Jen Shang, PhD will take you through a series of real-world examples to demonstrate how philanthropic psychology can be applied to nurture, develop donor identities, and achieve sustainable increases in giving.

Full Transcript:

Steve: All right, Jen, I’ve got 2:00 Eastern. Is it okay if I go ahead and get this party started officially?

Jen: Go for it.

Steve: All right, awesome. Well, good afternoon, everybody. Good morning, if you’re out on the West Coast, I should say. And if you’re watching this as a recording, I hope you’re having a good day no matter when and where you’re from because we are here to talk about how to love your donors in the philanthropic psychology way. Oh, yeah, it’s going to be a good one. So thanks for being here. Thanks for tuning in. I’m Steven. I’m over here at Bloomerang. And I’ll be moderating today’s discussion as always. 

And just a couple of quick housekeeping items, just want to let you all know that we are recording this session. And we’ll be sending out that recording later today. So if you have to leave early, or maybe get interrupted, maybe in your home office someone barges in and interrupts, that’s okay. We’ll get you the recording. So don’t worry about that at all.

But most importantly, please feel free to chat in any questions or comments along the way. We’re going to save some time for Q&A. But we’d love to hear from you. There’s a chat box and a Q&A box. So you can use those. Although, I’ll give you a little tip, if you use the Q&A box, it might be easier for us to call out your question, just a little insider tip for you. But either way, we’d love to hear from you. Introduce yourself in the chat if you haven’t already. We’d love for the sessions to be interactive. You can even send us a tweet. I’ll keep an eye on Twitter every once in a while. But we would love to hear from you. 

And if this is your first Bloomerang webinar, extra special welcome to all you first timers. We do these webinars just about every Thursday throughout the year. We love doing these sessions. It’s one of our favorite things we do at Bloomerang.

If you’ve never heard of Bloomerang, we’re a provider of donor management software. So check that out if you are interested. Maybe you’re looking for new software or choosing your first provider. So, yeah, we’d love for you to check that out. But don’t do that right now because you are in for a super special treat. This is a big deal to have, today’s guest on. Someone that I’ve known for many years, has been a great friend to Bloomerang and our community, but never had her on the webinar series. So I’m righting that wrong today because Jen Shang is here. Jen, how are you doing? You doing okay?

Jen: Hello, yes.

Steve: This is awesome to have you. I know you’re super busy with your travel. You’re actually here in the States. But you make your time between here and London. And so I’m just so appreciative that you have made the time to join us here today. If you all don’t know Jen, I don’t know what you’re doing with your life. I guess you’re remedying that now. But you got to follow Jen. She is the world’s first Ph.D. in philanthropy. And she’s actually the only philanthropic psychologist out there doing amazing, amazing research. We’ve been a supporter of her research for many years. I’ll share that with everyone later on just so you can kind of see those things. But super serious research here, folks. This is very scientific. It’s not very often that we take a very scientific view of the philanthropy world, but Jen is definitely leading the charge on that. She has been published all over the place. Her research has been featured in tons of magazines and publications and is all over the place delivering those findings, but was again gracious enough to carve out an hour to share all that with us.

So I’m so excited. I need to pipe down because I’m taking up way too much of your time, Jen. So I’m going to stop sharing and let you take it away. Let’s see if we can get those slides going. Here we go. Let’s see if we can get it going. It’s always a fun handoff, right? Is it working for you, Jen?

Jen: Yeah, it’s working for my side, but I can’t see what you’re sharing.

Steve: I don’t think you’re sharing your screen yet. You may have your slides up on your computer, but try hitting that share button. Yeah, there it goes. There, perfect.

Jen: Awesome. Brilliant.

Steve: Okay, go for it.

Jen: So, Steven, I will let you handle the questions from the Q&A . . . 

Steve: Yes, absolutely.

Jen: . . . and from the tracks as they come in. But I saw the last person who typed in a hello, which is Wendy Wong, and very nice to see you here. I love you very much. And, yeah, miss you quite a bit too, so sent me a note on email and chat. But we’re going to talk about how to love your donors in the philanthropic psychology way. And as you can probably experience in the next 50 minutes, I absolutely love this topic. I can’t think of anything else that I would rather spend my time in doing because philanthropy psychology is fabulous. 

So if you have been in philanthropy for a while, philanthropy, its Greek root is love of humankind. And psychology also has a Greek root, all the things with logy at the end has them, but it’s the study and research of the human psyche and soul back to the Greek time. But today, in psychology, we talk primarily about our sense of who we are and how we express that in our doing, in our thinking, in our feeling, in everything that we are.

Now, philanthropic psychology, in its simplest form, is the study of how people love humankind, or sometimes I say how people love people. Now, if I pause for a minute, moment, I’m sure there will be people from animal causes and nature conservancy asking me, “Jen, I am sure that you’re missing something out here. People shouldn’t only be loving people. People should be loving animals and the planet too.” And I absolutely 100% wholeheartedly agree with you. And there are two reasons why, so far and probably before I retire, I want to limit the scope of my kind of philanthropic psychology to people loving people. And the reason more pessimistically is I’m thinking I’ve only got 30 years of my career left before I have to drop. So with the 30 years, probably understanding people loving people is all that I can do. But we do have a group of much more energetic postdoctoral researchers at our institute at the moment exploring how people love the nature and how people love animals too. But here is the catch, the more optimistic part of me say, “You know what, if one person can love that one person who has hurt the most in their life, then understanding people loving people is probably quite enough a job to figure out.” So that is what philanthropic in essence is about.

As I will show you different concepts of love throughout the presentation, the kind of love that we’re talking about is not just the love that we can have for people who are similar to us, who are easy to love, who are welcoming us loving them, but also the people who we may or may not be able to love in the first go. So that is what we explore in depth in our certificate in philanthropic psychology at our institute, how can we, through fundraising in the charitable sector, facilitate the love that people can have, not only for those easily lovable, but also for the people that might be most difficult for us to love.

So when we talk about people loving people, there are three things that I would like to draw your attention to. The first thing is humans being good humans. Whenever we talk about people love people, we like to put ourselves out of the picture. So whenever we talk about people loving people, we like to think about we love other people, anybody but ourselves. And the very foundation of philanthropic psychology is that it explores how we can love people in the same way that we love ourselves. So when we talk about loving people, it’s not just about loving other people, but how can we use the skills that we have to love ourselves to love other people. 

Now, in the charity context, the most straightforward way to think about this is how can we love the people who need our help? And if we consider them as others, then how can we love our donors in the same way that we would love our beneficiaries, whether it’s people, animals, or planets, how much agency we want to give them, how much autonomy we want to give them, how much voice we want to give them, and how much we are willing to travel to listen and understand our beneficiaries. That is the dedication and the depth that we want to use to love our donors. Are we giving our donors the same attention as we are giving the people we ask them to love?

And who is doing the loving and who is loved? If we’re asking people to care about the people they give money to help, then are we doing our part to speak on behalf of our animals, our planets, our beneficiaries to show our love/their love to our supporters in our communication? Because building love is not just something that we talk about. Building love has to be something that donors can feel. So can donors feel the love we have for them, the love our beneficiaries have for them? When we ask them for money, are we talking about, “If you give money, we can do something to succeed?” Or are we talking about, “You are part of the family that we’re building?” And yes, we are still on the first slide that is called what is philanthropic psychology. And we are now onto the last line. 

So when we’re talking about who is doing the loving and who is loved, what I would like you to think about is, is it the beneficiary who needs to feel loved? And obviously, a lot of people don’t like to call them beneficiary. It could be partners. It could be people in need. It could be people who needed help today to help themselves. Whatever term you use, are they the one? Are they the only one being loved? And if we really talk about agency, have we ever give our beneficiaries the opportunity to describe their love to our donors?

And then finally, in order to really understand how people love people, we have to know what love means. And the saddest thing that I can think of at the moment is when we talk about love, love is almost always automatically associated with romantic love. But philanthropy is about the love of humankind. It’s not just about the love with one life partner, sometimes many life partners. But it is about loving the people that we can’t be life partners with. It’s about loving the people that are different from us. It’s about loving the people who will always be different from us until the day we and they die, maybe not together. But how can we love in that way? And that, in its core, is what philanthropic psychology is about. 

So today, I will only share with you a few examples of how our graduates from our courses have applied these ideas into their own work. But if you are interested in a much deeper dive into the philanthropic psychology concepts and how you can apply them in fundraising copywriting, you can go to our institute at Institute for Sustainable Philanthropy and explore any of these more in-depth certificate.

But for now, I’m going to share with you how we learn about building a long-lasting, high-quality relationship with our donors and how we can sustainably double their giving. And I believe in simplicity. So I’m not going to bore you with too many takeaway take-home messages other than three plus a little. So this is the first one, how can you raise more money more sustainably? And this is the most important one, which is to love your donors as a person, not just as a giver. And this is not about simple word changes. This is a fundamental mindset shift. It’s going to take you probably weeks, months, and years to make this transition and to change your writing habit. 

But just to take a moment to soak in these examples and to see behind what is hidden in the word choices. So this is an example from The Leprosy Mission Australia. Thanks to Paul who shared a lot of his examples with us. This is one of his campaigns, and this is one of the packs that he used. And the increase that you see on the screen is not the only increase he gets, and is not the first increase he gets, and it’s not the last increase he gets. It’s sustainable increase that he gets campaign, after campaign, after campaign when he care for who his donors are. So let’s think through how he is helping his supporters to transition that mindset to help them understand that they care about them as people, not just as supporters.

Look at the simple five words he’s got on his outer envelope, leprosy, teasing, disability. Obviously, The Leprosy Mission is about early detection, is about treatment, is about ending leprosy by 2035 on the planet Earth. That is the problem that they want to solve. What is disability? It’s the consequences of someone suffering from leprosy. What is teasing? That is what is worse than disability is being teased by the people that you are most trusted, like your family and friends. It’s being teased by people that you most respect, like your teachers from your school. And it’s being teased by your peer group. When your child is diagnosed with leprosy, other moms think that you and your children are cursed. 

So those are the problems that they want to solve. And they can simply ask supporters, “If you make a donation today, you can help end leprosy. If you make a donation today, you can help prevent her from having disability,” or, “If you make a donation today, you can create a more supportive environment for both her and her mom to live the life with the leprosy that they have.”

But that’s not what they did. They’re saying, “Are your eyes on the problem?” or, “Are your eyes on the person? Because that is what we want to see. We don’t want to see you as someone only with money. And by giving money, can solve someone else’s problem. We want to see you as someone, and we want to know you as someone who can see the person hidden, hurt, wounded by that problem.” 

So even with the simple five words on the envelope itself, they are creating already a deeper connection with their supporters, seeing beyond the problem to the person behind. And when you read the first line of this letter, the letter says, “At times like this, I thank God for people like you.” and this is their CEO speaking, “Your great kindness through The Leprosy Mission has always begun protecting children from the impact of leprosy . . .” so it’s not like they don’t talk about the impact of it, but they talk about it in the context of the person, “. . . like Emiliana, whose story always brings me to tears.”

So it’s not like the person writing about the problem is outside of the situation, is outside of the relationships, is only telling the donors what the problem is on the ground. The person who’s writing the letter is sharing their own feelings, disclosing their own feelings with the supporter. 

One of the most important factors that drive intimacy in a relationship is mutual disclosure. And it’s mutual disclosure of things that you would not otherwise share with other people. And when we disclose our feelings, what do we expect from others? We expect to be heard, and we expect to be cared for. And when the person shares his own feelings, that’s what they would expect from their donors, to be understood and to be heard. But if that is what we want from our donors, that should be what we give them too. If we ask them to share something with us in a survey, then we have to commit to make them feel heard and cared for when we talk back to them. 

So when we tell them the story and this sharing in the outer envelope and the letter, we have to carry that listening, and that understanding, and that sharing, all the way to the response device where they can pick items like, “Yes, I’m inspired by Jesus in reaching out to people hurt by leprosy and disability. Yes, it is vital to me that children with the effects of leprosy feel God’s love.” Why are those statements here? Because those are the highest frequency reasons that their supporters chose to express in their own giving. So the whole pack is not written without the supporter’s desires and wishes, and likes and dislikes in mind. The whole pack is designed to speak to the reasons of why supporters give in their own language. And I’m sure many of your good folks will feel, “Oh, gosh, I can’t possibly do this. This just feel way too manipulative.” What do you think you’re doing otherwise when you send out a fundraising communication letter? You’re asking them for money, right?

So what is a better way to ask for money than asking for money for the reason they want to be asked for? So it’s not like you’re manipulating them into something that they don’t like. It’s like you are sharing with them things that they do like, and you are talking everything in the language that they like so they feel if they give, it is about what they care about. So we are, like it or not, manipulating in every single conversation we have. 

Think about the conversations you have to have with your own children trying to make them clean the dishes. Can you put your hand on your heart and just say, “Guess what, every time I ask my children to tidy up the kitchen, I’m always doing it for their own good?” And if you are that type of parents, yeah, you can say whatever else to your supporters in your fundraising communication. But if once ever, in the history of you raising children you have to manipulate them once to do the things you want them to do because it’s good for you, then you should be less harsh on yourself to do the right thing for your donors, which is to speak the language . . . thanks for laughing, to speak the language that they connect with in their own words. And I would say to do that in the way with military precision, which is the way that Paul does it.

When Paul runs his mailing package, his instructions for his teams is, “If you’re going to change a word in my mailing pack, I want to see the evidence that you use to change that word. If that word is not something that we have seen that our supporters use in our surveys of them, you can’t change it.” I was like, “Oh, my goodness, gracious. I have just found the best PhilPsycher on the planet,” because that is how much he loves his donors, to the word, precisely to exactly what his donors are saying, nothing more, nothing less, and that’s it. 

And guess what kind of results he get? Even when people don’t tick any booster statements, they double their giving because they heard their supporters, they care about them deeply, and they care about them with military precision. And if people tick one box, tick the second box, tick both boxes, you just see those numbers increase. And this is not the only time that they get this. It’s repeatedly campaign, after campaign, after campaign. And Paul is so excited that he’s had more and more members of his team into our certificate program, so he doesn’t have to keep saying to his people why you need to do things that he is doing because it is good for his database, and it’s good for his bottom.

So, yes, number one takeaway, love your donors, the person, not just as a giver, and show your donors heartfelt love, not just tell them to take action. Now, show your love. That is true art and science of fundraising. If you can’t feel your love for your donors, if your copywriters can’t feel their love for their donors, don’t write a copy because if you can’t feel it, nobody else can. It doesn’t matter you’re not the same audience. You can only be who you are. You can only feel how you feel. But if you can feel it, it’s more likely that anybody else from any other demographics can feel it. And if you can’t feel it, it’s definitely not feelable by anybody else because it failed the can you feel it test, right?

So you just need to get real. And I’m sorry to tell you, there’s no shortcut for this. You have to feel the love before you can show other people. And for now, because we only have one hour, I’m only going to go for one kind of love, which is companionate love. We talk about other kinds of love in philanthropic psychology too. But just not to confuse you, companionate love is the love we have for in-group members, and compassionate love is the love we have for out-group members, and attachment love is the love we have to build with one specific individual for 10 years before it can become love.

So people ask me, “Man, I’m a mother, I am sure the moment I give birth to a child, I’m loving her or him.” And unfortunately, psychologists have learned that it takes thousands of touches on the skin before a child can securely attach to a mother. So attachment love is not a given. Attachment love is something that we build. We build repeatedly over time, over a very, very long time. And when we build that kind of love, we have the hope of bringing in someone from an out-group into our in-group. But for now, let’s talk about this in-group love and reflect a little bit on the other two.

So here is an example from a donor. And this is donor cared for by my absolute favorite, Beth Beall. I just love her. I mean, if you don’t know her, go to sign up for VidaJoven DeMexico, her orphanage and just read her newsletters, and read her e-mails, and read her website, and look at her pictures. I do hope that you would love her in the same way that I love her. But this is how she loves one of her donors. This donor learned of her orphanage through her church several years ago. And she made a $100 donation. Beth didn’t recognize her name. Beth is like the CEO of the organization. She works as a fundraiser in the organization. So this is not a large organization. This is an organization that can be achieved by anybody. And I didn’t say it in a bad way. Beth made it uniquely special. But it’s not like a giant organization. It’s organization we can see.

And she didn’t recognize her name, so she rang her. And by ringing her, Beth learned that she loves phone calls. So she calls once in a while and get in touch. And she also learned that this donor loves actual notes. So she sent her notes once in a while. And then this donor began to surprise Beth with birthday and Christmas gifts. And that’s how Beth and I got to know each other. She come to the course, we love each other. We send each other e-mails. We send each other books. We send each other pictures. She’s just such a perfect, personable person. I just love her. And then they start to have lunch together. And all as everything is happening, this donor increased her giving from $100 to $500 a month, to $1,000 a month, to $5,000 a month. And the last month, she made a $10,000 gift. And I was like, “Oh my goodness.” I am 120% sure that the only reason, actually the primary reason, actually the purest reason why Beth did all of this is because she genuinely loved this person in the same way that she love me. I had like tons of emails from Beth. And I can tell you how much she made me feel that she loves me. And if there’s any doubt, I’ve got a whole load of examples to show you how that love can be felt.

And the most beautiful part about Beth is her love is not just warm, and fluffy, and joyful. And obviously, you can just see the joy from it all from the colors, especially for you because you care about these children. No more hunger for this cutie-pie thanks to you. And you can just feel happy. But that is not the only thing Beth does. She’s just so brilliant. And if you get to know Beth, you just have to get to know her, you get to see the depth of suffering that she has from everything that she goes through personally with these children. But yet, when you read and you just . . . oh my goodness, she loves, and her love wins. 

What exactly is the kind of love that win? This is how she shares with her supporters, “Thanks to you, Maria,” this little cutie-pie girl with a pineapple on her nose . . . sorry, her head, “gets plenty of nutritious, delicious food each and every day. When she first came to the orphanage, Maria, like all the kids, didn’t trust there will be any meal beyond this one. She gobbled, hoarded, anxiously asked for more, more, more. But with time, Maria is learning to trust, to trust that there will be food tomorrow just as there is food today. Such trust is a pretty extraordinary thing. And that’s precisely what you made possible for Maria. The world used to be hard-edged and cruel for Maria. Now, thanks to you, this little girl’s world is as sweet as a ripe mango and as comforting as chicken soup. Thanks for being so EGGS-traordinary.”

Oh my goodness, you can taste this love in the mango. You can taste this love in the chicken soup. You can taste this love in the eggs. Did she ever shy away from Maria’s suffering? Not a bloody chance. She portrayed Maria’s suffering to the depth of her suffering, to every meal that she was eating and yet, she gave the power of love to her supporters in the sweet mango way. That’s communication. That’s the showing of love, not telling. 

Does she not talk about the depth of systemic problems and the professionalism of her staff? No bloody chance. Beth is going to talk about anything that she needs to talk about so that people understand how bloody good they are. “All over the world, kids go to school hungry, traumatized, and scared. Conditions like these make learning almost impossible because the child is stuck in survival mode.” This child is stuck in survival mode. And she can go to school, but she can’t learn. And that is when her professional staff would go in with professional help so this child can learn at school. And that’s the kind of help that donors created. And this kind of help does not last just a meal, does not last just one trauma triggered episode. This love lasts for years.

When they first arrived, there were only three and one. But you are doing such a phenomenal job of raising these precious kids. Just look at them now. Daniel is 11 years old and in sixth grade. Mayra is eight years old and in fourth grade. And look at what she wrote next. “Everything this brother and sister know about love, they know because of you. Your devotion to abandoned children like Daniel and Mayra is the inspiration our world needs.” Wow. “You are doing such a phenomenal job of raising these precious kids.” And when Beth talks this way to her supporters, her supporters ask every time when they talk to Beth, “How is my little orphanage doing?” That’s companionate love. That’s my people. 

Do we think that this lady from a church in San Diego would think of this little Maria, this little Daniel, this little Mayra as her own children from day one? There’s no way because we’re humans. But do we think she can love them as her own if we show her the love that these children have for each other and for her? A brother and a sister who lost their parents at age one and three now have to love each other as a family. They had no family, these two children, and now they love like a family. Do you think a donor can stop giving to an organization like this ever? Why wouldn’t they? Why would they ever stop giving? Why wouldn’t they love these children who started as just some other kids in Mexico, now their own children? And that’s the kind of love we throw in our communications. Do we think Beth feel happy about how many times that she doubled giving from this donor? Probably. But you know, and I know, and the donor knows, and the kids knows, it’s not about money. It’s because they love each other. And do this consistently, all the way, pure and simple, large and small.

This is from Volunteers of America again. Well, it’s my favorite. All my students are my favorite. But there are so many favorites. They just melt my heart with what they can do with philanthropic psychology really. So this is a Thanksgiving pack from Volunteers of America in 2019. And this is a Thanksgiving pack from the same organization in 2020. Becky took our certificate in philanthropic psychology, graduated in June. So she started to practice this way of communicating to her donors about six months before this Thanksgiving appeal. And she thoroughly, thoroughly used everything that I could possibly think of that she could use and better in her letters. That’s when I decided, “You know, I’m just going to give up sharing my own example. I’m just going to share my students,” because they do these things better than I could do them. 

Anyway, so in 2020, in the largest holiday season in the United States, where people couldn’t get together with family during Thanksgiving, Becky thought, “You know what, I’m just going to put some people on that envelope, so that the minute that this lands in their doorstep, they feel better. They feel more connected. They can see people, and so they can feel that we care about them. It’s not just the food that we know. We know that they need people, and we care that we know that they need people.”

And throughout the whole pack, whether it’s the first sentence, the Johnson box here, the highlighted area, or the response voucher, she penetrated the same ideas. I’ll go through each portion with you separately. But I will also highlight where they are in this pack so you can follow how they flow. From the Johnson box, from the year before, it is about the action. “Rush back one of the enclosed Thanksgiving voucher to help a neighbor in our community today,” versus, “Your compassion can give blessings to your neighbors.” They’re not the same, are they? They don’t feel the same, are they? I mean, we are the charitable sector. We’re supposed to make people feel loved when we ask them to love. So how can we show gratitude? How can we show gratitude in everything that we do for them? 

“With the holiday season fast approaching, your Volunteers of America area has been working overtime to help struggling families through the many crisis caused by COVID-19.” “It’s hard to believe the holidays are just around the corner. A time of year for so many filled with joy and blessings. You have been one of our blessings, and we’re so thankful.” We are so thankful. We are bending our knees, thankful. We’re taking our volunteers working overtime out, thankful. We put you before ourselves, thankful. That is the showing of love. We love you so much that you are in our first paragraph, nothing else. “With you by our side.” 

Look at this next one. This is the one that completely got me, “In just the few seconds it takes to fill the voucher enclosed.” Yes, let’s make donations easy, and simple and fast. Let’s not make barriers of [inaudible 00:42:45] high. That is because you’ve got no bloody love to share with your people. Yes, things need to be simple. But why so simple to the point that we can appreciate the simple moment of love that they have.

It only takes a moment, the moment for your heart to decide to help. “It only takes the moment your heart decides to help.” It’s not a simple moment. It’s not an easy moment. It’s not a cheap moment. It is the most precious moment of blessing that you can give to a neighbor. “Your compassion can make a difference.” That kind of moment is worthy of spending any time, any moment, any seconds to reach. That is the moment we want to bring into our supporter’s lives, the moment we give them to choose to love someone, so that when they send in their vouchers, it’s about their “Thanksgiving blessing to help my neighbor.” And we only ask for this when we show them again, and again, and again that we thank them. We are thankful for them. We have gratitude to them. We show them Thanksgiving. That’s when we can ask for Thanksgiving. If we can’t feel it, if we don’t show it, we better not ask for it no matter how cheap, and easy, and low [inaudible 00:44:49] that we can make those feel seconds to be for them. We are not worthy of their vouchers.

And thank you is not just something that we say. It’s something we show. Our gratitude is to take ourselves out and give the credits all to them, “With this gift, I am changing lives.” “I am changing lives,” that’s their moment. Let them enjoy it, soak into it. Up their giving 100%, double it in major gift, if you can convince your CEO, your board members, your VP, your chair of your board members, the people that you help, the daughters of the people that you help sing from exactly the same hymn sheet of love. And that’s when you also double in other areas. 

And that is how this way of raising money can be done. And when you do it, do all three things. Make sure you also repeat, and make sure you do it everywhere. So even if it’s the first time that you do something . . . this is from Children’s Hospices Across Scotland. They did our survey. They know exactly how to talk to their supporters. They know exactly the words to use. They use the inner, outer envelope. They’re using the donation button. They’re using the inserts. They’re using the letters. They’re using the DRTV ads. They’re using PR messages. They get this level of increase in the first campaign they did when they do it everywhere. And that kind of increase gave them the best Christmas appeal in the history of their fundraising in the middle of COVID. And that is the power of love, in growing giving.

Same idea used by Trocaire, Ireland, the largest charity there. It’s a Catholic humanitarian relief organization. In the depths of winter, they’re telling people how freezing cold the refugee camps are. And they are telling the stories about so much suffering. They are talking about how a pride dad had to give up pride to take humanitarian need so that his family can eat. But look at their insert, “When icy winds blow, may you feel connected always . . .” That is unconditional love, isn’t it? Because people read this blessing, whether they give money or not. And yes, this looks like a small increase, 8%. But they have been doing it for a decade. And that is how powerful this way of communicating can do for your database. It’s not growing once. It’s not growing twice. And it’s not even growing 3 times in less than 12 months. It’s growing for a decade. And you can always do better. And very often, even after a decade, we fundraisers have to go back and tell our supporters that we still have more needs, but they still need to help more. But that’s exactly why we tell them, “If you can still weep at injustice, you’re enough.”

And where do they put this insert into? It’s their 25 years after Rwanda genocide newsletter, where they tell the story of how one victim who lost her entire family cannot hold hands with the soldier who killed every single one of them and how they live in the same village. And they told the story to the 400 people who gave 25 years ago. And they’re telling them that your love can heal the deepest human suffering. You might not be able to see it in a year, you might not be able to see it in 2 years, but 25. People can learn how to forgive each other, and they can hold hands with this people who killed their whole family. And that is what the charitable sector should stand for. And that is what we stand for. 

The most beautiful thing about that pack is when they wrote about the lady whose family got killed. And when they wrote about the soldier who killed her whole family, they didn’t change the font, they didn’t change the tone, they didn’t change the pictures. It was just talking about one human’s story, and then other human’s story. And they’re different, but they are the same. They’re holding hands after 25 years. Can we create that kind of companionate love for our world and show that to our donors and tell them that is the power of their love?

I don’t know how many times I present this. Every single time I cry. I don’t know why. It’s just the power of human love really just speaks for themselves. And not every story has to be suffering. We can have the prettiest of things, of the prettiest music. Like, “I love the Lyric Opera Chicago as much as a sunflower loves the sun.” So you can say, “Your passion and curiosity makes magic possible.” And here’s an example from AnimalsAsia, Kindness in action, created by yet another one of my favorite participants, Violet Donohoe. I’m not going to talk about this piece. I’m just going to let you read it. So I will stop and you can read her letter.

So that is the love they build between this bear and the supporters. And I’m sure the first time when the supporter read the poem, this bear would not have been their in-group. And it doesn’t have to happen to a bear behind a cage in Asia. It can happen right around us. And it can happen to our own pets. So this is the example from BC SPCA, “Can you believe it’s been 12 months? Thank goodness for our pets, providing essential comfort since forever.” And then they go on and talk about the difficult time, loss of loved ones, the challenging times. And they ask themselves, “What is essential?” “It didn’t happen like we feared. Something much better happened because you did an amazing, incredible thing. Animal lovers kept our beloved pets safe, snuggled in their homes.” So again, it’s the love that is in every copy. And the love can come out in any possible way. It’s the animal lovers for their own pets. It’s the animal lovers to other people’s pets. It’s our love for our animal lovers. And, of course, we will also ask for money. But we ask it because we share their love for the animals that they care about. “And looking back, what I will remember most about this past year is that your compassion brought essential comfort to animals and their humans.” Wow. Wow. Wow. Wow. Who is the in-group here? Is that the animals or is that their humans? Do you think that they know that their animal lovers put their animals before their humans? And do you think that when they read how much they’re known in their love for animals that they wouldn’t want to give more?

And finally, I want to encourage you that this is not something that you have to invest months, after years, after years, after months to come up with. Everything is already in your heart. It’s just a matter of channeling them out into your fundraising copies. So as the last example, I’m going to share with you one forum posting that one of our participant in our certificate in fundraising classes posted. And he did it in week two. And again, I’ll let you read it.

[silence 00:57:27 – 00:58:35]

And that is everything that I have to share today. Thank you very much for your attention.

Steve: I told you it was going to be good. Thanks, Jen. I think if we were all in the room together, you’d find many tears including mine. So thank you so much. It’s always awesome to hear you. But I’m always reminded about how awesome you are. So thank you so much. I wish we were together. I’d just give you a big hug right now. But hopefully, I’ll get to do that soon. Hey, we do have some questions. We’ve got your info up on the screen. And I know it’s already 3:00, so I probably won’t be able to get to all of them. But is it cool, Jen, if people reach out to you? Is that okay?

Jen: Yeah, absolutely.

Steve: And we got to give them info about your certificate program too because I think some people are going to want to sign up after hearing about this. Jen, maybe one question to stick on here since we’re running out of time almost is, how do you get buy in? I think everyone here listening is on board, but maybe they’re dealing with board members or their boss who, I don’t know, they think this is not the right approach even though it’s been proven. What do you say to those people? How did your students overcome that?

Jen: Show them results from other organizations who have made it. Show them the kind of results that your board and your CEOs want to see and convert them into true believers before you start anything. There’s no other way for success.

Steve: Yeah, the numbers don’t lie, right? I love it. What about surveys? We had a lot of people talking about donor surveys. Any quick tips for people who maybe want to dip their toes into that and try that for their organization?

Jen: You would only want to do surveys if you know you can 100% execute on it. I find too many organizations run surveys and then not use it in the same way that Paul is using them. So whenever you design any survey, always ask yourself, “If these are the all possible answers that I get from my survey, what exactly are the ways that I’m going to use it?” It is only after you convinced yourself that you can implement whatever the outcome of the questions are, that is then when you go ahead and do the survey.

Steve: Yeah, you can kind of get yourself into trouble with questions that lead to bad data and then . . . Yeah, that makes sense. Dang, I don’t want to monopolize too much of your time, Jen. I know we didn’t get to all the questions here. But do reach out to her, obviously a wealth of knowledge. And we’ll share some other good things that we’ve collaborated on, some of that research as well. But, Jen, this was awesome. Thanks. I’m seeing a lot of kudos in the chat. Hopefully, you’re seeing that too. But thanks for taking the time. I know you’re super busy. It was awesome to have you again.

Jen: Oh, thank you. Thank you so much.

Steve: And I just want to shout out the next webinar that we’ve got coming up. Next week, a topic we’ve been getting a lot of questions about here amongst our community, so we reached out to some experts, cryptocurrency. Is that a viable form of collecting donations? And if so, how do you do it? So you’re going to get a good overview of what the world of crypto donations looks like. So join us. That’d be a pretty cool one. It’s not something I’ve seen a lot of information about. So I’m excited to see that as well. But if you can’t make it, we got lots of other webinars scheduled out onto our schedule. And if you can’t make this one, you can register anyway because you’ll get the recording.

And speaking of recordings, I’ll be sending out the recording of this session as well. So if you want to check back in with it or maybe share it with a friend or a colleague, you’ll have that in just a couple of hours. So be on the lookout for an email from me. But other than that, we’ll call it a day there. Jen, you’re awesome. Thanks for hanging out with us and to all of you for taking an hour out of your day. Great to see you. Thanks for doing that. And hopefully, we’ll see you again next week. So have a good rest of your Thursday. Have a good weekend. Stay safe, stay healthy out there because we need you all.

Jen: Thank you very much.

Steve: And hopefully, we’ll see you again next week. See you.

Jen: Yeah, thank you. Thank you.

Steve: Bye, Jen.

Jen: 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.