In this webinar, Jeff Schreifels and Richard Perry will help you understand the process it takes to create an inspiring and effective donor offer.

Full Transcript:

Steven: All right, Richard and Jeff, my watch just struck 1:00. Is it okay if we go ahead and get this party started?
Richard: Absolutely, let’s do it.
Jeff: Yeah.
Steven: All right, cool. Good afternoon, everyone, if you are on the East Coast and good morning, if you’re on the West Coast or somewhere in between. Thanks for being here for today’s Bloomerang webinar, “How to Create Great Donor Offers.” My name is Steven Shattuck and I’m the Chief Engagement Officer over here at Bloomerang. And I’ll be moderating today’s discussion as always.
And just a couple of quick housekeeping items before we get started here, I just want to let you all know that we are recording this session and we’ll be sending out the slides and the recording later on this afternoon. So if you have to leave early or maybe you want to review the content or share it with a colleague or a friend, you’ll be able to do that. So have no fear, I’ll get that in your hands this afternoon, I promise.
Most importantly, as you’re listening today, please feel free to chat in any questions or comments you have throughout the hour. We’re going to try to save just as much time at the end for Q&A and so don’t be shy, we love this to be as interactive as possible. So send your questions and comments right there on your webinar screen in the little chat box. And you can do the same thing on Twitter. I’ll keep an eye on the Twitter feed in case that maybe you want a live tweet or ask questions there, no problem.
And if you have any trouble with audio through your computer speakers we find that the audio by phone is usually a little bit better since it doesn’t rely on internet connections or software or browsers or anything like that. So if you have any trouble, don’t give up on us totally. Dial in if you can, if you don’t mind if that will be comfortable for you. There’s a phone number you can dial in the email from ReadyTalk that went out an hour ago today. So give that a try if you have any trouble.
If this is your first Bloomerang webinar I just want to say extra special welcome to you folks. We do this webinars just about every single Thursday throughout the year. This is the last one of 2018. I can hardly believe it. I think we did it about 49 maybe even 50 sessions, so we really only missed a couple of weeks out of the year. One of my favorite things we do here at Bloomerang for sure but if you don’t know anything about our software, check out our website. Don’t do that now, wait until the end of the presentation for sure, but if you are interested in seeing what our donor management software has to offer, check us out. There’s a quick video demo that you can watch. You can see the software in action. You don’t even have to talk to a salesperson if you don’t want to, so do that not right now like I said because you all are in for a treat. I’ve got two of my favorites, done webinars for us before, always a really good session. We have Richard Perry and Jeff Schreifels joining us from Veritus Group. How’s it going, gents? Are you guys doing okay?
Richard: Yeah, we are.
Jeff: Great.
Steven: Yes. I’m so happy you’re here. We get to hang out a couple of times a year. We seem to be run into each other at conferences. It’s always a joy. I love Veritus. I’m just going to brag on both of you guys really quick. If you don’t know Jeff and Richard, if you don’t know Veritus Group, check them out.
Richard is the founding partner over there at Veritus Group. He’s got over 40 years of experience helping nonprofits build and really have successful major gift programs and you’re going to see a lot of that knowledge come out here in the presentation. He also does management consulting and leadership development. He’s also worked in mergers and acquisitions, so lots of experience, super smart guy, great guy, just like Jeff also a great guy. He’s got 25 years of experience. He’s the senior partner over at Veritus Group with a lot of strategic fundraising and marketing program experiments and he’s been in your shoes, you listeners along. He’s been a development director at several nonprofits and he worked with Richard I believe when they were at the Domain Group, right?
Jeff: That’s correct.
Steven: Gotten a lot of good results. Yeah. So they’ve been a dynamic duo for a while that’s why I mentioned that and I always love their presentations, love their blog posts, seriously, check out the Veritus Group website afterwards. There’s a lot of really good free resources and articles. They’re one of my favorite blogs and I don’t say that lightly at all. So I’ve already taken up way too much time away from you guys, so why don’t you kick us off and tell us all about donor offers.
Jeff: All right. Thanks so much, Steven. We really appreciate it and welcome everyone to the webinar. We’re really happy that you’re with us. Today we’re going to talk about how to create inspiring and effective donor offers.
Richard: It makes it an important topic because offers are like the key thing that donors need.
Jeff: That’s right. And let’s get right into it because the main objective of a donor offer is really this, “Help the donor make a difference.” You know, donors want to help change the world, they want to make an impact and having an incredible donor offer will ultimately help them do that.
Richard: I think we should say, Jeff, that the main reasons for donor attrition not only donor attrition but value attrition is the donor didn’t know they made a difference.
Jeff: That’s right.
Richard: And that’s why they go away in just alarming rates. So this is an important topic.
Jeff: So how do we do that? Well, first, we’re always trying to match the donor’s interest and passion to the world’s deep hunger your organization is addressing. So that’s number one.
Richard: What do you mean by deep hunger, Jeff?
Jeff: Well, it’s the need. It’s what your mission is all about.
Richard: So every organization has one of those, right, that they’re addressing.
Jeff: Absolutely. And we need to own that and understand what that is because this whole webinar is going to be talking about how to lead that donor to figure out their passion and interest and then build desire around the need. So you’re doing two things at one time. I’m trying to understand the donor and then you’re also understanding the need yourself that your organization is trying to alleviate so that together you’re creating this beautiful offer that they’re going to be inspired to give to.
Richard:And the reason we spent a little time on this whole thing about the deep hunger and what’s your organization addressing, is a lot of major gift people, a lot of fundraisers, don’t precisely and concisely understand what that societal benefit is that the organization is addressing, like, “What is it?” That’s what we’re trying to say.
Jeff:Yeah. The second thing is really to develop real connections and that’s what you’re trying to do. You’re bringing that donor and the need together and we like to say you’re that bridge between the donor and their desire to change the world and all the great things that you’re doing to do just that. So that’s what you’re doing, you’re bringing that donor together through a great donor offer. So before we get into the steps of how do you create that, I want to address one thing, and that is understanding that you’ve got to talk about the need and bring the donor to the need if you’re going to have this great thing happen between the donor and alleviating this great hunger.
So the first thing you want to think of . . . you know when you’re telling stories and you’re sitting around the table and someone says, “Oh, I wish you would have been there.”
Richard:I have done that a million times.
Jeff: Yeah. Everyone knows that, “Oh, if you’re just been there,” and then they go on to tell if they’re a really good storyteller, what happened. And if they are good, you do feel like you’re right there.
Richard: Yeah. And what we always say is, “You have to ask yourself the question is why did someone say, ‘I wish you had been there.'” I mean the main reason they say that is because they sort of have a feeling that they don’t have the words or the pictures or the smells or the sounds to describe what it’s like if you hadn’t been there.
Jeff: Right.
Richard: So that’s why they say that.
Jeff: Right. But if they do it well, you don’t have to do it in person necessarily, you can bring that donor right there to the need through your own beautiful way of telling stories.
Richard: In fact, one of things that we want to communicate in this webinar is that you have to simulate through your words and pictures. You have to simulate as if they had been there.
Jeff: Right.
Richard: So that’s an important point, Jeff. I mean that’s the big point.
Jeff: Yeah. And then we got to drive that in a compelling way. You can’t just, you know, “Well, we need a new building.” Well, that’s not compelling.
Richard: Who cares about that?
Jeff: You got to be able to bring that together with the donor and the need for this building. So another idea talking about taking them about the need, is also making sure we’re taking that donor right to the scene. Either, we’re taking them right to a need physically or we can use video, audio, photos, we got to tell the story in such a way that this donor is right there. And they need to be part of that story.
Now, a lot of folks we run to, Richard, say, “Well, you know, we don’t have starving kids to talk about. It’s just we don’t feel like we have anything emotional to be able to tell.”
Richard: Yeah. We’re a symphony, we’re an educational [community 00:09:47], I mean we’re the local library.
Jeff: Exactly.
Richard: That’s not emotional and compelling like starving kids.
Jeff: Exactly, except every nonprofit no matter what you do you could talk about the need in a compelling way that is the emotional. Here’s an example, so a couple of years ago, an MGO told me this story. He was a major gift officer for a dance company and they were building this brand new recital hall. As they were doing that some land became available next to it.
Richard: So a recital hall.
Jeff:A recital hall.
Richard:That’s kind of boring. People are like, “Well . . . ”
Jeff: Okay, that’s not emotional.
Richard:Why mention that?
Jeff:And they said, we want to build this practice facility to be world class right next to it but we need another $5 million to do this thing. So the MGO was sitting around the table and he’s like, “You know what, I think I know someone that might be able to help out. I know a donor, he’s already given to the first part of this capital campaign. Well, I know this donor’s story and I want to talk to him.”
So he said this, he called up the donor and he said, “Look, I’m going to pick you up and we’re going to take you somewhere and I just want you to trust me. But I think I have something for you that you’ll be inspired about.” The donor is like, “Okay,” because he knew the donor pretty well. So he takes the donor to the empty lot next to where the symphony is going to be built or their dance recital place. And he pops open the trunk and he gets out four wooden stakes.
Richard: I love this part, yeah.
Jeff: And so the donor is like, “Well, this is kind of funny.” So they go out to this deserted empty lot and the MGO puts in four stakes in the ground. The four stakes is where the new practice facility would be going. And then he brought the donor into the middle of that space and he said this, he said, “John, I know about your mom. I know that from the stories that you told about her that she always wanted to be a dancer. She loved dance and she aspired to be a dancer her whole life yet she never was able to do it. She was poor, she didn’t have the means to do that and her family didn’t have the means to send her to lessons or to practice or any of that. And so while she love it she was never able to do it herself.”
And he said this, “What if right here today you have the opportunity to change that for lives all over this community, people who are like your mother back then and wanted to dance but never had a facility that they could do that in?” And the donor just is like, “Yes, I’d love to do that.” He said, “Right here, right now, we are planning this facility and if you could give the money to do this, we would have a first class facility so that anyone no matter what their background . . .
Richard: Or economic conditions.
Jeff: . . . economic, anything, will be able to come here. And he said, “Absolutely, I want to do this.” And he funded the whole thing himself, $5 million just for this practice facility.
Richard: And you were telling me when you told me this story, Jeff, you said that he was pretty emotional about that. I mean that he broke down . . .
Jeff: The MGO was telling the story about his mother and then how he could change almost her life or, you know, redeem her situation by making it possible for other people, it just hit him emotionally. So here’s an example of a building that on the surface doesn’t look like, well, that’s going to be great offer, that’s not going to be a great need, and being able to relate it directly to the donor’s story.
Richard: Yeah. And I have another example of that how fundraiser for a local community choir might answer the question like, what difference this choral music make in our world today? And we went to our concert with some friends of ours that she belongs to that community choir. And one of them sang in this choir and the performance was just incredible. And my wife and I were actually transported to another place through the words and music.
And as I was reading the program notes, where the music director had written one of the pieces of music that was performed in that concert, my eye landed on a powerful and a really moving statement from a person who had personally benefited from the music. And here’s what he said, “That piece of music has been a rock in my sea of grief that I turn to each day to gain strength from and solace from.”
So that statement provided one emotional and persuasive answer to the question, you know, what difference does music make in our world today? So what we’re trying to say is that it doesn’t have to be that every cause has an emotional element to it. I mean these other concert goers we might have said to themselves, well, and when they answered the what difference question, they might say, “It raises my eyes and my spirit from the mundane to the sublime where it pulls me out of the petty into the important,” or “it brings me peace and comfort,” or “it reminds me that there’s nothing to be afraid of.” I mean the list can go on and on so what we’re trying to say in contrast is that the image you see on your screen right now is that in fact every cause has an emotional part to it.
So that first point is, you know, you got to take the donor to the scene and we want to go through this whole process of the commitment process — how a donor thinks. It’s the logical progression from a donor’s point of view and there’s these five steps, awareness, interest, desire, engagement and commitment.
Jeff:And this is all leading to building that perfect offer for that donor that over . . . if you go through this process, at the end of it, you’ll come up with an inspiring offer for them.
Richard: Yeah. So here’s what’s interesting and Jeff and I have been through this a number of times, is people think so I’m just going to go in and make the ask and it’ll be just a done deal because I’ve got a great donor offer. No, you’ve got to build up to the process through awareness and interest and desire, so we’re going to go through this very briefly.
The awareness point, remember Jeff said earlier the donor says, you know, “Why, I had no idea you were doing that.” And actually, the major get the officer of and says, “Well, I didn’t even have any idea we were doing that.”
Jeff: Yeah, or I had no idea why you were so passionate about this or that, yeah.
Richard: So the point is don’t just assume that the donor, but just because you have a good donor’s offer is actually aware of what you’re doing. So you need to know the donor story. You need to get familiar with your programs and then you have to help your donor become aware of the need as it relates to their story. Now, what might be some ways that they maybe come aware? You might send them an email, you might send them a picture, you might mail them a clip out of local newspaper that says, “Well, here’s what they do,” or whatever.
Jeff: Yeah. I mean this is where you can be incredibly creative because now that you understand your donor story and you understand the need and how it matches, there’s so many different ways that you can be creative to bring awareness of the need. I mean it’s just endless and it doesn’t have to cost a lot of money to be creative.
Richard:No. But the point is you’ve got to create awareness and now, we’re making an assumption here that what you’re creating awareness about is that portion of or that part of the need that the donor is really interested in, so it assumes that you’ve identified their interest and passions. Don’t be jumping over that. Right? And that’s a big point.
So awareness is the first point. Then you got to cause interest. Donors have specific interests. And if you’ve uncovered that by listening to their story, then you can start to feed them information related to that area of interest which is then kind of leads them down the track of turning their attention towards you because you have to actually caused it.
One of the main reasons that the donor will not meet with you or talk to you is because you have nothing of interest to share, nothing of interest to them. You might ask something of interest to share because you’re doing meaningful stuff but because it’s not interesting to them, they don’t want to meet with you. Now, if you take that on a personal basis, you can actually see that we’d all just do what we’re interested in and so when you’re asking the question of yourself, “Why won’t this donor meet with me?” or “Why I can’t I get this donor engaged?” it probably has something to do with the fact that there’s not a match between what you’re saying and what they’re interested in.
Third point is you got to create desire. Desire, a strong feeling of wanting to have something or wishing for something to happen. So if you understand the person’s interest and passions. And then you’re giving them information down that track, you’re fueling the desire that they have inside their own spirits.
Jeff: Yeah. And again, you’re doing that over time, building the desire for wanting to alleviate that need.
Richard: Yeah, this is not like we’re doing this Wednesday and at Thursday we expect some kind of response. It’s not going to happen that way. Now, remember this assumes you have the donor offer in mind and you’re leading up to the commitment process. And this is a process that you get to with them. You have a steady stream of touches. If could be an email, it could be a video, it could be an internal memo from your organization, your program person that says, “Well, here’s the situation that’s going on.”
It could be a local, a newspaper article, yeah. You’re just sending these things. “Hey, George, I thought you were interested in this. I know you’re interested in this topic,” and you’re developing a story for the donor and you’re starting to introduce what’s the offer that’s going to bring the donor’s story, and what their journey is, what they’re interested in with the story of the need and you’re bringing that together.
Jeff: Yeah.
Richard: So that’s the fuel desire of portion then you’re starting to engage. When you start to sense alignment with what you’re sending and what you’re talking about to the donor, you’ll see the donor start to turn towards you. And by turning towards you, they’ll start answering the phone. They’ll respond to the email. They’ll want to have an engagement. And remember that during this whole process your sole objective is to serve the donor so that’s kind of where you’re going with that whole strategy.
And then finally, this is the aspect where you gain a commitment, and these commitments are not made casually. They are thoughtful, the donor is now engaged with what you’re saying and what you’re providing. Why? Because they’re interested in it. And their desire has been inflamed and engaged which is why they want to talk to you. This is about aligning their story with the story that they need or the problem.
Jeff:So this is the whole process of leading that donor down that path towards the part where you bring that offer to them. So there’s two parts of this, one is actually crapping the author which we’re going to get into next but the first part is really understanding who the donor is, their passion and interest, why they’re passionate and interested in it, and then leading them through those place so that they’re hearts are open to that.
Richard: Okay.
Jeff: So how does the donor offer work? Well, number one, you’ve got to have a compelling need, all right. So a compelling need can be different for different donors. But it’s got to be compelling. It’s got to want them to do something about that need. Then you’ve got to have a believable solution.
Richard: Now, an emphasis on the word “believable.”
Jeff: Right, because you can have some crazy idea and it wouldn’t actually work, you couldn’t have a budget attached or all those things. That’s unbelievable. You’ve got to have a believable solution that will guide the donor that they will say, “Oh, I see exactly how you want to alleviate this need and this is how I’m going to fit into that.”
Richard: Exactly.
Jeff: That will cause then the donor to want to adopt that overall offer to [inaudible 00:23:29]
Richard: I mean if you just check yourself and what you’re trying to present to a donor, you have got to ask yourself a question, do I have compelling need? Do I have compelling need? And this could be on any subject so it doesn’t matter what your cause is. Is it compelling to the donor that’s interested in supporting your organization? Now that donor might not be interested in something that I have to offer them because I have a different thing I’m offering. Is it compelling, and then is this solution believable and doable in the donor adoption?
Jeff: All right, let’s first talk about it. So with this offer, developing this offer, first thing you have to realize is that you’re trying to address a problem, some problem that you want the donor to solve, so you want to ID and define what that problem is, and then find a story that illustrates the problem and focus on the problem not the process to alleviate it.
A lot of times we see nonprofits skirting over the problem or the need because it’s uncomfortable. They don’t want to talk about it. And so they talk about process and how to they’re going to solve it. And that’s not necessarily how you need to go about it. Donors want to solve the problem.
Richard: But like for instance, in the city I live in, I was having dinner the other night with the leader of a local homeless shelter. And I said, “Well, what do you do?” And “Well, we deal with the homeless.” I said, “Well, that’s a pretty tough situation.” And so then I said, “Well, so what’s the problem? How would you describe what the problem is?” Well, the person got into describing a solution and the process not the problem.
And do you remember that the conference we went to in Portland, Maine where there was a woman that was there who was describing . . . she was trying to construct the donor offer. And it was about the subject of homelessness and I’ll never forget she was describing it and she got all emotional. Now, remember, Jeff, you interrupted and you said, “So Ann, look, what is it? Why are you feeling that emotion?”
Jeff: Yeah. And I said, “Was it possible that some point you also were homeless?” And she just broke down and said, “Yeah. That was my story.”
Richard: Right. She was living in her car and Jeff makes a big point here that we often are not talking about the problem. We’re not talking about the problem. We’re talking about everything else that the organization does.
Jeff: And with that, next comes talking about that problem in an emotional way. That’s another huge barrier we often see nonprofits trying to skirt over. We don’t want to talk about in an emotional way that will take the donor and break their heart. So when you’re crafting an offer, we need to write about it in a human and emotional terms and then fix on the need that keeps the heart engaged, need, emotion, engaging the heart.
So we’ve always thought a cold heart in fundraising is a major block to success. You’ve got to keep your own heart warm and stay close to the need all the time. So even as a major gift officer, we’re always saying you need to be in that need and understand it and feel it and have your own emotion around that need because if you’re conveying that to a donor, they will see right through you if you don’t have it yourself.
Richard: Yeah. And we’re not, let’s be clear about this, we’re talking about a warm heart on any type of subject. It could be something related to the environment, it could be education, it could be a religious cause, it could be community choir. It doesn’t have to be about homelessness, social needs, international problems like hunger or medical kind of things so like Ebola or anything like that where you see more dramatic images and you hear stories. It can be something very simple as we have explained earlier. But if your heart is not engaged, if your heart is not engaged, you will then overtime have a cold heart which means you’re not going to be effective.
Jeff: And remember that whole series of how you lead that donor to a finalized commitment, you’re feeling desire and this is where emotion during that period will really come into play. So the next slide here, we have an actual video we want to share with you that’s going to convey the emotion that while you’re fueling the desire for the donor over time, you’re going to be able to send things to them that are going to cause them to want to open up their hearts. And here’s an example that we have found where, you know, on the surface we’re talking about a research hospital but this is beautifully done how they’re use emotion to connect with the donor.
Richard: And this is about the best quality we can do on this but when you get the actual presentation, you’ll have a lot better quality, so hang on with this.
Woman 1: New knowledge can change everything, a single life, an entire community, the future as we know it. That knowledge starts here at the Medical College of Wisconsin. Where MCW teams, spark the ideas that inspire the research, driving the discoveries, which lead to the treatments that will eventually change everything. What we do at MCW today, rewrites someone’s tomorrow. The Medical College of Wisconsin, knowledge changing life.
Richard: Now that’s emotional.
Jeff: It’s such a great video because here they were able to send this out to donors who they were trying to get excited about funding the research facility. And getting this helped fuel that desire in those donors over time because what they did was they took a facility and brought it back down to living, breathing human beings and how it could change their life and they, just by watching it, you want to be able to help do something so that you can actually make that happen.
Richard: I know, with all that bricks and mortar and technical stuff and all that and it all kind of comes down to that little baby at the end.
Jeff: That’s right.
Richard: Which is like, “Oh, my god.”
Jeff:So an offer really needs to be able to break the donor’s heart so that when you write it and read it and you feel, they feel it.
Richard: You’ve been to the scene.
Jeff: You’ve been to the scene, so when you’re, you know, again, that offer you’re wanting that donor to fund something to change the world. You’re going to know that people want to get from their emotions, it doesn’t matter if they’re a major donor or any type of a donor. They give through their own emotions and also if your heart isn’t broken, you’re not going to be able to break the heart of your donor. It’s absolutely essential that you’re feeling this as well because your bringing this to the donor so any offer should be able to break your donor’s heart and you heart at the same time.
Richard: Now, why don’t you introduce it while I’m getting this setup, this next story here, so that…
Jeff: So we have another video I want to show that really does, it takes storytelling, so it’s building desire, but this is going to another level of showing the need and the also at the end soliciting for that. So here’s an example.
Woman 2: They said he would be about an hour in the MRI, and then the hour went by and then two and then three, and I knew that something was wrong. He says, “I’m sorry to tell you Anthony has a brain tumor.” And it was like my entire world stopped.
Leanne: So I was placed one day on the transplant list which basically means that I only had a week or so to live.
Quincy: The doctor came in and said we found a mass that looks like osteosarcoma.
Man 2: You have to pretty much muster all you have to watch your child go through something like this.
Dennis: Make-A-Wish grants the wish of a child that has basically been denied the opportunity to simply be a kid. There’s an organization out there that will just for a brief period of time stop that hideous world of despair and it’s Make-A-Wish.
Man 3: It’s just been an incredibly wonderful organization and I’m just so grateful for what they did for me and for our family.
Woman 2: This foundation goes above and beyond, a gift that they gave to our family, words just cannot even describe what I saw it do for my child.
Woman 4: This is all I can say is this is humanity at its best.
Dennis: Today, we are celebrating the granting of our 6,000th wish. Each and every wish is a rewarding experience.
Quincy: I’m the 6,000th wish of this chapter and it just feels like an honor.
Dennis: Let me tell you what an extraordinary human being Quincy is, just an extraordinary person, extraordinary family, and really kind of encompass the spirit that surrounds Make-A-Wish on a daily basis.
Quincy: At first I didn’t want a wish. I feel like I had everything in life that I wanted.
Woman 4: He said, “You know what, let’s just give it away or maybe I can give something back to the hospital.”
Quincy: Make-a-Wish makes so many dreams come true and I just wanted to use my wish to give back to the hospital. My wish was to get some more comfortable chairs for [visitor rooms 00:35:33] on my unit, you know, the kids that are going through the same thing now. I know what they’re going through, go to chemo is already hard enough but at least be comfortable doing it.
Dennis: Now, here’s a young man that could have done anything. He chose to give back.
Woman 2: They granted his greatest wish to go to Alaska but my greatest wish was to see him alive again and that’s something you can really never repay somebody for.
Anthony: They really helped me. I didn’t think I could have that much fun in my lifetime ever.
Woman 2: Very cool.
Leanne: I knew that there was something that I had to look forward to, that I knew in a couple of months that I would be normal again.
Man 4: So we go to the top and just, you know, give a big hug to each other because 10 months before Leanne was in the hospital bed. I didn’t know if she’s going to be alive and here she was through the generosity of Make-A-Wish Foundation, I mean that’s something I’ll never forget.
Woman 4: Enriching the lives of not just one, not just the sick child, but it ripples, right?
Man 2: You don’t receive until you give. You can want all you want but until you give, you don’t receive.
Dennis: Of all those 6,000 wishes, today is going to be the best and most creative wish we’ve ever done. It just so happen it’s the next one.
Man 4: From the bottom of our hearts, I thank Make-A-Wish for what they did for our family.
Jeff: Wow, I mean, I have seen that video personally many, many times but every time it just grabs me.
Richard: It’s so emotional.
Jeff: What they’ve done here so beautifully is shown the need, told three stories here, and then talked about what is left, what still needs to happen so that anyone watching this that has the ability to is just compelled to want to give and change the story of sick kids. And this is what we all need to do when we’re crafting our offers for our donors. It needs to do just that, tug at our heart and make it so compelling that they just have to act.
Richard: So just to continue just on right here talk a little bit more about the offer. It includes the cause of the need, you know, why is there a problem, you have to answer that and then you have to sit with the program and find out why is that in case someone has . . . like the donor might ask, “Well, what are you actually doing and why are you doing that?” We’re putting here the emotion is what sells it but the information actually tells and there’s some donors that want to know “Well, why is this situation occurring?” We’re not saying you should lead with that but you’re actually have to understand it yourself. So sit with the program to find out what that is all about. So the offer includes the cause of the need and it also includes the consequences. What’s going to happen if the need is not met?
Jeff: That’s a huge motivator.
Richard: Yeah, the consequences.
Jeff: Boy, if we don’t do something this bad stuff is going to happen.
Richard: Exactly.
Jeff: You know, if we don’t reach out to these kids, these 400 kids, they’re not going to have a life changing experience. And, you know, as they’re sick, so let’s try to make that happen.
Richard: And in many of these cases these kids were actually, they had experienced healing and survives what their situation is so there’s that whole medical research that is happening behind it. But no matter what your cause is what difference does your organization actually make in society? Like if you didn’t exist what would be the consequences? You have to be in touch with that as well. The offer also includes facts and figures. They want to hear the facts and statistics.
Jeff: You got to have a budget.
Richard: You got to have a budget, how much is it going to cost, but just remember why you’re playing with all of that and you’re including that in your donor offer, that it is the emotional impact of you offer that actually compels the donor to give.
Jeff: That’s right.
Richard:So that’s the important fact. Now, there’s four ways to tell if a donor offer is good.
Jeff: Okay.
Richard: Is it forceful?
Jeff: Right.
Richard: So when you have a donor offer you’re going to present that to a donor. You have to ask yourself a question. Is there a strong case here for action? Secondly, does it demand attention? Does it draw you in? Does it attract your interest?
Jeff: Right.
Richard: Now, if you read the donor offer you’re going to present next week to some donor or next month or just before the year end, you want to ask yourself these questions, does it draw the donor in? Does it attract their attention? Is it compelling? Is it convincing? Is it believable? Is the need really true and believable? Is the solution believable? Does it make you want to do something about it? And then lastly, is it irresistible? The donor, they just can’t avoid taking action. So these are the four things that . . .
Jeff: Wait now, I think there’s one more. I think we should have a fifth one and that a donor offer is not going to be good unless it’s connected to that donor’s interest and passion.
Richard: Exactly.
Jeff: So you can have a great need and craft a great offer that’s very emotional but if you’re not talking to the right donor that’s matched with their passion and interest, it’s not going to happen.
Richard: It’s not going to happen.
Jeff: So it’s got to have that part to it.
Richard: And so if you put like at the top, five ways to tell if a donor offer is good, that the first one would be does it match the donor’s passions and interests.
Jeff: Right.
Richard: Then is it forceful?
Jeff: Yeah.
Richard: Then does it demand attention? And then is it convincing and irresistible? So when you get a copy of these slides which you’re going to get because Steven has said that that’s what’s going to happen.
Jeff:We believe him.
Richard:We believe him, then please, before you present anything to a donor ask yourself those five things and Jeff has added the fifth one. First of all, does it match the donor’s passions and interests? And then secondly, is it forceful? Thirdly, does it demand attention? Is it convincing? This part of being convincing you should see the number of times we’ve listed the donor offers that people have constructed and they say, “Well, here’s what the need is.” And I will say, “Well, is that actually true?” I mean it’s not really believable because it’s not been constructed in the way that you actually feel like when you hear it that it’s true and believable and solution is believable.
Jeff: Yeah.
Richard: And then finally, is it irresistible? So that sort of sums up the whole donor offer thing.
Jeff: Yeah. So I want to give you some free stuff. First of all, you can go to our blog. We have a number of free whitepapers for you that you can upload and take with you. We even got a marketing impact chart for you. That’s how you can plan for your donors and how to fuel that desire over time so you can plan for that. We also have a blog that we do called “The Passionate Giving Blog.” You could sign up for that. We do it three times a week. And it’s all about major gifts and how you can be a better with donors.
So there’s all kinds of resources. We have a book out there, “It’s Not Just About the Money,” on Amazon that will also lead you through how to build major gift programs. And we have our Major Gift Academy.
Richard: That’s massive.
Jeff: Online training program for executives and MGOs, all about major gifts.
Richard: Very detailed, very comprehensive, so if we can help out with that, just feel free to contract us or write us and we’ll be glad to help out. Now, Steven, we’ve allowed a fair amount of time here to answer any questions or to have some engagement with anybody that’s on the webinar today.
Jeff: Yeah.
Steven: Yeah, let’s do it. But first, I just want to thank both of you guys for that great information, great presentation, great takeaways too. I love your four steps. That was really fun, so thanks for being here and thanks to all of you for being here, you know, I know it’s a busy time of year, you know, a week before, maybe your last push for a year end, we got holidays, of course. So, yeah, let’s do some questions. I think we’ve got some questions that have already come in and if you haven’t typed your question in, now is the time because obviously we got two experts here probably. We’ve got time for maybe 10 or 11 minutes.
Here’s one from Cindy. Here’s your take, Richard and Jeff, how can you convince your board or maybe your leadership or your boss to do these kinds of things, and it obviously takes time, Cindy pointed out that these things that they’re kind of an investment. It takes time and maybe the boss wants something to kind of happen really fast, right? How do you get buy-in for these kinds of things that you’ve recommended today, in general? I guess is a good place to start.
Richard: Well, what’s funny about that whole thing is we always say like when someone says, “Well, can we have the money by next Monday?” We say, “Well, is that how you develop relationships, Paul? I mean, really? Your relationships develop some depth and trust like in just like over the weekend? Is that how it happens?” Well, no, it really doesn’t. It takes time to develop relationships. And we basically try to talk to the person with reality about the relationships take a lot of time.
Jeff: Yeah. I mean major gifts is a long-term strategy because it’s all around building relationships with donors. And that’s where nonprofit leaders that we’ve run into all the time don’t get. And part of our work is educating nonprofit leaders around major gifts, understanding that it does take time. But in the very end, very end, it’s going to be where most of your net revenue is going to come from because major gifts is all about building net revenue for the organization and the programs. But it’s not going to happen overnight. It takes anywhere from 18 to 24 months to really build that up.
Steven: Yeah. Along the same lines, here’s one from my buddy, Josh. He’s wondering, you know, what are those steps that it takes 18 to 24 months, you know, with the ask being maybe the last step or near to last step. What do you guys think as MGO consultants, if that’s the right word, what are the steps along the way that people should be looking for? Is it meetings? Is there any milestones? What do you think?
Jeff: Yeah. It’s a whole process. We were really big into structure and having a structure from your major gift program is the key to success and that structure really quickly starts with, first, having qualified donors in your case load. Meaning that you’ve actually figured out do these donors want relationship. So you now have a portfolio of donors that want a relationship with you, it’s so much easier to reach out and relate to them and get them engaged because you know that these donors want to be a part of something deeper with your organization.
Richard: Well, and here’s a surprising thing is that not every donor that actually gives you money wants to relate to you in a more personal way. In fact, two-thirds of them do not want to relate to you.
Jeff: Yeah.

Richard: So what we find in many case loads or portfolios of major gift officers around the country is they’re wasting two-thirds of their time with people who do not want to talk to them.
Jeff: Right.
Richard: So you have to have a qualified donor, that’s the first step.
Jeff: The first step and when you don’t do that that’s when you see all kinds of problems, Steven, in major gift portfolios because the MGOs are so frustrated because they can never get a meeting. They’re always asking on “What can I do to entice someone to say hello to me.” Well, you got to go through a process and we have a whitepaper on this, if you want to go through it, seven-step process to figure out do these donors actually want a relationship.
And then with that, once they’re in a portfolio you want to tier those donors so you can focus on your time correctly on the right donors who are giving the most money. And then you’re creating the revenue goal for every donor and a strategic plan for every donor. And that’s the key because if you have a plan for every donor planned out for the next 12 months, touch points along the way, you’re building that desire that we talked about. You’re fueling the desire over time.
Richard: But the plan is based on their passions and interests not on what you think that has to happen. So that’s another key going. Oftentimes, we see plans that are developed that are just basically…well, here’s what I think I got to do with Ann and Bill. Well, no, that’s not what you think. It need to be based on their passions and interests.
Jeff: That’s right. Right. And then with that the final part piece of that is that the major gift officer has a system of built-in accountability that you know they’ve got all these plans but they need someone along the way to say, “Are you following that plan? Are you sticking with it? Are you focused?” Because we find often that they’re not. And so that structure, that’s the bones of everything, to be successful.
Richard: So I noticed on the chat room or the chat here that one person asked, you know, what medium should you use for the first contact? Is it email or is it phone or in person?” Well, that’s one of the key points we want you to identify for every donor. What’s their passion and interest and what’s their communication preference? Not everybody wants to meet so they might say, “Well, I’d be glad to talk to you on the phone.” Or “I’m an email person.” Or whatever.
Jeff: Yup, and this . . .
Richard: It’s important to identify those things and remember that’s all a donor-driven strategy.
Jeff: Well, typically, to answer her question directly what we do is the first step in qualifying is sending out a letter to a donor. Identifying who the major gift officer is, that they’re there to be of service to them, to thank them for their gifts, and that they’re going to follow-up with them. And so the next step is trying to make a phone call and then there’s like seven different ways of trying to engage that donor that over that period of time you’ll know if that donor wants to engage or not.
Richard: And who they want to engage.
Jeff: Yes.
Steven: That makes sense. Here’s one from Deb but I’m betting that Deb isn’t the only person listening who maybe feels this way. Deb works for a service organization that helps raise awareness for another member organization. So maybe they’re struggling with maybe crafting those stories and trying to create something that’s very kind of emotional and tugs at the heart strings and those kinds of things. What would you say to people like Deb when they’re trying to maybe craft that story in terms of an angle or an approach they should take to talk about the work that they do.
Jeff: Well, I’m assuming, Steven, it’s just a correct assumption that those member organizations all do the same thing? I mean it represents the same kind of cause?
Steven: It might, not quite sure from what she just said but it’s possible. Deb, if you’re still there, let us know.
Richard: Yeah, because it would seem to me that…so let’s answer if that was true and let’s answer this if it wasn’t. If it is true, then you would take the cause of the societal problem that those member organizations are addressing and talk about that. If it’s not true, if there’s some other reasons they’re all to get it but they represent different things related to different solutions, related to different societal problems, then you would feature a societal problem of one of the member organizations and the next time another societal problem.
Jeff: You might, for example, we work a lot with United Way and they do a lot of indirect, they are raising funds for a number of different organizations and one of the ways that their major gift officers work is that they’ll create relationships with those member organizations that are part of the United Way umbrella and take the donor right there to the scene, you know, in their local committee.
Richard:When it matches.
Jeff:Yeah, if it matches.
Richard: When it matches, yeah. In fact, that’s actually a good example, the United Way, because we do a lot of work with them. In fact, we operate their whole major gift training for United Way worldwide that is specific to United Way. And there’s an example of that they have like three big categories of work that they do and then there’s a bunch of subcategories and depending on what the donors’ interests and passions are you feature that. So you would feature the main cause of the member organization and rotate that around as you’re building awareness is how I would do it.
Steven: Yeah, cool. Great, and, Deb, you might want to follow up with these guys via email. It was hard to kind of encapsulate exactly what’s going on. So you guys shared a couple of videos. Videos are great a medium. Obviously, that was kind of my first gig in fundraising actually, so I love fundraising videos.
What’s kind of the application there? Is that something that maybe you would bring with you to a meeting or if you had someone come to you, show them a video? Should that be emailed? Is there no right or wrong answer? What do you think is the actual applications of how the video is used?
Jeff: Yeah. There really isn’t a wrong answer there. I mean it could be a simple email and some of these videos can be very simple as using your own iPhone. You’re right there at the need. You’re videoing something and you send it either text or through email to a donor. Or it could be, as you said, actually in the meeting with the donor and say, “Hey, I want you to see this.”
Richard: You pull out an iPad?
Jeff: Yeah.
Richard: And you show it to them.
Jeff: And show it to them.
Richard: You show them on your phone.
Jeff: Or it’s not a video but it’s your own storytelling or you bring someone from your program to come in and talk about it firsthand to a donor. Those are always to bring the need to the donor.
Richard: But the specific question here is if you do a video, when is it appropriate to do it and I don’t think there’s any rules.
Jeff: No.
Richard: And in fact, the production or like these two videos we just showed have clearly high production value and quality but we had some clients where the person just gets on an iPhone and says, and it’s almost like FaceTime and they’re saying, “All right, here I am at X location and I just want you to see this.” And they turn it around and they’re showing some things and it’s rough and it’s jiggly and it’s powerful, powerful, powerful stuff. So I would do all of that kind of thing.
Steven: Yeah. I’m glad you said that. I’m a big fan of the kinds of raw video in addition to the very polished pieces to it and there’s room for both for sure. Wow, this is great. I feel like the three of us could probably talk about the stuff all day.
Richard: We could go all day.
Steven: But we’re going…I know, and we have. We have talked about this stuff for a long time in person which is great. But we’re getting close to 2:00 so I thought maybe I’d give you guys the last word. Where can people get a hold of you, more about Major Gift Academy, what’s the best way for people to reach out?
Jeff: Yeah. well, you could see on our screen. Go look at We have our full 2019 course list there. So you can see what we’re doing.
Richard: It’s very comprehensive.
Jeff: It’s an amazing array of courses of if you want some greater help, ongoing consulting, we work right now with over 40 organizations all over the United States and then UK and Canada and we’re working with over 230 major gift officers right now helping them every day to be successful. And so if that’s something you might be interested in, give me a call, email me, and we’ll talk about how we could help. We do a free major gift donor assessment. We look at your data and we can look at how well your file is producing and what areas of opportunities there are for you and we even do a five-year revenue forecast based on your current donor assets of what we believe is possible with your own files, so all kinds of great things we could with you.
Steven: Awesome. Yeah. Definitely reach out to these guys, check out the Veritus Group website, like I said one of my favorite blogs, really good stuff on there. Richard, Jeff, this was awesome. Thanks for being our final guests of the year. This is really a good way to finish up the year. This is fun.
Richard: Great, thanks you, Steven.
Jeff: So much appreciated.
Steven: And thanks to all of you for hanging out. Like I said almost the last week of the year, really awesome to have a couple of hundred people here with us, that was really fun for me to see. So thanks for taking the time. Check out our website as well. We are off next week since it’s a holiday week. I hope you don’t mind but we’re going to come roaring back the second full week of January, January 10th, so about three weeks from today, I believe, if my arithmetic is correct. Effective website copyist maybe you’re struggling with the text on your website, maybe doing all the kinds of things that we’ve heard about today, telling those stories and making it heartfelt.
Your website can be heartfelt too, so join us, we got Andrew Buck, experienced copywriter. This can be a fun session, not a topic that we cover a lot either so I’m excited about it. So check that out. Hopefully, we will see you next year. Check out our webinar page, we’ve got the schedule I think it’s through April already so there’s lots of other sessions that you can checkout and register for. And hopefully, we’ll see you again in 2019. So have a good rest of your day, hopefully the year finishes out strong for you, hope it does. My best wishes and happy holidays to all of you and we will 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.