In this webinar, Lori L. Jacobwith will show you how to reduce “talking about money” discomfort and show you how to powerfully include your money story in your fundraising communication.


Full Transcript:

Steven: All right, Lori, my watch just struck 1:00 here on the East Coast. Is it okay if I go ahead and kick us off officially?

Lori: Perfect.

Steven: All right, cool. Well, good afternoon, everyone, if you are on the East Coast, and good morning, I should say, if you’re on the West Coast or somewhere in between. Thanks for joining us for today’s Bloomerang webinar, “What is Our Money Story? And How Do We Tell It?” And my name is Steven Shattuck, and I am 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 begin. Just want to let you all know that we are recording this session, and I’ll be sending out the recording, as well as the slides, in case you didn’t already get those. So don’t be afraid to log off early if you need to, if you’ve got a meeting or an appointment, or if you just want to review the content later on or share it with a colleague, you’ll be able to do that. Just look for an email from me within the next day or so. I’ll get all that good stuff in your hands, I promise. And if I don’t get it to you, just email me and I’ll be happy to respond, no problem.

And as you’re listening today, please feel free to use the chat box right there on your webinar screen. I know a lot of you already have. That’s great. We love these webinars to be interactive. So don’t be shy. Don’t sit on those hands. Send your questions and comments the whole hour or so. Both Lori and I will see those, and we’re going to try to just save as much time as we can towards the end for questions.

You can do that on Twitter, as well. You can use the hashtag #Bloomerang or send us a tweet directly @BloomerangTech. I’ll keep an eye on the Twitter feed, for sure.

And if you have any trouble with the audio through your computer, be sure to try the phone if you can, if you don’t mind doing that, if you don’t think it’ll bother a coworker, if you have a phone nearby. We find that the audio by phone is usually a lot better than the web audio. You can get the phone number from the email from ReadyTalk that went out around noon Eastern today, about an hour or so ago. So try that before you totally give up on us.

Now, if it is your first Bloomerang webinar, I just want to say an extra special welcome to you folks. We do these webinars almost every single Thursday. We literally only miss a couple Thursdays out of the year. It’s one of our favorite things we do here at Bloomerang. We’ve got a great guest like Lori every week, although usually not as good as Lori, as you’re going to see here in a minute.

But if you’re not already following Bloomerang, we are a provider of donor management software. So if you’re interested in that and you want to check that out, maybe you’re thinking about switching sometime in the future, check out our website. You can watch a video demo. You can see the software in action. Don’t even have to talk to a salesperson if you don’t want to. [inaudible 00:02:36] So check out that later on. Don’t do that now, because you guys are in for a great presentation.

And if you logged in last week, you knew that this webinar was going to be tentative because I had a baby due today, but luckily she came on Sunday, so that’s why you’re here. So here’s my baby. Lori said I could do this, so there’s my gratuitous newborn shots, so . . .

Lori: Absolutely. Tell her pretty, pretty name.

Steven: All right. That’s Maisie. Yeah, little Maisie. Born on Sunday. So we’re all good. That is why we have Lori here with us. I’m so excited that we didn’t have to cancel this webinar, because I think, like, 1400 people signed up for this webinar, and we’ve already got about 300 logged in, and you guys are in for a real treat.

So Lori, thank you for being here. How’s it going?

Lori: Doing well, though I can’t, I don’t have anything to brag about as big as having a baby.

Steven: Well . . .

Lori: I am just so impressed that you’re in the office for an hour or two today.

Steven: Oh, no problem.

Lori: And as you said to me earlier offline, that your wife could literally have done cartwheels as she was leaving. I think that might be a little exaggeration. But congratulations to you and your family.

Steven: Thanks. Well, thank you. I appreciate it. Yeah, she’s at home watching “Downton Abbey” right now, so she is totally fine, so no problem being here. And even though you don’t have something to brag about, I am going to brag on you, Lori, because you’re awesome. You’re one of our favorites. If you guys don’t know Lori, you’ve got to follow her. You’ve got to follow her blog, follow her on Twitter. Look for her on conference schedules. I’ve seen Lori present in person multiple times, and you’re all in for a real good treat here today.

If you don’t know Lori, she is a master storyteller, which is why she’s here to talk about storytelling. It’s going to be great. And she’s also a fundraising culture change expert, and you’re going to see what that means here over the next hour or so today. She’s got over 30 years of experience. She’s raised hundreds of millions of dollars for the organizations that she’s worked with.

Also a prolific author. She wrote a great book “Nine Steps to a Successful Fundraising Campaign,” and she was a co-author of “The Essential Fundraising Handbook for Small Nonprofits.” Check those books out, for sure. They’re on her website.

She’s a long-time AFP member, great friend of Bloomerang’s, for sure, and I have already taken up way too much of your time, Lori, so I’m going to hand it off to you to tell us all about that money story. So take it away, my friend.

Lori: Well, thank you, thank you, just to you for all that you do to make sure that nonprofits get to do their work, and they do it well. I love Bloomerang, and I recommend, highly recommend. If you don’t use it, check it out and make sure that you have a good system to capture donor information and institutional memory.

And thanks for everybody around the country, really literally around the world, I think, for being here. Whatever you’re doing, I appreciate that you wanted to learn a little bit more. I know that it takes something to clear your schedules, whether you’re listening to us live or a recorded version later. I applaud people who take the time to sit, pause, and reflect, and then learn something new.

To download the slides from today, and Steven will share this link to the page where you can download the slides also, I’m sure, in the follow-up email. This is a link, and what that means, links are case-sensitive, and they also have to have this B-I-T-dot-L-Y before it. So you want to be sure that, if you are looking to download the slides, and then I’ve got a worksheet for you, as well, you type it in just the way it is on the screen.

As Steven said, I speak a lot. Sometimes in our house, my spouse says, “Lori, too many words.” You know, you’d think after training and coaching all day, I wouldn’t have so much to say at the end of the day, but Mark will often say just, you know, tell me a few less words about what you did.

I do love what I get to do, and that is to coach and train and catalyze, really, ignite, if you will, organizations to change how they communicate so that people want to give more. And yesterday, I just finished the update to the “Nine Steps to a Successful Fundraising Campaign,” so right now there’s a free version on the homepage of my website that you can download. That will go away, because we’ve added some great content to it, so download it if you’re up for learning what are the, you know, some of the nine overall things you can do to have a good fundraising effort at your organization.

I have lots of mentors, as you probably do, too, Steven. I am a big fan of Seth Godin, who is a prolific author, very funny guy, and just a marketing guru. He makes sure to cut through the clutter of what it is, what it takes for people to get their message across.

And then there’s Lynne Twist, as you can see on the right side of the page here. She wrote a book called “The Soul of Money,” and that book came out in 2009 or ’10, and a new version of it came out last year. She updated it. You know, things change over the course of 20 years or so. I will quote her in this session, and she, that book is a great gift for board members, for your major donors, and for your team, even, to read.

There’s the link again. It is MoneyStoryBloomerang, but it is a capital M, capital S, and a capital B, with the B-I-T-dot-L-Y-slash before it.

What I have for you today is what is success, just a reminder of what it takes to be successful in our sector. We’ll talk a little bit about what your money story is, what some, what is a mission moment in a money story and how do we combine those, and then I’ve got some other resources for you. I’ve got a checklist for you to follow up on and a planning document. And then now I’ll ask you to share with us some next steps.

I’ve been in the trenches. I’ve been a trainer. You know, so I’ve been executive director, development director, both in Minnesota and Phoenix, Arizona. But what I like to say is my work has always been about helping organizations just communicate a little more clearly so people stay giving, so they do exactly what we want them to, and who doesn’t need more money, right?

Now, this is no surprise to those of you who are on regular Bloomerang webinars. Donor retention is not very high in our country. Less than 50% of donors stick around every year. First-time donor retention is 23%. Donor retention if I’ve given another gift is around 60%.

If you ask those donors why are they leaving, it has something to do with communication. You don’t ask enough. You ask too often. You have a new CEO. I don’t know what their vision is. I don’t know what you use the money for. You sent me three appeals and my name is spelled wrong. I can’t find the donate page on your website. It’s all about communication.

So the thing that I say that’s really simple. When you want to have success, you want to think about what are you saying, where are you saying it, and how are you causing people to feel when you communicate with them?

And I often get asked, is there a special system or a formula to raise more money? And there is. I have been doing this work for more than 30 years, and the most important thing I say to folks is to keep things as simple as possible.

But I’ve found that there’s three things in what I call the formula to exceed goals, and that is to educate your donors about the impact of their previous gift. If we don’t talk to them in that void of time between when they give one gift and when we ask again, they go away or they lose interest or they just, they’ll give less the next time.

The second thing is to highlight the life of one person whose life is different because of your work. And there is research done from a number of different sources that talk about the fact that we only can talk about one person at a time for our brains to really understand. So, and to connect emotionally. And if you’re telling me that you have 200 people on a waiting list or you serve 30,000 people, you still want to tell me about one person.

And if you are an environmental organization or you’re an advocacy organization or you’re just a humane society, I still want you to tell me about one person and how they feel because of the law you passed, the pet that they took home, the water that’s clean.

And then the third part of the formula is to regularly share your money story. So I’ll talk a bit more about, in just a moment about what your money story is, but I want you to think about this. And this is a great quote from Lynne about what she believes fundraising is.

So fundraising, in her mind, is the privilege of facilitating the reallocation of the world’s financial resources away from fear and towards that which we love. I love how powerful that statement is, and I really appreciate that we are doing something that is honorable and can be exciting. Yes, there’s overwhelm and long to-do lists, but we get to help even out the odds for the world, really.

So making sure that you know what your money story is is key. I’m going to tell you my definition of it in a moment. But first before we talk about money story, what I want to do is just a quick poll. And the quick poll question is how comfortable are you talking with others about giving money? So if you want to go ahead and choose one of the three answers here, great, okay, or not good. So how comfortable are you? Great, okay, or not good? In talking to others about money.

All right, so I’m going to let it go for another second or two here. Keep going. Now’s your time to vote, folks. It looks like many of you, 60-some percent, are okay, and I love that. And if you add that with the nearly 20% who are great, we just have a few folks who are not good, and maybe it’s that we really feel like we’re doing something that is not respectable. We feel like we’re begging for money.

The truth is what we’re doing then if we feel like we’re begging is we’re giving money the power, and we’re actually forgetting to give our mission the power. So what I mean by that is our mission, the work that we do, is incredibly effective, important. You do some things really well.

And people who run successful businesses, they do some things really well, and a lot of it is about making a profit. So invite those folks to partner with you to do what they do well, make a profit, and what you do well, to transform lives or keep the rivers clean or to help the frail elderly in their community.

Sometimes we focus on what Lynne calls the toxic myths of scarcity when we think about money. We realize, and every day we can come in and see there’s not enough, more is better, and that’s just the way it is. Those other organizations are going to raise more, they’re going to have more. Why I know this to be true is you can find evidence for anything you look for.

So if you actually put your donors in front of you in lines of how passionate they are, how tall they are, where they live, you’d have tons of people, and the question then is how well are you communicating with them about what it takes to do your work?

Sometimes the word choices we make can create a culture that is not a philanthropy culture. It’s a culture of fear. It’s a culture of frustration. And it truly can change the numbers of people that stay in touch with you and engage with you, and it changes absolutely the number of people who give to you and what size gifts they give.

So I like to steer people away from utilitarian language. Donate, help us, please give, please give, please give. Those are words that can be really feeling begging. They don’t keep me in mind as the donor, and they don’t create a vision for the future.

So I like words like invest. Let me show you who your gift will make a difference for so you can actually see your impact and put a face to it. And let folks know that you’re looking for long-term partners.

Back to donor retention for a moment. If you don’t know already, this is important. Focus on monthly donors. Donor retention of someone who is a monthly donor is 90%. That’s much higher than the about 50 to 60% of someone who’s given for a year or two a couple of years in a row.

The other thing that we do, and this is kind of a self-thing that we do. We focus on what I call scarcity communication. We don’t even realize how many times we say how hard it is to raise money or that there’s donor fatigue out there in the world or your board won’t do that or they can’t do what I’m asking. They’re just, there’s not enough time or there’s not enough hours in the day. We don’t have enough staff.

All of that to be said, when you change that language, even in your money story, you can inspire possibility, which is what people are looking for when they give to you. Fundraising is about fulfilling the aspirations of our supporters. So if we talk about the fact that we’re really learning how to tell our story better. In fact, we’re learning to tell our money story better so we can inspire you. And together, what if we could end homelessness? What would it look like and what would it take? And so let folks know you’re looking for those very right people, those long-term partners.

The reality is there’s a whole bunch of different money stories in your organization. You’ve got the donor money story or, you know, the major gift supporter, the corporation or foundation, that money story. And then we’ve got the worrisome money stories, and sometimes they come from our board, sometimes from our finance committee or staff, our executive director, our data person, our program staff who begs you to find more money.

So then if there are these multiple money stories flying around your organization, how do you find one that we can get our arms around and get people excited about? And I say there’s actually a one single money story that you could all agree on and not have to do a whole bunch of research. You just have to ask yourself a few questions and really focus on where it is that you are today and where do you want to be. Do you want to make sure that you’re saying yes more? Do you want to be able to advocate for more folks? Do you want to be able to provide legal aid to more folks or scholarship to more students?

I was talking to someone from Girls on the Run yesterday, and she wants to be able to start some camp for the folks in her community, the girls in her community who can’t get to a run and participate in their program at the same level.

So what’s happening when you’re talking about where you are today and where you want to be? And the truth is there is a gap in here. We don’t have everything it takes, right? So I like you to know what that gap is. Paying attention to the gap, just like they do in the UK when you’re jumping on the train, mind the gap. Know what it is so you can talk about it in a way that doesn’t feel so asky.

So here’s my definition of your money story. It’s the gap between where you are today and reaching your annual fundraising goal plus your visionary, forward-thinking fundraising goal, versus what it is that I have brought in the door as a development director today. So what I want you to think about is do you know what is today’s annual fundraising goal? Do you have a forward-thinking goal?

Just to remind you, you know, there’s really four legs of success in the work that we’re doing. That mission that we have is the top of the table, but you’ve got your excellent programs and services. You’ve got to have a space eventually, if you are even, you know, brand new and you’re doing things like I did. I worked at the Department of Ophthalmology, and we had a teeny, tiny closet where the fundraising team of one, myself, worked in.

You’ve got to have some human capital. Your staff, your board, your volunteers. But you also have to have the real financial capital.

So these four legs of success, you have to talk about all of them. And what I find is the capital, the financial capital is the thing we talk about the least. I prefer it if your money story becomes not the dreaded topic that we have to bring up at the board meeting, but a useful tool. We are talking about the vision for the future and the tools, you know, back to this visual here, are the four legs that you have on your table. So we want to talk about all of them.

So let’s talk about knowing and sharing, and what’s your money story? The first thing to know for every organization. We actually do need some money. Whether you have one big endowment or a big grant or you only raise money from individuals, or you have a large government contract, or some version of all of that combined, you’re requiring financial support to change people’s lives or to change something.

And what I want you to think about and remember is we’re inviting money to stop by. We are not asking for money for ourselves. We are inviting people to be their greatest selves and to invest with one of their resources of time, talent, stuff or money, or maybe all three of those. But we’re inviting that gift of financial support to stop by before it moves on somewhere else.

So my sweet spot in my work, or my secret sauce, if you will, is that I give you permission to talk about money. I want you to think about what are the secrets that you share about money. Do you forget to tell people about the grants that were declined, that costs are going up? Not in a demanding or begging way, but more in a way that has people understand what it takes.

And I hope that you’ve listened carefully. So far I have not said the word need I believe at all. Steven can check and see later on if I’ve said the word need. What I’d like to talk about is what does it take financially, what does it take with human capital, what does it take to do our work, to change our corner of the community or the world? People don’t care about what you need. They care about what it takes to help someone else, and preferably one person.

So that money story, just remember the definition I had earlier. The gap between where you are today in reaching your annual fundraising goal, plus what’s your visionary, forward-thinking fundraising goal, versus the amount that you’ve raised so far this year.

So I’m curious, do you even know? Type into your chat box here, and you should share that news, absolutely, Terry. You want to share the good news and you want to share the not so good news. And I’ll give you some ways to do that and talk about that as we go here.

But type in a yes or a no real quickly into the chat box. Do you know what your annual fundraising goal is right now today? Do you know what the dollars are that you have to raise? And then the question, the follow-up question . . . good, there’s, I’d say, more yeses flying in of our hundreds of people here than there are nos.

The thing that I want you to also know and think about is do you know where you are today in closing that gap? So if you are clear that it’s a million, 1.2 million, 30,000, 100,000, and kudos to Jenny for knowing exactly where you are in closing that gap. That’s the first half of the equation of your money story. And you want to know to the dollar amount.

The second part is that visionary money story. The truth is your budget, balancing a budget is a great thing, don’t get me wrong. You want to have a balanced budget and work towards that. But we often set our fundraising goals for the year on what we believe people can give us versus what it actually takes. So the annual budget does not show growth or possibility, unless you’re a really savvy organization and you do those small/medium/large budgets where you’re really showing what a stretch goal would be.

To figure out your visionary money story, the second half of the equation, you want to think about and talk about what or how many people, programs, what are we saying no to? Where have we cut to the bone so we can keep spending down, and where could we or should we be doing more of something? And then what does that all cost? What will it take to actually do more?

Because the truth is you are doing as much as you can on that current budget that you’re working towards, but if you don’t see a path to growing, then I don’t see it, either, as your donor out there in the world who gets one or two letters, maybe checks your emails once in a while and visits your website or goes to an event once or twice a year.

Our money stories have to be clear. So we want to show how we’re helping one person, show some progress to the next milestone, and I’ll give you a couple examples in a moment. Talk about what it takes. Take the word need out of your vocabulary. And then use inspiring and specific relationship-building language, all for the purpose of causing people to continually give.

We want to inspire them to give. We want to make sure, no kidding, they understand why there’s, what there is more to do and why, when you send out an appeal and the dollar gift you’re looking for is higher than they gave last time, we didn’t just make that up. It’s what it’ll actually take to help one person for a day or a week or a month, whatever number it is that you’ve decided to share.

So your money story should put a face on the impact I’m making and tell me what it takes to make that impact. And you do that by sharing something I call mission moments. This is what I love to talk about, and today’s not a true storytelling webinar, so I’ll be brief. But a mission moment is just a tiny slice of your mission in action.

It could be as Andrew, I was just on a coaching call with someone from Habitat for Humanity in Waterloo, Iowa a couple hours ago, and Andrew said, “Lori, I’ve got to tell you a mission moment in action from Tuesday. We took people on a site,” and I don’t even remember what, a site and success tour. They had a bus rented. They had volunteers and foundations and donors.

And Irv, the 70-plus-year-old man, was helping his wife out of the car and coming up to be at this site tour, and they were holding hands. They’d clearly been married for many, many years. But he walked up and he said, you know, what I’ve been doing for 30 years as a volunteer is I don’t build homes. I build futures and happiness for people. And I just melted.

And Andrew went on to explain, you know, as Lori, you know, it takes about $200,000 to build one of those homes, and we’re just at the beginning of our fiscal year where we’re closing a gap of 2.4 million. Irv is the reason we are able to do that, and he put a face, if you will, to the work of their organization and created some empathy. I could just imagine my father, who’s aging and has been married to my mom for more than 50 years, you know, walking hand in hand. It created a connection for me that was short and sweet, but it blended the people story and the money story.

So what do you do if you’ve got that mission moment. I wanted to give you a framework of how to put this all together, and then I want to save enough time at the end here for answering all the questions that are piling up. So you want to have that one person like Irv. You want to jot down what you know about them and talk about some exact results.

You know, maybe it’s that Irv, as a volunteer, has helped work on 25 different homes over the years. He’s helped build a future and create a different life for different families. But what it’s done for Irv, you want to talk about he can measure. So number of homes, number of hours. If it’s the homeowner, you’re talking about having a new address. You’re talking about rent is lowered. But some specificity.

And then you want to be sure and talk about what I call the transformation, and this is where the word choices make a difference, because you’re talking about something you can’t measure. It’s something about how you feel. As Irv said, you could tell he felt proud.

Oh, and there was another moment Andrew mentioned, and he said, Lori, when he was talking to us about what we do, he took his fist and he, like, pounded on his heart three times and just talked about, I help build futures and hope for families. Andrew got, you know, like, a little emotional telling me about that because it was such a powerful moment for Irv.

So that step five is to make sure you’re creating emotionally connecting words or painting a picture that has me feel what it might feel like to be doing exactly the thing you’re talking about. Volunteering, receiving program services. So watching the placement of what word choices are we making? Don’t just tell me that someone is excited. Tell me their explosive energy that they have. Or that precious and vulnerable new little child, Maisie, who deserves a beautiful world that we’re creating for her.

Then you take this list of things and you put it into a framework and then practice sharing that story. But you have to include some costs and what does it take to do your work? You’re really talking about what was life like before, where are, was that person when they came in to volunteer or work with you or help pass that bill, and where are they headed? What’s their future like?

Just in case you don’t remember all of that, I have a framework for you that I love to share. It’s a free ebook called, and it takes you through how to tell the story. Your job then will be, after you’ve crafted the story and how they felt and what was accomplished thanks to you, what is it that you can measure?

You want to make sure you’re talking about what’s missing. The what’s missing part is what you need. I don’t love it if we use the word need. I want to talk about where could you fit in, donor, volunteer, passionate supporter? So what’s missing? If you don’t talk about what’s missing, I then believe you’re handled. Everything is fine, and you don’t actually need me to do anything. I’ll go somewhere else where there’s more to do, or I really feel special because I’m making a bigger impact there.

I want to share my screen with you for just a moment here, and I want to talk about someone. I was on the phone with Tracey yesterday. Tracey is the executive director at a Girls on the Run affiliate or site out on the East Coast. She’s smart. She’s savvy. She’s been there for 14 years. She scheduled a session to chat with me about, “Lori, we’re raising money, but we only increase our fundraising by a few percentage points a year, and we’ve got more girls waiting. We’ve got only a $5000 sponsorship. That’s our largest sponsorship. So what should I be doing differently?”

I know this mission well. I’ve participated with them in some different ways. What I’ll tell you, I explained to her is you look handled. You’ve got a beautiful website. Your events are run really well. You’re forgetting to tell me the important message about what it takes. What does it take to change the life of one girl? What does it take to train a coach? What does it take a day, a week, a month? How much do you scholarship? And have you invited people to be strategic partners so they’re doing more at a bigger level?

So visually, I have to know what it takes to do your work. This is a cool and fun visual from the California Symphony. I wrote a post about it. You can check out the post later. But it started at the $50 level to talk about what it takes and how I could make an impact, and they just, they moved all the way up. They went to the $1000 level, and they continued their story, their money story, all the way up to a $20,000 amount.

And now they can break those bits and pieces down into bite-sized parts of their money story so that people can understand, get excited about, and know exactly what their gift will do. But they kept it all-inclusive, right? They made sure that if I’m giving the $100 gift, I still feel great, and if I’m giving that $20,000 or more gift, because there’s only one rehearsal I’m investing in, I can feel great about that.

So I like to put this into a visual framework for you so you can decipher this and help train others at your organization. And this is the simplest way I’ve been able to come up with to have you take this information back. So you have to understand what is it that is missing in your community that causes you to have to be in existence? So what’s missing? What does it take to do that work? And maybe we talk about a specific program, what the waiting list is, how many, you know, new camps do you want to start or how many frail elderly there or how many homeless men are veterans and your programs only help veterans.

So then you talk about the work from a one-person example. So you have to know this messaging from the top down, but we actually talk about it from the bottom up. And this is how you can take what we’re learning today back to your organization so that, no kidding, they can understand what it is we’re wanting to do.

So I’d like to have you hear something, and this is a money story blended with a people story. Now, I teach a course a couple of times a year, and these are the six graduates, six organizations that graduated just a couple of weeks ago. You can watch this replay again later or choose any of these retellings.

The truth is these folks, they retold a story that was not their own organization’s story. So Steven, make sure that I’m showing the right page, would you? Are you able to see the website page with the stories on it?

Steven: I did, then it went away. It looks like we’re on your other monitor.

Lori: All right, so we’ll go here. Thank you. So . . .

Steven: Had a 50/50 chance. There we go.

Lori: I know, and I got it wrong, as usual.

Steven: Okay.

Lori: These people were hearing these other stories that they’re going to tell week after week after week while they’re also practicing their own, and part of their homework was to tell a story about another organization as if it were their own, from memory. And they had, like, two days to do it and then send me their video. So I just want to play one of these for you so you can hear it yourself. So hang on while I prepare myself and get . . .

Okay, and . . .

Amy: It’s the beginning of our fiscal year, which means that we have a $100,000 gap in our nearly $1 million it takes to bring Upstream Arts’s work into the world. We want to raise $30,000 of this gap by October 1st, the day in which our teaching artists return to the classroom, classrooms like Mistira’s [SP].

Nine-year-old Mistira was a student in a special education classroom Upstream Arts has worked. Her teacher said that before Upstream Arts became part of the program, that she was often distracted in class and had trouble concentrating. But once she started working with Upstream Arts, she became focused and curious and had the heart of an artist. “That immersion is impossible to ignore,” said her teacher.

And that’s the magic about Upstream Arts. Not only do we connect and work and teach skills to people with disabilities, but we also are able to engage and teach people around them how to engage together as a group.

Lori: I’ll close that. So put in the chat box, the Q&A box, did you hear the money story, and did you hear a little bit about Mistira that had you know a little more about this organization? Yes or no? Or was it a good tell, a bad tell, was it . . .

For me, knowing that this is probably the fourth or fifth time that Amy was telling this story, it was a really great tell. And on purpose, I had each of these folks tell their money story first, because it’s the most scary part and they were running out of time. So you, clearly not enough enthusiasm, [Ruth 00:39:57], because she was telling someone else’s story. But she was telling a story that she’d only heard, not experienced herself.

Why I do this is I let you know, I want you to know when you’re teaching others to tell a story, you want to make sure that we’re inspiring them to take action, we’re inspiring them to do something different, and they have to practice telling the story over and over again.

So keeping me updated about the next milestone. You could have some sort of visual if you want. It can be, have something on the visual about one person so I can know that I’m making a difference for one family in, one girl in the Philippines.

Continually inspiring me can also be done when you’re inviting me to an event. Include some funding gap information or some money story on the back side to say you help us, one child at a time. At $17 per student, scholarship into our training program literally changed a child’s life so they are able to function and able to live a full and complete life.

You want to make giving simple. An organization that has made some major changes to their website that I had done some work with, Bread for Israel. Couldn’t find the donate button on their website. They now have many places where you can learn more or give.

When you’re having a campaign of some kind, you want to make sure I go to your website and I know what’s happening, what’s the timeline, but make your money story clear. So this organization was raising $60,000 in 60 days. They had the visual here on their website, but they were also building a bridge in the front of their organization so people driving by on the highway could see it. And then we had very specific amounts that they described what would happen with a gift of a specific amount.

So I’m going to tell you a little secret about this organization, Upstream Arts, the story that you got to hear. They learned how to tell their money story and blend it with a people story a few years ago through some training that I did with an organization called Arts Midwest, and they went from raising about $23,000 from individuals a year to over $100,000.

And a couple of years ago in December, a donor called, because they were talking about that gap, that funding gap, and they wanted to know if their final gift that year would be enough. She’d already given twice that year.

So this is a story of a couple of years ago. The truth is in 2016, their individual giving went down to $80,000, and last year it went down to $73,000. So they just went through and did that messaging training again because they had staff turnover. Their executive director and their founder is still the same, but their board had changed.

So what I want to make sure you understand is you want to have a plan, you want to have some sort of game plan moving forward so that you are continually inspiring folks on your team to talk about the money, not get scared about the money, and know a single mission moment that they can share.

So the download for the checklist and the slides again is MoneyStoryBloomerang with a capital M and a capital S, a capital B in there. But it’s a link.

So your checklist has on the front knowing what people’s money stories are and honoring them. Because people are going to feel scared. They’re going to feel frustrated. You know, the finance people have a different story that the fundraising people.

Then we want to make sure to connect on what’s that clear money story you can all agree on, and that usually is a visionary money story. Where are we headed? What will it take to be, in two years, a $30 million organization or a $3 million or a 30, you know, $300,000 organization? Don’t just tell me where you are today in your fundraising, and then continually inspire participation. Blending that mission moment and that funding gap.

And then so you want to take the document and figure out what’s your area of focus? Are we going to identify our clear money story, and is that money story a visionary money story along with our current fundraising goals? For something in the next two years, what’s the dollar amount? By when will we share it? How will we start to share it? And then who are your partners?

So I want to take some questions. So what if you’re a, let’s start with you, Bernadine. “What if you are a 1.5-person shop? How do you prioritize?” You want to make certain, absolutely certain you know what your money story is, because you’ve got a lot to do. So you want to talk about what does it take to do our work. And your job, because you are the chief cook and bottle washer, you get to talk about here’s what it takes to do our work today, and here’s what I have a vision for. Here’s where we’re headed. And let me put a face for you on what it’ll take, because I want you to know when we do what we say we’re going to do, we’ll be able to help more people like whomever it is. Prioritize on just simply sharing the message over and over and over again.

Monica says, so highlighting three people in an annual appeal would be too much for donors. Absolutely yes. Just choose one. One person. You can actually then, Monica, you can go deeper. You can tell me a little bit different story on Facebook. You can tell me a snippet of information on some other social media format, Twitter or Instagram. You can have that person record a short video, a thank you video that you send a link to for online givers. You can have them also included as a face in the thank-you letter. One. That’s a great question.

Nia says, “The only real costs we have are salaries for three part-time people. It’s really hard to raise money for this purpose.” I’m going to ask you to reframe that, and rather than having that scarcity word in there, let’s talk about, so what it takes to do our work is to have the most professional, quality staff possible. And we don’t have to raise money for other things, so in order to do our work, it truly takes about, I don’t know, $175,000 a year, $300,000 a year.

My guess is, Nia, that’s not your visionary goal, because you’re going to need more than three part-time people to do the work long-term. So when you’re talking about salary, you’re not talking about salary. You’re actually talking about what an impact you make by either implementing the program, or you are changing the life of one person because you have those three part-time people. So almost all of our money is overhead money. So you want to make sure to put a face to that overhead money. Hopefully that helps.

Carrie asks, “Do you recommend sharing mission moments on our social media?” Absolutely. Anywhere, everywhere you can. One of the most, one of my most favorite places to go to check and get inspired is Charity Water. They share a mission moment, the same mission moment on Facebook, social media, Instagram, Twitter, and then also in their email updates, but they also have me know about that when I go to their website.

And, let’s see. Sylvia says, “In-kind money for fundraising should also be counted in the budget.” Yes, absolutely. I want you to raise more than you are raising today. So in-kind dollars is a part of your budget, and you don’t have to tell me that 3000, 400,000, 2 million, whatever it is, is in-kind. Let people ask that question. Less is more.

Katie says, “What if you have an idea for something new or you’d like to add to the program, so you don’t yet have the person who’s been impacted?” So Steven and I are both big fans of the Nonprofit Storytelling Conference, and if I had my wherewithal, I’d bring it up on the screen, but I’ll just tell you about it.

At the Nonprofit Storytelling Conference in the fall, we talk about all kinds of different stories, and just recently Chris Davenport was visiting with Steven Screen, who tells the most important story to tell for fundraising, and the story that people really want to hear, is the story that doesn’t have an ending yet. So you can pick someone who’s waiting for you to add that program. Maybe there’s someone who you know in the community because you would be referred to them from somewhere else, or you can say here’s what we know. I’ve given this person a name. We’ll call them Harry. Here’s what we believe he or she will show up, you know, feeling and wanting, because we’ve had so many requests for that type of specific program.

Donna says, “Are the mission moments about clients helped or donors?” Yes. They are about donors. They are about volunteers. They are about you. They are about your clients, their families, neighbors. They are about your corporations, your foundations. They are about anyone who has experienced some aspect of your work.

Katie says, “We’re a college foundation unsupported by the college. We are short on unrestricted funds. How do we tell a moving story not related to scholarship?” Scholarship stories are plentiful, but motivate restricted donations.

Well, the first thing is to always be clear. So you want to use really clear language. And thinking about, you know, back to the language choices I was talking about, you can say, you know, we want to make sure that we’re telling you about what you’re investing in here at the foundation. So you’re investing in unrestricted operating dollars that will help us do our work and to put the dollars that you give to the very best place.

That might be a person that’s being scholarshiped [SP]. That might be a new program. That might be new equipment. That might be a whole variety of things. But we here at the foundation raise unrestricted operating dollars. And let me give you an example of a way that those dollars have made an impact.

And then, Katie, you want to choose someone in addition to a scholarship story that has maybe been the recipient of something else that you were supporting, some program that could change because you purchased some equipment or something. But you’re always talking about unrestricted operating dollars. You want to make that clear.

Let’s go back to Katie says, “If we break it down by specific costs like in the example, does it put us on the hook to make sure that donors’ gifts will go towards that?” No. If you use language that says, let me give you an example of how your unrestricted contribution will be used. You want to always say we are looking to increase our operating dollars, that golden money that will go exactly where we know best where to use it. So great question, Katie.

And then Carrie has, “Before we wrap up here, can you talk about how to tell stories about organizations that aren’t about a crisis or something sexy? We’re focused on creating a culture shift that takes time to accomplish and is difficult to quantify.”

I’d love to be able to get you off of mute, Carrie, but we won’t, so I’m going to pretend that I know. So I’ve done work with organizations that do some scientific research, and they don’t know quite what the story is to tell, and the research takes a while to unfold in a way that’s interesting or is helping anyone. But the truth is there’s someone who’s life that will be different when you’re able to get there. So whose is it? And what is the outcome you’re looking to create?

So you want to maybe talk about a board member who is really passionate about your work and they get a feeling of accomplishment helping you move towards accomplishing that thing that, and I wouldn’t say difficult to quantify. That’s a scarcity word again. That we’re taking, we’re putting a lot of thought into how we would quantify. We can tell you the transformational quantification of it, and that is how you’ll feel. So you can focus on anecdotal information.

My hope is that helps you just a little bit to understand, there is no mission, truly, that there isn’t a great story to tell, both a money story and a people story. And what you want to make sure you’re doing is you’re talking about what is our vision for the future? What do we make possible today, and where are we headed? What will it take to get there?

Sometimes a mission moment is a tiny little slice. It is that you didn’t even get a bill passed or you didn’t get to fund that research project, but you got so close. And now people are excited, scientists are excited, or someone who’s attended one of your symposiums is excited about the future. So use language that gets me to be excited about the story that’s not yet finished.

Here’s some ways to stay in touch with me. As Steven said at the beginning, follow my Facebook page. I try to put something fresh and new, coaching advice on there almost every day. And then I love Twitter and love to follow other folks who are doing important work, like all of you, so I’ll follow you back. I’ve got a blog that I write each Wednesday, and then on Mondays once a month, I send out something called a Mission Moment Monday, where I coach folks to tell the story they just shared with me in a different way. And you’ll see some more of that passion that you were looking for with the story that Amy told.

And, let’s see. I’ve got some of the resources. You can download ebooks and things. It looks like there’s a couple more stories, if it’s okay, a couple more questions. Let’s do those before I turn it back over to Steven so he can wrap up.

Yes, the Nonprofit Storytelling Conference is in November. I believe it’s in Florida. And if you just go to the Nonprofit Storytelling Conference website, Laura, you’ll find the information.

Jacqueline says, “We’re a technology building company. It’s hard to get individual stories with the anonymity of online donors, so we often include volunteer stories instead.” So again, I’m just going to tell you, when I visit with a client, a potential client, or even like this, those of you who type in questions, almost all of you have used scarcity language without realizing it.

So it might be that you say we’re a technology building company, and we haven’t quite learned yet how to get individual stories through, you know, that are anonymous, and you don’t necessarily have to, oh, I see, with the anonymity of online tools. You have to ask for them.

So if you’re a technology building company, send out a survey that has one question, and ask for a sentence, a six-word sentence or a two paragraph, you know, a two-sentence paragraph that has someone tell you what they love about what you’re building, and let them know that they’ll get, you know, I don’t know, a shout-out on your Facebook page or your homepage or your donate page when you’re able to use their story.

Angela says, “We have a large contract with the state. Our fundraising dollars are used for research and help to pay for some client services, but they’re mostly, the majority of our services and salaries are paid for by the contract.” I’m going to change your scarcity word there, Angela. So we’re learning how to define our money story because of this. And so you’re learning how to say X amount raised pays for blank, because we’re fortunate enough to have this contract in place. But you don’t have the ability to do everything.

So you can say, you know, our annual budget is $10 million, and what it takes to do our work per person, Angela, you can’t count on the government to support you forever. You can’t count on those, any private, you know, fees for service to be there forever. So there actually is a true cost to doing your work. What would the worry be for you to over-raise the amount that you have designated to not salaries to do some other things? Do you have all the equipment you need? Do you have all the printing that you need? Do you have all of the website updates that you require?

There is a way to talk about what you’re doing, and if someone says, well, so out of that 10 million, how much is individual donor support, you can say, well, we’re growing that right now so that it’s not just 3% of the work, of our fundraising, but that it’s more like 10 or 20%, because we’re fortunate to right now have some other contracts through the government and other places that allow us to have some flexibility in how we’re raising money. Hopefully that helps.

One last question here, and then I’m going to turn it back to you, Steven. Caitlin says, “We make films about at-risk youth to create social change and cover many topics, so we rarely have a personal story related to the real-world change that we’ve made. Is telling how the life of the subject has changed sufficient?”

Not sure I’m getting exactly what you’re saying. So you make films about youth that are, that maybe not, don’t have the same economic life that others do, or they’ve been born into a poverty situation, they’ve been born into a violent situation, and they are making change. Don’t try to cover all the topics. What you want to do is talk about how that youth feels before your organization, what they felt like when they got involved with you, and what they’re able to do. It isn’t about all of the social change, the different kinds of social change. It’s that they are making a difference.

I’m going to end it there, and if you want to know more, the thing on the screen to know is I do talk to people for 30 minutes at no cost. It’s a strategy session. This is a link. And Caitlin, I’d be happy to visit with you about how to do that better in talking about your organization.

Steven, I will turn it over back to you, and . . .

Steven: All right.

Lori: As I tell people to go talk about money.

Steven: Yes. Do it. Do what Lori says. Obviously she’s awesome. Thank you, Lori. This was really fun. This was really cool to listen in on. So thanks for being here. Thanks for sharing all your knowledge with us for the afternoon today. Hope you had fun.

Lori: You, too.

Steven: I think [inaudible 01:00:45]. And I will see you in Orlando.

Lori: And I love this group.

Steven: This group was great.

Lori: And I will see you in Orlando. I thought so.

Steven: It’s been too long. It’s been only since March, but that’s too long.

Lori: A lot has happened since then.

Steven: You guys . . . I know. So please follow Lori. Please take advantage of that coaching call. Check out her website. I referenced a ton of the resources that she has on Ignited Fundraising. Lots of free templates. Lots of really good stuff there. I should probably send Lori a royalty check every once in a while, because I’m always telling people about all that stuff.

So we’ll call it a day there. This has been fun. Thanks to all of you who hung out with us for an hour today. I know you’re probably pretty busy, so it’s always very special to me to see all of you log on here every Thursday.

We’ve got some good stuff on our website. We’ve got some good webinars coming up, as well. We are back one week from today with one of my favorites, Kent Stroman. He’s going to talk about, a little bit about leadership. You know, we’ve got all these tasks and responsibilities, but it’s kind of hard to know who’s in charge. Is it the board, the CEO? Is it the staff member? If you struggle with that, the delegation of maybe responsibilities or authority, check out that session one week from today, 1 p.m. Eastern. It’s going to be a good one. Kent’s awesome.

Lori: Yes, he is.

Steven: Again, not as cool as Lori, and I don’t think he would mind me saying that, but . . .

Lori: I think he’s awesome.

Steven: He’s really cool, too.

Lori: He’s also very tall. Just so folks know.

Steven: [inaudible 01:02:11]. Oh, yeah.

Lori: The last time I saw Kent, I had to stand on a table that was two feet tall, and I could then look him in the eye.

Steven: Right. And it’s not because we’re short. Kent Stroman is literally, like, 20 feet tall. It’s ridiculous.

Lori: He is.

Steven: And that doesn’t even include that cowboy hat. So that’s why I have him on webinar, because it’s not as . . .

Lori: Right.

Steven: Not as intimidating. I hope Kent’s not listening to this. I’m embarrassing him. But anyway, you should be here for that webinar. I’ll get you today’s session recording this afternoon, so look for that. And other than that, have a great weekend. We’ll hopefully talk to you again next Thursday. So stay cool out there. 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.