On July 25th, we presented a webinar entitled “The Essence of FOR IMPACT Strategy on Major Gift Success.” In case you missed it, you can watch a video replay here:
This is a must see and hear hour from one of the masters of major gift success, Tom Suddes, coupled with the insights of how to enable your actions with simple but powerful database concepts from eTapestry co-founder and industry leader Jay Love.
Steve: All right great out kick things off here. So good afternoon to
everyone who is joining us there on the East Coast and good
morning if you are on the West Coast. Thanks for being here for
today’s webinar “The Essence FOR IMPACT Strategy on Major Gift
Success.” My name is Stephen Shattuck and I’m the VP of
Marketing here at the Boomerang, and I’ll be moderating today’s
discussion. And today I’m talking to two people from the
nonprofit sector. The first is Tom Suddes, good morning Tom.
Tom: Thank you, Steve.
Steve: Thanks for being here. For those of you who don’t know Tom, Tom
founded the set of group in 1983 after serving as Dir. of
development for the University of Notre Dame, and after founding
11 companies in various sectors. And 25 years his group has
raised actually over $1 billion for organizations around the
world, and they run more than 400 successful fundraising
campaigns, and transformed more than 5,000 organizations through
training, coaching, and their consulting services. So it’s quite
an honor to have Tom join us today after reading that resume, so
thanks again for being here.
Tom: You’re welcome, Steve, and I love it.
Steve: And also joining us is my colleague here at the Bloomerang, Jay
Love. He is the Founder and CEO here at the Bloomerang. Hey
Jay: Hey, good afternoon.
Steve: Thanks for being here. Some of you may recognize Jay as the
original Co-Founder of eTapestry. He is currently a Senior Vice
President at Avectra, in addition to his duties here at
Bloomerang, which of course is keeping him very busy. So, thanks
for taking the time to join us, Jay.
Jay: I’m anxious to do this. Tom and I have not done a joint session for
almost five years, so this is wonderful to reenact again.
Steve: Yeah, this is a good one just from looking through the slides,
from what I’ve seen. So, what we’re going to do today is Tom is
going to get to the conversation started. He’s going to outline
his for impact strategy, and then he is going to hand it off to
Jay who is going to talk about how to keep those donors donating
to your organization after they’ve made that major gift. And as
always what we do on our Bloomerang webinar is relieved some
time at the end for a Q&A session.
So if you hear anything during either Tom’s presentation that you
want clarified or repeated, feel free to type in any questions
on the chat function, and I’ll see those and I’ll field those
questions towards the end of the session. And will try to answer
as many as we can, and we will be sending out the slides of the
presentation, and a video recording. So we’ll be sending that
out this afternoon for anyone who wants to view it again, or
maybe refresh some of the content. So don’t be afraid to ask
questions during the presentation. But without any further ado
I’m going to hand it off to Tom, go for it.
Tom: Well great. Thanks Steve. It’s a pleasure to actually be honest with
you and with Jay-Jay and I have been friends for a long time and
I admire what he did at eTapestry, and is just one of the
leaders in the field there, so it’s great to be on your, on this
Bloomerang opportunity here for me to share a little bit about
For Impact, and then I’m kind of interested to hear what you
guys have got going as well, so this will be great.
So listen, that first slide up there for me is a pretty big deal,
it’s may be 50,000 feet not 30,000 feet. It’s just “Be for
impact,” and what we used to use that as a tool to before impact
or organization, but actually it also means to be for impact as
a person. My partner Nick Fowler always said people always
strive for purpose and are looking for a purpose, and meaning in
all that. That’s kind of the journey, a lifetime journey. Being
for impact is a decision, you can actually just make a decision
right now that, I’m going to have an impact, I’m going to have
an impact today, whether that be through your organization,
through your company, or in your personal life, to just have an
That next slide, Steve, if you don’t mind for me is my St. Paul
knocked off the horse epiphany. It’s been a driver for us for
the last 10 or 15 years, and it’s a very simple statement; it
says that your impact drives your income, not the other way
around. Anybody who is on this listening to this-Steve, actually
why don’t you jump to the next one, there is a little bit more
on that and people can look in that.
Steve: We’re there, Tom. Yeah we’re there.
Tom: Great. So impact the fixed income and not the other way around.
Stephen Covey, rest in peace was, “No money, no mission,” which
we all love in this industry. We looked at this, Stephen Covey
came out and said fundraising was okay, and you needed money to
drive admissions. But actually I think that the corollary is of
least equal value. And that is “No mission, no money.” So the
idea that to your impact drives your income has huge
implications and applications.
I know that a lot of people on this call right now and viewing this
webinar are the development field and in the fundraising field,
and I don’t want you all to hang up on this, but the idea here
is that one implication really isn’t about fundraising. It’s not
about development; it’s not even about money. Money is just
worthless wampum. When you really think about what we do, the
blue, and these are color-coded for you, the idea of the blue,
the impact driving income, not the other way around.
But what’s really cool about that, the other big implication is that
we better be able to talk clearly, concisely, compellingly,
convincingly, any others ‘C’ word you want, about our impact. If
we can’t do that, we can’t go out and raise that kind of money,
that kind of income, the kind of revenue through philanthropy or
any other word you want to use to have a greater impact. So we
want to scale and grow our impact. If you just go to the next
slide about size and scope of impact.
Steve: We are there.
Tom: …determines the size and scope of income. Everybody on this phone,
I’ve got a list here and I see the names and some look familiar,
and some are new to this, but just a reminder to everybody, and
I say this with a lot of admiration and respect for all that you
do. There’s nobody on this call right now was income actually
matches the size and scope of your impact. Let that sink in just
for a second, okay. There’s really nobody who’s generating the
kind of income that matches the size and scope of your impact.
So as you look at the next thing were saying, this really isn’t about
being a non-for-profit. It’s not about being a charity, it’s not
about tax-exempt and 501(c)3’s and all that stuff. It’s truly
about your impact, and clearly the better you can articulate
your impact, the more money you can get. The more money you can
get if you were to draw a red dotted line back underneath from
income to impact, you could easily do the old Lion King circle
of life kind of thing because if we present our impact, people
love it, they give us income which allows us to have a greater
impact. Not meant to be overly simplistic, but it is meant to be
a simple high level driver for everybody on this call.
So what I’d love to do right now, if it’s okay, we do quite a bit
around this idea of vocabulary and the way you talk. Even if
you’re on this call from the for impact or the Bloomerang world
and you’ve heard a little bit about what we do, or maybe even
had us do this vocabulary change live with you, I just did it
yesterday with a large group of hospital healthcare development
people from around the country, and half of them had already
heard this, but you get something from it every time.
I want to do a little vocab change with you, see the words there, not-
for-profit? I am hoping everybody on the phone even though it’s
on your computer, if you’re taking any notes you would know
right away what I’m looking for there. And it’s really not about
that, it’s about being for impact.
So we have a lot of orgs in the world right now who called him a “for
impact” organization instead of a not-for-profit, so that’s the
first one. Charity, I’m fine with the word charity if you want
to go in a biblical sense, love, all those kinds of words, but
I’m not real comfortable with that word when we are in this for
impact role that’s tied to development. We don’t need charity,
we don’t need people stuffing five dollar bills in that big red
This is the only place on earth where you can put whatever word you
want next to charity, it could be cause, we use that a lot. It
could just be a simple word like philanthropy, which is great
for friend of mankind, it’s not charity, it’s philanthropy. It’s
the ability to actually make a difference, change the world, or
change your community, or change the hospital.
“On the board,” this is one is so simple, gang, just put a big line
through ‘the’, just get rid of T-H-E and what do you have? You
have “On board.” That’s what we’re looking for. We’re looking
for people and leaders, and philanthropists to be on board. Not
on the board. There are so many implications with that.
I’m going to throw in a real quick sidebar right now, Jay and Steve,
if I could, because all of our listeners and viewers right now
have challenges with their board. I mean we just all do,
everybody does. But right now many, many cases we are actually
saying to our boards you are responsible for fundraising. And I
would come back and say there’s a little bit of heresy for some
people and very challenging, but your board is not responsible
for fundraising. How is that working for you? Saying to your
board give us names, saying to your board go out and raise
money, saying to your volunteers go ask your friends for money.
It just doesn’t work.
Here are three, it’s a sidebar nugget, but here are three great ways
to set up the role for your board. Your board should number one,
be champions for your organization. Champions. So they should,
the verb, champion your organization.
Number two on their role is they should invite other people to get
engaged and involved with what you do. If you are a board member
and you’re not willing to invite others to get engaged, you
should get off the board. And obviously if they’re not willing
to be a champion they should get off the board as well.
And third, they should invest, but they should invest with a
commensurate commitment. This idea of give or get $10,000 and
wealth, wisdom, all that other stuff, I mean that is like 1950s,
1970s, Jay and I are the only ones on this call that were
actually born that long ago. We are the only ones who remember
those days. But the idea here is that champions invite and
invest. Don’t ask your board to go out and raise money. That
would be like, Boeing asking volunteers to go sell 747s for
them. So champion, invite, and invest. So here’s the big one, so
the idea of donors and donation, and Steve, I’m going to
encourage you on this one there, partner.
Tom: Really if I had everybody on audio, and I did a word association, and
I said “donor,” so many times an audience, whether it is 1,000
people or 10 people, once you get past money it’s like blood, or
organs. Okay. Really this whole idea of donor and donation in my
world only works for the American Red Cross, or the kidney
The words that we love to use, I won’t go deep here, but are investor
and investment. Clearly, it’s a different conversation when
you’re talking to somebody about making an investment. Whether
it is in the college they went to, whether it is in the hospital
that saved their child’s life, whether it is investment in a
community priority, in the arts, whatever it is it’s an
investment. Okay. An investor and an investment. And of course
what does everybody you want from an investment? Steve, will you
answer for the whole audience? What does everybody want from
Steve: I guess to feel good about it.
Tom: To feel good, but what is the big word that you would put if you said
an investment, what are you looking for if you are making a cash
Steve: Oh, a return.
Tom: A return. Yes. That’s it. Because everybody wants a return. But for
some reason in our industry and our world, for so long it was
more about a warm fuzzy feeling, okay. And that’s the part about
feeling good. It’s there, but there is a legitimate return on
investments. When I invest in one of these hospitals we were
working with yesterday, that has an impact on my employees, my
family, the quality of life in the community, the quality of my
care. So it’s an investment with a return.
Now I would challenge everybody on this call, Jay and Steve to be
able to talk about really what is that return. It is kind of a
logic magic, left right brain if you will. Here is the return
tangibly, and here’s the intangible return.
So cultivation is just one of the few words, we have a long list of
words that we try and help people change the way they think and
talk, but cultivation I have a small farm, Jay knows, in fact
Jay and Steve were just there a couple weeks ago. I got some
animals running around and a bunch of grand-kids I’m not sure
which is the greater number. But I’ve got a farm. So in the
farmer’s world, cultivation is when you spread manure on your
plants, okay. It’s like a fertilizer thing.
And yet in our world, the cultivation word, I think has screwed up
more potential relationships then just about any other. I’m a
little bit on my soap box right now, but I don’t think this is
about [inaudible 16:20] management. I don’t think we can sit
down with people three, four, five times before we finally say
to them this is where we need your help. It’s a different world,
it’s 2013 right now. People don’t want to meet with you three
times because you are worried there isn’t a relationship before
you finally say to them this is where we need your help.
So that’s cultivation. The word that works the opposite way for us is
maximize relationships. So it’s not cultivation, it’s actually
maximizing a relationship and I’m going to add four words ATGM
to that: at this given moment. Now I know Jay, I know Jay
well enough to know what he’s done in the past, and what I think
he’s trying to do with the Bloomerang. Part of what works, what
I’m saying to you right now is you’ve got to maximize the
relationships at this given moment. If that’s walking out of the
visitor with $1,000, if that’s taking a major gift prospect
instead of talking them four different times on the very first
time you ask them to join the president’s circle. What is that?
It’s a great thing, here are all the benefits, well how much
does it cost? It doesn’t cost anything. It does require a
$10,000 annual investment, and here’s your return. So that’s
maximizing the relationship. It could be $1 million. The number
is not the relevant point here. Stop cultivating, start
maximizing your relationships.
And again, I won’t put Jay and Steve on the spot but if you were all
on live on audio right now, and I said word association and
yelled into this phone or on the webinar “appointments.” What
would be the first thing that would come to mind? It’s almost
always doctor, period and even worse than a doctor is dentist.
So this idea of going out and getting appointments just doesn’t make
any sense, and I’m not trying to play semantics gymnastics, Jay
and Steve, with their audience here, this is not just word
changes to play games. This is actually trying to help people
change the way base think about this business and this area. So
instead of appointments, what if you are on a visit? Again, not
trying to get cute, but what does a visit imply to our audience
right now? I mean think about it. The idea of a visit implies
friendship, you both want to be there, and appointment: no
friendship, and one of the two parties does not want to be there
on the appointment. Okay. And it is just a different way of
looking at things, but the visit allows for shoulder to shoulder
conversation, we have a great chance to be able to talk about
our impact, and we are with somebody who wants to be there with
And finally I’ve got the change vocab is when someone asks for money.
I’m really big about just ask, but we’re not really big about
asking for money I’ve done this as you guys know over 6,000
times. I hate asking people for money. I’ve also screw up 5,812
times of the 6,000, so I’ve kept count. But we’ve still managed
to raise a lot of money. I want you to think about not asking
for money, the idea is to present the opportunity. And again,
not trying to get into the semantics, but presenting people an
opportunity is way different than going out with an attitude of
I have to ask somebody for money. We are giving people, a sucker
would say, a chance to move from success to significance, which
is a pretty phenomenal thing.
Hey Steve, I’m going to go a little fast on the next one, although we
jumped just that one. Just don’t ask for money this is a pretty
big guiding principle for us. It means you should be talking
about your impact, not about the dollars. Okay.
Our average scholarship to our students is $5,000. Jay, would you and
Steve and Bloomerang be able to help us by supporting five
students a year? So we don’t ask for $25,000, we ask a Jay Steve
to help us support 25,000 students. If Jay and Steve, if you go
from just ask to that next one it so if you’re in sales, get
So we have a lot of fun with this one, but the fact that you are in
development, and if you are a CEO on this call, or aid to
Executive Director, your dream team, your development team
better acknowledge they are in sales. Sales team, sales process,
sales system, we are selling. Daniel Pink’s great book just out,
“To Sell Is Human.” Everybody sells, okay. We have to
And then finally some really good quotes and will finish off this
piece on just have, even Gandhi, even Gandhi said that if you
don’t ask, you don’t get. And in the Bible it’s, “Ask and you
shall be given, seek and you shall find, knock and it shall be
opened,” but I want you to look at the first three letters A, S,
and K, it spells ask. It’s kind of like Dan Brown and the Da
Vinci Code, I mean, somebody 2,000 years ago was thinking about
the word ask. There you have it in Hebrew [foreign word] the
Irish, we do a lot of work in Ireland, Jay and Steve, and Irish
people can’t say it, a few words at all, so they only put the
Hey, I’ve got a couple of other nuggets here Jay, and then maybe we
can flip it to you and we can open it up, but the next nugget is
a big deal for us. Spend more time with better prospects. If you
take anything away from this webinar right now from us is: Ryan
Tracy is one of the best sales trainers in the world, spend more
time with better prospects.
And the next one has had huge play with us. We do trainings all
around, we just did it again yesterday, and I am not kidding
these are long term professional development people. And
everybody in the room yesterday, 60 people acknowledged that
they make decisions for their prospects. And Jay and Steve we’ve
got to stop doing that. We have to stop making decisions for our
people. Oh, this isn’t the right time; they can’t give us this
amount. Something like that.
And then the next slide I’ve already covered a little bit about it
maximizing relationships, but there it is up there for you at
this given moment. They could happen now, that’s a respect of
the people you are with in terms of their time and energy. They
agreed to see you they agreed to take your call, or however you
are asking them, however you are presenting the opportunity to
them. Let’s max that relationship right now.
The next box is just a simple way to put all this together for you.
If it goes to get up is not an appointment qualified prospect
potential investor, not a donor. Share the story. That’s more
information. Present opportunities, not ask for money. Great,
metaphorical and physical thing is shoulder to shoulder not face
to face eyeball to eyeball confrontation. And [to fund the
vision], not talk about survival. I think all of those provide
at least Jay a good framework for all of us to do it.
There’s more information on here about some engagement tools and
things like that, but I have to tell you I think the thing we
should focus right now, let me ask about call, it is up on your
screen right now. Why aren’t we actually out making more visits?
Why don’t we have stronger relationships? And for us it’s three
things: fear is not it, it’s obviously I’ve made 6,000
business, I’ve never been shot, and I’ve only been swung at
So the idea, let’s just set that aside for a moment. So one, you
don’t believe in your cause. Clearly that is not true with
people on the phone. If that were true, you should leave your
job. But, number two is. And a lot of times we can’t articulate
our message. Whose responsibility is that, the prospect or
yours? And finally number three, where not sure what the
prospects or if we have relationships, and a Jay I think that is
a great tee up for you guys because what I think you built now
is a way to better measure those relationships and measure
number of contacts. And I know you are going to get there at
What I’d like to do is just to leave that there. Jay has a chance now
to talk a little bit about, so I love this heading, which is the
lifetime value of your database, and the idea of lifetime
relationships. And again, Jay, I admire Jay a lot, he is a
ridiculously smart guy. I actually don’t understand most of what
he said to me, but I really, really like him.
Jay: Well, thank you, Tom.
Tom: I’m going to tee him up right now to share the that about Bloomerang,
and I guess Steve, I’ll just stay on obviously [inaudible
Jay: Yes please do, Tom. We will want you to be around for the questions,
please do, Tom. In fact, those of you who are out listening
there and watching, when we get to the question answer. Asked
Tom about a couple of his stories from his time doing major
gifts at Notre Dame University, I think you’ll get a kick out of
a story or two there, so we’ll keep that…
What Tom is saying is very true about… You’ve got people who are
funding your vision and he does a nice thing about it if you
follow Tom’s philosophy, what we’re talking about is a very
natural follow along. It’s much different from somebody that has
just been brought along to sit at a table at a gala or sponsor
somebody that is running in a 10K race or a marathon. Those
people haven’t really thought much about your vision. They are
there for the event category or something of that nature, and
it’s much, much harder to bring them in.
But what we’re going to talk about is if you have people that are
donors and you take all of your donors for the previous year, if
we can keep those in the fold, how we can double the lifetime
value of your database. And when we talk about doubling the
lifetime value and doing what Tom’s saying there, the final
piece of the puzzle is an effective use of the donor database.
We’ve got to make sure that making the ask is a very natural
progression of the relationship. It can be right up front as Tom
says, or it can be somebody that’s been involved with your
organization. Now you’re going back and saying you are you
really going to help us fund our vision and a major way? To do
that and having the information at your fingertips of how long
this person’s been involved with your organization, to what
degree they’ve been involved, etc., is very, very important to
help you with that process.
So lifetime value, to define it very simply way is the total net
contribution that a donor generates during his or her lifetime
in your database. And this is a very good discussion point for
any board meeting. I remember at one of the boards I’m on is a
food bank, and we brought this conversation up and the average
board member had no idea how many years a donor stayed in their
database, and what the average gift was. When we told them that
the average gift because there was a lot of direct mail involved
in the food bank world, that the average gift was below $175, I
think that floored a lot of the people there as they did that,
and so knowing what this is can make a huge difference on how
you’re driving things going forward.
So let me talk a little bit about the retention, and hopefully many
of you out there know exactly what you’re retention levels are,
and if not I’ll share with you the formula for figuring the
retention in just a second. But if you would venture a guess
here, and I’ll just ask of this rhetorically, what does a 10%
increase in donor retention rate mean in terms of lifetime
dollars raised? If you could just move whatever you’re retention
rate is up 10% does it make a 50% difference, 100% difference,
or 150 to 200% difference?
And so many of you out there may be familiar with some of the math
that’s involved with donor retention, but it’s actually the
latter one there. It can make up to a doubling occur by just
moving that needle 10%. And I’m hoping that that value that
we’re talking about and what that impact can be two-year mission
really helps us generate your attention, because if you’re not
worrying about retention, this is what can happen. If your
retention rate is 20% here, look what happens. If 20% of your
database drops off, you’ve got 1000 donors at the end of year
one you’ve got 800 at the end of year five you’ve got 328
But let’s talk more about what the national average is. The national
average for attrition for nonprofits in this country is 59%. 1%
away from this bottom line. That means if you are losing 60% a
year, you go from 1,000 to 400, but look where you are at the
end of five years. That 1,000 has dwindled down to just 10
donors if we only have a 40% retention, thereby equaling a 60%
attrition rate for that. Now we pulled some of that data
together. This was pulled from the Fundraising Effectiveness
Project, and what’s really sort of scary when you look at the
retention here in the nonprofit world of 41%, compare that to
what you’re seeing here in the commercial world, and think in
terms of businesses where they have a retention rate of 94%, and
that 94% retention rate is taken from publicly held technology
companies. That was the average rate of retention of their
And this is what’s happened to the retention over the last five
years. You can see it’s moved from 50% down to the 41%. And
what’s for first-year donors it’s 27%. And notice the vast
difference here if you get someone to their second or third year
the overall average for those individuals is 70%, so I love what
another good friend of mine in the industry says, Dr. Adrian
Sargeant, who we are going to talk about here just a minute. If
someone hasn’t become a second time or second-tier donor, then
what is that definition, so if you can change your mindset that
they become made donor to your organization at the time of the
second gift or the second year, and it really works toward that,
you make a vast difference because as you can tell from the
study population, there were about 70% of the organizations that
had an overall retention rate, including first and multi-year
donors, of 70% or higher. And that means that it can be done.
Now we talked about addressing this retention problem and seen what
it can mean over ensuing years if someone is with your
organization, I really got to ask this question, is it a donor
relationship problem? Have we failed in some way to connect so
that person doesn’t feel like they have a relationship with us?
I’ll put it in Tom’s terms, do they not realize what our mission
is and what impact they’re having on that mission?
And so we’ll explore that the here in just a minute but I’m going to
bring in two additional experts. I haven’t known either one of
these folks quite as long as I’ve known Tom, but the sort of the
father of all the research on donor retention and donor loyalty
is a gentleman by the name of Dr. Adrian Sargeant, and Dr.
Sargeant is the now chair of that discipline at the Center Of
Philanthropy here at the IU school, and he is also involved with
the university in the UK and in Australia, and he’s done 22
years of research into donor retention, donor loyalty, donor
engagement, and we have taken the work from Dr. Sargeant and
embedded his best practices into our application.
On the other side there, is Mr. Tom Ahern, and he is sort of known as
the donor communication guru, or the donor communication coach,
and he works with everything from national nonprofits to medical
institutions, to schools, to some of the very small local
grassroots organizations, and making a genuine impact to the
type of communications that they are doing.
And it was actually Dr. Sargeant that coined this phrase here of make
a 10% improvement in retention can double the lifetime value of
your donor database, and I actually had him prove that to me via
a spreadsheet, and it is, the numbers do add up very, very
quickly. So when we talk about what is your retention rate, it’s
very simply the formula that you see on the screen right now.
It’s in the number of donors in the current 12 months that that
have given in the current 12 months, that were previously donors
in the previous 12 months.
So if you take all of the people that gave your organization in 2011,
and figured out how many, if there were 1,000 of them, if 450 of
those gave in 2012 year, you would have a retention rate of 45%.
You can also do that based upon the dollar impact, and that can
be based upon how many donors and how much they gave in the
previous year based upon those same donors what they gave in
this year. And you usually find that that retention rate is a
little bit higher because you are larger donors do tend to stay
with you, the people that do have a strong belief in your
And I’m just going to share a couple of screenshots from within the
boomerang database, but this is our dashboard, and as you can
see when you come in the first thing that you will notice is the
actual retention rate for the current year. We go back exactly
365 days and see how many donors you’ve retained compared to the
previous 365. So this wheel actually changes every single day
and every single week, so you can see how much your retention
rate is moving up or down.
And what’s exciting about that is, and I love, we’ve got several
customers who have been using the software for a few months, and
I get emails every once in a while that we moved our retention
rate above 50%, or we moved our retention rate above 60%, and I
actually had one from the Washington DC area just about a month
ago where it was somebody who had moved their retention rate up
to 73%. And Tom as you know from working in this industry, if
you can keep 73% of your donors in one year to the next, you are
going to fund a whole lot of mission.
Tom: Yes, sir.
Jay: They’re going to make a huge difference. Let’s compare the commercial
sector, I want you to think about your local dry-cleaner, your
local drugstore, may be a local restaurant. Why do customers
leave? And this is from a study that was done with the Forester
group here, and you can see the percentage is: 1% left because
of that there’s not much we can do about that, 3% moved away,
only 5% were won over by a competitor, 14% left because of bad
complaint handling, but 77% left because of lack of interest
And for those of you that have heard me talk before, I’ve got to
share this story of my local dry-cleaners. I have a local dry-
cleaner that I’ve been going to now for in excess of 10 years.
And in that entire 10-year period, and I’m in there almost every
single week at the very least once every two weeks to pick up my
dry clean shirts and stuff, the owner or none of the employees
there have ever called me by my first name. So I started an
experiment a couple of years ago any time I go in there, however
it is working, I call them by first name.
Now bear in mind for over 10 years I have been handing whoever is
working my debit card and what is written on the very front of
my debit card? It says Jay B Love, right there. And they have
never remembered my name to do that, and so I’m going to keep
experimenting with this because it’s such a beautiful fodder for
my presentations to see here, but it would not take much for me
to move to someplace else, so it just tells you how that can
Now let’s talk about the key reasons for donors leaving, and this is
taken directly from Dr. Sargeant’s research. And this has been
tested year after year after year after year. These are some of
the key reasons, and as I go through those, think about home
many of these are tied directly to communication and
relationships. No longer able to afford support, not much we can
Next one, no memory of ever supporting, obviously that was probably
not a face-to-face action that Tom was referring to. Someone
that has no memory of ever supporting your organization, that’s
coming into place. The organization asks for inappropriate sums,
feeling that other causes are more deserving. The next one, they
were never reminded to give again. One of the very important
ones, the organization did not inform us how the funds or the
monies were used, and tying it all together the most prevalent
one was that they’d just did not feel connected.
And I want to share with you an experiment that all of you can do.
And Tom has heard me mention this before because I did it for
many years for about a 10-year period at my previous company at
eTapestry. For every new employee I wanted them to really get to
know a lot more about the nonprofit sector and adjust what it’s
about. I gave every employee $100 and I asked them to do one
thing, and that was to make 10 $10 gifts with only two caveats.
The two caveats were half of the donations had to go to local
charities and half of them had to go to national. I also further
asked them to split it up so that half of them were online
donations and the other half were either given face-to-face or
via the mail. And their task was to make those donations and
then to report back to me in 90 days of which ones of those 10
organizations built a relationship and which ones did not, and
which ones did they felt they would ever support again.
By the way, for all of you listening out there, this is an easy
experiment you can try, because try making some small donations
to some national charities and see how they treat you. Some of
those employees are still supporting those charities to this
day, and it was quite fascinating to see how that came about.
And so much of this is based upon engagement. And this is one of the
real differentiating factors with the Bloomerang software, is
this engagement level, and what we’re looking at here is that
people can move from each one of these quadrants: from cold to
cool to warm to hot to on fire, and the software, as part of
your day to day usage, keeps track of that.
And how we keep track of that is in these factors right here. All of
these engagement factors actually move the needle up or down. To
do that, so we can take a look at whether or not what their
pattern of giving is, wasn’t there in out to right cash, or
check donor versus a multi-year pledge, or recurring
transaction. The number of years of giving, each year that
someone gives, we move their engagement to level up. Whether or
not they are giving from one year to the next is upgrading or
downgrading. Obviously lapsing moves it back way down.
The next area here on both of these for volunteering and event
attendance, we see those as little indicators of how engaged
somebody is. If someone has been a volunteer for many, many,
many years, and I saw this happen at the food bank time and time
again. During their lifetime, they were only able to give a
small gift of a few hundred dollars a year, but they left their
estate to that nonprofit that they volunteered at for all those
years, and all of a sudden somebody that made $100 gift for 25
years in a row left a half $1 million estate to the
organization, and their engagement level was very high, and it’s
very easy to track these especially if someone is registering or
volunteering via your website.
Communication plays a part, too, these areas here, if someone when
you send an email to them, they actually open the email, they
click on links, they forward it to other people, they subscribe
or unsubscribe, they tell you their communication preferences,
all of these do that, and then ones that I know Tom, you have to
be big believer in, if someone is reaching out to you, if they
call you first rather than you calling them, or they write you
an email, or they just stopped by to visit your facility. Those
inbound interactions are a keen indicator of their engagement
And then soft credit, what I’m basically talking about here is
stewardship. This is key. Are they bringing other people to the
table? Are they bringing in a matching gift employer? Do they
perhaps have a family foundation to do that?
So all of these areas move it either up or down. So for instance,
unsubscribing from an email would move the engagement needle
downward. So, and social media is all new on the scene, and Tom
and I kicked this around last time I was over at his place, of
whether someone liking you on Facebook or saying something about
you on Twitter, but we all know those can be little indicators
of interest and engagement that can move this up and Tom, can
you imagine having a tool when you are at Notre Dame that would
let you know which people were in those top two categories
before you go…
Tom: Yeah, that would be great. Yup.
Jay: It would totally be a game changer to do that. This can also be done
in a reporting format, so we can see a report of all the people
that are at each of these levels, and what amounts they have
given in the past, and it just becomes a tool that can guide you
in each of these areas. So before I leave I wanted to leave you
with five key retention drivers for that. Tom’s talking about
how you bring people into the fold, but five key ways to keep
them, and then we’re going to open it up for questions from
Number one, let people know how you are reaching your mission. Any
type of mission performance data that you can share, whether
it’s in a newsletter etc., is very important.
Next, connect often. People love to hear about what’s going on and
they love for you to connect in multiple ways. It’s not just an
email; it’s not just a phone call, but any other way that you
can connect with them in multiple manners: may be a text, maybe
a face-to-face visit. Be personal [and segment]. Let people know
exactly what their moneys are doing, and each time you address
them try to be as personal in those salutations and the other
way that you are reaching them as possible.
Find and use the numerous human connectors. If someone has come to
you via a special event, if they sat at the table, may be the
next communication you have with that individual should be from
the person who invited them telling them what the mission of
your organization means to them personally. And then last but
not least, always communicate exactly what they did, what impact
they had. Tom said it beautifully. If you make an investment we
want to know what is the return it us. So with that, Steven, can
we go ahead and throw it open for some questions and see what
people would like to know from Tom or myself?
Steve: Yeah, definitely, let’s do that. We’ve got a couple of
questions that were sent in over the chat room, and for those of
you listening, if there’s anything that you’d like to ask Tom,
or Jay, or both of them, feel free to send those into the chat
window there. I’ll see them and I’ll be fielding those to the
two gentlemen here for the remainder of our time we will try to
get done by the 2:00 hour. So let’s just jump right into it, I
mean Tom, that was a great conversation. I think it definitely
got some people thinking about what they’re doing…
Steve: There were a couple of interesting questions. Douglas was
wondering what do you think the best approach is when maybe
you’re at an event and how to introduce yourself to maybe a
potential donor or someone that you identified as someone you’d
like to make that gift. How would you approach that situation?
Tom: Boy that’s interesting, so I mean ideally we use a term natural
partners, Steve, so Douglas ideally, I would like to not have to
do that. I would love to have that my natural partner be that a
volunteer or a board person, may be a friend of theirs, somebody
else at the table, and I would pull them aside and say hey,
Steve, I really want to meet with Jay Love. I’ve heard all about
him. Boy, he’s much older than I thought he was, but anyway, you
get my point.
I’d rather have Steve introduced me to Jay then me just walking up,
but hey, if I have to walk up, Douglas, a big word in our world
is authenticity. I would walk up to Jay and say Jay, “I am Tom
Suddes, I’ve always wanted to meet you, I’ve heard a lot about
you, here’s what I do,” however you want to do it, but I think
being authentic instead of trying to state something or come up
with some artificial baloney. So I like a natural partner,
Douglas, or I love it to just be totally authentic with that.
Steve: What do you think of that, Jay? You’ve probably got solicited a
Jay: I’ve got to harken back a few decades ago to the seventh grade dance,
and there was a young lady that I wanted to have a dance with,
Tom, and you’re right. I used that to natural partner. I knew
somebody that you knew that person that could make that
introduction, and by golly it worked, I got that dance
Tom: We know it worked if you got to the dance because she couldn’t have
wanted to dance with you, so she had to do it with somebody
else. I had that exact same thing, so I just gave up after a
Jay: But I agree that the natural partner is the way. The other way, and I
know the other person that I saw coming through the chat room
that, someone is saying, “How do you turn event donors?” The
real secret is what I was alluding to in one of my final slides
there. If you can find the person who brought them to the event,
and use that human connector, that natural partner or human
connector, and let that person be involved with the next
communication, I find that works magically. Give them the tool,
if there is a large number that they can communicate with them,
but let them say in their own words why are they involved in
Tom: Jay and Steve, the last person that you are looking at is talking
about how they can take somebody from an event and turn them
into a larger donors/investor or whatever, but Jay is one of the
best storytellers I’ve ever heard in my life, but here’s a
really short story about an amazing hospital in Denver. He had
their signature event and had been doing it for 10 years,
raising $750,000 net, 1,300 people, fascinating signature event
where the stories are told and people just leave that totally
motivated and moved.
But what they had never done was the next day contacted those people,
was basically a year later for the next signature event, Okay.
So what we did was we did a really simple thing, we got all of
the table people and kind of the event co-chairs and the
committee, whoever was there, but we just wanted to get 50 out
of that 1,300 people. And let’s just figure out who the as 50,
or who 50 really good people would like to get with.
We did Jay, what you suggested, we sent them a note from the chair
saying great, would love to sit down with you. They ended up
getting business with about 30 of the 50, and they raised a
couple million dollars more. Now they were really happy with the
750, but they actually raised twice, three times actually the
amount of money from the dinner with just being able to meet
with 30 people as a result of that. So I think again it’s like
just ask, I mean let’s just go do it. There is not a lot of
strategy involved in finding your best people at the event to go
sit down with them.
Steve: That’s great. Tom, my favorite part of your presentation, to
me, was when you said don’t make a specific ask for a dollar
amount, instead say, “Hey, do you want to help five kids who are
in need?” That really stuck out to me, and I think that prompted
a question from John in the chat room…
Steve: …and he was wondering if he could never decide on a dollar
amount for someone, if you should may be just kind of related to
something else that’s going on with them. What’s your philosophy
Tom: Two quick things, Steve, is it John that asked that?
Steve: Yeah, I believe so, John
Tom: So John, number one do the math, you have to know the numbers, you
have to know the projects, you have to know that we have 3,500
patients who come through our free health center after Good Sam
Hospital for example, and we know that it is $225 per visit, you
have to know the math.
But my point about not making decisions for people is, well we just
did a strategy yesterday for 3.5 million dollar project, and the
team was making a decision for the lead investor, that that we
were only going to ask him for $1 million, when we were done
with the strategy, we were going to ask him to see, “Hey, help
us. Can you do this?” Instead of making that decision for them.
But tied back to your point about money, everything we do, our goal
is to not have that be a dollar request, but rather in impact
request that has a green cost to it. And I hope that makes sense
to people listening to this right now when you look at the blue
impacts and the green income. Talk about your impact, turn that
into a project, a child, a scholarship, whatever, and then just
put a number on that, so… Does that help at all?
Steve: That’s great that makes a lot of sense to me. Well, we’ve had a
couple of requests for some stories from your Notre Dame days,
there, Tom. So I’m wondering if maybe [inaudible 52:20]
Tom: I wonder why. Hey, yeah, Jay…
Steve: So if something sticks out in your mind…
Tom: Hey Jay, I’ll take a prompt from you any time, but I mean there are
so many times I messed up…
Jay: Tell us about a success, though, Tom, tell us about one of your big
Tom: I don’t know, well, the successes things like being in your wonderful
home there in Indianapolis, and having Father Hesburg [SP], who
was probably one of the premier presidents of all time, just an
amazing guy, great priest, and was president for 30 years, but
he never once in all of the time at Notre Dame, we raised a lot
of money, never once asked anybody for money.
But one of my favorite stories is we went down to meet a foundation
down there, we were having lunch just Father Hesburg myself, I’m
like a 24 years old, I’m petrified, and we have three big wigs
sitting across from us. Father Hesburg lays out this grand
vision for the engineering school, Jay. Then he stands up and
puts his hand on my shoulder, looks at them, and says I have no
idea what Tom is going to ask you for, but I’m sure you’re going
to help. And then he left.
And not only were those three looking at him leaving, I’m turning
around going where are you going? Oh my God. So I turned around
in my puppy dog 24-year-old voice, they look at me and go, “Well
Tom, what do you want us to do? And I am like $1 million to help
with what Father wanted.” They looked at each other and said,
“Yeah we can do that,” and I am like holy criminey, this whole
just ask thing really does work. So as badly as I delivered it,
it was more about the impact of the case.
I mean there is a lot of, I’m going to tell one more good Hesburg
thing because it goes back a long way, Jay, and Steve, but might
be a great way to end the conversation. You know in our world
executive directors, even board members, I’m a big believer in
sprinkling magic dust on people. Their job is to sprinkle magic
dust, and our job in the development world is to help turn that
into something to help the impact.
Well, he would take people, he would bring people in and take them to
the top of the library, walk around, and he would lay out the
most incredible vision. I heard it’s a number of times, and
every time he did I would be like wow. And of course all these
people were wowed.
Here’s the interesting dynamics of people on the phone, though, he
would lay that out at dinner it was always a Friday night if
they were flying in, then they would do something with him on
Saturday, and then we would say to them Sunday morning somebody
from our team is going to come and visit with you one-on-one in
the next week to 10 days. And we’re going to sit down and talk
about all of this, and your role. The numbers and the response,
Jay and Stephen were just staggering.
And it was my earliest lesson, I didn’t have the word impact and
income then, but it was my earliest lesson, and if people
really, really understand what you’re trying to do, and somebody
is able to articulate that message, people want to help. You
know [Drucker’s] great line of about if you want to move from
success to significance, I mean that’s the best people, you
know, we can be looking for.
And I think our job is just to present them opportunities to do that.
And I think you guys can help us with maybe the definition and
the strength of relationship, and what I took away from your
guys’ stuff is that it’s about a prioritization your prospects.
And who really are our very best people, and who has the
strongest relationship, which I think is great.
Steve: That’s so, so true, Tom. Will think you for those stories, Tom.
Jay: Yeah, that was great.
Steve: Well we are approaching the 2:00 hour, so I want to wrap things
up just to be sensitive for people whose afternoon and their
work schedule. I think that was a great presentation, I took
away a lot certainly, I hope all the listeners did as well. Just
in the few minutes we have remaining, Tom, do you want to give a
few of the folks a little more information about your
organization for those who aren’t familiar with you?
Tom: Yeah, actually everything we do, Steve, is at forimpact.org, a ton of
resources that Jay knows. I love it when Jay Love sends me a
little note saying that was some good stuff on there, so
forimpact.org, and just about anything that you want. We are
working all around the world right now, Ireland, just doing some
really good high-level stuff, coaching, training. I’m not going
to give it big sales spiel necessarily, but we just enjoy
working with people who get to the whole idea of being for
So, you can get a lot more information at forimpact.org, but the more
than just in formation, you can go use that, there’s video up
there and a lot of good content that goes much deeper than I did
today, Steve. So thanks for the opportunity for me to do this.
Steve: Yeah, it was a joy to have you, honestly. And if there were any
questions that we didn’t get to, feel free to visit Tom’s
website, shoot him an email, send Jay a Tweet, he’s pretty
active on Twitter if we didn’t get to all your questions. And
Jay, while we’ve got a few minutes left, maybe 30 seconds, do
you want to talk to people little bit about Bloomerang, if
they’re interested in learning more about us?
Jay: Very much so. For those of you who are out there, if you’re currently
using a database and not happy with it. You don’t feel like
everybody in your organization-because one of the things Tom and
I talked about for the last 10 or 15 years is having a database
tool that could be actual fundraisers and executives can use. If
you feel like you don’t have that, or if you’re still using
spreadsheets, or anything else of that nature, and you’d like to
find out about it, just go to our website, there is a place
there to find out additional information. We are at
Bloomerang.co, and you can go there and you can let us know.
Also, we’ll be following up with you if you’ve attended the webinar
here and if you want to in that follow-up email, if you’d like
to have someone to get to you further information, just let us
know if there. We’d be glad to help.
Steve: Great, thanks Jay. And you can see on that last slide that we
do weekly webinars. We’re going to take a week off next week
just to give Jay a little bit of a break, but will be back in
two weeks. We’re going to have a really awesome discussion on
capital campaigns with Linda Lisakowski [SP] that’s going to be
a great presentation. I was looking at the slides little bit
So you can visit our webinar page, that’s in our resources section on
the Bloomerang.co, you can register for that today, totally free
webinar, 100% educational, so we all hope you’ll join us for
that. So with that, I’ll say a final goodbye and thanks to Tom,
Tom thanks again, that was really great to have you.
Tom: You’re welcome, Steve, thanks Jay.
Jay: All right, talk to you soon.
Steve: All right things everyone who joined us on the call, and have a
great rest of afternoon by now.