The importance of leadership in the fundraising sector

The importance of leadership in the fundraising sector

Reset, Reimagine, Re-equip for 2021

We’ll say it…Fundraising is hard! The world of fundraising is fundamentally shifting all the time; with old communications meeting new communications. And its a no brainer, COVID-19 has accelerated the impacts of a lot of underlying pieces of technology and environmental factors. The way in which we decide, buy, work, connect and live, have all altered – creating a different need for the human aspect, human element and human leadership.

Ashton Bishop, the founder of Step Change, knows how busy Fundraising Managers are. Which is why he’s taken his 3-day leadership course and condensed it into a 6-hour digital learning module, in a fun and interactive style of learning. And wait for it…you also have 3 months to complete the course at your own pace!

In challenging times we all need a set of tools to lean on and tap into. So why not challenge yourself and lead your cause into 2021, with a clear mindset and vision. Create your own sustainable change, challenge yourself, acknowledge your weaknesses, and build a better you!

Step Change have extended their BLACK FRIDAY pricing for our LemonTree community, offering 20% OFF their $299 leadership course ‘Leaders Mindset’.

Our unique discount code – LEMONTREE
(Offer ends EOD 18 December 2020)

The 8 Steps (& 4 Principles) to Becoming More Donor-Centric

The 8 Steps (& 4 Principles) to Becoming More Donor-Centric

Having explored some of the barriers to donor-centricity, it’s time to focus on the 8 steps you can take to help your organisation become more donor-centric.

At LemonTree, we define donor-centricity as: “The continual dedication to increasing the depth and breadth of your donor understanding, so you can connect more meaningfully, collaborate more effectively, and – most importantly – genuinely care for your donors in order to create ongoing value exchange, build trust and increase loyalty.”

Much like the relationship we have with each of our friends, the members of our family and the people we work with, there is no single, linear path you can take to build trust, earn loyalty and nurture a long-term, sustainable relationship with your donors. However, there are some critical steps we can take to create the right environment for a relationship to flourish.

It’s a bit like growing a lemon tree. You have to do some groundwork first before you can expect a seedling to grow into a fruit-bearing tree. You need to consider the type of lemon tree you want to grow, the seed itself and whether it’s viable, the soil, the pot, the light, the positioning, the climate, the water, the fertiliser, and so on. You have to cultivate the perfect conditions for your lemon tree to grow. Even then, with all your nurturing, it can still take upwards of three years for it to produce fruit…and some trees never will.

The same is true when it comes to creating a donor-centric environment. You need to be in it for the long-haul. This isn’t a quick ‘low-hanging-fruit’ strategy (excuse the play on words!). It takes time and effort to cultivate the perfect conditions for your donors to grow – but it’s an effort worth taking because it leads to long-term, sustainable relationships.

8 steps to cultivating a donor-centric environment

Step 1 – Maximise the quality of your data: the most important asset you own right now is the data on your donors, both past and present. When it comes to data, quality is just as important (perhaps even more so) than quantity. Data is your key to building sustainable relationships between your donors and organisation, so be sure to practice good data hygiene!

Step 2 – Find ways to collaborate: your own data will only ever tell you so much. Donor-centricity is a commitment to increasing the depth and breadth of your donor understanding. Finding ways to partner and aggregate data insights will fuel your donor understanding and lead to best practice communication and donor management.

Step 3 – Ensure strong donor governance: your donors are the life source of your organisation and the beneficiaries you serve. Without your donors, the solution to your cause disappears. Protect your donors by introducing strong governance practices for all your donor engagement processes. Remember, protect your donors to protect your cause!

Step 4 – Recognise their life stage: a donor’s ability and willingness to donate to your cause will vary in both time and dollars as their circumstances change and evolve. Always take into account the life stage and household composition of your donors in order to provide the most engaging experience.

Step 5 – Listen to their needs & wants: “seek first to understand, then to be understood” – so Stephen Covey told us. To build trust in a relationship you need to listen to and understand the wants and needs, hopes, fears, likes and dislikes of the other party. Only by understanding and capturing your donor preferences can you communicate with them in a way that will resonate, connect and build trust.

Step 6 – Lifetime value & share of wallet:  with a wider donor understanding of engagement, a level of sustained giving over longer periods is achieved. History has shown us when donors are over-communicated to, they suffer donor fatigue and reduce overall giving. Factor in share of wallet when calculating lifetime value. Know what is fair and reasonable for your donors.

Step 7 – Optimise your communication: sometimes silence really can be golden. Your messages, channels and the timing of your communication should be based on your donor insights. It’s not always about when you have something to say, it’s about contacting a donor when and where it is appropriate for them.

Step 8 – Nurture & grow: just like any other relationship, it takes time for donors to get to know, like and trust your organisation and the work you do. Invest the time in leveraging your knowledge of your donors, your cause and its beneficiaries to find common ground, make connections and demonstrate your value. Grow the size of your donor pond, by nurturing tomorrow’s givers, today.

Regardless of the path you choose to take, your journey towards donor-centricity should be underpinned by 4 core principles.

4 Principles of Donor Centricity

  1. Donors are people, not ATMs: loyalty will be created by treating donors as equally as important as your cause itself.
  2. Knowledge is power: the best, most engaging donor experiences will be created by leveraging the data, analytics, insights and observations available to you.
  3. Relationships are ‘give and take’: trust will be created by having meaningful, two-way conversations that foster reciprocity and fair value exchange between you and your donors.
  4. It’s a marathon, not a sprint: create the maximum return on your investment by measuring the lifetime value (LTV) of a donor, not just the campaign value.

These principles are the cornerstones of creating a donor-centric environment. They are non-negotiable. They are a mindset. They are a manifestation of your intent to connect, collaborate and care for your donors…whichever path you choose to take to get there.

If you’re on the journey to donor-centricity, why not join LemonTree’s free Donor-Centricity Collective (DCC)? As a member of the DCC, you can learn from your peers, share your experiences, ask questions and keep up-to-date with the latest strategies to become more donor-centric…AND be part of a movement to help grow sustainable giving in Australia! Simply click here to sign up for free.

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Next up in this series:

  • The different stages of the donor relationship and how they impact donor-centricity

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Barriers to Donor-Centricity: the Challenges you Face

Barriers to Donor-Centricity: the Challenges you Face

After defining donor-centricity and explaining why we believe it should be a strategic priority for NFPs, it’s worth us exploring some of the challenges you may face on your journey towards donor-centricity.

Commercial entities recognise that sustained competitive advantage comes from having a customer-centric approach across all levels and teams within their organisation. Only when the customer permeates the hearts and minds of the entire organisation – regardless of seniority, department or title – will the company start to reap the rewards of trust and loyalty from their customers.

The same is true for NFPs. Donor-centricity needs to permeate the DNA of your charity in order to be truly effective.

And therein lies perhaps the biggest barrier to donor-centricity: your organisation itself.

Its ethos, culture and leadership.

Its vision, strategy and core values.

Its programs, targets and KPIs.

Its operating model, revenue streams and decision-making processes.

Its hiring policies, onboarding and development opportunities.

These elements all need to be conducive to first understanding your donors at each stage of their life; and then infusing these insights into all areas of your business to help inform decisions, shape strategies, determine priorities, set goals, build your brand, establish a connection and ultimately create a unique and ongoing value exchange for your donors that leads to trust and loyalty.

All of which, of course, rely heavily on the technology your organisation uses; the quality of your donor data and even the very language you use to communicate with your donors. These too present additional potential barriers to donor-centricity.

Then there are the external factors to consider. The ratio of NFPs to active donors, resulting in everyone ‘fishing from the same pond’. The subsequent over-targeting and communication overload that leads to paralysis of choice, desensitisation or message fatigue. All this even before a global pandemic is thrown in the mix, threatening our way of life as well as life itself.

Yes, the path to donor-centricity is undoubtedly full of obstacles and challenges: internal and external, known and unknown.

But they are not insurmountable.

Because your organisation has a secret weapon.

You.

A champion, not only for the cause your organisation represents but for the donors who so generously give their money in support of its beneficiaries.

A voice, always asking “what will this mean for our donors?”

A rally cry, encouraging everyone in the organisation to put the donor first, always.

No matter what hurdles NFPs face on their journey to donor-centricity, their success will be that much greater – the outcomes that much more meaningful – if they have someone like you in their corner.

So don’t be afraid to be that constant presence, that constant reminder that sustainable giving stems from sustainable relationships built over time and based on trust and loyalty. And that begins with a donor-centric approach throughout your entire organisation.

If that sounds daunting, don’t worry – we’re here to support you. In fact, there’s a whole community of people here to support you…and we’d love for you to join us at LemonTree’s free Donor-Centricity Collective (DCC). As a member of the DCC, you can learn from your peers, share your experiences, ask questions and keep up-to-date with the latest strategies to become more donor-centric…AND be part of a movement to help grow sustainable giving in Australia! Simply click here to sign up for free.

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Next up in this series:

  • How to become more donor-centric
  • The different stages of the donor relationship and how they impact donor-centricity

Previous:

LemonTree Q&A with Dr. Adrian Sergeant

LemonTree Q&A with Dr. Adrian Sergeant

Adrian Sargeant is Chief Executive of The Philanthropy Centre. He is passionate about achieving massive growth in philanthropy. All his work is focused on achieving that by developing the value that donors get from their giving. He specialises in the new science of philanthropic psychology, a science that is routinely doubling the income for those charities that apply it… [Source: FIA Conference].

The LemonTree team compiled a handful of burning fundraising questions for renowned Author and Fundraising Professor Dr. Adrian Sargeant, featured speaking at the upcoming FIA Conference in Melbourne, here is what he had to say:

Q – With acquisition of donors via traditional channels becoming more challenging, how should charities adapt practices to grow their donor numbers?

Couple of thoughts on this. First – recruit the right donors. Don’t be tempted to recruit poor quality donors just to push up the figures for the initial ROI. In the US in particular, fundraisers have honed their skills in recruiting low value donors who will never come back and make a second gift. And their Boards applaud. Second thought – get a proper welcome cycle in place to maximize subsequent retention and loyalty

Q – What are the biggest dangers for charities that you consider are over communicating to their donors? Do you see resting donors a viable option?

I’m not sure what ‘over-communication’ looks like. If I like you and I care about you – and I enjoy what I receive – how can you over-communicate? What you’re really saying here is that we are over-communicating with rubbish that doesn’t in any way reflect donor interests, needs or aspirations. If you’re squarely donor centric and concerned with how you make people feel, resting individuals shouldn’t be necessary.

Q – Have you seen personalising communications based on motivational scores make a difference? Or is it a progressive learning program over many years to get right?

Hmm – well I take issue with motivation, its very limiting. The next big thing in fundraising will be identity. So its not ‘why do people give’ – its what are people saying about themselves when they give. And when you orient a fundraising program around adding value for the types of people that donors are – magical things happen. People give more and they feel better about themselves when they do.

Q – What are your top 3 tips to building more sustainable long term fundraising programs?

I’ve touched on this already. Forget behavioural economics and all that 20th century rubbish. Focus on enhancing the wellbeing of supporters and construct communication that genuinely adds to that. AND think through what activities you can have folks engage with that will genuinely add to that sense of wellbeing – even if those activities raise no money. In short – stop thinking about your needs and focus on theirs. If people feel good, the money will follow.

SHOUT OUT TO: David Craig from Precision Fundraising for connecting us with Dr. Adrian Sergeant.