories should those folks be telling? Is it purely the need? Is it the founder? Maybe early board members? Early donors? What about these organizations that are new or not as established but they want to get this kind of thing going?

Kristal: What I tell them to do is concentrate on their history of how they began, have a message from the executive director, and then they can talk about their volunteers. Even if it’s an organization that’s just starting, somebody is supporting them. So talk about your volunteers. Talk about how you began and how you came to fruition. All of that will help tell your story until you get a bigger story.

Steven: That makes sense.

Kristal: That’s a great question.

Steven: I mean, you’re right. You do have supporters. I think putting people who already support you on camera, that’s sort of an underutilized thing, too, because who best to talk about the value of your organization than people who are already supporting? I love that advice. This is great.

Kristal: Yeah. Everyone has supporters already. It’s just a different approach.

Steven: Here’s maybe a good one to finish on. This is from Ronna. She is working at a food bank and they are struggling with converting volunteers into donors. So, it sounds like they’ve got a lot of good volunteers, they’re engaged, but haven’t been able to move them into that monetary donation. Any advice there, Kristal, for that very kind of specific type of conversion from volunteer to donors?

Kristal: Sure. And with the statistics being so high that volunteers make the best donors, they have to be engaged as well. It’s not so much a stressful situation as trying to acquire a brand new prospective donor. They already know about your organization, and they’re giving their time. So, inviting them to events and doing it that way, they already know what’s going on, so you have to take a different approach with them.

And I would say with volunteers, one of the best ways I have found is if your organization does a volunteer appreciation luncheon. What I have done is we . . . for an organization I worked for, we held a luncheon, and after the luncheon in six months, we created a volunteer distribution list in the email service that we were using. We asked them specifically, just to our volunteers, for them to donate to a specific program and cause that they were familiar with, that they understood. We asked for a lower-giving threshold to start them out so they wouldn’t be shocked because they’ve never given before.

And that worked well to build that type of connection, because you already have the volunteer connection. Now, we’re trying to acquire them as a donor. 

Steven: I love it.

Kristal: And actually, someone wanted to take the communication quiz and they’re having trouble with the website. So, I actually put it in the comments.

Steven: Oh, cool. I see that now. Yes. Check that out. That’s a good one for sure. And there is also a workbook on fundjoy.org, is that right, Kristal, that they can access?

Kristal: Yes. The Assertive Ask Workbook that goes with the presentation. It’s an introduction that will help you. So, that I will put in the comments as well.

Steven: Cool. Check that out for sure. Boy, this was fun. I feel like, Kristal, we could talk about this all day, but we’re coming up on 3:00. I want to be respectful of everyone’s time, especially if you’re having lunch. I get it. But this was awesome.

Kristal: Oh, wow. It goes so fast.

Steven: I know. It’s just like that first conversation we had. It’s like, “Oh, it’s over.” Yeah, we’ve got some smart folks who listen to the Bloomerang webinars. So, I thank you all for asking those questions. Awesome questions, as always. No surprise there.

I know we didn’t get to all of them. I’m so sorry. But reach out to Kristal. Kristal, I assume you’ll take some questions by email and maybe keep the conversation going. Is that cool? 

Kristal: I absolutely will. Yes.

Steven: Awesome.

Kristal: And to get the newsletter . . . I’m sorry, Steven. Somebody asked about the newsletter. To get the newsletter, go to fundjoy.org.

Steven: Yeah. Go there. Lots of goodies on there. And you’ve got that podcast coming out in about a month too. So, check that out as well. You can keep learning from Kristal beyond just this hour.

So, this is great, Kristal. Thanks so much for being here. We’re about out of time, but we’ll give you the final word. Thank you for being here. Anything else you want folks to know?

Kristal: Of course. I want you to know that if you’re introverted or even though you’re extroverted, everyone can raise money. It is possible. It’s just using the tools and strategies that are really not new. They have been passed down from intern to manager. It’s the same thing that we’re all doing. It just takes trial and error to see what works for you.

So, I hope this has been very helpful for you. And there’s a link to the newsletter in the comments if you want to subscribe to the newsletter. So thank you so much, Steven.

Steven: Sign up for that. That’s a no-brainer. I’m going to sign up for that, too. I should have already been on that. I feel bad. I’m going to be on it.

Well, thank you all for hanging out. Always appreciate you all taking time out of your day. I know you’re busy. Just coming up on spring event season, getting that spring appeal out the door, all that good stuff, so thank you for being here.

Hopefully, you can carve out another hour out of your day next week. Same time, same place. We’ve got two of my favorites, Alice and Jim from GoalBusters, over in Arizona. If you haven’t ever seen them, come to the session. They’re awesome. They’re a dynamic duo. Talking about organizational evaluation. Kristal, we were just talking about this before we started, making those changes happen. That’s going to be a good session. If you are interested in that, come back and see us next week.

Kristal: Oh, yeah.

Steven: Yeah. They’re awesome. Good topic. And we’ve got some other webinars, too. If you’re not free at that time, that’s okay. We’ve got some others. We’ve actually got a lot of sessions scheduled out through the end of the year almost. So, check out our webinar page. You’ll find a topic that you’re struggling with. I promise. We try to keep it diverse. But hopefully, we’ll see you again on another session.

So, we’ll call it a day there. Check it out. We’re going to send out the slides and the recording later on this afternoon. So, be on the lookout for an email from me with all that good stuff.

Hopefully, we’ll see you again next week. So, have a good rest of your Thursday. Have a safe weekend. Stay dry out there. Stay safe. And we’ll talk to you again soon. Bye now.

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.