In this webinar, Mazarine Treyz looks at the current state of fundraising (using research from the Atlas of Giving), what is causing a giving downturn, and what we can do about it.

In case you missed it, you can watch the full replay here:

Full Transcript:

Steven: All right, Mazarine, okay if I get us started officially?

Mazarine: Yes.

Steven: All right. Great. Well, good afternoon, everyone on the East Coast and good morning if you are on the West Coast or somewhere in between. Thanks for joining us for today’s Bloomerang webinar, “Think Bigger and Get Bolder with Your Nonprofit Growth.” And my name is Steven Shattuck and I’m the Chief Engagement Officer over here at Bloomerang and I’ll be moderating today’s discussion, as always.

And just a couple of housekeeping items before we get started. I want to let everyone know that we are recording this presentation. I’ll be sending out that recording later on this afternoon as well as the slides, just in case you didn’t already get those. So, if you have to leave early or perhaps you want to review the content later, you’ll be able to do that. Have no fear. Just look for that email from me in just a couple hours. I’ll get that in your hands pretty quickly.

As you are listening today, please feel free to chat in any questions or comments you have. I’m going to see those and so will our guest throughout the hour. So, don’t be shy. We’re going to save some time towards the end of the presentation to get to as many of those as possible and maybe even more offline. So, don’t be shy at all. We’d love to hear your questions and comments. You can do the same on Twitter if you’re into that kind of thing. You can send us a tweet at #Bloomerang or @BloomerangTech.

And just one final technical note, these webinars are usually only as good as your own internet connection. So, if you have any trouble, especially with the audio, we find that the audio by phone is usually better quality. So, if you have a phone nearby and don’t mind listening to it on the phone, check the email from ReadyTalk that went out about an hour ago. It has a phone number in that just for you that you can use to listen in.

And if this is your first Bloomerang webinar, I want to say a special welcome to you folks. We do do these webinars just about every Thursday. We love doing them. We always love to see new faces each Thursday. But if you are not familiar with Bloomerang, if Bloomerang is a new company to you, we offer donor management software.

So, if you’re interested in that or maybe just want to learn more about Bloomerang, check out our website. You can click the demo button at the top of the homepage and even watch a quick video recording of the software in action. You don’t even have to talk to a salesperson if you don’t want to. So, check us out if that’s of interest to you if you want to learn more.

But for now, I am super excited to introduce one of the best humans that I know, always great to have Mazarine Treyz here on our webinar series. How’s it going, Mazarine?

Mazarine: Oh, hey, Steven, you always make blush. Thank you.

Steven: It’s well-deserved. I feel really lucky. I got to see you just a couple months ago in San Fran. We were doing this webinar. Mazarine’s awesome. I just want to brag on her for a minute here for a moment before I turn it over to her. If you don’t know her, she is the CEO over at Wild Woman Fundraising. You’ve got to bookmark that website, excellent content. She’s super smart. She likes to give really good pep talks. I always feel really energized after hearing her speak or listening to a webinar.

She’s nationally recognized. If you see her name on a conference agenda, please go to her session. She’s created over 12 e-courses, 3 masterclasses. She’s written 3 books. I’ve got one of them on bookshelf right behind me. She has worked with over 12,000 nonprofits since 2010. That’s a huge number, Mazarine. I don’t know how you sleep. I am super excited to hand it over to you to tell us all about some cool things you’re seeing in the industry and just share all your knowledge. So, take it away, my friend.

Mazarine: All right. I will. Thank you so much, Steven. I’m really happy to be doing a webinar for Bloomerang today. Also, I’m really happing I got to come to BloomCon. Thanks again so much for inviting me. If anybody hasn’t yet been to BloomCon, pretty fun time.

So, today we’re going to talk about how to think bigger and get bolder with your nonprofit growth. If you want to tweet today, you can @ me at @WidWomanFund. So, without further ado, let’s get started.

So, Steven bragged on me a little bit already. This is a bit more about me. I have risen from development intern to development director. I’ve also cofounded a nonprofit. I’ve taught a lot of people how to fundraise. I wouldn’t say I’ve individually taught them specifically, but if you want some free stuff from me, check out I also run a couple of online conferences, the Fundraising Career Conference and the Nonprofit Leadership Summit. We have had over a thousand attendees in the last three years.

So, I’ll tell you a little bit more about that. This is my special offer for you for attending today on this webinar. If you really want to get creative with your funding streams for 2018, you’ll want to join us at the annual Nonprofit Leadership Summit. It’s September 18th, 20th and 22nd. It’s online. You can learn more at I’ll even give you a coupon code for $100 off until July 30th. It’s SoSweet100, but you have to capitalize it. I’ll tell you more about that later.

Here’s our first poll question. Feel free to use the chat pane to answer. Do you feel like you have a lot of competition for funds? Yes, maybe, depends or no, we’re totally unique? So, a lot of people are saying A or a couple of people are saying B, but there are a lot of yes’s. It looks like it’s actually back and forth, more As that Bs, I’m seeing. Good to know. Yes. So, a lot of people, most people are saying yes, there’s a lot of competition for funds. Well, thanks, everybody for sharing.

Right now, we’re going to be talking about ways you can set yourself apart. In this particular funding climate that we find ourselves in, we are seeing a lot of nonprofits being defunded. With healthcare being so uncertain right now in US, with environmental funding going away, we’ve already hurt a few nonprofits. With Meals on Wheels funding being threatened, there’s really a lot to consider here about how are we going to survive the next several years and set ourselves apart and be successful. Today, I really want to focus on what can we do. We don’t have to feel powerless by what’s at the federal government level. We can take of ways to overcome this dreadful competition for funding and today we’re going to be talking about how to do that.

So, here’s poll question two–are you looking for a way to get out of the grant cycle? A, OMG, yes, it’s so hard not knowing if we’ll get funded against next year, B, maybe, depends or C, no, we love writing grants. And it’s totally okay to say no or B or A. So, looks like we’ve got a lot of Bs. Some of us are saying C excellent. So, yeah, grants are good, don’t get me wrong. It’s just that grants are the tiniest tip of the iceberg when it comes to money in this country. There are so many more options out there that can be much more stable for you. Good, Kelly. Excellent. Good to know.

Next poll question–what are you hoping to get out of today? Find ways to innovate, A, B, look at nonprofit trends or C, something else. A lot of people say A and B. Excellent. Very good. Okay. Wonderful. All right. Good. Okay. We are going to be talking about both of these things. First, we’re going to look at trends.

So, here’s what you’re going to learn today. We’re going to look at the 2016 Atlas of Giving Trends. We’ll talk about what next level fundraising is. We’ll have some case studies. We’ll help you cut out what’s not working and determine your needs. We’ll also look at your market, what makes you unique, try and refine it, look at the hurdles to implementing, help you create systems, and we’ll also address some common misunderstandings about next level fundraising.

So, here is the Atlas of Giving trends. So, giving is flat or down across the board. Charitable giving is down, especially in churches. So, this is kind of small on my screen. I’m not sure if it’s small on your screen. You can see here at the top that in 2015, this is the amount of money that was given away and in 2016, this is the amount of money given away. It’s just slightly down in just about every part here in bequest and foundation giving, in corporate giving and in individual giving.

So, the number of donors is going down. My theory about why this is is partially because we’re not doing a very good job of finding new donors and keeping our donors, which we should be looking at. We’re not paying attention to our pipeline of donors at all. Also, we are not really thinking about how to diversify our funding stream. You can see here this is where people get the majority of the money here on the right-hand side. This is religion. Then we have a bunch of other sectors as well but religion gets the most money because they really do pay attention to retention and they ask every week and a lot of us can’t do that. That’s something to think about.

So, here is the next slide. So, the giving forecast for 2016 is going to go down. In 2017, because of the economic and political uncertainty, we’re probably going to see it either remain flat or go down again. So, I’ve actually talked with Rob, who’s the head of Atlas of Giving. They have an algorithm that shows all of these ways why they can predict this. This is something for us to consider. As a long-term strategy, even if we have grants, that’s just a very, very small piece of the pie. Even if we have individuals, are we really doing the best we can to cultivate and help them stay? Is there something else we could be doing to stand apart and make this better?

So, here’s normal fundraising. Normal fundraising you’re competing in an increasingly crowded market. The water is red with blood. So, there are a bunch of sharks and everyone is trying to get the same donors. In next level fundraising, you float above the red water and you think long-term, you engage in strategic fundraising. You might have diversified fundraising strategies but you’ll have more effective fundraising. You’re floating above here because there’s nobody else competing with you.

So, here’s an example of a nonprofit doing that. There’s a nonprofit here in Portland, Oregon called Central City Concern. They’re a homelessness nonprofit. They also help homeless people get jobs. They help them clean office buildings and help them build their resume to go on and do other things. They do that but what they also do is they create bed bug-free beds for other homeless shelters and bed bug-free chairs and tables as well. They have a special design they’ve created and they sell it to other homeless shelters around the country. No one else was doing this until they did it. That’s their blue ocean. I’m not saying you have to create a product to make a blue ocean, but we’re going to look at some more examples of this in the private sector.

So, Yellowtail versus the wine companies–the California wine industry is completely saturated. There are hundreds and hundreds of wineries all up down the coast. They all have very special wine, I’m sure. So, this little upstart company from Australia came in and said, “Hey, we’re going to start selling wine and enter this market.” And everyone would be laughing like, “Yeah, right.” And they’re like, “And we’re going to sell it really cheap and put on Australia pit helmets and go to these wine stores and say g’day, mate, want to try our wine?”

So, they actually went to a bunch of different places in the US and sort of helped people try it. As everybody here knows, Yellowtail wine is really cheap. It’s like $3 or $4 or something like that, probably not more than $7. It’s not a very complex flavor. It’s sort of sweet and fruity. What they were trying to do was not get the snooty wine drinkers who were already buying the snooty wines to buy their wine. They were trying to get beer drinkers to drink wine. They succeeded in that.

So, that’s something to think about as you look at this, like, “Wow, this came into this totally crowded market and yet they succeeded because they offered something different and they got customers who weren’t even buying that wine.” So, when you think about your donor pipeline, think about people who are not giving to anybody or maybe they’re not giving to yet or maybe they knew something that you have but they don’t know it. Why would they come to you? Maybe you can rent out your conference room. Maybe there are other ways to look at how do we slice this income onion, you know? You don’t have to do it the same old way.

Here’s another, for example, circuses–Ringling Brothers versus Cirque du Soleil. So, Ringling Brothers and Barnum & Bailey have had issues the last several years. They have had people saying we don’t want to have animals be treated this way, there are things going on in three rings at once, nobody could pay attention or keep track of that or people don’t like clowns or whatever it is.

So, Cirque du Soleil came in and they said, “Okay, we’re going to create a blue ocean by taking all these people who’ve trained for gymnastics all their life or dancers and we’re going to employ them and we’re going to create these incredible spectacles. We’re going to take people who would have gone to the opera or the theater and make them come to our circus. We’re going to use people as animals and not use animals.”

So, as you can see here, they’ve been wildly successful. They’ve spawned hundreds of imitators. You had to pay hundreds of dollars for a ticket to Cirque du Soleil. They put on a good show. I’ve never been, but I hear that it’s incredible. If anybody here has been to Cirque du Soleil, let me know how it was.

So, this is a way that you can start thinking about how can we build donors out of people who maybe have never heard of us or need something that we have and we haven’t offered it to them yet?

So, Pallotta TeamWorks is another example of a for profit company. They created a fun platform for people to get involved, a long bike ride once a year for AIDS sponsored by their friends, family or company. They had tons and tons of money they raised for cancer and they had to shut down, if anybody has read “Uncharitable” by Dan Pallotta knows because they were “making too much money.”

Then next year when the cancer charity started to run it on their own, they made far less money. It’s unfortunate that people think that just because you’re a nonprofit that virtue should be its own reward. I think virtue should be its own reward if we live in a world without money, then sure. But otherwise, we should get paid for our work and we should get paid well no matter who we are. It’s unfortunate that he had to stop doing that, but I feel like he brought to light some really interesting issues with our sector that we still need to work on.

So, in next level fundraising, as I said, you float in a blue ocean where no one else competes with you and you differentiate yourself but you also provide higher donor value at a lower cost. You also find donors from people who were non-givers. How does that look?

So, you want to ask yourself what can we raise, eliminate, create, and reduce? So, what can we create? So, for example, it’s creating a new thing. Maybe we can eliminate some costs that we don’t need to have anymore. We want to sell our building and just rent. Maybe we want to reduce the friction between when a donor first hears of us to when they give and maybe there are some speed bumps in there that we could be smoothing out for them. Maybe you want to raise awareness for our cause but also raise people’s ideas of what’s possible. So, there are a lot of things to think about in raising, creating, eliminating and reducing.

Here’s your first case study–I know we have a Meals on Wheels on today. This will be interesting to you. Anybody else who isn’t a Meals on Wheels, I still think you should look at this as problem to solution and think about if we have a really big problem, maybe we can get creative with solutions like this Dallas County Meals on Wheels did.

So, the big problem for them was their waiting list was four years. They said we need to expand by 78% to almost 7,000 meals delivered per day, so how are they going to do that? Solution–they needed to raise $17 million. They’ve raised $6 million so far. They had $1 million for food from a leadership donor. They had $1.5 million from technology from that same leadership donor. This person was a volunteer, they delivered meals, former board member and been there champion for 34 years.

So, when you are thinking about how can we really innovate in our nonprofits, this is something to think about. These are the people that you want to cultivate that have these ideas, maybe old board members, maybe volunteers that have been there forever. They might have something you don’t know that they’re just waiting to share with you, or just invite them to the table for a brainstorming session and they’ll gratified that you want their advice.

The technology piece, they’re using four different pieces to serve their clients more effectively. They’re using this thing called Fundly, which is still in beta, but helps them revamp their volunteer management system with an app to let staff and hospital know immediately if there’s an issue from a client. They can just take them right there if they see that they’ve had a stroke or something like that or heart attack, they can get the ambulance there right away and take them to the hospital.

The Allscripts, it connects you. So, it links back to elder care and hospice care. So, instantly everybody is notified if they need care. So, it creates a continuum of care. It’s improving their service delivery. It’s not just about, “Let’s throw some technology in there because apps are cool and let’s see what happens.” No. This is actually hopefully saving lives at this point.

They also use UPS RoadNet, which delivers meals in a concentrated area using half volunteers and half paid drivers. So, they don’t have people going back and forth all over town, they’re saving gas, they’re saving money by doing this. People are getting more consistently delivered meals because they’re paying people.

Also, they use PCCI, which connects hospitals to us with real time referrals. So, if they are going to go visit somebody but it turns out they’re in the hospital, they don’t worry about it because there’s no need to visit that person is in the hospital. So, unfortunately for many people that Meals on Wheels visits, they are homebound and a lot of times they do have to go out for hospital treatment or they’re in the hospital for a health-related reason, obviously.

So, anyway, that’s helping them stay more efficient and aware and helping create a way for all the caregivers around a person to know exactly what they need when they need it without having to have that lapse in time between when does their primary care physician get notified, all that stuff.

So, Fundly is an innovation earned income because this donor insists that Dallas County makes this replicable and scalable and get a referral fee for when Fundly sells the software to other Meals and Wheels programs they see more sustainable. So, that’s kind of neat. I’m hoping that other Meals on Wheels do look at this.

Imagine if you had a champion leadership donor that could help you use technology if you’re a chapter nonprofit help you deliver services better, whether you’re doing education with kids or maybe at risk kids and you want to make sure to talk with the teachers, the parents, maybe like the tutors or all at once just being able to keep everybody in the loop or maybe you’re an environmental nonprofit and there’s another app that would help people track birds or track other issues that your cause has, maybe an app to sign petitions. You never know until you brainstorm this.

So, why was this successful? Because they had a good proposal to the leadership donor. They had a good application to the donor’s foundation. They had good reporting to the donor about progress and a good board member with knowledge of tech who was a champion of the campaign.

So, your lessons from this include hire a major gifts fundraising person because that person is going to help you cultivate these people that are going to be the champions of your innovation. Maybe get a tech-savvy board member. If you don’t have anybody yet, go do a speaking engagement at a tech company in your town and ask for board members. Look at current database for longest term, most loyal supporters. Is there a way to make earned income through technology or by partnering with healthcare? That’s something to think about. That’s something that Meals on Wheels National is thinking about right now.

So, do you think any of this is doable for your nonprofit? Feel free to type in the Q&A pane how does this make you feel? Do you think it’s doable? I’d love to hear. Judy said absolutely doable. Mitsy said yes. Doris said it’s doable but scary. Yeah. Kelly said, “Yes, we have awesome supporters.” Rebecca said, “Yes, it’s just taking time to develop those relationships.” Excellent. Katie said, “Yes, we have untapped board potential.”

Karen said, “Nonprofit is about traditional art forms, so it’s hard to know how to utilize technology.” Yeah, Karen, that’s really interesting. You can brainstorm because even the most simple art forms at one time were extremely revolutionary. There are a lot of things you could do but we could talk about that later. Cynthia said, “I have to give it some thought to figure out new ideas.” Yeah. Judy said, “Get the entire team on board and empower them with positive info and most will get moving.”

Yes. Barbara said, “It’s possible with teamwork and approval from management.” Jessica said, “The problem is nonprofits don’t have the money. It’s hard being cost effective.” I totally get that Jessica. That’s totally why we talk about why this works because leadership donors stepped in and were champions of it, but they wouldn’t have stepped in unless they hired a major gifts fundraising unless they started to create and build those relationships.

All right. So, here’s another case study, Savannah. This is a more traditional model. Check this out. They went from under $1 million budget to a $9.5 million budget in 15 years. I talked to their executive director. Now they’re doing their first capital campaign in 57 years. She said the more you can do, the cheaper the unit cost is and the further your grants go. If you get the price cheaper, you could serve more with the same amount of money.

So, what she does, her lessons are do not depend on government funding. We do a lot more than just meals. We want to be the place people turn to for answers, a care manager, etc. So, they want to be a one stop and they want to rebrand for the health aspect, not just convenience. These meals are healthy choice and they give people a choice. So, they’re like, “We’re the place of first choice, not the place of last resort.”

So, what they do is they try to make their commercial kitchen be in use 24 hours a day. Here is their website. You can see they’re showing all the things that they do. It’s not just meals. They do all these other things. You can see senior campaigns, care advisors, adult daytime care, rides, senior angels, in home care, and neighborhood centers, all these things as well. If people want to learn, they help them learn. That’s an example here.

Here’s another way a nonprofit can be a one-stop. It’s Livestrong Foundation. When you get to their website, they know that when people seek them out, it’s either they have cancer or someone else in their family has cancer or their friend does. So, they have free cancer support, you can call them. They talk about the cancer journey. They have resource guides. They have common concerns. They’re a one-stop for people with cancer. They even have like a magazine about it, a special blog about it with health tips. So, they’re really trying to be a one-stop for everything related to their cause.

So, imagine if you could put on this hat for second and think possibilities. What if we could be a one-stop for everything related to our cause, even if it’s just a list of resources, even if people are just finding out about us, why are we special, why are we different? How can we support people when they have a problem? What is the number one problem they have when they come to our website and how can we solve that problem?

So, for a nonprofit that I’ve helped for the last several years, it’s called Food on Foot in LA, the people’s number one problem when they came to their website was, “How do I volunteer with you?” They’re high up in Google results. So, they put volunteering front and center on their site. So, multiple places on their front page lead you to, “Here’s how you volunteer. Here’s how you sign up. Feed homeless people on a Sunday.”

They just get tremendous response from that. They get monthly donors from that. They innovated with their website and they succeeded. Now they have 450 monthly donors and they’re getting about $40,000 a month. So, they’re a very tiny nonprofit and they’re extremely successful with what they do and they spread out their risk and they’re not dependent on just one grant or just one major donor. That’s another way that being a one-stop for just feeding the homeless in LA, they succeeded and that was one thing they did.

So, for the case study for Savannah, they rebranded it, “The first choice, not the last resort.” They asked themselves, “How do we continuously improve? How do we get bigger and better? Who else needs meals? Who else is providing lunch? Can we cater homeless shelters, mental health day rehab? Can we do catering for businesses or United Way? How can we use our assets, for example, this kitchen, 24 hours a day?”

So, that’s how they went from under $1 million budget to a $10 million budget in 15 years. That’s not like get rich quick, but it is something that they built up over time, they built up their relationships and they are now extremely successful at this.

So, what do you think? Do you think this is doable for your nonprofit? I’d love to hear. Type it in. Renee said absolutely. Jessica said maybe. Samira said yes. Heather said, “We have to narrow our scope to become a one stop shop.” That’s interesting. Usually one stop shops are like broadening their scope. Kathleen says, “I love the idea of using our assets beyond our services.” Michelle said, “We feel like a one stop shop. We need to get the message out better.” Nice. She also said, “Absolutely. We have to show them that we’re not here to take their money but to support them.”

Katie said, “How do you make yourself a one stop shop when you’re extremely local?” You just provide resources on the line, right, Katie? The number one question people have coming to your website, can you just make a post about that and post it? Or resources the typical person needs. Nicole said, “Being a one stop is deeply connected to our mission.” Excellent.

Roy said, “Where do you start when you are a small, two full-time employee shop?” Roy, look where Food on Foot is. They’re very small. You might want to just ask yourself what’s the number one question people have when they come to us? Where are they in their lives? What do they need? What’s the number one problem? Try to solve that problem right on the front page of their website. Anybody can write a website page. Anybody here can do that. I don’t care how small you are.

Logan said, “Yeah, a website redesign is doable, but a tiny org, we’re already pretty extended on the edges of our resources.” Sure. Maybe it’s time to focus on what you do the best and do that. That’s what we’ll talk about later on. So, let’s keep going.

So, your SWOT, that’s what you do the best. So, SWOT, if anybody here doesn’t know what that is–strengths, weaknesses, opportunities, threats. So, strengths–meals or more than a meal, home repair, medication monitoring. Meals on Wheels doesn’t do all this. They connect you to people that do. They’re small but they help you get connected to the case management people, the financial literacy people. They come to us for answers.

The typical weaknesses are that we don’t think bigger about how to stay competitive. There are for profit competitors for Meals on Wheels like Blue Apron and so on. Your weaknesses are you’re comfortable doing what you’ve always done. The business model is becoming anachronistic or the board doesn’t want to change. Your opportunities are older Americans need meals no matter their income. We rebrand as a one stop for all things seniors, you can connect people with resources. You don’t have to do it all yourself–food as medicine, renting out your kitchen to small businesses. They also did a PSA for younger volunteers.

Threats–so, important to know your environment. For profits try to take our market. Survive and thrive–how do I stay competitive? Maybe how do I partner better? I’m not partnering very well right now. That’s a threat. And feeling isolated. So, a lot of us do feel isolated when we’re executive directors, when we’re founders. We really need that support. So, cut out what’s not working.

If you have someone who’s not really working very well, where do we fall into our target consistently? Is it our year-end appeal? Is it our spring appeal? Is it our fundraising event? Is it crowdfunding, telemarketing, grants, TV/newspaper advertising? Whatever it is that we’re just, for fundraising, for example, not really hitting our targets, can we just drop that without any consequences? Are we doing programs that really aren’t covering their cost in terms of grants or money brought in? Is there something that we can let go of that we don’t do very well and do something else?

So, for example, I worked at the Urban League in Portland. We had senior services programs that we did really well at. We had a youth program that we didn’t really do very well at and we had an advocacy program that we brought on because there was an employee that was really good at it. So, then when I left, they started chasing the anti-obesity grants the government was giving out at that time. I was just looking at that going, “Why are they doing this? They are not about this at all. This is not mission. This is mission creep.” That’s an example of something you can stop doing because it’s not really who you are.

So, if you feel like you’re already stretched to the bounds, to limit of extending whatever you’re doing, how can you pull back in and refocus and reframe because some people right now feel like they’re there? I hear you and I understand that. So, how can you pull back in and focus on what’s making you the most money? I’ll tell you this right now, major gifts and monthly giving are one of the best ways to make money for your nonprofit, more than events, more than grants, even if you like grants. I’m not trying to offend anybody. I like grants too, but you have to diversify.

So, determine your needs. What do you need the money for? What’s a new program you can try if you’ve already pulled in and now you can feel like you can push out again? Who can you sell products and services to? How can you become a one-stop for people who come to your site for those you serve, even just connecting them with resources? How could leverage the current program to make it more enticing to volunteers and donors?

And then look at similar nonprofits in town, regionally, nationally. It’s not just a marketing strategy. It’s not just a cost-cutting strategy. It doesn’t mean you have to add new programs. I thought I would insert a joke here because it’s all pretty serious. So, most people don’t realize how vast our great nation is, truly amazing. You can see here, inside the US, we can see Europe, Australia, South America, Africa and a smaller US. So, this is just very silly.

Moving on, when you think about setting yourself apart and you don’t want to add anything new, think about how you treat your donors. Look at how other nonprofits treat their donors. How often do they communicate? Yes, thank you, Gail. Don’t leave out Alaska and Hawaii. Yeah. Their volunteering offerings, how they advertise, degree of automation they have in donor communication, how much appreciation they do for donors and volunteers. What are their programs? How slick is their design? Do they have a monthly gift program or a major donor program?

So, if you look at all these things for the top competitors in your state or the top competitors in your county or even nationally, how do they do this? So, if you’re an animal shelter, for example, you want to be looking at the national and thinking they’re doing really well. How could we take one little piece of what they’re doing well and do that well too because that’s the standard that people are going to judge us by and we need to start slowly ramping up to looking better, being better to our donors and communicating more effectively with them so that we keep them and they stay.

So, why don’t you make a small donation to your competitor or to a partner and say, “Okay, I can say here’s the email they sent me, but they didn’t call me because it’s a large donation. Did they advertise? Did they have better volunteer offerings than we do?” Even if this is maybe just the national and then the one that’s nearest to you and just see that, is their monthly giving program attractive? Is it more attractive than ours? Do they highlight it in the front page of their website? The answer for the National Humane Society, that’s yes and yes, definitely. They do. So, for a tiny nonprofit in LA, they also advertise their monthly giving program on their homepage. If you don’t yet do that, think about doing it.

So, look at us in relation to other nonprofits. Ask yourself now how do we compare? How do we treat our donors? How often do we communicate? What’s the quality of our volunteer offering? How do we advertise? Do we have any automation in our donor communication? Do we email people and say, “Thanks for signing up for our newsletter. Here’s what you can expect?” And then a couple days later do we also say, “Here are some events coming up, we’d love to see you there?” We don’t do that. That’s something that is even built in to MailChimp these days. So, free e-newsletter software like MailChimp, you can do this. It just takes maybe a day to figure it out.

How much appreciation do we do for donors and volunteers? We can do more because volunteers give 10 times as much as non-volunteers and we can be better at that. What are our programs? How do we differentiate those? Are we slick with our design? If not, okay, can we make it a teeny tiny bit slicker by maybe getting a $60 WordPress template? Do we have an attractive monthly giving program or major donor program? Is it highlighted on our site?

So, try it and refine it. Let it be okay to make mistakes with this. Can we make a better offering for meals or volunteer opportunities or monthly giving or major gifts or earned income or something else?

Here’s the hurdles you’re going to have to overcome as you start to try to implement these changes. Maybe a cognitive hurdle. The org is mired in status quo, “But we’ve always done things this way.” Resource hurdle, limited staff time and resources, “What could we automate to free up staff time? What are things we could stop doing?” So, for example, if somebody in your office like your ED is doing your books, could you farm that out to an accountant? Could you do that? If yes, do it.

Is your ED also doing the HR function? That’s not okay. Could you farm that out too? Could a board member take that on? Is there something else you could farm out that you don’t do well that you’d like to just let someone else take care of like running your annual event? Maybe there’s somebody you could pay some nominal amount to do that or whatever you want to do with that and then let that fall of your plate so you can focus on the things you do really well. Because you won’t stop feeling overwhelmed if you don’t let things get delegated and fall off your plate in a good way.

So, political hurdle, opposition from the board, “This is not where we want to take this nonprofit.” That’s okay. You do have to listen to them. But you might want to say to them, “We do have more competition for funds with grants and there are fewer and fewer donors every year according to national statistics. We need to be creative and think about how we’re going to survive into the future or we need to be doing succession planning and thinking about how to pass off our programs to other nonprofits because we can’t just keep going the same way we always have and think this is going to be good enough because it’s not.”

Maybe your staff is unmotivated. That’s something else too. “Making a monthly giving program is hard, can’t we just get more grants?” Yeah. You can get more grants, but if you look at the pie, you’re missing $0.75 of a dollar if you don’t look more at individuals and that can really hurt you in the long run.

Think about your value proposition, your profit proposition, your people proposition. How do you reframe what you currently do to be unique? So, what some people are doing is systematically find new customers for meals. They streamline their meal system delivery and they brainstorm sessions on the regular. So, they read business books and they sit around and talk about it. That’s what they do. It’s not rocket science.

You want to create fundraising systems. That’s really important. So, what’s your donor cultivation cycle? What’s your subscriber cultivation cycle? What’s your major donor cultivation cycle? What are your goals and deadlines around these and who’s responsible for these and how can you eliminate barriers? So, it’s not about being donor centric. That’s the myth. It’s just creating new donors or non-donors. Maybe new earned income streams become new donors.

Who is not giving? Why are they not giving? How can you offer something of unique value to tap into that group? So, for example, homeless nonprofit offering people selling newspapers. I’m not going to donate to that homeless nonprofit, but I am going to buy that newspaper because they have really good reporting. So, that’s an income stream for them because they decided to make something I wanted to buy.

Myth, you have to make new programs–no, you don’t. You can keep doing what you’re doing but you might offer new options to new markets, new volunteer opportunities, new packaging, new ways to get involved, new taglines or reframe what you’re doing in another way. Here’s an example, the Global Autism Project had an existing edutourism program. It was small, badly marketed, poorly funded. They were creating an autism therapist test prep program. They marketed it through Facebook and they used that pool to draw more into their edutourism program. They extended it.

And by the way, they help a lot more people with autism around the world now. So, it’s a mission-focused income stream that makes them exponentially more money. When I first talked to them, they were making maybe $35,000 a year and last year, they were on track to make $500,000. So, no matter how small you think you are right now and how insurmountable all of this seems, you can do this. You really can.

Molly did it when she was sleeping on people’s couches. That was the first eight years. She’s like, “I don’t know what’s ever going to change.” Then we worked together. She said, “I can offer what Elderhostel is offering and I could do it better and make it more meaningful and I can get autism therapists to have cultural competency.”

So, even though she started with nothing, she went somewhere, did this, and now she’s got staff. She’s got teams all over the world that she’s working with in Indonesia, in Kenya, in India and she’s truly succeeding in this and she’s helping so many communities understand autism. She’s saving lives. She’s literally saving lives. She’s doing this because she decided to think bigger and get bolder with her earned income stream.

So, myth, you have to have new technology–you don’t. You could automate more stuff just like in MailChimp, but if you did want to have new technology, with Ontraport, for example, you could automate–this is what Molly uses, new donor onboarding, new subscriber onboarding, reminder emails when monthly giver credit cards bounce, post cards and SMS messages for campaigns. It does it all in there.

Myth, we have to be a first mover in a space–no, you don’t have to. Competitors just prove the market. So, Molly had Autism Speaks and she had Elderhostel and she’s like, “Great, we’re going to do something totally different.” And they succeeded. She offered something valuable and different.

A next level fundraising strategy and differentiation strategy are not synonymous. No. You can raise and create but you also can look at what you can eliminate and reduce to drive down your cost.

So, is it the same as innovation? No. It’s about value innovation for donors, stakeholders and volunteers. So, is there a way to use volunteers that will help you serve your cause more effectively? Is there a way to satisfy more stakeholders more with providing less effort?

Here’s how you can take action today. Here’s a research project for your intern. Who else is active in our space? You can probably name it too, locally, regionally, nationally, internationally. Then how do we offer something different? Your mission, should you choose to accept it is to ask. What can we create, raise, reduce and eliminate?

What’s costing you a lot right now? How can we eliminate and reduce? For example, fundraiser turnover costs you $200,000 every time a fundraiser turns over. You might think, “We’re not paying people that much.” Even if you’re paying $50,000, this is based on research by Penelope Burk in “Donor-Centered Leadership.” So, for 30 years she’s researched this and she’s correct. She’s talked to hundreds and hundreds of nonprofits about this.

You want to think about reducing your fundraiser turnover. Can you appreciate your fundraiser more? Can you give them more vacation time? If something is not money you can offer them, can you offer them a better title? These things don’t cost money, but they mean a lot. So, how can we eliminate the time it takes to get a response and a thank you from a donation? It’s called keeping your good fundraising. If you want donor retention, you have to have fundraiser retention. So, how can we create more donor value for a lower cost? So, that’s something to think about.

So, what barriers do we anticipate for this new strategy? Cognitive barriers, political barriers, staff motivation, research barriers–what’s a strategy to overcome each. So, a lot of us are feeling overwhelmed. I know I am a lot of the time. Sometimes I feel like I’m in this room and I say, “Look at all this work I haven’t done yet.” I’m at the top of the mountain with Julie Andrews. That can look like your desk. I hear you. My desk is completely messy. The good thing is if you’re messy, it means you’re really smart and you can definitely still overcome your mess and do some innovation and some cost cutting and making new donors out of non-donors at your nonprofit.

So, what action are you going to take from today? Are you going to think about how we can create, raise, reduce, and eliminate? That’s A. Is it B, do research on what the other people offer? Is it C, anticipate and plan for barriers? Is it D, do a SWOT or E, something else? I’d love to hear.

Nicole said D, excellent. Mary said A, Leanne and Kelly said A, B and C. Allison is A and C, excellent. Heather says B and D, good. We’re getting lots of good answers here. Melanie said E, get more people coming to our website. Yeah. Those could be non-donors you could turn into donors. Jessica said all of the above. Nice. Katie said A and B. Good. David said A, B and C. Good. Susan said B, C and D. Excellent. Good. All right, everybody. Thank you for sharing that.

I would like to invite you to join us at the Nonprofit Leadership Summit online. We’re going to be talking about how we can move forward, finding new donors. That is what Ellen Bristol is going to be talking about. I’d like to invite you to have a session with Andy Robinson as well at the Leadership Summit. He’s going to be talking about how you get your board members to fundraise. The same is true for Jeff Schreifels of the Veritus Group.

Bruce Burtch is going to talk about how to create partnerships and innovate. What we talked about today, he’s going to go deeper into that. Erik Anderson of The Healthy Non-Profit is going to be talking about how to make a B, C and D plan for when plan A doesn’t work out. Then for monthly giving, we’re going to have two people talking about monthly giving, Erica Waasdorp, author of “Monthly Giving: The Sleeping Giant,” and Kenita Pierce-Lewis, the founder of a really small nonprofit about how she started her monthly giving program and has like an 80% retention rate with her monthly givers.

Then we’re going to have how to hire right the first time with Kishshana Palmer and we’re also going to talk about how to integrate your communications and marketing planning and fundraising planning together with Claire Axelrad. And of course, I’ll be talking as well.

This is happening in September. We are going to also give you all of the recordings to watch over and over. It’s online. You’ll get the fundraising planning e-course as well. You’ll get “Win-Win for the Greater Good,” which is Bruce Burtch’s book. You’ll get new strategies to handle the new fundraising reality. So, it you want to go deeper on all the things we talked about today, I would love to have you join us at the Nonprofit Leadership Summit because we’re going to help you succeed.

So, the coupon code is SoSweet100 to get $100 off, but it’s only good until the end of this month, so it’s $297 with the coupon code. You want to check out We’d love to have you join us. If you have questions about this, feel free to call me. This is my number. This is my email address. I’d love to chat with you more about the Leadership Summit.

We do it every year. Last year, people had the best time. You can see what they said on this page and 98% of people said they wanted to come back. So, we’re only a few hundred seats. It’s selling out fast. I would love to have you join us and really help you focus on what you need to do now with your nonprofit to succeed, to grow, and to change with this new fundraising reality. I want to help you grow. If you’re already booked two of those days, you’ll get the recordings and you can totally ask questions beforehand as well.

“That’s a great package,” says Carrie. Yes, it is. Isn’t it? It is. I just want to say thank you, everybody, so much for coming and I’d love to take your questions now, so please feel free to tell me what questions should I be answering right here.

Steven: All right. Thanks, Mazarine. That was great. Yeah. We do have time for questions. Send them in. We’ve probably got about maybe seven or eight minutes. If you haven’t asked a question already, please do so. Do check out the Nonprofit Leadership Summit. We’ve been a supporter of that for a couple years, I think. Right, Mazarine? We just love it.

Mazarine: Yes, you have. Yeah.

Steven: Great content, really good stuff. You record those, right? They’re all online.

Mazarine: Every single one is recorded. If you can’t make a session or you can’t make a day, everything is recorded and you can have it for a whole year. You’ll get the value no matter what. Yeah.

Steven: If you’re booked that day, you can still take advantage of it.

Mazarine: Absolutely.

Steven: Mazarine, maybe you can talk more about buy-in. I loved your slide about maybe cutting out something that’s not working. I love that advice. It seems like every nonprofit I’ve ever interacted with has some event or some thing they do that they just groan about every year when it comes around. But maybe an ED just loves it or the board loves it. How do you get that buy-in for talking about maybe discarding that one thing that everyone just hates, especially if it doesn’t create the results or is a money pit or a time waste? How do you get that buy-in for ditching those kinds of things?

Mazarine: Well, you have to build trust deliberately, Steven, because that’s something we’re not very good at. We’re actually going to be talking about it at the Leadership Summit. But if you want a book about this, “The Speed of Trust” by Stephen M.R. Covey is an excellent book about how to build trust deliberately. You could say to somebody in your office, “I want to deliberately build trust with you.” They’d be like, “Whoa. What does that mean?” taken aback.

But that is also what makes us most inefficient and ineffective because we’re like banging our heads against the wall trying to figure out, “How can I convince somebody to do what I want them to do?” and they don’t want to do it. It’s like first, you build that trust. What does that look like? You could ask them questions like, “What would I have to do to help you build trust in me?” Maybe you’ve been really flaky about meeting with them.

I know my last boss was pretty flaky about meeting with me. We would have a meeting every Monday and he would cancel it consistently every single time. So, I had less trust in him for that reason. So, you could ask the person you want to build trust with, “What would make you trust me more?” Maybe talk to them about what helps you build trust with somebody. If you read this book, you’ll have more examples of that, but you start with building trust with yourself. So, you keep promises to yourself and then you start thinking about, “Okay, how can I keep promises with other people to help them trust me more?”

But deliberately make that conversation explicit. Have this meta conversation about your relationship and see this is how you can be way more effective together as a team overall for your entire nonprofit. This is actually a really good question. How do you convince somebody to do anything?

Steven: Right.

Mazarine: I hope that helped answer a little bit.

Steven: I love it. Here’s a good follow up, I think, that comes from Carrie here in the chat. Everyone is kind of energized from this presentation. What can they do maybe in the next 24 to 48 hours before that kind of excitement–I always like your presentations, Mazarine because they’re kind of like a pep talk. What can people do in the immediate future to keep it going?

Mazarine: Yeah. Do a SWOT. SWOT is easy. Put a piece of paper down on your desk right now, put an S in one corner, a W in one corner, an O in another corner and a T in another corner. You have your strengths, weaknesses, opportunities and your threats. You can go back and look at the slides from this presentation and see the examples that I used from the Meals on Wheels nonprofits. If you are a Meals on Wheels nonprofit, I just did your work for you. If everyone else is not, then think, “How can we extrapolate from this to who we are?”

So, I didn’t know who was going to be on today. I didn’t have any advanced list of who was going to be here. I wish I could have gone into other kinds of nonprofits, but that’s the best way to start to take action from today. That’s kind of why I asked that last poll question because I wanted to see what people would say.

Even telling your intern to do 20 minutes of research on your competitors or your collaborators or your partners nationally or regionally is another way that you can take action in the next 72 hours. So, if you don’t want to do a SWOT or you feel like that’s a waste of time, do that. Then see, “How do we compare?”

Steven: Cool. Here’s one from Christian. Mazarine, you mentioned major gifts a couple of times. Christian sounds like they’re at a very small shop. It looks like the ED is also the development director. So, probably people are wearing multiple hats as usual and they’re about to launch their major gifts program for the first time. What advice would you have for those people who are just diving into major gifts for the first time, especially at a small shop? Because I know a lot of our listeners are from small shops, typically.

Mazarine: Well, I would say it’s a really tricky time to launch major gifts because of the economic and political uncertainty. I actually talked with Daryl Upsall, who lives in Spain. He’s like, “We’ve had our own economic and political upheaval here.” He said, “In times of great economic strife and political strife, you should focus on monthly gifts instead.” I know that seems like counterintuitive to your question, but if you already have a monthly giving program, redouble your efforts in that to build relationships with your monthly givers. They will become major givers in time.

Ask yourself, “How can I help up ramp up giving in our monthly giving program?” Upgrade donors before six months have lapsed, make that monthly gift ask immediately after they make their first gift. If you do that, you will get more loyal donors, you will get longer term relationships and engagement. You don’t just have to think, “Okay. I need wealth engine. I need donor search. I need to just start looking at who’s rich.”

As we know in this country, half of the wealth is held by ten or fifteen people. So, rich people aren’t your best prospects. Who is a best prospect? It’s the people that give to you consistently year after year. You might ask them if they want to become monthly donors. Build that pipeline. It’s all about building the pipeline. That’s what we’re going to be talking about at the Nonprofit Leadership Summit.

Steven: Love it. There you go, Christian. Work on those monthly gifts first, which to your point is kind of a way of working on major gifts at the same time. You’re just starting slow and building it up. I love it.

Mazarine: It is. Yeah.

Steven: Very cool. Christian is in Portland, by the way, so you’ve got a neighbor there, Mazarine.

Mazarine: Oh, yeah. I think we’ve met, actually. Yes. It’s a small town.

Steven: Any final thoughts? We’re kind of coming up against it and I don’t want to keep people too long if it’s getting close to their lunch hour. Any final parting words of advice, Mazarine?

Mazarine: I’d say that this can be an overwhelming presentation but I would love people to take one or two things from it and think, “Okay, there are ways that I can take action and even if we’re small, we can think about how to look bigger, more professional and more available for our donors and how can we automate a lot of the stuff if we’re small?”

It’s not rocket science to automate donor communication. It’s not rocket science to be the person that’s like, “Let’s just sit down and have a brainstorming session once a month with our board and say, “Look, what else can we try? Could we try this? Could we try that?” Try Edward de Bono’s six thinking hat exercise.

One person asks, “What was the name of that software?” It’s called Ontraport. But Bloomerang I know from talking with you, Steven, beforehand, you’re also going to be doing some of that automation, the email automation stuff, you do A/B testing of donate pages, which is incredible. That’s also what Ontraport does too. So, definitely check out the Bloomerang software if you haven’t yet. I have nothing but good things to say about.

Steven: Thank you. We feel the same way about you.

Mazarine: You’re welcome.

Steven: Well, Mazarine, this was great. It was awesome as always to have you. I just want to say thanks to all of you for listening in. It’s probably a busy time of year, maybe a fiscal year just ended and you’re doing a lot of receipting and planning the next half of the year, so thanks for hanging out with us for an hour or so today. I hope you enjoyed it.

We’ve got a lot of free resources on our website as well if you want to keep digging into best practices and case studies. We’ve got our webinar series to keep on rolling. We’re taking next week off, but we’re going to be back two weeks from today to talk about grants. We’ve got Mandy Pearce joining us, a super smart grant expert. If you’ve never dipped your toes into the waters of applying for grants or maybe you just want to up your game, check this one out.

This is a speaker that came really highly recommended from me. It’s going to be a good one. We’d love to see you on that presentation or some time in the future. We’ve got other sessions that you can register for. Click on our webinar page from our resources session. You may see some other sessions there that get your juices flowing. So, Mazarine, thanks again. This is really awesome to have you.

Mazarine: Thank you so much for having me again, Steven. Everybody, feel free to contact me. Thanks again for coming today.

Steven: Right on. Look for an email from me in a couple hours. I’ll get you the recording from the slides. Hopefully we’ll see you again in two weeks. Have a great rest of your Thursday, have a safe and fun weekend and we’ll talk to you again soon.

Mazarine: Thank you. 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.