Sunday, April 29, 2012

BIG’s Blog: A New Fundraising Model Rises

This blog is really written for nonprofit organizations that are overly dependent on direct mail fundraising. But even if your organization doesn’t do much direct mail fundraising, there is still an insight for you, too.

With direct mail, the fundraising model begins with an acquisition mailing. Direct mail fundraisers trade or purchase lists and mail a package specifically designed to convert some of the prospects on those lists into donors to their organization. Success is determined by a donation. It’s very black and white.

Fundraising using the Web is a very different model. A fundraising organization constantly puts new stories or information on the Web. People see the stories and some make contact . . . usually by going to the organization’s Website. This is a “contact,” not a donor. From this contact the organization works to engage the person who made contact. Engagement becomes the key. This is not a black and white process. The contact may become a supporter of the organization and they may also donate, but not all supporters are donors.

This is the new model of fundraising that is rising, even as the direct mail model slowly declines.

But here is the secret: both use the fundamentals of direct marketing.

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Thursday, April 26, 2012

BIG’s Blog: Pay Attention to What Agencies Pay Attention To

Mark Trefgarne is the CEO of LiveRail, a real-time video and technology platform. LiveRail works with everyone across the video and ad landscape, including agencies, networks, and publishers.

Mark says, “. . . agencies need to be key stakeholders in online video, from production to serving to analytics.”

What agencies focus on is what marketers should be paying attention to.


Because agencies need to be ahead of the demand of the organizations (their clients) that purchase their services – or they are out of business.

Here is how big video is. Roughly 179 million viewers watched more than 38 billion videos this past February, according to Media Watch. That is JUST February! Online video is massively popular with consumers, opening the door for huge attention-grabbing communications opportunities for marketers – including fundraisers.  

What this says to fundraisers is that more and more, you need to budget for video as video is how to get your message across – especially to younger demographics.

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Tuesday, April 24, 2012

BIG’s Blog: Donors Want It NOW

The following blog is my “fundraising re-do” of Ed Nash’s Op-Ed in the April 12th edition of the Wall Street Journal entitled: Is Your Company Late to the Mobile Party?

Mr. Nash is unabashedly talking about the fact that Web 3.0 is here. Most fundraising groups I talk to haven’t quite figured out what Web 2.0 is, let alone 3.0. That’s a problem according to Mr. Nash who, as a consultant to the music industry, has seen a level of digital disruption that few in the nonprofit fundraising world can imagine. And since he has lived digital disruption in the music business, his words are worth heeding.

“Web 3.0 isn’t coming – it’s already here. And it’s all about mobile interaction. If your (fundraising) group doesn’t have a mobile Website – a site specifically designed and coded for each mobile platform – you’re seriously behind the times. The marketplace demands content and the available delivery pipelines are exponentially more diverse and interactive than ever before”

“Our businesses (and nonprofits) compete in a technological environment in which information is coming and going from every direction in all conceivable digital forms. Suddenly, the ability to explore a fully interactive Website or a full-length video doesn’t require anything more than a small hand-held device.”

Having a Website isn’t enough if it isn’t easily readable on a mobile device.

This should catch your attention: according to a 2011 study by comScore, half of the U.S. uses mobile media, and here is the big news . . . that is a 20% increase in a single year!

I have friends who finally decided to buy an iPhone. They report that they were so pleased with their access to the Internet on their new smartphone that they are actually spending less time on their computers. And, of course, iPads are considered mobile devices as well.

Mr. Nash tells us that there are 1.2 billion mobile Web users worldwide with 25% of users in the U.S. accessing the Web exclusively through mobile devices. But in a sign of the continuing growth to come, in other parts of the world the number is significantly higher; examples include 70% in Egypt and 59% in India.

“Today’s Web 3.0 is different – it is fast, easy, clean and interactive. Viewing videos, hearing music, buying products, signing up for email lists (or getting information or donating to a nonprofit) is now simple, convenient and attractive …”

And the cost to translate your Website to mobile: “despite what you might think, it is not expensive. The technology is broadly available and the process of using existing Web elements to ‘skin’ (i. e. optimize) a site for mobile isn’t altogether difficult.”

Mr. Nash’s final admonition for businesses as well as nonprofit fundraisers: “I’ve learned that change can be very profitable for innovators and early-adopters, or very costly if you’re the last to show up to the party. For those who aren’t ready for Web 3.0, get your dancing shoes on – the party is already in full swing and you’re late.”

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Sunday, April 22, 2012

BIG’s Blog: The Change in Direct Marketing News

Today, I hope my blog drives home one singular point.

I have subscribed to Direct Marketing News since the late 1970s. How is that for dating myself? If you’re not subscribing, you should be. It’s free.

My guess is that most of you – especially in your direct mail fundraising side – have subscribed for at least that long. A number of years ago – probably around 2003 – I started to get their daily emails which give you the news daily of what’s going on in direct marketing.

Remember when all the articles and news were about lists, printing companies, direct mail copy writing, merge/purge techniques etc., etc.? In short, do you remember when Direct Marketing News was all about direct mail marketing?

Times have changed. The industry has changed. Today virtually everything in the news of direct marketing relates to digital and the Web.

Here is a recent copy of Direct Marketing News Daily Insider.


April 18, 2012

June 5-8, 2012 — McCormick Place West, Chicago, IL

Join 8,000+ e-retail professionals at the 8th annual Internet Retailer Conference & Exhibition. Learn the latest practices for connecting with the 21st Century consumer. IRCE has the most comprehensive conference agenda and the world's largest display of the latest e-retailing technology.
Learn more.

Today's News


Twitter acquires analytics startup

JoAnn DeLuna was acquired by Twitter, the social analytics startup said on its website. The company officially joined Twitter's revenue engineering team on April 16 to focus on developing analytics tools for Twitter's advertising and publishing partners, explained on a web post.

Hulu revamps ad pricing model

Ryan Joe

Online television network Hulu will charge advertisers only when a video stream is fully delivered, said Jason Kilar, Hulu's CEO, during his keynote at the Ad Age Digital Conference in New York City.


SAP launches b-to-c marketing campaign

Erin Dostal

Business software provider SAP launched a global b-to-c advertising campaign, which incorporates digital and mobile marketing elements, said Costanza Tedesco, SAP's global VP of brand experience.


Omnicom shows revenue growth, but Europe at risk

JoAnn DeLuna

Omnicom reported $204.6 million in net income for Q1 2012, a 1.3% increase from the same period last year, said John Wren, Omnicom's president and CEO, during an earnings call. Wren also emphasized Omnicom's initiative to grow its digital presence across all of its agencies through acquisitions, partnerships and investments in personnel.

Direct Line Blog

Direct Line Blog

The inbox purge

Erin Dostal April 17, 2012

Lately — as a consumer, not a reporter — I've been purging my inbox. During the past week, I've probably unsubscribed from four or five different email lists.

List of the Day


Accountants and Tax Preparers - ConsumerBase

April 17, 2012

Accountants and Tax Preparers - ConsumerBase - This list features individuals who specialize in accounting and tax preparation.

This month's issue

Data drives e-commerce

Macy's looks to the future of digital commerce

Staples opens e-commerce innovation center

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Thursday, April 19, 2012

BIG’s Blog: The Secret to Longevity - Reinvention

“They spent the rest of the time talking about where Apple should focus in the future. Job’s ambition was to build a company that would endure, and he asked Markkula what the formula for that would be. Markkula replied that lasting companies know how to reinvent themselves. Hewlett-Packard had done that repeatedly; it started as an instrument company, then became a calculator company, then a computer company. ‘Apple has been sidelined by Microsoft in the PC business,’ Markkula said. ‘You’ve got to reinvent the company to do some other thing, like other consumer products or devices. You’ve got to be like a butterfly and have a metamorphosis.’ Jobs didn’t say much, but he agreed.”
Excerpt from Steve Jobs by Walter Isaacson

Isn’t it amazing to look back at the genesis of today’s Apple as being a conversation between Steve Jobs and Mike Markkula? Mike Markkula was an early Apple investor and the second CEO of Apple who remained a close confidant of Steve Jobs throughout his life. The above conversation happened before there was an iPod, iPhone or iPad, back when Apple was under pressure for a new strategic direction.

Isn’t this the very same situation nonprofit fundraisers find themselves in today? The old tried and true ways of fundraising are becoming less and less effective. And it is getting harder and harder to keep blaming the 2008 recession for the drop in donations. Something more fundamental has changed. Aren’t fundraisers in exactly the same position as Steve Jobs in the early 2000s, struggling to figure out a new strategic direction? Wouldn’t you love to have a conversation with Mike Markkula to reinvent your fundraising organization?

Sometimes it’s just good to be reminded that other very smart people have faced serious situations in their industries where the playing field suddenly shifted.

And even someone like Steve Jobs needed advice and counsel for a new strategic direction to reinvent Apple. . .  

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Tuesday, April 17, 2012

BIG’s Blog: Growing Up in Haiti

For many adults in Haiti, their world is their community. They may never have traveled five or ten miles from where they were born. They know the world they live in and are comfortable with it, though they are mostly clueless of the larger outside world. Certainly radio and TV give them a glimpse of the outside world, but they choose not to focus beyond the world they know. Then one day an earthquake hits their community and turns their world upside down.  

At Browne Innovation Group we are privileged to know and work with some of the best and brightest in fundraising leadership today. And even they will tell you that their world is shifting under their feet. Even they need help in navigating the rough waters of change. But at least they ask.   

The chasm between those fundraising groups that are recognizing and reacting to change in fundraising methodologies and those that are not reacting is growing wider by the month.

A year ago I wrote that nonprofit fundraising groups had the next five years to make the move. Today I see that I was wrong. The older cohorts who have been the backbone of support are shrinking faster than I thought and the shift in people’s adoption of personal technology and communication modes has changed the behaviors of how they live, work and communicate. This change is good in that it will allow fundraising groups to reach and engage younger donors as a whole more quickly than I foresaw.

But this shift is having profound effects on the old ways of doing business and not just with fundraising. Borders book stores are gone. Best Buy is under huge pressure and some are predicting it may go out of business. And what is hurting them?  Consumers with cell phones and shopping apps buying from Internet retailers like Amazon. Society is changing profoundly in how it shops, and it is clear the action is online. The same holds true for how more and more people will choose who they will donate to.

The good news is that many nonprofit groups are re-thinking their strategy for fundraising and acting on it. In the end, they will succeed. They will make the transformation and they will become the backbone and the hope for the future of fundraising.   

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Sunday, April 15, 2012

BIG’s Blog: Strategic Direction and Infrastructure are Your First Hurdles

The day after you make the strategic decision to move your fundraising organization to digital – hint, simply having a Website and sending out emails is not making a strategic decision to move to digital – your next decision is “Who do I call?”

While we hope it’s Browne Innovation Group (BIG), whether it is BIG or another firm, you’re going to need outside counsel in thinking through your fundraising organization’s strategic direction. This is not a small move. And a big part of that strategic direction conversation must be a discussion of your technology infrastructure.

Having a donor management system (a.k.a. donor database) built for the needs of direct mail or traditional planned giving doesn’t mean that the same donor management system can make the leap to digital.

The good news is that since the last time you shopped for and purchased a donor management system, you are going to have "reverse sticker shock." What’s reverse sticker shock? Instead of seeing a big five, six, or seven digit price tag, you will be pleasantly surprised at the power and features a new system will offer you for “half or less” of what your previous system costs you.  And that is just the cost.  

The biggest change is that you actually have options in how you acquire the software. You have the option of the install software model or acquiring software as a service (SaaS) model. The install model is what most fundraising organizations have today. They have their own servers that host the donor management software in-house. SaaS is a completely different model that is fast becoming the dominant mode of acquiring database and customer relationship management (CRM) software across all industries. In a SaaS environment, the software is accessed through a browser and the actual software and servers reside elsewhere. For example, most nonprofit organizations’ Websites utilize a SaaS model but don’t actually think of it as such . . . but it is.   

Making the decision to move to a digital environment means setting your technology infrastructure on a migration path of integrating your donor management system, your Website platform, and the myriad social platforms such as Facebook that you will be using in the digital environment.

Technology infrastructure is just one of the elements of successfully transforming to a digital environment. But it all needs to be linked up with the fundraising business goals that are defined in changing your strategic direction.   

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Thursday, April 12, 2012

BIG’s Blog: Where’s The Action?

The economy is in the doldrums. Unemployment is way too high and last week the March “new job report” numbers were down from February . . . and the next day the stock market tanks. It seems we are treading water . . . yet . . .

Then comes the news that Microsoft buys 800+ patents from AOL for $1 billion dollars. The sale includes core and strategic technology patents and patent applications covering online technology in the areas of advertising, search, content generation and management, social networking, mapping, multimedia/streaming, and security, among others.

Then we learn that Facebook has agreed to acquire Instagram, the popular mobile photo sharing app, for $1 billion dollars in cash and stock. Yes, I said an “app” was just sold for $1 billion dollars!

Then this . . . The Wall Street Journal reports: Best Buy’s CEO Brian Dunn Resigns, Company Cites ‘Personal Conduct. Yeah right . . . personal conduct. Brian Dunn was forced out of Best Buy because he failed to halt Best Buy’s declining sales slide.

Ever heard of showrooming? Shoppers can walk into a retail store like Best Buy and scope out the merchandise with a phone app that tells them where they can get that item cheaper. The WSJ says, “Best Buy, which dominated electronic retailing for much of the past decades wasn’t moving fast enough to counter the emergence of consumers armed with Smartphones who use the company’s large stores as showrooms for merchandise that they wind up purchasing online.”

Where is the action and money flowing?

Answer: O-N-L-I-N-E.

The economic engine is switching quickly to online and THAT is the common theme of the above news stories.

As I read the Best Buy story on my iPad at the Wall Street Journal’s site, there was an ad on the side of the page from Heifer International. Yes, Heifer International is a nonprofit that you may have heard of whose mission is to help end world hunger and poverty by donating animals to individuals in poor countries.

Heifer International is running electronic ads online. Why isn’t your fundraising group running ads online? Heifer International is a mid-sized nonprofit organization raising just over $10 million dollars a year.

Honestly, do you think that your fundraising organization is any different than Best Buy? Best Buy’s business model is being disrupted by the Internet. Your fundraising model has already been disrupted by the Internet. Best Buy desperately needs a new strategy . . . and so do you!
That’s what we do at Browne Innovation Group. We help you define and implement a new strategy based upon the reality of the Internet. Our program is called the Transformational Strategic Plan.

Think about it over the weekend. Are you going to go to the wall like Best Buy and start seeing staggeringly big drops in fundraising revenue - or are you going to invest like Microsoft and Facebook (although waaaay less than a billion dollars) in transforming your fundraising organization?  

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Tuesday, April 10, 2012

BIG’s Blog: Get Your Video On!

According to a new study from Outbrain on the State of Content Marketing 2012, published in the Research Brief from the Center for Media Research, content marketing continues to be one of the rising stars in online marketing.

We all know what online content consists of: videos, blogs, or other information pieces you post on your website or on other online platforms like Facebook, etc.

The study highlights that 100% of brand and agency online marketers surveyed utilize content marketing in their overall marketing strategies. Yes, 100%. And fully 87% of the respondents stated video was their most common form of created content.

Popularity of Content Types Created by Brand & Agency Marketers (% Rounded)
Content Type% of Marketers Using
Blog posts
Slideshows/photo galleries
Source: Outbrain, State of Content Marketing, March 2012

This is a wake-up call for all fundraisers.

Get your video on!

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Sunday, April 8, 2012

BIG’s Blog: Monthly Donors and Big Gifts

If you are a regular reader of my blog you’re going to think I am singling out Penelope Burk, president of Cygnus Applied Research, to pick on again. For those who missed last Friday’s blog, Ms. Burk was speaking at an AFP conference in Vancouver, and last Friday I wrote a stinging rebuke to her quotes and recommendations as reported in a Philanthropy Today article dealing with major gift fundraisers.

Guess what? The very next day, the same reporter from Philanthropy Today had another story with yet more opinions and recommendations for fundraisers from Ms. Burk’s AFP presentation.

And again, I am not trying to single out Ms. Burk as being the only person making what appear to be statements based upon research when they are, in fact, merely highly questionable opinions. And if they were accurately reported, they are so egregious that they need to be “called out.”

The title of the article is Don’t Expect Too Much From Monthly Donors. Ms. Burk’s warning and theme is: Donors who give every month to charity aren’t very likely to make a big gift. “Does being a monthly-giver donor cause you to be more likely to entertain a major-gift ask?” The answer, Ms. Burk says, is “No.” She then goes on to qualify her statement, “That doesn’t mean there’s no point in trying to convert some monthly donors into big contributors, but expectations should be low,” she said. “The smart plan is to look in other places to find wealthy people with the potential to give large sums. The best strategy to close major gifts or planned gifts is not to draw from existing feeder programs,” Ms. Burk said.

Whoa, where do I begin?

First of all, my greatest concern is that these recommendations come from someone who is standing on the legitimacy of research as the underpinning of her recommendations when, in fact, they are opinions based upon an erroneous social view and completely devoid of fact.   

You don’t have to be a mathematician or economist to understand the Pareto Principle, or what is commonly called the 80/20 rule. The rule says that, for instance, 20% of any given population own 80% of the assets, or that 20% of all car salesmen sell 80% of all cars, or that 20% of the population pays 80% of all taxes. It is an accepted economic principle that is as valid today as it was in 1906 when it was first formulated and published.

Ms. Burk focuses on monthly-gift donors who, any fundraiser quantifiably knows, are her most committed donors. And like any population, 20% (or some number approximating 20%) will give 80% of the monthly gift donation total. Just like 20% of any appeal donors will give dollars approximating 80% of the dollar totals. This also plays out in capital campaigns as well. Experienced fundraisers know this to be fact.

When Ms. Burk states that “there’s no point in trying to convert some monthly donors into big contributors,” she is stating the absolute truth of the Pareto Principle. Of course only 20% of monthly-givers are viable targets for major gifts. But Ms. Burk doesn’t understand or acknowledge that principle. She states, “The smart plan is to look in other places to find wealthy people with the potential to give large gifts.”


Let’s assume I am a Development Director with a direct marketing program with 100,000 donors of which 8,000 are monthly givers. Ms. Burk is telling me to disregard the Pareto Principle and “look in other places to find wealthy people with the potential to give large sums.” In Ms. Burk’s worldview, these “wealthy people in other places” would somehow be as committed or more committed to our mission and give large donations but, unlike our current donors, would never give a smaller donation or give a smaller amount monthly. These “wealthy people from other places” would never respond to mail or other communication devices like the rest of the population. They are somehow different. “The best strategy to close major gifts or planned gifts is not to draw from existing feeder programs,” Ms. Burk says.

Hemingway is famously supposed to have told F. Scott Fitzgerald that “the rich are different than you and I.” “Yes, Hem,” Fitzgerald is supposed to have said. “They have more money.”

Fitzgerald had it right while Hemingway had bought into the erroneous cultural view.

Let me be extremely clear. It is from your base of current donors including your monthly-givers that you will find your major donors.

You do not have to worry that the Pareto Principle is going to be overturned by a researcher speaking at an AFP conference anymore than you might worry about Ms. Burk overturning the Bell Curve or the Pythagorean Theorem.

Unsubstantiated opinions passing as research-based recommendations happen in every sector of the economy, not just the nonprofit fundraising sector.

Just be skeptical and use the normal sniff test of common sense and reason.  

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Thursday, April 5, 2012

BIG’s Blog: High Turnover in Major Donor Fundraising Jobs

I had never heard of Penelope Burk or her company, Cygnus Applied Research, before reading Raymond Flandez’ article entitled The Cost of High Turnover in Fundraising Jobs in the April 4th edition of Philanthropy Today. In all fairness, she has probably never heard of me either . . . such is the breadth of the nonprofit support industry.

Mr. Flandez was reporting on Ms. Burk’s recent presentation at the Association of Fundraising Professionals conference in Vancouver. Ms. Burk was presenting the results of a recently completed research project entitled “Donor-Centered Leadership,” which is due out this fall.

The theme of Ms. Burk’s presentation and the first sentence in Mr. Flandez’ article was, “The high turnover rate of fundraisers is costing charities money. Lots of money.”

Ms. Burk lays out the key problem as “The average amount of time a fundraiser stays at his or her job: 16 months. The direct and indirect costs of finding a replacement: $127, 650.”

Although I have not read the whole report (as it has not yet been released), I congratulate Ms. Burk for addressing what is a hugely important issue within philanthropic fundraising as well as Mr. Flandez from Philanthropy Today for reporting on it.

However, if the reported observations and recommendations attributed to Ms. Burk by Mr. Flandez in the article are accurate, in my judgment as a person who has lead many successful sales teams, the value of this well intentioned research project is Dead On Arrival.

The Problem: “Demand for good fundraisers is so high that it is vastly outstripping the supply. Most good fundraisers are on the job just three to six months before they get recruited for a new role. Only one out of three fundraisers experiences even a day without a job,” says Ms. Burk.

The Solution: “It would cost just $46,650 to keep a good fundraiser happy by providing better salaries and other benefits, such as additional vacation time.”

Ms. Burk then lays out in greater detail her core argument for why these charitable gift officers move: “When fundraisers leave their jobs after a short time, it’s often to get a better salary. More than one-third cited that reason . . . while the next most likely motivation was to secure a more senior role. Not surprisingly, salary is the top reason charities often can’t get the fundraisers they want. About 58 percent of chief executives said a low salary often caused them to lose their top candidate in a job search. Only 21 percent of chief executives said they were in a position to offer salaries they considered competitive.”

Then Ms. Burk lays out her three recommendations for keeping fundraisers on the job:

1. Promote internal talent. Adopt a succession plan to train employees to rise to the next level in the organization. “Your best hire already works for you,” Ms. Burk says.

2. Set aside training opportunities. Cutting money for professional development, as many organizations did during the economic downturn, will probably affect fundraisers’ performance. “The training budget is the one thing you should never allow to be cut,” she says.

3. Help ease workers’ schedules. According to Ms. Burk’s study, fundraisers most want help balancing the pressure of career and family duties. About 52 percent of fundraisers said they want the option to work from home, 51 percent want flexible hours, and 42 percent want additional vacation time.

My overall reaction and comment can be summarized in one word . . . Seriously?

First of all, her top-line solution to her stated problem of fundraisers moving on is better salary and benefits to the tune of $46,650. But then her recommendations, as reported by Philanthropy Today, are “promote internal talent,” “don’t skimp on training,” and “help ease workers’ schedules.”

Am I the only one who doesn’t connect the dots between Ms. Burk’s solution of paying better salaries and her three recommendations which don’t address salary?

Ms. Burk no doubt knows research, and from what I can garner from some of the information on her website about the forthcoming research survey, my take is a lot of her comments may be directed at the generational shift of fundraisers as the Baby Boomer cohorts retire. But it is also very clear Ms. Burk has never actually managed a sales team . . . and make no mistake about it . . . charitable fundraisers are salespeople.

With few exceptions, virtually all of the nonprofit chief executives have little or no experience managing a sales process. Though I am seeing some change in attitude and practice in some of the major fundraising organizations, for the vast majority of major gift fundraising, this single fact alone speaks to the chronic turnover of charitable fundraisers.

Also, left unmentioned in the article is the real “elephant in the room,” which is charitable fundraisers not hitting their fundraising goals. How is it possible to do a credible research project on fundraising and miss the single biggest issue?

How is it possible to interview 8,000 chief executives and not surface this issue? Then, of course, there is interviewing the 1,700 sales people (charitable gift officers) without any analysis or comparison of who is hitting their fundraising goals versus who isn’t.  This merely provides the fundraisers who are failing the platform with the opportunity to blame their shortcomings on their organizations. Hey Penelope, how many were going to get canned because they weren’t hitting their quotas? Ooops, is talking about not hitting quotas out of bounds?

Is it just me, or does this whole research project seem slanted to the failings of the nonprofit organizations and not on the obvious failings of the vast majority of fundraisers themselves?

Charitable fundraising organizations do need to learn to manage their charitable gift officers in the same way that IBM manages their sales force. It is NO different. It takes about six months for someone coming into the nonprofit culture to learn that the “failed” charitable gift officers change jobs about every 18 months. Think I am kidding? Go back and review the resumes of the people you hired who suddenly left when you were about to fire them.

Good sales people and charitable gift officers are competitive. Yes, that is one of the traits you need to look for in a new hire. There are actually personality traits that all successful sales people have in common, whether it’s philanthropy or selling computers. If you don’t understand this, read Strength-based Leadership by Rath and Conchie.

Competition is about winning. And winning is about the prize. And the prize in the life of sales people, a.k.a. charitable gift officer fundraisers, is money as well as recognition.

If you also have a direct mail fundraising program, you clearly understand the concept of “cost to raise a dollar.” And the cost to raise a dollar varies from charity to charity but once it is established, you build that into your budget as a “known” percentage. Why would you think that major gift fundraising would be any different? IBM knows exactly what their cost of sales is. You should know exactly what your cost of major gifts is.

The sooner you understand this and change your approach, the sooner your major gift fundraising takes off.

The rest of Ms. Burk’s recommendations are, frankly, hooey and feel-good pabulum for an audience of failed charitable gift officer fundraisers.

Promote internal talent. First of all, that’s a possible solution to a completely unrelated issue. No, figure out how to remunerate those charitable gift officers who continuously exceed their quotas! If they can’t hit their quotas . . . fire them. Just because you are a successful gift officer doesn’t mean you have the skills or talent to manage or run the organization.  

Set aside training opportunities. Yes and No. Yes, bring in outside sales training experts to work on fundraising techniques. But do this in-house! Don’t let good charitable gift officers attend nonprofit conferences. Nonprofit conferences are nothing more than a venue for other nonprofit organizations to woo away your best fundraisers.

Help ease workers’ schedules. Ms. Burk says about 52 percent of fundraisers want the option to work from home. I say send them all home! Fully 75 percent of a fundraiser’s time should be contacting or being in front of potential donors. Track fundraisers’ daily call reports and don’t hesitate to personally follow up with prospects the fundraiser claims to have contacted. Get fundraisers “out of the office!” As to the 42 percent that want additional vacation time . . . my suggestion . . . make additional vacation time part of the prize for exceeding their quotas and give “permanent” vacations to those fundraisers who can’t make quota.

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