Your donor’s first gift is his or her invitation to you to engage them in how the organization meets their need to make a difference.
Donor stewardship is much, much more than a thank you note and an IRS gift receipt. It’s about greeting your donors, knowing what inspires them about how they can make a difference in the world through your work – basically deepening your donors’ connections to your outcomes.
Using ideas and materials from many national sources, Anne Peyton showed us how to develop a stewardship program, to flip your internal switch from ‘I know I need to, but I never have time!’ to ‘I’m building stronger relationships with my donors, they feel more connected to why we do what we do, and I’m loving it!’
You can watch the full replay here:
Steven Shattuck: Do you want to go ahead and get started?
Anne Peyton: I’d be happy to get started.
Steven Shattuck: All right. Let’s do it. Cool. Well, good afternoon
to everyone on the East Coast and good morning if you’re on
the West Coast or somewhere in between. Thanks for joining
us for today’s Bloomerang webinar, “You Had Me at Hello:
Building a Sustainable Donor Stewardship Program.”
My name is Steven Shattuck and I’m the VP of Marketing here at
Bloomerang and I’ll be moderating today’s discussion. Today
our guest-I’m very pleased to introduce her. She is Anne
Peyton, CFRE. Hey there, Anne. How are you?
Anne Peyton: I’m doing very well. I’m pleased to be here.
Steven Shattuck: I’m really happy to have you. This is going to be a
lot of fun.
For those of you who don’t know Anne, Anne’s worked with nonprofits
for more than 30 years. She is a Certified Professional
Facilitator by the International Association of Facilitators
and a Certified Fundraising Executive by the Association of
Fundraising Professionals. She holds a BA in sociology and
in library science as well as an MS in organization and
management. Anne serves on the board of the Association of
Philanthropic Counsel and on the Upper Valley Land Trust.
Her former board service includes the Vermont Community Loan
Fund and the Upper Valley region of the New Hampshire
Stewardship is kind of her thing. This presentation that you’re going
to hear from her today is one that she gives in day-long
sessions and training sessions. It’s going to be a real
treat. I’ve had a chance to look over some of the content
and I’m really excited for it. Anne, thanks again for being
here. This should be a lot of fun.
Anne Peyton: Thank you very much. I’m very honored to be a part of it.
Steven Shattuck: Well, we’re honored to have you. Just a little bit
of housecleaning before I hand things over to Anne. I just
wanted to let everyone know that we are going to do an
interactive Q&A session a little later on in the
presentation. So, if you hear something that maybe you’d
like explained or elaborated or repeated, just type that
into the chat room. I’ll see that and so will Anne and we’ll
try to get to as many questions as possible before the 2:00
If you have to leave early if you want to review the content a little
later, I will be sending out a recording as well as Anne’s
slides and a resource that she’s going to share with you a
little later on. So, don’t worry if you have to bounce
early. You won’t miss a thing, I promise.
So, with that, I’m not going to take up any more time. Anne, I’m
going to hand things off to you. Why don’t you get us
Anne Peyton: Thank you so much. Welcome, everyone. It’s a real treat
for me to be here with you and to share what I have pulled
together about best practices in donor stewardship. I also
want to take just a minute to honor the gifts that Maya
Angelou has given us in our culture. I have been listening
to several interviews with her on various television and
radio programs and I just bring her presence, her depth of
relationships in with us.
So, with that, I’ve put together this list of goals for this webinar.
I want to guide you in greater appreciation of your donors’
participation in your organization’s philanthropy. I
strongly feel philanthropy is about the donors. It’s not
about our asking. Appreciate the importance of donor
stewardship in building donor loyalty and strengthen the
role of board members in your development program. I think
stewardship is a wonderful way to get board members involved
way before you ask them to ask. Ask them to call a donor and
thank them in person, ask them to send a note-a number of
ways you can involve the board.
I love this cartoon. It’s from Dilbert. “Our goal is to ship a
million units this year.” And then someone else asks, “Do we
have any goals that involve making customers happy?” “I’m
talking about our goals, not their goals.” “Totally
different.” I want to bring in our customer goals, our donor
goals into this conversation because in our cultivating and
stewarding donors, we are engaging them in their goals in
our organization and their goals in making the world a
It’s also part of the organization’s promise to the world. You
promise as a 501(c)(3) in some way to make the world a
better place or to improve people’s lives. So, donors’ goals
are part of your goals in accomplishing what you do.
I want to bring Tom Ahern into our webinar because I think he has
some very insightful observations about donors. He’s
suggesting donors want to feel good. They want to feel
loved. They want to feel smart, needed, important. They want
to belong. And they want to see their values in action. So,
basically, they want to win. That’s very true for me as a
donor and I assume it’s true for you as a donor. So, I want
to really get ourselves in the shoes of the donors and think
about what their goals are.
I want to bring Adrian Sargeant into our webinar. His book “Achieving
Donor Loyalty,” it’s actually maybe “Lifetime Donor Loyalty:
The Book.” When I look at his material, he did some research
that asked donors hundreds of ways that they can be
connected to the organization. Are they connected because
they can make credit card gifts? Are they connected because
a family member received services? Are they connected for
When I boil down-these are my slides, so you won’t find this in his
work-when I boil down the way he weighted all of those kinds
of connections, I see these four buckets as buckets that you
can fill in your relationship-building with donors. Quality
service of product-this is how well you deliver on your
mission and your vision. Your shared beliefs-this is your
value system and what you put out to the world as your value
system. How donors and stakeholders and people engaged with
you can trust you, especially trust your leadership, trust
your transparency of financials, basic trust of your
organization-you deliver what you say you’re going to
And also multiple engagements-we used to think that donors needed one
connecter to the organization. Often in the academic world,
that was the director of development or the vice president
for advancement. From Sargeant’s work, his research is
saying that donors actually enjoy and want and seek multiple
engagements. So, that could be the CEO. Donors like to talk
to CEOs. It could be the director of development. It could
be a program director if you’re in an institution. If you’re
in an academic institution, it could be the director of
athletics. It could be the dean of whatever.
So, these four buckets, I think, are really key to how we relate and
build relationships with donors. These lead to active
commitment and Sargeant will tell you active commitment
leads to donor loyalty. You’re looking not just at year
after year after year one year at a time of giving, but
you’re looking at 25 years or a lifetime of a donor’s giving
So, I love this chart. It just makes a great deal of sense to me. If
you are ever talking with a board member or a staff member
or a CEO or executive director about, “What do I talk with a
donor about?” Well, look to these four buckets. That’s what
donors tell us really glues them to an organization.
So, in terms of our organization of what we do in philanthropy-this
diagram is from Kay Sprinkel Grace, I’m sorry the
attribution has been lost here-the big picture, the blue
picture of philanthropy are our values, our mission and the
impact. Also, how we articulate that impact, the stories of
our impact and the outcomes of our work-how we make the
world a better place. The board as ambassadors to the
organization-eyes and ears.
Within that whole picture of philanthropy is a smaller circle,
“development,” that’s our systematic way of how we share
values, our marketing and communications, what’s on our
website, how we use social media, the database, our gift
accounting, our staff development and also in that
development part is the board as advocates.
And then there’s a very small circle, a tiny, like five percent of
the whole thing might be “asking.” So, when I ask a board
member to be involved in development, I’m asking them to be
in this area of sharing resources, sharing values and be an
advocate for the organization. Often, when I ask someone to
be involved in development, he or she will say, “Oh, I don’t
like to ask for money.” Well, I’m asking you to do a lot of
other things, not ask for money. So, this diagram can
sometimes help you shape what we’re actually doing in the
Now, I want to get to the slides. So, thinking about this framework,
this Venn diagram, this is kind of the ideal world. I want
to look at what we have not been doing very well in here.
This leads to two slides that actually are an infographic
that Bloomerang itself developed probably more than a year
ago. When we look at donor retention over the past seven
years, the national average has gone from 50 percent
retention to 39 percent retention. That’s terrible. If we
were to listen to Peter Drucker, he would say to us, “It’s
cheaper to keep a customer than to go buy a new one.”
When we look at new donor retention, new donors will stay with us.
Maybe 23 percent of them will stay with us over a year. When
we look at repeat donor retention, maybe 60 percent of them
will stay with us over a year. The bottom line is for every
100 donors gained in 2012-this is beyond the Great Recession-
for every 100 donors gained in 2012, we lost 105.
I want to go to what happens in our relationship with donors-the
good, the bad and the ugly. The good is that 34 percent of
donors in her study who received a personal “thank you” call
said they would give again because of the call. I want to
give you a very small sidebar story. I was working with an
organization and encouraged board members to thank donors
who made gifts to them. I was at the next meeting of the
board and someone said, “You know, I did that. I called a
little old lady who had made a stock gift of $10,000. Nobody
knew her. I called her up. She was so impressed that
somebody on the board-a volunteer-would call her and thank
her.” Nobody had ever done that before. She asked if she
could give again. And she made a second $10,000 stock gift.
The bad: 94 percent of donors say that charities they support never
or hardly ever call them up without asking for another gift.
We are in complete control of what we send out in
communications to our donors. So, if we are designing our
communication program with donors so that every time we call
them we make an ask, donors are saying back to us, “That’s
too much.” 98 percent say that charities never or hardly
ever pay them a visit without asking for money. So, the
message is the only time I’m calling, I’m going to ask you
Now, my teaching partner, Jenn Hayslett, would say, “Every time I
visit with someone, I need to make a move. I need to advance
the ball down the field. I need to have some sense of
accomplishment.” She will say when you visit with someone,
always ask them for something. Ask them to volunteer, ask
them to endorse something, ask them to somehow be involved
in a project or some part of the organization. She believes
she has to ask somebody for something. But what this is
saying is that 98 percent of the donors say charities only
talk to them when they want money.
Sixty-five percent of donors who make a first gift never make a
second gift and they leave largely due to over-soliciting
and our insisting on unrestricted giving. So, you can have
in your operations fund, you can have several buckets that
people could fill. One of my most successful organizations
here where I live has taken its operations fund and divided
it into four big program areas, like employment, coaching
and childcare and education and a number of others. Donors
can actually say, “I want my money to go to this program.”
When I asked the executive director how many of those donors actually
choose those more designated options, she said about a third
of her donors do that and they like to see where their money
goes. Still, about two thirds of her donors just leave it
unrestricted. But it’s very interesting information to think
about how we market our operations fund as unrestricted
Some goals for your stewardship program: Increasing your productivity-
that’s the bottom line. Managing your infrastructure-and
this is the organization of some of the rest of the slides-
managing your infrastructure, setting your goals, managing
your time, planning your visit, making appointments, having
conversations and follow-up and what’s next.
The purpose of having a stewardship program, in addition to being
more productive in terms of your fundraising is, “What do we
want from donors? What do we want with this engaged
relationship with donors?” We want them to feel about the
organization, to be interested, engaged, recognized and
appreciation. We want them doing things-volunteering,
participating, spreading the message, bringing others along,
introducing friends to the organization and giving, giving
regularly, giving to priorities of the organization, giving
in usable ways, ways that that money can be used immediately
and in stretching to capacity.
I want to bring Julia Emlen, who is an Association of Philanthropic
Counsel colleague of mine who introduced me to a lot of this
thinking, who wrote a wonderful book called “Intentional
Stewardship.” It is the single best book that I have ever
read about managing large numbers of endowment funds and how
do you thank donors and keep them up-to-date with what’s
happening with their endowment funds and also how do you
actually do these kinds of things.
So, my teaching partner Jenn and I wanted to make sure we had some
common language around cultivation and stewardship. We
created this Venn diagram to help us understand. Cultivation
is a kind of prospect identification, qualifying a possible
donor, matching mission and values-what do we do and what
the donor cares about-engaging, illustrating the leadership
so that the donor can build trust and early engagement. That
leads to donor and volunteer engagement.
As we keep building relationships, that brings us to the stewardship
part, the blue circle, of acknowledgement, that’s a “thank
you” letter, an IRS gift receipt, it might be a phone call
from a board member thanking them, some kind of recognition
in public and in person and multiple engagement leading to
donor loyalty. So, this particular part brings some of
Adrian Sargeant’s work in.
Thinking about that, we then-again, looking at Julia Emlen’s work in
intentional stewardship-we looked at what are the kind of-if
it’s a three-legged stool, what is the foundation for a
stewardship program? What do you need? It’s not enough to
simply go out and visit with donors and you feel great
because you’ve talked to somebody who’s a donor and they
say, “Yes, I’ll give again.” But it needs some management,
some infrastructure underneath that program so that it works
and it’s sustainable and you can count on it.
So, the three pieces that we’ve put together in this Venn diagram are
information management-all of your record-keeping, your
database, how up-to-date everything is in your information.
You could call it IT if you wanted to, but we call it
The next one for me is message delivery. How are you communicating
with your donors at various levels in your giving pyramid?
How well do you communicate? This also is not only in your
database, but how well do you actually deliver messages
through various media, social media, what’s on your website-
all of that message delivery.
And the third is relationship management. How do you actually manage
the building and engaging of relationships with that donor?
So, these three pieces overlap to give you stewardship and
So, with that in mind, I then take you to a spreadsheet which Steve
has. You will receive this. This is an Excel spreadsheet.
It’s a worksheet that we’ve put together. Some people have
told me that this is the worth the price of admissions. We
put together a spreadsheet of these three-I’ll go back-these
three Venn Diagrams. We’ve divided them into the various
pieces of what each of these are. So, the colors match these
circles. I’m trying to be very in line.
So, the first piece is Information Management. An example of database
and record-keeping is your database is accurate and up-to-
date. There’s another area of this called Gift Processing,
another area called Planning, Policies and Procedures. Next
section out of that blue circle is called Message Delivery.
How do you deliver your mission in marketing? Your mission,
logo, branding tagline are present on appropriate
communications and are easy to find on a website. Boy, do I
have difficulty finding your mission statement on your
website time and time again as an outsider.
So, in the way we’ve designed this worksheet, you can expand,
contract, you can change it, you can do anything you want to
with it. So, if I were here, I would say, “Well, our
database is pretty accurate and up-to-date.” So, I might say
we do this well or if it needs improvement or it’s an
emerging proficiency, “We’re not very good at it and this is
So then, in taking that particular line, you could develop a, “What’s
our goal for this coming year and what’s it going to cost us
to do that and what’s our goal for the second year and what
would it cost us to do that? What’s our goal for the third
year and what would it cost us to do that as an estimate for
our budget?” so that this worksheet can help you understand
where you are and where you want to go to and what that
So, those two-the third piece is relationship management. One is
donor recognition, one is policies and procedures. We wanted
to emphasize-this is especially from Julia Emlen-the Donor
Bill of Rights is embedded in policies and procedures and is
practiced by the staff.
So, let me ask a very quick question of all of you on this webinar,
however many there are of you-173. How many of you have
built in the Donor Bill of Rights to your policies and
procedures to the point where you’re confident it’s acted
upon by your staff? You can use the chat room just to say
“yes,” “no,” “maybe,” “we have,” “no,” “yes,” “not sure,”
So, it’s a very good question. It could be an interesting exercise to
put the Donor Bill of Rights on your website to see what
result, what feedback you get on that. It would also be, in
thinking about the Donor Bill of Rights in a philanthropic
survey that you might send to your donors on a fairly
regular basis. You can do that in any number of ways to
survey your donors. But take essence of that Bill of Rights
and survey your donors.
What is a Donor Bill of Rights? It is a document that was approved a
good 20 years ago, I think, by now, by AFP. It’s approved by
the Association of Philanthropic Counsel, CASE. A number of
national organizations have put together-I think it’s about
10-12 items in a Bill of Rights-it probably might be ten
ways that we can honor donors in our organizations. So,
actually, Steve has just put it up there as a reference in
the chat room. “Post it in your office,” excellent.
Okay. So, this is just a way to introduce you to the spreadsheet.
It’s a worksheet. I would encourage you to add to it. One of
the things that one workshop participant did was add the
“Who’s responsible for this?” area. They are very detailed.
We didn’t want these so broad that you missed the actions.
We wanted to keep it at an actionable level. So, everything
is something you can do.
So, these three pieces-you see this is number one, number 20, number
36-there are six pages of these items. This is just a
sample. It goes up to 50. So, someone added a new column on
this spreadsheet to say, “Who’s in charge of this? Who’s the
go-to person?” So, I encourage you to use this when you get
it from Steve and really make it work for you so that it’s
something that can really help you shape your program.
I want to go back. Message delivery-I want to go back to Tom Ahern.
He’s here in spirit. When I’ve listened to him talk about
how we acknowledge donors or recognize them or appreciate
them in our newsletters, he suggests-I’m going to get to the
slide-he suggests taking your newsletter and in one color
ink circling the numbers of times you mention the
organization and programs.
In another color ink, circle the number of times you mention donors.
You appreciate donors. You honor donors. He’s going to
suggest if you are spending more of your time in the, “We
are great,” in our newsletter, “We are such a wonderful
organization,” and less time in donors, what you’re doing is
corporate marketing, which is great for the organization,
but it’s not necessarily doing what you want it to do.
What I read from his advice is market your outcomes and your donors
and connect the dots right here. This is donor-centered
marketing. It means you’re marketing your outcomes as the
purpose of the organization and you’re matching donor goals
with outcomes. This is donor-centered marketing. So, I just
put this in front of you.
I want to get into managing your time. I’m running through that list
of kind of areas of organization-managing you time. I bring
in Stephen Covey. What’s urgent and not urgent and what’s
important and not important. Most of our time we are seduced
into this quadrant. He suggests building this quadrant-what
is important and not necessarily urgent. Look at this.
Planning, preparations and relationship building in this
what is not urgent right now, but what is critically
important for the organization. So, I’ve put this in front
of you because it is a very excellent guide.
I have a question on the chat room, “Can you go back to the last side
and say the concept again?” I’m not sure what that concept,
which slide that was. Amy, can you re-do your chat? The
slide about what?
Steven Shattuck: I think she was asking about the donor outcomes from
Tom Ahern, number 17.
Anne Peyton: This one?
Steven Shattuck: Yes.
Anne Peyton: This one. So, Amy, I hope this is where you want me to be.
So, in thinking about what’s on your website, what’s on your
newsletters, looking at how you communicate, your message
delivery to stakeholders and donors-if you’re spending more
time marketing your organization, I think you’re missing the
eight-ball. If you’re spending more time looking at
outcomes, the real impact, how you’ve changed people’s
lives, how the world is a better place, how you deliver on
your promise-if you’re spending more time on outcomes and
appreciating donors, you’re connecting the dots here between
these two circles.
The previous one was you’re marketing the organization. “Aren’t we
great?” Well, so what? You’re separating donor from what the
donor wants, what the donor is investing in you for. So,
this diagram gives you a sense of, “Let’s be more donor-
centered, both in who they are and how we appreciate them
and the outcomes that they’re funding.”
I want to go to, again, managing your time, getting out of the
office. Some suggestions-this is from Joe Tumolo. I don’t
know Joe. But this is from his website-pick one day a week
for donor visits, block it out, aim for at least two
appointments a day. Don’t be a slave to urgency. Turn off
your email indication. Go back to that quadrant two in the
Stephen Covey matrix and think about planning and taking
time to build relationships. Block out time on your calendar
every week to prioritize which donors to visit, make
appointments and make visits and follow-ups.
Now, what I hear primarily from people in the office is, “I just
can’t get out of the office. I’ve got so many meetings. I’ve
got so much computer work to do. I just can’t get out of the
office.” So, I would suggest-my teaching partner Jenn
Hayslett would suggest-find a time management program online
for free that works for you. She happens to use TimeTracker.
She can put in various projects and she can track her time
online live and she can see how she spends her time. She
says, “My gosh, I’m amazed at where I waste my time and
where I should be spending my time.”
So, if you ever hear yourself say, “I just don’t have time to go
visit donors,” take a breath, go find a TimeTracker program
of some kind-if you just look for time trackers in an online
search, you’ll find a lot of stuff. She uses TimeTracker-to
allow you to see how you use time and then figure out how
you could arrange for more time.
There’s a question. “Focus these visits on new potential donors or on
current donors?” I’m focusing everything here on your
current donors. If you can get this solid in your playbook,
if you can really build relationships with your current
donors-I go back to Peter Drucker-“it’s cheaper to keep a
customer than go out and buy a new one.” So, I’m really
looking at how you build relationships with the very people
who have said hello to you and your job is to say hello back
and to build relationships.
Making appointments-these are some tips. This is from Jenn, my
teaching partner. She’s the one who’s actually in the
office. When you’re calling to make an appointment, give
specific choices for times and place. Think through your
goal of the visit relative to the location. Do you want to
see them in their office or home or restaurant or where do
you want to visit with them?
Email and call if you have both. So, a call out of the blue may put
somebody off. But if you’ve already emailed them, “I’m here.
I’m there. I’m coming to visit. I’d love to talk with you
about…” and then you make a call, you may have better
reception. Jenn’s perseverance rule: call three times and
email three times before giving up with busy working people.
She says sometimes four outreaches over a month trying to
find somebody over the course of the month.
And set your expectations. You need to plan, “What do you want out of
this visit?” What do you want emotionally for yourself and
for the donor? What do you want intellectually for this
visit? Do you want them to volunteer to come be part of a
program or to volunteer to host a party or what? If asked,
tell your donor your intentions for the visit. I say what
I’m calling for and what I want to talk with them about.
If you’re there to solicit them, if that’s your bottom line goal, you
need to be honest with your donors and tell them that. There
is nothing more off-putting than taking someone to lunch and
spending 55 minutes talking with them and enjoying a great
conversation and then bingo, you come in with an ask at the
last minute. Donors find that very disturbing.
Who should be on these visits? It’s anything goes. It could be you as
a director of development. It could be your CEO and you
script your CEO. It could be you and a board member. It
could be your CEO and a board member. It could be two board
members. It could be one board member. I don’t have any
rules about who goes and visits donors. The reason for
having an infrastructure is you have a way to design it and
manage it and follow-up and keep it sustainable.
Another question is, “Can you provide a link to TimeTracker?” I think
if you Google TimeTracker, you’ll find it.
I want to bring-this is from Kay Sprinkel Grace-into our environment
here. She has a great story in the book “Beyond Fundraising”
from Bertolt Brecht. It’s a great story. He went into a
restaurant, had a great dinner, got his bill, paid his bill
and walked out. He went into another restaurant, had a great
meal and before he got his bill, the chef came out from the
kitchen and said, “Did you like your meal?” “Oh, it was a
wonderful meal.” “Would you like to come back into the
kitchen and see how we do this?” “Oh, I’d love to.” He went
back into the kitchen-you’d better believe the kitchen was
spotless-had a wonderful tour, came back to his table, the
waiter gave him his bill, he paid his bill and walked out.
Which restaurant do you think became his favorite restaurant? I pose
that to you. The reason the story exists is that Bertolt
Brecht was saying, “The restaurant that invited me into
kitchen became my favorite restaurant.” So, I put that
phrase in front of you to transform your guests, people who
come to your programs into participants, into people active
with the organization and transform a donor beyond an annual
gift into an investor and an investor in your future.
Stewardship-get donors into the kitchen.
So, the concept of “into the kitchen” is a pretty wide metaphor. I’ve
had some people say, “But in my organization we don’t have a
kitchen.” Well, I challenge you. You do have a kitchen. It’s
a metaphor. Having conversations with your donor, prepare
the experience for your donors-this is a lot of preparation
and planning. Think about the stories. Start with stories
and have statistics ready.
Now, another Association of Philanthropic Counsel colleague of mine
is Simone Joyaux. She will say, “Most of all have stories
and use statistics like spears to really emphasize
particular things.” If you start telling me that you serve x-
numbers of meals in a soup kitchen, I’m not going to listen
as much as I’m going to listen to your telling me a story of
a Vietnam vet who came in, started having meals, began to
turn his life around, got connected with a case worker,
changed his life, now is in an apartment with a job. That’s
the story I’m going to remember. If you tell me that you do
that with 12 people a month, I’m going to be very impressed
with your program.
You need to also appreciate what the donor has done, what he or she
has invested in, how they’ve given, if they’ve volunteered,
what they know about the organization. You also need to
prepare why you’re involved, your passion.
Responses to common questions-if you have a kind of fact sheet, be
prepared to know some kind of basic information. You should
be prepared to know what your size budget is, what the
philanthropic part of your budget is, how much charitable
dollars support your work, size of your staff, your
geographic region, the numbers of programs you have, things
like that-so, the kinds of responses to common questions. If
you don’t have any answer, it’s a wonderful opportunity to
come back to somebody again, either with a program director
or the CEO or someone.
Now, there’s a question from Karen. “How do you bring donors into the
kitchen without making clients feel like they’re on
display?” I think it depends on the program. I’m not
suggesting that you bring donors into the kitchen if the
kitchen is literally the employment management program with
low-income people. I am suggesting that you have, say,
kitchen classes with new moms. Bring donors in and have them
be part of the teaching process in the class. They’re part
of the educational. They’ve become part of the program.
So, think about your attitude about clients feeling like they’re on
display. If that’s what you envision in this, think about
another way to involve your donors in the kitchen so that
they’re part of the work of the program. I don’t want to get
too involved in that because you can nitpick that to pieces.
I’m just saying there are ways to get your donors in the
kitchen that are honest and direct and not compromising
clients or children or anybody else.
Okay, I left off-be ready to invite him or her to volunteer to become
more engaged. This is into the kitchen. Again, having
conversations, listening to what donors care about. What do
you-this is you, a donor-what do you love about the
organization? What would you like to protect? What do we do
well? How can we improve what we do? How well are we
communicating with you? More? Less? Medium? I suggest that
you should-should, I don’t like that word-I suggest that you
can benefit from conducting philanthropic surveys fairly
regularly with your donors.
Ask your customers what they like. You can survey all the way through
your donor pool from lowest to highest, from regular to
irregular, from people who gave last year but not this year-
you can conduct philanthropic surveys. It’s easy to do it
through SurveyMonkey or through any other online survey
process. That implies that you have emails for your donors.
Then you need to be prepared to respond when you get
responses from your donors to get back to them to say, “Wow,
this is what we learned. This is what we’re going to apply
and this is how we’re going to change.”
A critical part of a sustainable program is follow-up. I have an
example later of a trip report, something that gets back
into the record of the donor, whether it’s an electronic
record or a paper file-something that says, “I saw, I
visited, we talked about, this is the day and time we
talked, we met where, what happened and what’s the next
step,” so that follow-up becomes a simply important part of
your relationship management with your donors.
I’m going to bring in this again about having conversations and a
sense of donor-readiness. Those of you who know Jerry Panas,
the concept of “listening the gift” so that if I’m the
director of development or the CEO, I’m not asking as much
as I am listening for the donor ready to make a gift. So, I
attribute that to Jerry Panas. I apologize for not having
that on the slide. It should be here.
From Andrea Kihlstedt and Catherine Schwartz of “Capital Campaigns,”
these four bullets. Does you donor have an active interest
in the mission? Well, I go back to those four buckets from
Adrian Sargeant. How well you deliver on your mission is
part of how actively they are involved in the mission, how
much they know about it. Does the donor have a history of
involvement? Are they simply a distant donor but they don’t
know much about the workings? They haven’t been in the
kitchen? Well, that’s an entry for you.
Does the donor feel a kinship with others in the organization and
who? This is that box of multiple engagements from that
early Adrian Sargeant slide. Does the donor feel a kinship
with others? Who are they close to? What do they like about
the way the organization works? Is the donor knowledgeable
and engaged about a plan for a future or a proposed project?
What do they know? It’s a wonderful entry to, “Let me tell
you what we’re planning for the next year or the next five
years,” or, “Here’s a synopsis, a kind of public version of
our strategic plan and here are some high-level 5,000 foot
goals and I want to talk to you about them and I want to
listen to your ideas about where we’re going.” Remember,
your ultimate goal is to connect donors with your outcomes
and what’s going to happen in the future.
I want to bring in this material from AskingMatters.com. It’s a
wonderful diagram of how do you script a conversation with a
donor? Now, this is clearly a solicitation conversation in
the way it’s described in this part. You settle, you
confirm, “Can we get to work? May I ask you a few
questions?” It’s in this pink explore wedge where you are
asking open-ended questions and listening. This is 75
percent of the donor’s voice in this wedge. You’re really
having a dialogue. And then if you’re actually to present a
project, you’re engaging them in something that you want
them to know about. “May I tell you about…?”
At this point, it may be that this is as far as you get in this
conversation because a lot of things may come up in these
two areas of this conversation. If you can script yourself
enough to feel comfortable to manage the conversation to
here, you’re doing very well. If you’re in a solicitation
conversation, then you’re actually talking about, “Would you
consider a gift of…?” Because they’ve already given you,
“I’m ready to make this. I’m listening…” They’re ready to
make a gift. Then you can explore, “Would you consider
making a gift of… and being a part of this?”
I want to go back to Jerry Panas to this slide “Listening the Gift.”
When I hear a donor ready to be a participant, I hear him or
her say, “Instead of you need to do that, that’s a very
important project for you to do,” the pronouns change. “We
need to do this. This is important for me.” The small print
is the donor is feeling a sense of ownership and
responsibility for making the outcomes happen. “We need to
do this. I want to be a part of this. What do you want from
me to be a part of this?” So, that would be this part of
More detail about this-when we talked about having a conversation
with a donor, a lot of times this appears as a black box.
“What do I talk about? What do I say?” Particularly with
board members, “What do you want me to talk about?” This is
simply a way to set one, two stages of a conversation. I’m
going to settle. “Thank you so much for meeting with me.
It’s wonderful that you’re involved in this organization. I
thank you so much for you’re giving. Here’s the confirmation
of what we’re actually going to talk about. Why we’re
meeting today. I believe we have a half-hour of time. I’d
like to present A, B and C to you and then I’d like to
explore more information with you.”
This settling and confirmation-if I know the donor, it may be very
appropriate for me to say, “You know, the last time I talked
to you, your grandchildren were very young. Now I’m going to
guess that they’re in elementary school. How are they doing
in school?” So, I am in this early engagement part of this
conversation, but I have it planned. I know what I can know
about the donor because I have notes from what I talked
about six months ago or a year from now.
The third phase of this is exploring. “Here’s what I actually came to
talk with you about. I’m going to save that for
presentation. May I ask you some questions? I want to know
about how you feel about the organization, about your
philanthropy, about other organizations you give to in our
geographic area. I want to explore and have a real
conversation with you.”
So, the fourth phase of this kind of script, if you will, is, “I’d
like to present you some information about what we’re
thinking about, about our future. I sent you a copy of the
public version of our strategic plan. I want to ask you
about it. There’s one particular area that I think might
interest you a lot. Can we talk about that?”
So, this is simply a way to say, “How do I manage and phase my
conversation? I’m managing this conversation with the
donor.” Then if it’s actually a solicitation, then I’m
exploring the, “Would you consider making a gift?” and I’m
confirming that, “Yes, you have pledged $5,000 to this
project. I may not have a pledge card with me, but I am
actually confirming what we’ve talked about.”
So, I think that’s-Poppy, thank you very much. Okay. We can move on.
Thank you, Poppy. Thank you for asking the question.
This is another slide. I’ve made this up from, again, Asking Matters.
I think this is Andrea Kihlstedt and Brian Saber’s if I’m
correct. They’ve taken Meyers-Briggs and have adapted it to
fundraising. If you go to Asking Matters or if you Google
asking styles you can find something like this. It is a way
of looking at, again based on Meyers-Briggs, which is not a
personality assessment, it’s a how you take in information,
process it and put it back out. Are you more extroverted or
introverted? Are you more analytic, left-brained or
This comes up with four basic styles of Go-Getters, Kindred Spirits,
Mission Controllers and Rainmakers. This is one way of
thinking. If you do the survey-go to AskingMatters.com and
do the survey-and it will tell you, “Oh, you might be a
Rainmaker and you might be a Go-Getter.” Well, if you’re a
Rainmaker, you’re a strong asker who rushes to close. Be
sure to give the donor time to convince herself.
So, it’s simply saying where your strength is and if you overuse your
strength and ask too quickly, you may not be giving the
donor enough time. That’s really all I want to talk about on
this slide. I want you to dive into this and get a feel for
it because this is much more in the asking part. This is
beyond the stewardship focus of this workshop.
Karen has asked, “Is this arc representing one meeting?” Yes. So, you
could use this structure in, again, settling a third
meeting, a fourth meeting, a fifth meeting. You still might
spend less time here and less time here and much more
conversation about a particular project that the person has
said, “I want more information about that.” You may find
that you don’t really need to settle, a kind of, “Hello,
thank you so much. I’m so glad to be meeting with you.
Here’s what we’re going to talk about and let’s explore some
It may be that these become more condensed. But basically, this is
kind of physics without friction. It may be that you don’t
need to do all of these things, but it can help you get
there. Any time you have a script, I suggest you practice it
and put it aside. Practice it, put it aside. Practice it in
the shower, practice it in the car so that it’s familiar
enough with you that you don’t have to read it. That’s all I
want to say about that slide.
A sample trip report-you can do trip follow-ups by email. When I was
working at a major gift office, I would go debrief the
president from his trips. I would sit down and take notes
about everybody he saw so that he didn’t have to do
anything, he just had to give me his time. So, some way of
collecting the information. “What did you talk about? What
does the donor cherish?” Any of those kinds of things. Make
up a trip report. It doesn’t matter that it’s this one or
another one. Just make sure that you do it, especially
follow-up. What are the tasks? Who needs to do what and when
should it happen? You’re creating what we call a tickler
system in your trip reports.
I’ve given you a list of resources. These are mostly books. We didn’t
talk much about donor retention. Oh, let me ask the question
right now. How many of you know what your donor retention
percentage is? Do you know what your donor retention is? If
it’s “yes,” is it above 50 percent? Wonderful. Okay. That’s
So, one of you mentioned that Bloomerang helps you with donor
retention. Ideally, your software should be able to give you
a very easy push-button donor retention. It’s important for
you to know that. It is one single measure of how well you
are managing your whole program with your donors. Over a
period of time, it’s usually about a year. If you have a
fiscal year, it’s usually that fiscal year. One is a YouTube
piece and one is from Lori Jacobwith about how to measure
donor retention if your software doesn’t do it for you.
So, I want to close. I want to make a plug for Bloomerang. It is
phenomenal. It puts all of the best practices into its
software, just like that donor retention piece. I also want
to put a plug in for the Association of Philanthropic
Counsel. We are a national association of fundraising
consulting firms, both small and medium-sized, very
personal. And I put in a plug for APC, APC-inc.org, if
you’re looking for fundraising counsels to find somebody
who’s quite reliable.
Steven Shattuck: Yeah. That was great. Thanks, Anne. And thanks to
everyone who asked questions throughout and Anne, thanks for
answering those and being a good sport. We’ve probably got
about 5-7 minutes for questions. So, if anyone listening was
wondering about something but maybe was sitting on their
hands, now is the time. We’ve got Anne here. She’s a
stewardship expert here at your disposal for the next few
Here’s a good one from Beth, Anne, it says, “Can you do proper
stewardship on the telephone or via mail?” So, does it
always have to be in person?
Anne Peyton: I think you can. I think just a phone call of, “Here’s an
event I’d like to invite you to,” may have nothing to do
with your organization, but it has something that your donor
might be interested in. So, I can call. I can email you. I
can put something in the mail. I can send you a photocopy of
an article from the local newspaper about something going on
with the children if the person’s interested in children,
something with land trust if the person is interested in
conservation. I can just keep sending you things and the
bottom line message is, “I’m thinking about you and I’m
thinking about how this really connects with your goals.”
Steven Shattuck: Great.
Anne Peyton: Poppy asked if anyone has their retention rates, what’s
the reasonable rate? Steve, you may know that.
Steven Shattuck: I will send you that to you, Poppy, I promise.
Anne Peyton: Okay.
Steven Shattuck: Now they’re kind of piling in. I’m going to scroll
up here. Here’s one from Angie. Angie’s wondering, “How many
people can one person steward?” So, what’s the maximum
workload for one person in your mind, Anne?
Anne Peyton: I think when I was involved, I think it was very common to
have a portfolio of 50-150 people. I think it depends on
your resources, how much time you can make to have this
happen. If you can start with your top ten or eleven donors,
if you think about the pyramid of your annual fund- God
forbid you call it an annual fund, your operations fund-if
you think about the top ten or eleven people-there’s a rule
of thumb that the top ten or eleven people make or break
your annual fund-start with eleven people and visit them,
develop relationships with them. That’s a place to start.
The question of stewardship in the world of direct mail-direct mail
is a donor acquisition process. It has nothing to do with
how you keep donors. If you get a donor in through a direct
mail program, you need to realize that you’ve got-I think
the rule of thumb is you’ve got three years-what we just saw
on the infographic back there, only a fifth of those donors
who gave to you one year will give to you again. So, you’ve
got a very short period of time to bring those donors in.
An example-I bought a membership in the National Organic Farmers
Association because I wanted to order some garden supplies
this spring from them. To order from them, I had to have a
$20 membership. Well, that was pretty cheap for me in what I
was saving in ordering supplies from them. Well, they sent
me a “Welcome to the Tribe” package that knocked my socks
off. It was about organic gardening and farming. It was
about the organization. It was about the organic dairies. It
was a phenomenal welcome package that I got from them, like
a welcome wagon.
So, I think if you’re acquiring donors by direct mail, you’re
challenging yourself in a way to buy donors-I go back to
Peter Drucker’s, “It’s cheaper to keep a customer than it is
to buy a new one”-you would do much better to use board
member contacts and friends of friends’ contacts and engage
your donors in bringing new people in the organization.
Those kinds of personal contacts give you much more. You can
get your arms around it, literally, metaphorically you can
get your arms around a donor much more.
“How do you find your top 100? Is there a formula?” Beth, if you have
an operations fund, an annual fund, if you will-I don’t like
the word annual because it means one gift one time a year-
but if you have an annual fund, look at the top sizes of
gifts to your organization in that year. Those are your top
ten donors. That’s the formula. The formula in an annual
fund is about 10-12 donors make or break your annual fund.
So, it’s the 80/20 rule. You may have 80 percent of the people who
give and your operations fund give 20 percent of the money
and 20 percent of the people give 80 percent of the money.
That might be 90/10. But basically, you’ve got a smaller
number of people who give the larger gifts. Those are the
people that I would suggest you start with. If you need a
place to start, start with your top donors.
So, Steve is telling us where you can download the slides and he is
going to send out the spreadsheet. I think we might be done.
Any more questions?
Steven Shattuck: There’s one here from Rachel. “If you’re speaking to
someone with the intent of making an ask and you can tell
that they are already uncomfortable with the conversation.
What should you do? Should you continue? Should you stop?
What advice did you have for Rachel there?
Anne Peyton: I think if you’re getting the information from the donor
that he or she is not ready to make a gift, that they’re
uncomfortable, I would be in the moment and explore that
sense of uncomfortableness with them. If they are hesitant
because they don’t believe the program is effective or will
deliver the results, take the time to be in the moment with
the donor. Put your ask agenda aside because you’re not
going to get anywhere with an ask unless you get through or
around this uncomfortableness.
It may be that the person doesn’t like to be solicited. It may be
that the person doesn’t want to talk about this in person.
They may want to have something on paper. They may need to
talk to a spouse. They may need to talk to somebody else. It
may be that this just isn’t the right time. You don’t know
if they’re going through a divorce, if they just lost a
child in college and died. You don’t know what’s going on.
So, just take the time to breathe, be in the moment and be
very truthful and honest and respectful of the person.
That’s my best advice to you.
Steven Shattuck: Great advice.
Anne Peyton: I have been in that situation. I went forward with an ask
and man, did it bomb. So, it’s up to you to slow down and be
with a donor.
Steven Shattuck: I think we’ve all been there. We’ve got a question
from Becca. Anne, you mentioned your top donors. Becca was
wondering, “Is that top donors in the last year or is that
lifetime for the organization? Where are those top donors
Anne Peyton: I would suggest it’s a little bit of both. I would start
with the top donors in my previous fiscal year because
that’s real data that I have. I would also think about, in
the planned giving always in the back of my mind, who are
the donors who have been long-term donors even at the $25 a
year level. Those people have demonstrated long-term
So, I might want to go visit two or three of those. This story I told
about the little old lady who had given a $10,000 stock gift
and made a second $10,000 stock gift based on one thank you
call-you never know where there is more money and where
there’s more loyalty and where there’s more affection that
you can genuinely respect and help grow.
Steven Shattuck: Cool. Well, great. Anne, I feel like we could
probably talk about this for days. But I do want to be
respectful of everybody’s time. We’re approaching the 2:00
hour. Anne, I want to give you the last word to tell folks
where they can find out more about you, where they can
follow you online, hopefully they can email you with further
Anne Peyton: You’re certainly welcome to. I really refer you back to
the resource list, which is a couple slides ago because it’s
very important for you as fundraising professionals to use
the body of knowledge that we are developing and have
developed through our research. Fifteen years ago, most of
our knowledge was kind of anecdotal and seat of the pants
and, “This is my experience,” but we have developed a
strong, deep body of knowledge about what’s important for
our donors. We can use that in how we actually relate with
our donors. As I said, Bloomerang is a wonderful software
program that does that for you and helps you think the way a
donor may want to be treated.
I want to go back to the question-Jim had a question, “If you’re a
new 501(c)(3) and you don’t have donors…” You have not-yet
donors. So, go through your board, go through any contacts
you can to find people through personal connections that may
be interested in what you’re doing. I would encourage you to
think less about buying lists and more about expanding your
sphere of influence and your network through personal
Steven Shattuck: Great. Cool. Anne, this was a lot of fun. Thanks for
being with us for an hour. I know you usually do these
trainings in person. I really appreciate you making it
available online to everyone nationwide. This was a lot of
fun. Hopefully everyone enjoyed it as much as I did.
Just some last minute housecleaning-I will be sending out a recording
later on this afternoon as well as that spreadsheet that
Anne teased a little bit early on. So, you’ll receive that
from me a little later on this afternoon. So, look at your
email inbox for that.
We do these webinars every week. We have a great one coming up next
week, actually. Kivi Leroux Miller is going to join us to
talk about “Fun Ways to Say Thanks.” She’s going to talk
about videos, infographics, other cool things that you can
do rather than just sending a boring old acknowledgement
letter. So, if that is interesting to you, check out our
webinar page. You can register for that. It’s totally free
and will be totally educational and we’ll have a lot of fun.
So, check that out.
We’re about out of time. So, Anne, a final thank you. Thanks again
for joining us. This was a lot of fun.
Anne Peyton: My pleasure. I’m really honored to be able to share this
information with everybody.
Steven Shattuck: I think you may be the record holder for most
attendees on a Bloomerang webinar. So, well done.
Anne Peyton: My pleasure, absolute pleasure.
Steven Shattuck: Well, great. Thanks everyone who hung out with us.
Look for an email later from me and have a great weekend if
we don’t talk to you. See you next week.