A focus on my donation patterns


Every year in preparation for filing my taxes I list my donations from the previous year. This year I had an ‘ah ha’ moment when I realized that there was a wealth of information about my own donation patterns.

  • With a few exceptions I leave the majority of my charitable giving to the end of the year. The nonprofits to which I donate focus on my personal areas of concern. I no longer write checks, with one exception – my yearly donation to the local Food Bank is solicited by a friend who sends a self-addressed envelope.
  • I have become very sensitive to how easy it is to make my donations. I get frustrated when I have to jump through hoops to make the donation. But, I will admit that I don’t yank the donation because I had to fill-in a few extra fields.
  • I no longer look for opportunities to give. I admit that I expect the nonprofits that I support to stay in touch with me throughout the year.
  • I still open direct mail from organizations that support issues of concern and to whom I do not currently donate. On occasion I do add a new organization and usually continue to support them.
  • Social media plays a role in my giving. And, yes, I do expect a thank you for my gift.

My end of the year donations are different from the nonprofits in which I’m fully involved as a board member or trustee. My expectations and responsibilities affect my giving patterns – the more I’m engaged, the more I give.

I recently had an ‘interesting’ experience with an organization with which I have a long standing relationship. I served on the board of trustees, chaired the marketing committee and served as the volunteer coordinator for a yearly lecture series for years.

 I always gave beyond my membership dues and board obligations whenever I served on a committee. Then along came a new president who wanted to put her stamp on the organization. In her eyes that meant making changes as to who was asked to participate in projects.

No need to fill in the blanks here. Would anyone like to guess what happened to my donations?

My suggestion – treasure your donors. Find ways to keep them engaged. Empower those who want to be more involved.

Do you have any experiences to share? Would love to hear from you.


Are you converting your event donors to program donors?

Your nonprofit just completed a successful event. Whether it was a black-tie dinner or fun run, you now have a great opportunity to engage the participants and acquire new donors and/or sponsors.

Create a conversion campaign. Add post-event action steps into your event planning. Here are some simple, but powerful ideas:

  • Post-event surveys
  • Invitations to sign up for e-newsletter
  • Updates on programs
  • Announcements of volunteer opportunities at future events and programs
  • Invitation to hold a third party event (see earlier post The Lure of Independent Fundraising Events)
  • Other ways to stay in touch
  • Add information about your programs and the people you touch in your auto-responder
  • Use Social Media to encourage and sustain conversations
  • Add information to your website and e-newsletter on what you are doing as a result of the fundraising event.
  • Schedule ways to stay in contact
  • Hold a brain storming session with your leadership to identify prospects.
  • Develop an email conversion strategy to educate and encourage a lasting relationship.

You need to be realistic. You need to analyze the reasons people came to your event. Then tailor your outreach to your prospects:

  • Were they asked by a friend? If so, you might be able to engage them to hold an independent fundraising event.
  • Do they support your mission? Invitations to on-site visits and lectures with leading authorities in your field will be appealing.
  • Are family members touched by the issues you tackle? In this case a compelling  appeal focused on a specific program that will help ensure quality of life might lead to a new donation.

Regardless of the pathway, be sure to say thank you and stay in touch. In today’s world, you can launch a conversion campaign through your electronic fundraising provider. Speak with your website designer to ensure that your landing page is up-to-date and makes it easy to contact you and make a donation.

Do you have any examples of successful conversion programs? Need any help?

Please contact me at deborah@creative-si.com



Role of the Board & Successful Fundraising Techniques

The rollercoaster ride that nonprofits have experienced since the beginning of the ‘great recession’ has been anything but fun!

Although the great recession began in 2007 according to the National Bureau of Economic Statics, the reality of its effects on nonprofits really hit home the day the venerable brokerage firm Lehman Brothers filed for bankruptcy in September ’08. Pretty soon nonprofit leaders and staff came to realize that how nonprofits managed their fundraising would be changed forever.

The Nonprofit Finance Fund provides financing, funding and advocacy services to nonprofits and funders nationwide. For the researchers among us, they are a fount of data. Their “Guide to Navigating Changing Times” provides answers and resources to help weather these difficult times.

An October 11 blog posting from David King, president Alexander Haas highlights “10 Lessons Learned from the Great Recession.”

  1. Relationships matter more than causes
  2. Serving on a board in not an honor, it is a real job with real responsibilities
  3. If you stop fund raising, you will stop raising funds
  4. Endowment is not an insurance policy against declines in earned and donated revenue
  5. Take donors for granted and they will take their donations elsewhere
  6. Financial acumen is, in fact, a requirement for nonprofit executives
  7. Your next campaign does not “have” to be larger than you last campaign
  8. We have a new definition for what we “need”
  9. The donor pyramid has been pinched in the middle (think hour glass)
  10. Fear of multi-year pledging has reshaped how capital campaigns are executed.

I have always been committed to a fundraising board. Last year I was asked to do a presentation on the “Role of the Board & Successful Fundraising Techniques.”

This presentation is a Call to Action for nonprofit boards to encourage ownership and enthusiasm for fundraising.

You are welcome to share with your nonprofit’s board of directors. I’d love to hear from you to learn of their response.

I know this is an extremely busy time for fundraising. We at Creative Solutions & Innovations wish you the very best in your quest.