Thursday, February 26, 2009

Corporate Sponsorships


There is nothing like a good relaxing lunch with one of your team members to come up with a good strategy.

We are working bloody hard around here on securing some corporate sponsors. Keeping up with the same target as last year is requiring a lot more work.

Here is what the "meeting" over tuscan bean soup, grilled calamari salad, tiramisu and cappuccino delivered:

- Be grateful for every single sponsorship no matter the level

- If a sponsor declines but wants to help - take them up on their offer by asking for auction items or assistance selling tickets to their clients. Don't deny them the opportunity to be a part of your event just because their budgets are tight this year. They want to be involved!

- Send a personalized thank you note to the sponsors who said NO. Let them know you appreciate their time in considering the request.

Do you have any creative solutions for keeping your corporate sponsors engaged this year?

Thank you for spending time here.

Saturday, February 21, 2009

Become your organization's competitive edge

I'm very touched by the number of people reading this blog and I'm sorry it has fallen a little behind. I have been writing and reading and thinking a lot lately. I could post a giant development plan full of mind numbing theory and action items that would overwhelm directors of even the largest fundraising shop - but I think this book review might be more useful to you.

I own a lot of fundraising books and have read them all. Some more than once. I've come to the conclusion that there really are only two books that fundraisers need to own. Relationship Fundraising by Ken Burnett and this new one The Influential Fundraiser by Bernard Ross and Clare Segal.

(Note to the authors: the size of the image does not indicate favouritism. Its just the best a luddite like me could do!)

I recently wrote a book review for SOFII on the latter. (If you are one of the few fundraisers in the world who isn't registered for SOFII do it now!)

Here is my review of the Influential Fundraiser from SOFII:

When I heard about the idea of using psychology to raise more money I couldn’t imagine how that would fit into my previous learning about the pyramids, loops and ladders that are so familiar to many of us fundraisers. The fact is – it doesn’t. Bernard Ross and Clare Segal are revolutionising fundraising with their new book The Influential Fundraiser. Forget what you know or thought you knew about this business. You won’t find any gift charts or moves management tables – no scripted asks either. Ross and Segal have outlined in detail the steps required not only to raise more money, but to also win over your board or staff. This book will even help to get your teenagers to clean their rooms!

The practical advice laid out in this book will help you to:

-Understand what motivates your donors.
- Immediately establish and build rapport.
- Present your proposal in a way that is tailored to the psychology of the person you are trying to influence.
- Take systematic steps to make sure you are prepared and know the desired outcome
- Understand and respond appropriately to your donors point of view
- Know which of the nine ‘nos’ actually means no. (Hint: there is only one.)

With so much information, you expect the book to read like a textbook. That’s not the case. It is so well written that the words fall off the page. (I actually read it from the beginning to the end in one sitting.) Wonderful examples of their ideas in action are interwoven throughout to help you to see how the exercises can be applied in the real world. For example, the story of a priest from Bolivia who used the metaphor of an actual brick to make his case and explain his vision. While raising money to help children learn to read, the priest tells the story of a young boy who tossed aside an encyclopaedia because he couldn’t read and a book wouldn’t help him build a house. Of course a full proposal is used eventually, ‘But,’ says Father Luis, ‘donors really get it when I show them the brick!’

The authors outline how the five cogs of passion, proposal, preparation, persuasion and persistence work together and explain how this has raised hundreds of millions of dollars for clients of the Management Centre around the world. Now Ross and Segal are sharing their secrets of success so that more fundraisers and causes will benefit.

I do have one concern about this fundraising approach. I would have liked to see more about maintaining our integrity as fundraisers while using this powerful psychology to ask for gifts. The book quickly points out this dilemma at the beginning, stating that, ‘If you feel like you are manipulating someone, then you probably are. So stop whatever you are doing.’ At a time when we need to be even more accountable and even more ethical, I’d like to better understand that grey area between being an extraordinary fundraiser and being a mediocre sales person or, worse, a con artist. These skills of persuasion will need to be used very carefully.

Fortunately there is also website for just such a discussion. The website also include extra downloads to help you apply the techniques. I think we need to talk more about the ethics involved in fundraising using the psychology of persuasion.

In the meantime, inspired by the lessons from this book, I wish I could rewind and replay every one of the solicitations and board meetings I participated in last year. I will no doubt keep this book very close. While the concepts are quite simple to set out they won’t be all that easy to learn and apply. It will take time and practice for me to become the influential fundraiser I need to be in order to have that ‘competitive edge’. Come to think about it… forget what you just read, don’t buy the book, don’t listen to me and don’t visit the website… the less people who read it, the better. After all, we can’t all be highly influential and successful fundraisers! But if you need to buy the book to help you get your children to clean their rooms, that would be just fine.

The Influential Fundraiser
Using the psychology of persuasion to achieve outstanding results.
by Bernard Ross and Clare Segal
ISBN 978-0-7879-9404-4
© Kimberley MacKenzie 2009

To be fair I have reread and written a little something about Relationship Fundraising too- so watch for it. Is there another book that you think is an absolute must for every fundraiser? Tell us about it. Thank you for spending time here.

Monday, February 16, 2009

The magical world of fields and rivers

Have you ever tried to outlast a heron? Marvelled at the ability of a squirrels nest to survive a harsh winter? Let tent caterpillars devour an entire tree because you are amazed that they actually can? Or laughed for two years as you witnessed the battle between beaver and man? (One thinks a den is rather important, the other thinks road safety should come first. They are both right.)

If any of these small wonders of nature fascinate you, as they do me, then you will truly appreciate the simple pleasure of reading The Field by the River by Ken Burnett.

Perhaps you are dragging yourself into work, commuting on a sticky humid subway (tube) ride everyday? Are wondering if you will ever feel the sunshine on your face again in the middle of this long cold winter? Counting the days to the first long weekend in spring? Then you absolutely must read this book – immediately!

The Field by the River will remind you of the simpler pleasures in life – like taking time to walk the dogs. You will be transported through words to join Ken, Marie and their three dogs on their daily walks in rural France. You will learn more about mushrooms than anyone needs to know really, except perhaps which ones fairies are most attracted too – oh and the ones that will kill you - that is useful learning.

This book is a delight that will make you laugh, cry and smile at the same time. A work of art best enjoyed out loud. Make your family slow down and listen - share the beauty and wonders of Kerkelven with them.

A side of Ken Burnett that many fundraisers don’t know is shared within the pages of “Field”. Did you know he studies the antics of ants? Just sits still sometimes to think? Uses a whip to force his wife Marie to move lawn furniture! (Let’s hope the last one was a bit of an exaggeration!)

The Field by the River is about pleasure, taking time to just “be” in the beauty and wonder of our natural world and cherishing those who share it with us. A lesson for all fundraisers actually...more on that in another post.

Give yourself the gift of respite from your daily toil and buy this book today. Actually buy two because you will want to give one as a gift and keep yours forever.

Thank you for spending time here.

Thursday, February 5, 2009

How will you stay up to date?

I am currently wrestling with our 2009 operating budget and we are faced with some difficult choices. One of them will be what to do about the "professional development" line.

Ongoing education is absolutely essential in this business. Our worlds are changing quickly and to stay competitive we need to keep up to date. This brings us to number three in my post about what I learned in 2008 Yes it is true that attending IFC (do I need to link there again....oh okay) opened my eyes to a new world of learning. The very sad reality is that I don't think our budget can support my going again in 2009. I now have to think creatively about how we can get the training we need for less money. Jonathon Grapsas blogged about this concern just last week. My response to Jonathon is that those providing education have no choice but to innovate. Nothing can replace personal interactions at conferences it is true. However, sacrificing drinks at the bar with famous fundraising gurus, doesn't mean that we need to sacrifice staying up to date. Two great examples of this are:

1. The online Affinity Resources webinar The three of us, for one low registration fee, hunkered in my office, had lunch and listened to Bernard Ross and Richard McPherson share wisdom, knowledge, inspiration and even debate a little bit about the pros and cons of online versus face to face donor relationships.

After the seminar we finished our lunch, talked about what we learned and how to apply it, then went back to work. (I'd like to know how many people did the same thing around the world so if you are from Affinity and know please post a comment.)

2. An amazing new online international conference! The Resource Alliance breaks new ground once again. Check out their global connections newsletter which talks about this first ever online International Conference. Of course the theme is digital media for this year but I expect like everything else they do the Resource Alliance will continue to expand this great new idea.

Of course nothing can replace the face to face, business card exchanging, back and forth conference experience. Which is why you should all plan on attending this great seminar.

Ongoing education is more important than ever. How will you make sure you stay up to date and in budget in 2009?

Thank you for spending time here.