In this webinar, Pamela Grow will help you discover a road-map to creating sustainable fundraising revenue throughout the year.

Full Transcript:

Steven:All right, Pamela, can I go ahead and get us started, my friend?


Steven:All right, cool, let’s do it. Good afternoon if you are on the East Coast and good morning if you are on the West Coast or somewhere in between. Thanks so much for joining us for today’s Bloomerang webinar, “What are Simple Development Systems and How Can They Help You?” You’re going to find out here in just a second. But before we do, just want to say hello, this is Steven Shattuck, the Chief Engagement Officer over here at Bloomerang and I will be moderating today’s discussion, as always.

Just a couple of housekeeping items before we begin. Just want to let you all know that we are recording this presentation and we’ll be sending out the recording as well as the slides in case you didn’t already get those. I’ll send all that good stuff to you as well as some other goodies that Pamela has. So if you have to leave early or perhaps you want to review the content or share it with a colleague or something like that, don’t worry, I’ll get all that good stuff in your hands later on this afternoon.

Most importantly, if you have any questions or comments, please, please feel free to send them our way throughout the hour. We’re going to save some time at the end for Q&A and I think Pamela will even answer questions as she goes along if she sees something really timely and insightful. So don’t be shy, send us your questions and we’ll try to get to just as many of them as we can. You can also do that on Twitter. I’ll be keeping an eye on the Twitter feed. You can use the hashtag #Bloomerang or just tweet us directly @BloomerangTech.

One last bit of housekeeping items, if you have any trouble with the audio through your computer, try phone. If you have a phone nearby and you don’t mind dialing in, we find the quality is usually a lot better there since it doesn’t rely on Wi-Fi and browsers and all that good stuff. A phone is just a phone, so give that a try if you have any trouble. Before you give up on us totally, try that phone if you can.

If this is your first webinar with Bloomerang, I just want to say an extra special welcome. We do these webinars just about every Thursday. We bring on a great guest like Pamela for a totally educational presentation, one of my favorite things we do here. But if that is all you know about Bloomerang, I want to let you know that we also offer donor management software. If you want to learn more about that, check out our website. Wait until the presentation is over, please, to do that, but you can get an inside look at our software if you are curious.

But for now, I am very excited to welcome back someone that is one of my favorites and I feel bad that we haven’t had her back for a shorter amount of time than she has been. It’s been too long, Pamela, how’s it going? I’m glad you’re here.

Pamela:It’s going great.

Steven:I’m so excited. I got a peek at your slides. You guys are really in for a treat. I just want to brag on you real quick, Pamela. If you guys don’t know her, you’ve got to know her. She’s the founder over at Basics & More Fundraising. She has helped over 5,000 nonprofits worldwide raise a lot of money and you’re going to see all the expertise here in a second.

She’s also the author of “Simple Development Systems: Successful Fundraising for the One-Person Shop.” So if you’re a one-person shop, you’re really going to get a lot out of this. In 2010, she was named one of the 50 Most Influential Fundraisers by UK’s “Civil Society” magazine. That’s pretty good. There’s a lot of fundraisers out there, so being a top 50, that’s nice.

She was also named one of the Top 25 Fundraising Experts in 2016. She’s been featured all over. You’ve probably seen her writing or interviewed in “Chronicle of Philanthropy,” “Foundation Center NonProfit PRO” magazine. She does webinars all the time. She even has her own really awesome webinar series that I think she’s going to talk about at the end that you should check out.

One of my favorite newsletters, if you don’t subscribe to her newsletter, “The Grow Report,” definitely do that. Even got more newsletter subscribers than I do and sends out really great information and examples. One of my favorite things that Pamela does is sends out examples of things that are great and sometimes things that are not so good that we can all learn from. Wealth of knowledge, one of my favorites, and I have a taken away way too much of your time, Pamela, already, so I’m going to pipe down and I think you’re going to share your screen, so if you guys would forgive us for a little 10-second delay here.

Pamela:You know what? Hold on one second. I think I need to bring my keyboard up here. Let me see.

Steven:There you go. This part’s always fun, right? Getting all those technology things to happen. Yeah, looks like it’s working. Here it comes.

Pamela:Can you see it?

Steven:Yeah, then if you hit play . . .

Pamela:There we go.



Steven:All right, my friend. Go for it.

Pamela:Well, thank you, Steven. What a great introduction. That’s like the best introduction I’ve ever had and I’ve got to tell you, I’m so honored, I’m really tickled to be here with you today. You are one of my favorite people in the nonprofit universe. I think you know that.

Well, Steven already talked about me, but if you don’t know me, I’ve been kind of refining my role in the past several years. I have worked with both Chris Davenport of the Nonprofit Storytelling Conference and the Veritus Group on online projects and I consider myself at this point primarily a trainer first and a consultant second.

In addition to fundraising, I live in the city of Philadelphia. Well, actually, in the suburbs of Philadelphia. And I have two awesome daughters, only one pictured here, and this is Abigail. She is my Marine and she is a law student. She’s in her second semester at Temple Law. I was telling Steven, she just bought her first house. I’m like, I don’t know how I raised this kid. She’s just amazing.

I love to read, I love to bake and I love to lift weights and play Scrabble, and that’s about it. is my training website where we offer a full spectrum of over 20 courses created to put your organization’s fundraising systems into place. I would love to hear from you throughout this presentation. We’ll have a couple open-ended questions that I want to ask you about, but I’m going to actually ask you to save your questions for the end because we’ve got a lot to cover today.

Here’s what we’re going to be covering—the biggest challenges facing nonprofit fundraising today, the most important fundraising systems to build for your organization, how to create your organization’s storytelling system, tips and strategies for successfully implementing rinse and repeat systems throughout your organization. Stick around because towards the very end, we’ve got for you a free tool for creating your most important system of all.

Wow, just looking at the slide still makes me kind of cringe but the past year or so has been so incredibly challenging and I think that the entire world feels just an incredible amount of uncertainty right now. So before we lead off, I wanted to talk to you a little bit about the 2018 Edelman Trust Barometer Report, for those of you who aren’t familiar. Now, this is called an Annual Trust and Credibility Survey. It’s in its 19th year and it’s grown into truly a global measurement of trust across the world.

Here are just a couple of the findings from that report. Even among nonprofits, trust dropped 22 points over the past year.

So we’ve all got these incredible distractions. We’re always being tempted by yet another free webinar, here you are, and by claims of organizations who have raised $10,000 on Facebook. This was actually just a sampling of the email subject headers that landed in my inbox in probably the last two weeks. I have to tell you, I thought to myself, “Man, if my marketing depended on Facebook, I don’t know what I would do.” I always want to focus on what I can control.

I saw this post recently in a Facebook group and this just made me tired just reading it. This is not sustainable. Yet as a consultant, it’s what I and my colleagues have come across time and time and time again.

It’s like you’re running and you’re running and you’re running and you’re never catching up. Am I right? Wouldn’t you like to get off the hamster wheel? How do you counteract all the challenges in our sector?

Well, many fundraisers, including me, are calling to a back to basics approach.

Steven, I have to ask you this. Are you still on the line?

Steven:I am here, my friend.

Pamela:I always mute myself too. Are you familiar with W. Edwards Deming?

Steven:I’m not, not until I saw this slide.

Pamela:Really? He’s considered one of the fathers of systems thinking. We’re going to have a couple of his quotes scattered throughout but he’s a huge influence on what has become known as the Japanese post-war economic miracle of 1950 to 1960 when Japan literally rose from the ashes after the war, becoming the second largest economy in the world, little tiny Japan.

I was also raised, I think you know this, Steven, primarily in Michigan, in General Motors, Pontiac Motors, Ford Country, so I was a lifelong visitor to the Henry Ford Museum and I believe in systems thinking.

So to start with, to really get this presentation off, what do we know about nonprofit fundraising? What is an absolute fact? And that’s that donor retention is in the toilet. The average donor retention stands at about 45%, 46%. Hasn’t changed in I don’t know how many years. Donor retention for first time donors is at only 23%. Donor retention for repeat donors stands at around 60% and ta-da, monthly giving donors, 90%.

So how can we as a sector begin to counteract all the challenges both in our culture and in fundraising in nonprofits in general? If you can’t describe what you are doing as a process, you don’t know what you’re doing.

So at their most, most, most basic, how do systems work? Well, they’re definitely repeatable. You mentioned my newsletter, Steven, I have put out that newsletter every week since, I think it was 2009, without fail. I started with a subscriber base of maybe 10 and 1 of them was my cat. There were times that I really wanted to skip an issue, but consistency is really the hallmark of a good system. What I have for my newsletter is a sort of a template because there are things I want to focus on and things I want to include every single week.

Now, for those of you who were on last week . . . Was it last week or the week before? You had Steven Screen, who did a wonderful presentation on donor print newsletters. In our trainings we teach a modified domain Ahern model of creating donor newsletters that routinely raise money and engage donors. These are just a few of them.

So what else about systems? You can measure them. When you send out your last donor appeal, you can measure it. When you share stories on your organization’s Facebook page, you can measure interest. There’s just all kinds of ways that you can measure.

And you can adjust and tweak your systems for the best results.

But the number one thing that the best fundraising systems have, any guesses? I’m going to look in the chat box. Any guesses? What’s the number one thing that the best fundraising systems have?

All these are good. Amy says “a goal, flexibility, acknowledgement, adaptability.”

I think that all of your systems, at least for individual giving, need to place your donor front and center.

So does that make sense?

I’m going to do a super quick unofficial poll. If you could just type into the chat box and let me know what systems do you have in place? Dan says, “Zero procedures.” “None at present.” Julie says, “Phone call, team.” Excellent. “More thank you calls.” Super. Kathy has lots of systems. Awesome.

So we are going to be talking today about the kinds of systems that you need. Then towards the end of today’s presentation, I’m going to be sharing a special gift for you to help you create one of the most important systems that you really need to have. Sound good?

We’re going to start off with storytelling systems. Solid storytelling is the foundation of great fundraising. It’s something that you should always be working on. When I was a young nonprofit development director just starting out, I had this rule and it always served me very well because I actually started out as a grant writer, so I was always presenting a lot of statistics on our various programs. It was a lot about statistics, about numbers, so in every job I had a rule—for every statistic about any program, I had a corresponding story.

One of my favorite ways to obtain stories is through a “Share Your Story” page. Who here has a “Share Your Story” page? Anybody? Share Your Story pages are terrific. Kathy says, “We do.” Awesome.

The thing about the pages is that you need to build into your communications plan . . . but you can’t just throw up your page and expect everyone to land on it and share their story. You really need to encourage people. You need to both encourage them and start using the stories effectively. So you need to regularly encourage your supporters to share their story, and what I usually do is I usually incorporate anywhere from three to six dedicated emails specifically for story sharing.

Serialize and repurpose. This story here is one of my favorites. It’s from one of my favorite fundraisers, Karen, at the Regina Humane Society. About three years ago, this little cat came in and it was pitiful. Somebody had wrapped electrical tape around this little guy’s legs and he was in really, really sorry shape. They didn’t know if they’d have to amputate his legs. It was just pitiful.

She put up a crowdfunding campaign and look at how much she raised. Five thousand-dollar goal, they raised almost $25,000. Just recently I got a wonderful email from Karen following up on Bruce Almighty with a story about Bruce and his new home and how he’s doing now. We always want the latest story, the latest news story, right?

But the thing of it is that . . . well, I love this quote from Roger Craver. “In my 50 years of writing fundraising copy, I’ve yet to hear of a donor saying, ‘Hey, that’s the same appeal you sent me last year.'” Find out what stories resonate the most with your donors and don’t be afraid to use some over and over and over again. I have some stories that I have repurposed four, five, six, seven, eight times.

Think too about how you’re sharing your donor stories. I love this story. I’m a member of the Philadelphia Art Museum and I got this in one of the books that they send out, a story on one of their donors and why she gives and how she became a member of their legacy society.

So think about how you’re sharing your donor stories. When a donor decides to make a gift estop to your organization, how are you sharing that? If a donor convinces his company to be a corporate sponsor, how are you sharing that? Just all kinds of stories, a donor may have decided to have a house party at her home and tell her friends about the organization.

This is terrific. It’s one of my favorite examples. I never can pronounce this. This is from Cornell Ornithology, I think it is, Labs. This is their planned giving page. I really urge you to check it out after this presentation is over with because it’s one of the best examples of including your donors’ stories.

Let’s see what we’ve got next. Stewardship systems. This of course is one of your most important systems.

When a check comes in, when an online donation is made, what happens next? At its most, most basic, a simple stewardship system might look like this. Keep in mind this is super basic.

What kind of online giving systems do you have in place? How often do you revise your thank you email? It should be for every campaign. I usually recommend about quarterly. What does your thank you redirect page look like? Do you regularly donate to your organization to walk through the process?

I know that Steven talks about this a lot and it’s one of the best things that you can do. Honestly, I still remember my very first client, he headed up a scholarship organization and I asked him to do that. He was so embarrassed when he came back to report to me and it’s only a few simple tweaks usually that you need to make. But when you see how difficult it is on the other end when the donor’s trying to make the donation—oops, my messy desktop.

What systems do you have in place to get the second gift? And how are you regularly building your email list?

There’s been a lot of talk lately about donor identity and how it can improve your individual giving. Donor identity is simply this—it’s really understanding your donor’s reasons for giving. What is their big why? The more you can uncover this, the greater you can segment your organization’s donor base and create deeper, longer donor relationships.

So what are some of the systems that you can put in place for that? Well, think about how you’re encouraging feedback and getting to know your donor throughout the donor cultivation process. Do you have any kind of widget or comment box on your site? A lot of my clients, a lot of my students have a little comment box either on the donate page or on the thank you redirect page that basically says, “What prompted your gift today?” or, “Tell us about your gift today.”

Then you’ve got that . . . really this is oftentimes overlooked, and that’s the non-financial engagement piece. This is from The Commission on the Donor Experience and if you haven’t downloaded The Commission on the Donor Experience Report, I highly recommend it. I can include that link if you’d like to.

So what do you think engagement looks like? Well, here’s a beautiful example from my friend John Lepp and Agents of Good. This was in a webinar that the Agents of Good presented to our members. It was for Yellow Brick House, a nonprofit for abused women and children. In their year-end appeal they asked their supporters to share their wishes for the women and children at the shelter.

Just look at these beautiful responses. “You are strong and courageous and did the right thing.” “I want you to know that you are loved.” I just love those.

Here’s an example I did for a small Philadelphia area nonprofit. It really did engage our donors and also surpass goal. We included a piece of origami paper and asked their supporters to continue to make magic happen and they shared their pictures of their little origami hearts all across social media.

Systems for culture. A great workplace culture, especially in our sector, it just doesn’t happen overnight. Do you regularly share mission moments of how your work is making an impact at staff meetings? What kind of exercises do you do today? How are you remembering to celebrate each and every little success? Because we get bogged down a lot in negativity in this sector and you need to really be celebrating and focusing on abundance, on gratitude, right?

And of course, monthly giving systems. I’m going to ask you another question now. How many of you have a monthly giving program? [Inaudible 00:27:42] monthly giving.

Oh, super, we got a lot of people. “Just started one.” “No, no.” “Yes, very small.” “We do, not well publicized.” “Hoping to start one.” Awesome. We have one lone monthly donor,” Leah says. Leah, you need to talk to that monthly donor and find out why they give.

I talked to someone . . . Steven, you don’t have to get on again but I was so excited because I talked to someone the other day. They’re a brand new organization. I think they’ve only been around for about three years. They are now up to $700,000 a year solely from individual giving and they are just rocking monthly giving. In fact, she hopes to have their monthly giving program up to about $1.2 million by next year. I just think that’s awesome.

A couple of great stats that my good friend Erica Waasdorp, author of “Sleeping Giant.” A great book on monthly giving, really the quintessential book right now. “Sixty percent of donors under the age of 35 give monthly. We hear a lot of talk about going after the millennial donor. That’s a great stat you need to know.

“The average monthly gift is $24, or $288 a year.” And the best one, “Monthly donor retention rates: 90% and up,” crazy. You have to really piss someone off to go and end their monthly giving contribution, not that I’m recommending that you do that. The main problem, I think, is expired credit cards, hacked credit cards.

And this is just an often overlooked system that I actually have written about this several times, and that’s your system for “in memorium” gifts. I had a recent experience. About a year ago, my webmaster’s father died and I found his obituary and they asked that donations in his memory be made to a specific children’s hospital, so I made a nice donation to the hospital and I did get an email right away. I responded to the email and I said, “Could you please be sure to let David know that I made this gift in honor of his dad?” and they said, “Sure.”

Never heard anything back from the hospital. I didn’t get a thank you letter. So the only thing I heard was about a year later I got a solicitation. I was sort of irritated. As a donor, I was sort of irritated. I thought, “Well, gee, they didn’t try to build any kind of relationship with me,” and it occurred to me, I never got a thank you from David and that’s totally, totally not like him. So I was a little embarrassed but I reached out and I asked him and he said, no, they never let him know. They probably got dozens of gifts in honor of his father but he didn’t know about it.

Then I went to my mailbox on Monday and you know what I got? This will just kill you, I got an invitation to join their legacy society. So I made this one gift, an “in memory of” gift, then stewarded terribly and they want me to join their legacy society? I don’t think so. I don’t think so.

Excuse me, I’m taking a sip of water.

I still get a little burned up thinking of that one. So where was I?

So in designing your organization systems, always remember to keep the end in mind. For example, what’s your monthly donor system designed to do? Well, obviously it’s designed, first off, to get you monthly donors, but then to keep the monthly donor happy and clear about the impact of their gift, how are you stewarding them, and eventually to upgrade your monthly donor. Every system is perfectly designed to get the result that it does.

So are you guys ready to create one of your organization’s most perfect systems? Can I get some “yays?” Okey-doke.

That would be your systems for new donor stewardship. Now, this stat just totally blew my mind and was presented to me by our host today, Steven Shuttuck, during a Motivate Monday session. I do these little free webinars every Monday and Steven has been my guest. Only 18% of first time online donors make a second gift. I’m kind of gobsmacked that we’re still arguing about how you should always thank in the channel that the gift was received, because I really think that that first time gift deserves a thank you letter. But that’s pretty scary. If your donors are coming in through Giving Tuesday, that’s really scary.

Retention absolutely is more important than having a plan for getting the gifts. You need to start thinking, when you’re thinking of your systems, think in terms of retention fundraising.

What we have included, and I’m not sure if it’s actually available to download right now or if you’re going to get it later on in the link, but what we’ve included along with today’s presentation is our just introduced New Donor Timeline. This is to give you first-year strategies to create your own new donor stewardship systems.

Steven, can I ask you real quick, are the handouts included?

Steven:Yeah, I actually already sent them. I sent them today at noon so they should all have the timeline.

Pamela:Oh, okay, so you can grab it and you can look at it while we’re going through this. So I’m going to walk you through it now and share some of my favorite examples.

The first one is, step one, gratitude, send your donors a thank you letter. We have included in the thank you letter timeline our basic thank you letter template. A well-written thank you . . . This is from Lisa Sargent, who is a good friend and also really my mentor. She was one of the first people I met in this sector and I just follow her religiously. “A well-written thank you letter forges an instant connection. It tells your donors, loud and clear, ‘You matter to us . . . and your gift makes a difference.'”

The thank you call. That is step one continued and that’s if you really, really want to go above and beyond.

What kind of internal systems does your organization have in place to make it happen? Back two, three years ago, I was conducting some mystery shopping and what I was doing was pulling two organizations directly from my own database, my own subscriber list and every week I would go online and I would make two online donations. They would be $10 or $20, small donations, and then we tracked what happened next.

Well, one organization, I made the gift and I didn’t think anything of it, except I did notice that it was probably the easiest online donation I’d ever made, the absolute easiest. About 15 minutes later, their executive director called me to thank me for a $20 gift. Well, that relationship has grown even though I have to be totally honest with you and tell you that it’s not the type of mission that I normally support, but now I’m a $35 a month sponsor. That’s the power of these kind of systems and a really great new donor system.

I also want to say that all these statistics, it doesn’t matter if you actually speak to anyone or not. Even if you leave a voicemail, you’re still going to get incredible results.

So if you do incorporate this, one of the first things you want to do is to always in your call after you thank the donor for their gift, “May I ask what prompted your gift?” and to really listen.

Have you ever subscribed to a nonprofit or to anyone, really, to receive their updates and then you don’t hear from them for so many months that you actually forget that you ever signed up? Remember that your first time donor is not really a donor. They’re not a donor until they make that second gift. So I want you to begin thinking about getting that next gift within the first six to eight weeks following their initial gift.

This kind of goes along with something I learned in marketing years ago, and they call it “the honeymoon phase.” It’s when someone is still really excited, when you see an infomercial and you call in and you’re buying it and they’re trying to upsell you. Well, it’s because you’re really excited. You’ve just seen the infomercial.

It’s the same with your donors. They’re really excited. They’ve made a difference. And you want to be top of mind.

So step two is the getting to know your donor piece. We typically recommend that you send your donors a welcome pack. This is one I recently received from Environmental Defense Fund. It came in an oversized envelope and included the thank you and welcome letter from their director of membership. It included a print newsletter. It included a reply envelope and, let’s see, a five-question new member survey.

This is part of a welcome pack that I received from Mercy Corps that I thought was just fabulous. It wasn’t the only part of it but I liked it because they have this . . . We always recommend a very brief survey for the welcome pack, two to five questions tops. I once received a welcome pack that included an everything but the kitchen sink survey. It was, like, a two or three-page survey and the final question was would I be interested in leaving a legacy gift. Well, no, I wouldn’t be interested. I’m just now getting to know you. But this has got a nice, lovely, soft ask.

I would like to become a monthly donor. Just everything about it is great. You can actually see the whole package on my website.

Step three is to show your donor the impact of their gift. This is an example of a full impact report. I’ve also seen them come just in a one-sheet impact report from one of our Basics & More students that raised over $10,000 without an ask.

Step four on the timeline is the next ask. It could be a monthly giving ask, could be a regular spring appeal. This is a great one from Save the Children.

But throughout your own new donor system, you’ll be reinforcing the impact of your donor’s gift. And another favorite way of mine is through a gratitude report. This is a terrific example, again, from my good friend, John Leff, over at Agents of Good. This was one of the most beautiful direct mail pieces that I’ve ever seen, I think.

And step six. Like I said, throughout your system you’re continuing to show gratitude, show impact. Think too about how you can surprise and delight your donors.

Those are essentially the parts of your system that will move your first time donor into a repeat donor.

So let me ask you a question, are you thinking that all of these systems sound like a lot of work? What do you think? Yeah, they do. They do sound like a lot of work, don’t they? But in the long run, they’re a lot less work than this. A lot less work and you will have a lot more to show for it.

So we’re coming to the close because I wanted to give a lot of time for Q&A, and I’ve got a question for you. What do you think the number one way to safeguard your organization is?

“To grow your individual fundraising, to safeguard your organization from all the challenges out there.” “Focus on the donor experience.” Excellent. “Focus on your donor with a laser-like intensity.”

Substitute the word “donor” for “customer” there because your profit will come from repeat donors. That’s where your monthly donors come from. That’s where your major donors come from. That’s where your legacy donors come from.

Remember, your ultimate, ultimate, ultimate goal is donor retention.

Cheryl says, “Keep impact high.” Oh, no, that’s not Cheryl. “People repeat good experiences. Make it all good.” Yes.

Oh, a few quick mentions before we move on to Q&A. I just wanted to . . . of course, I’m hoping that if you’re on Twitter, you’re following Steven, but also these are just a handful and I couldn’t fit everybody on but I put in a handful of my very favorite people on Twitter to follow. The Whiney Donor, number one, you have to follow The Whiney Donor. Lisa Sargent, Mary Cahalane, Sheena Greer, and John Lepp. Some fabulous people that you want to get to know.

Oh, and I also wanted to mention that my current Basics & More class, “Mastering Monthly Giving,” is open for enrollment right now. And whether you do have a monthly giving program or you’re looking to grow it, this class is just terrific. We started it back, I think, in 2015 and we’ve been growing it ever since. It includes three premium webinars from an AFP master trainer and monthly giving expert Erica Waasdorp. It’s just a really great course.

And for more on systems, I have got a special gift arranged for you today on my site, and that is “Your 2018 Donor Love Toolkit.” This is going to also help you guide your systems. Just go to

Oh, Heather says, Tom [inaudible 00:48:30]. Of course! Tom is on the list too but everybody follows Tom.

Remember that building your systems, it does take time and effort but the results are well worth it. I want to thank everybody for being here today. Wow, this has been awesome. Oh, thanks, Steven. Steven included the link. And now I’d just like to open it up for Q&A.

Steven:All right.

Pamela:Hey, Steven.

Steven:We’ve got some good ones here. Thanks for that, Pamela, before we get to that, thanks for all the info. I love that timeline. That’s going to be really useful to a lot of people, I’m guessing. If you didn’t already get that timeline, I’m going to send that out later this afternoon with the slides and the recording, but you should have it if you registered for the webinar before noon today.

So we’ve got some cool questions here. I’m just going to go through them if that’s okay with you, Pamela.

Pamela:Sure. The timeline is a PDF but it’s all clickable, so we’ve included a lot of examples.

Steven:Yes. When you get the slides, you’ll be able to click. Here’s one from Leah. Leah is totally sold on doing everything you talked about, Pamela, but her boss isn’t. So how do you get buy-in for all this stuff? So you’re sold on it, you want to do all this stuff, but maybe your ED or maybe a board member is like, “No, I don’t understand stewardship. We need to keep doing grants or events or whatever.” How do you kind of convince higher ups to do these things?

Pamela:You know what? It’s a gradual process. There isn’t any instant answer. I think part of it lies with really getting your board engaged and really understanding donor retention. Especially if you’ve got business people on your board, they should understand donor retention. They should understand why it’s so critical.

I think what I get the most difficulty with with our clients and with our students is this inability to really commit. Do you know what I mean?


Pamela:To really, really commit to a system, to really, really commit to the process. If you’re committed, you know, you do what you can and you very, very gradually, gradually try to bring everybody else onboard. You said that was Leah?

Steven:Yeah, that was Leah Roberts, our buddy Leah. Hi, Leah.

Pamela:Hey, Leah, I would love to send you . . . there’s an article that might help you.

Steven:Cool. We’ll get that to you guys. Here’s one from Jacqueline. Jaqueline’s wondering which of your systems would you prioritize over the others?


Steven:I thought you would say that. Do you mind digging into your reasoning there? I completely agree with you, but what’s your thinking there?

Pamela:Your stewardship systems are your most important systems in terms of turning that first time donor or even a donor . . . you have to put yourself in the shoes of the donor. When you do that, you realize—no offensive to anyone—just how crappy nonprofits treat donors.

Steven:Here is one from Emily. Pamela, you and I were talking about this before you got started, but Emily is wondering if direct mail is still something you should do or should you just stick to email now that we’re kind of in a digital age? It looks like they do a thank you letter by snail mail, by traditional mail, but then they switch over to email for basically everything except for their annual appeal. How do you feel about multichannel direct mail? What are you thinking there?

Pamela:Well, you know, I’m a big fan of multichannel but I’m also a huge fan of direct mail because we get phenomenal results from direct mail. I’ve yet to see a legacy donor come from email.


Pamela:Have you?

Steven:No. No. No.

Pamela:You know, when looking at building those long term relationships . . . yeah, we had a Basics & More ticket buyer last year who, their organization had gone pretty much wholly to email, they pretty much ditched print and she brought it back and they’ve seen phenomenal success.

Steven:Yeah, if you want to learn more about that, check out the recording of Steven Screen’s webinar he did for us. It makes the case for print newsletters for sure.

Pamela:Oh, for sure. Yeah. It’s like you can create this powerful revenue-generating print newsletter system but you are never going to get it from email.


Pamela:You may get a couple lone donations once in awhile.

Steven:Well, here is one from Sandy. Memorial gifts. So Sandy does not currently cultivate their memorial donors because she, and I think wisely, realizes that it’s not necessarily their cause, right, because it’s the bereaved family who chooses a cause, but she still sends them a thank you letter and lets the family member know that the donation was made in their family member’s honor. But what should you do after that? Should you do anything with these memorial donors? Should you maybe just consider them one and dones or segment them? What do you think about that?

Pamela:Oh, absolutely segment them. I think so few organizations . . . you have to remember that fundraising, that making a donation is emotional, right? And giving an “in memory of” gift, hardly anything could be that emotional. Actually, can I just relay the story that I showed in my newsletter this morning?


Pamela:Actually my first experience as a real donor was probably, I want to say it would have been about 20 years ago. I had just had my second daughter and one of my best friends—and I always choke up when I tell this story—she lost her 8-year-old son to a form of pediatric cancer. What could be worse? I had had a rough delivery, I couldn’t go home to go to the funeral and I tried to support her as best I could through phone calls and just keeping in touch.

Maybe it was a year or so later she got involved with a charity in Michael’s memory and I made a gift to the charity and she started as a volunteer. She did a lot for them. She organized bike races, she organized runs, she did all kinds of things.

Then when I went to work for the grant-making foundation, one of our benefits was actually we were allowed to make one or two major gifts to organizations that we liked, so I made my gift every year to this organization. I heard from them but it was pretty bad. But Kathy knew about the gifts and she was always really appreciative.

After I left the foundation I continued, actually, to give until she called me up and told me that she had quit volunteering for the organization because of the really shabby treatment they’d given her. You know, I just think donor-centricity goes . . . when you respect your donors, when you honor your donors, you respect and honor your staff, you respect and honor your board members, it just all flows together. Does that make sense?

Steven:Absolutely. That is a pretty good way to end it.

Pamela:Well, you have to do it with extreme tact and grace, but if you go to the SOFII website, Lisa Sargent has an exhibit on writing those letters and how to steward those particular kind of donors.

Steven:Yeah, Lisa’s a genius. Check that out. That’s

Pamela:Oh, hey, Maryanne, I didn’t know you were on. I love Maryanne.

Steven:Well, I think we’re just about out of time. I know we didn’t get to all of the questions but, Pamela, can people reach out to you maybe by email or Twitter or what would you prefer?

Pamela:Oh, sure, I forgot to do a contact slide, didn’t I? Oops. Well, there’s my email address and I’m on Twitter too @pamelagrow.

Steven:Yeah, and I’ll share all of your contact information in my follow-up email. I’ll send out the recording, I’ll send out the slides, and that timeline just in case you didn’t already get those. So, Pamela, thanks for being here. This is super fun.

Pamela:Well, thanks for having me. I really appreciate it.

Steven:Yeah. We’ve got some cool webinars coming up later this year. We’ve got one scheduled, I think, pretty much every Thursday for the rest of the year, except maybe a couple to give me a break.

Got a fun one coming up, yeah, Tammy Zonker, one of our favorites. She’s going to talk about “The 5 Donor Love Languages.” If you want to know what those languages are, you’ve got to join us. This is a good one. I’ve seen her give this presentation live at a conference and I said, “Tammy, you’ve got to do this webinar for me.” She said “yes” because she’s an awesome person. So check it out one week from today.

Yeah, you’re going to love it. Totally free. Totally educational. Just like this one. They’re always free. It’s great. We’ll call it a day there. Thanks again, Pamela. This is super fun.

Pamela:Well, thank you. Thanks for having me.

Steven:And thanks to all of you for taking . . . yeah. You guys took an hour out of your day, so I’m also grateful to you. You’ll get an email from me in a little while so be on the lookout for that and hopefully we will see you next week. So have a safe rest of your Thursday and weekend. Stay warm out there and we’ll hopefully talk to you again soon. See you.

Pamela:Thank you. Bye bye.

Kristen Hay

Kristen Hay

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