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Donor Participation Project

Donor Experience Mapping with Emily Taylor, teenyBIG (4/14/21)

In this Donor Participation Project session, we’re honored to welcome Emily Taylor, Principal at teenyBIG, for a Workshop on Donor Experience Mapping.

Emily will be providing a brief overview on experience maps and how to use them, followed by the joint development of a donor experience map based on the group’s knowledge. 

Emily’s approach in this area is based on her background working in nonprofit management and industrial design. In the private and nonprofit sectors, she has helped design user-focused campaigns on everything from bicycle safety and light-rail advocacy to community chambers. She has a bachelor’s degree in industrial design from the University of Illinois at Urbana-Champaign. Emily serves on the board of the Association of Consultants to Nonprofits, where she helps lead the organization’s outreach to Chicago-area organizations. She is also active in the Chicago neighborhood where she lives with her family, including serving as a parent representative working with Chicago Public Schools.

The Donor Participation Project (DPP) convenes fundraising professionals who are concerned about the nationwide decline in donor participation (20 million US households lost between 2000-2016). 

We believe this can be solved by changing our fundraising practices and want to learn from peers who are moving the participation needle.

Discuss this Topic and Learn with Emily Taylor During our April 14 Lunch Analysis

  • This event will take place over Zoom.
  • The session will be recorded and accessible post-event for DPP members only.

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We will only use your email for information about the Donor Participation Project and will never share your information with anyone else. Consult our information-sharing practices.

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Donor Participation Project

The University of Tennessee’s Donor Participation Growth (3/17/21)

In this Donor Participation Project session, we’re honored to welcome part of the Advancement leadership team at the University of Tennessee, Knoxville: Erick Weber, Assistant Vice Chancellor for Annual Giving and James Obear, Associate Vice Chancellor.

In recent years, the flagship campus of the UT system has seen incredible growth, almost doubling the number of donors per year.

Erick Weber will walk us through the multi-faceted components of their donor participation strategy.

There will be a brief presentation followed by Q&A.

The Donor Participation Project (DPP) convenes fundraising professionals who are concerned about the nationwide decline in donor participation (20 million US households lost between 2000-2016). 

We believe this can be solved by changing our fundraising practices and want to learn from peers who are moving the participation needle.

Discuss this Topic and Learn with the University of Tennessee Team During our March 17 Lunch Analysis

  • Please bring 2/3 questions prepared.
  • This event will take place over Zoom.
  • The session will be recorded and accessible post-event for DPP members only.

Sign Up

Register now to join any of our learning & discussion sessions or access past materials:

Register for Event

We will only use your email for information about the Donor Participation Project and will never share your information with anyone else. Consult our information-sharing practices.

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Conferences Donor Participation Project

Live Q&A with Jim Langley (2/10/21)

In this Donor Participation Project session, we’re honored to welcome Jim Langley, President of Langley Innovations, for a Live Q&A session.

James Langley is the President of Langley Innovations, a strategic consulting and training firm, which he founded to help institutions advance a philanthropic revolution. Over his career, James has worked with institutions across the country at different levels to help raise over $3 billion.

The Donor Participation Project (DPP) convenes fundraising professionals who are concerned about the nationwide decline in donor participation (20 million US households lost between 2000-2016). 

We believe this can be solved by changing our fundraising practices and want to learn from peers who are moving the participation needle.

Discuss this Topic with Jim Langley and Ask Questions During our February 10 Live Q&A

  • Please bring 2/3 questions prepared.
  • This event will take place over Zoom.
  • The session will be recorded and accessible post-event for DPP members only.

Register Here

Enter your email now to join any of our learning sessions or access past materials:

    We will only use your email for information about the Donor Participation Project and will never share your information with anyone else.

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    Conferences Donor Participation Project

    DPP Happy Hour

    Donor Participation Project participants got together on January 13, 2021 to share their experiences so far in their fiscal year.

    Learn more about the Donor Participation Project.

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    Case Study Donor Participation Project

    W&M’s Successful Donor Participation Strategy

    Video only available to Donor Participation Project members, send me an email at louis@marktlab.com to join.


    Matthew Lambert, CEO, William & Mary Foundation, and Dan Frezza,  Associate Vice President for Strategic Operations & Annual Giving guided a Donor Participation Project session on the details of their successful alumni giving participation strategy during their last campaign.

    Some interesting takeaways were:

    • Every donor interaction mentioned the three campaign goals of increasing alumni engagement, increasing alumni giving participation, and reaching the campaign’s dollar goal.
    • They exploded their alumni engagement from about 10,000 touchpoints with alumni per year at the start of the campaign to over 30,000 by the last year of the campaign.
    • They grew their Class Ambassadors program from 200 to over 800 volunteers.
    • Their Giving Day also grew exponentially, and they viewed it as both an engagement and giving participation opportunity.
    • Leadership (President, Board, VP Advancement) must make participation a priority.
    • It is not a matter of either raising given dollar amounts OR achieving a participation goal, it has to be seen as giving AND participation.
    • Success requires a broad-based focus, across campus.
    • Diversification of the donor base is key (i.e. women in philanthropy, underrepresented populations).
    • The main indicators of giving habits are: giving history, consistency, frequency, and gift amount.
    • You must choose one among these three high-level goals: Retention, Reactivation, Acquisition. It will most likely be Retention.
    • With Reactivation, time is not on your side. After 5 years, donors are as likely to come back as a non-donor.
    • In the Acquisition bucket, newly graduated students were an important source of growth.
    • Key drivers of their success were: increased retention (year over year giving), increased gift frequency (within a year), stewardship of good behavior (i.e. consecutive giving society).

    Learn more about the Donor Participation Project and sign up here.

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    Donor Participation Project Resources

    Monthly Giving: All or Nothing

    Nicole Stern, membership director at WDSE WRPT Public Television joined the Donor Participation Project to share her knowledge of monthly giving fundraising.

    Monthly Giving with Nicole Stern, membership director at WDSE WRPT Public Television

    What is monthly giving?

    Monthly giving, also called sustainer giving or recurring giving, consists of setting up an automatically renewing monthly gift to a nonprofit. It is the equivalent of a subscription.

    What are the benefits of monthly giving for nonprofits?

    Monthly donors have both a higher retention rate as well as a higher lifetime value. Over time, these two facts compound to create important positive effects on the revenue available to fulfill your mission as well as your donor engagement efforts.

    How can I start a monthly giving program?

    You must embrace monthly giving as a new of doing business for your annual fund.

    Simply adding a checkbox under an existing online form is not enough. You must make it clear in all your outreach efforts (digital, mail, phone) that monthly giving is the default and best way to make a gift to your organization.

    Won’t monthly giving preclude me from requesting higher gifts from loyal donors?

    On the contrary, monthly donors are especially receptive to upgrade asks as well as to planned giving conversations. An established monthly giving program also frees up resources that you can invest in improved stewardship and more donor engagement.

    How hard is it to start a monthly giving program?

    These are the areas you need to pay attention to if you want to start a monthly giving program:

    • Executive buy-in. Use the data in the presentation above to make your case. A full re-orientation of your annual fund to monthly giving will require changes in all your operations and in your cash flow.
    • Gift processing. Monthly gifts turn one gift processing transaction into twelve. Fields may need to be added to code the gifts. For example, storing the credit card expiration date in your CRM can help you get ahead of credit card renewals.
    • Digital communications. Your main gift form will need to make it clear that monthly giving is the default and most convenient way to give.
    • Branding the program. Many organizations give a name to their monthly giving program (Sustainer Circle, Evergreen, etc.) to make it clear that this is something special.

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    Donor Participation Project

    10/14/20 Lunch Analysis: Sustainer Giving, All or Nothing

    As part of the Donor Participation Project, this Lunch Analysis session will be guided by Nicole Stern, Membership Director at WDSE WRPT Public Television.

    Recurring (sustainer) giving has numerous advantages for your organization including predictable long-term revenue, increased donor loyalty, higher donor retention and lifetime value, and incredible upgrade potential. We’ll explore how to prepare your fundraising shop to implement a sustainer program, how to create and execute fundraising strategies to take advantage of this transformational way of giving, and how to avoid any potential pitfalls.

    Nicole was featured in an article on sustainer giving in the Chronicle of Philanthropy, which is included in the Required Preparation section below.

    Brainstorm and Discuss this Topic With Peers During our October 14 Lunch Analysis

    Lunch Analysis is a 45-minute meeting that is a part study group, part scholarly discussion, part brainstorming session, and part support group. Participation is open to all who fundraise or have fundraised at a nonprofit.

    Each Lunch Analysis covers a specific topic in donor participation and has required preparation and discussion. This one will be on October 14, 2020 at noon EST.

    Required Preparation

    Read the following three articles:

    BehavioralScientist.org

    Explore the PBS Sustainer Learning Center

    Jot down the answers to these questions:

    • Have you attempted to implement a sustainer giving program?
    • What results have you seen?
    • What internal or external resistance have you encountered?

    Sign Up

      I verify that all participants are from a legitimate nonprofit fundraising organization.

      Past Sessions

      8/19/20 Lunch Analysis: How We Gather (Millenial engagement, community-building)

      9/16/20 Lunch Analysis: Growing Engagement Among Underrepresented Groups

      Categories
      Donor Participation Project Resources

      Growing Donor Engagement Among Underrepresented Groups

      Our second Donor Participation Project meeting was about increasing representation and diversity in our donor populations.

      Guided by Patrick Powell, CFRE, MBA, we had a lively conversation and learned a lot.

      You can read and contribute to the session notes in this Google Doc.

      Additional insights:

      There was a common preconception in the industry: “It is going to take you so much longer to get a gift from a non-white donor.”

      As soon as I made it my intention to build relationships with Black donors, in that same year I raised close to $250k from 2-3 donors.

      It was about: 1) Getting in front of them to let them know that they were important to the institution, regardless of race or color, and that we recognize that they are making an impact and are making a difference as graduates; 2) Letting them know that we want to connect them and get them involved in whatever way is important to them; and 3) Asking them how do they want to put their stamp on an institution where, if they didn’t feel connected, we have a whole group of students who we don’t want to go through the same experience. Tell them, “You have the ability to change that.”

      Join the Conversation

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      Sign up to join the Donor Participation Project learning sessions or to contribute to any of our docs:

        We will only use your email for information about the Donor Participation Project and will never share your information with anyone else.

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        Donor Participation Project

        9/16/20 Lunch Analysis: Growing Engagement Among Underrepresented Groups

        This session has passed. Read the summary and takeaway points here.

        How have you tried to broaden your donor base and make it more representative? What has worked for you? What backfired?

        As part of the Donor Participation Project, this Lunch Analysis session will be guided by Patrick Powell, AVP of Volunteer Engagement and Donor Philanthropy at Morehouse School of Medicine.

        An expert in donor engagement and community-building, Patrick is part of one of the fastest-growing institutions in the country at Morehouse School of Medicine.

        Brainstorm and Discuss this Topic With Peers During our September 16 Lunch Analysis

        Lunch Analysis is a 45-minute meeting that is a part study group, part scholarly discussion, part brainstorming session, and part support group. Participation is open to all who fundraise or have fundraised at a nonprofit.

        Each Lunch Analysis covers a specific topic in donor participation and has required preparation and discussion. This one will be on September 16, 2020 at noon EST.

        Required Preparation

        Take a moment to jot down the answer to the following questions:

        • What is the percentage of alumni giving/participation for your Black and or Latino donors?
        • Has leadership placed an emphasis on engaging donors of color at your institution?
          • If yes, what are the strategies or best practices you’re utilizing to identify and cultivate this constituent group(s)?
          • If no, what do you perceive the barriers are to these discussions? 
        • How has that impacted your desire to cultivate these specific groups if at all?
        • Have you experienced any success or rejection as a result? 

        Sign Up

          I verify that all participants are from a legitimate nonprofit fundraising organization.

          Past Sessions

          8/19/20 Lunch Analysis: How We Gather (Millenial engagement, community-building)

          Participants

          Adrian Annette Owen, CFRE, AVP for Advancement Services at LSU Foundation

          Allison Kerivan, Director Of Annual Giving at Bentley University

          Benjamin Osterhaut, Director of Annual Giving at Elizabethtown College

          Billie Handa, Director of the Annual Fund, Denison University

          Cameron Hall, Senior Director of Annual Giving at Texas Tech University

          Hawken Brackett, Executive Director of Strategic Engagement at The University of Alabama

          James Barnard, Executive Director of Annual Giving and Integrated Marketing at University of Cincinnati Foundation

          Jayanne Sevast, Director of Development, Annual Campaigns at Kutztown University of Pennsylvania

          Miriam McLean, Director of Development, University Initiatives at Tufts University

          Patrick Powell, MBA, CFRE, Senior Development Officer at Children’s Healthcare of Atlanta

          Sean Devendorf, Senior Director of Annual Giving, University Advancement at Tufts University

          Sierra Rosen, Executive Director of Planned Giving at Brown University

          Categories
          Donor Participation Project Resources

          Donor Participation Project Kickoff: How We Gather Report

          Angie Thurston of Sacred Design joined a group of fundraisers as part of the Donor Participation Project to discuss the implications of the How We Gather report for nonprofit engagement and donor participation.

          The document below summarizes the main points discussed:

          • The sector also needs a reliable way to know what is working well in the areas of donor engagement. In the current pandemic environment, especially in the area of digital engagement.
          • Angie shared a great thought:

          People come for [the workout/artistic self-expression/having dinner with like-minded individuals/something else] but they stay for the community.

          • Donor participation as it is sometimes defined can become a superficial numbers game. A deeper definition of authentic donor engagement is seen as necessary.
          • It is important that there is wide representation among donor constituencies. The current trend toward fewer donors making larger gifts feels undemocratic.

          Q: What are the common threads among the organizations in your report that have been able to grow large communities?

          “Community” is a word that is frequently used in an empty way, but we its true that we found a hunger for authentic community. This is different from something like “networking,” which can be valuable in its own right.

          Q: Larger, more established nonprofits include a broad variety of interests under their umbrella. How can we connect with and leverage those communities?

          In larger nonprofits, like universities, communities develop organically around different issues. Sometimes these communities have a separate identity from the main organization. How do we have those communities embrace the values of the “mothership”?

          Angie: This reminds me of meetup.com. There are thousands of communities made possible by this platform but its members identify with each other not with meetup.com. Some suggestions:

          Q: How do we message the values of the organization, especially to sub-communities that have their own values?

          Angie: Messaging about values depends on the extent to which the “real thing” is happening. Naming “values” is more effective if they match what is already going on. Otherwise, they come across as empty.

          People should testify to the values of their community, based on their experience.

          This connection between what is really happening and the official “values” can break down as organizations scale and grow. Some organizations are so reliant on the founder for these values that they fall apart when he or she is not there. We’ve all been guilty of this: “Developing Leaders for the 21st Century” sounds empty.

          The statement of values is less important than the lived experience.

          Among Millenials, there is a noticeable search for community, accountability, and an authentic voice. Communities must engage their constituents to be active, be purposeful, and demonstrate value to their members.

          Angie: What we found striking is that lot of people (especially Millenials) are looking for deep community. But they are hesitant to talk about it in those terms (there is still a stigma for “loneliness”). People are wary of hyperbole. What they find appealing is “come play live music for one hour.” In other words, they want to hear the unexagerated reality of what the offering is.

          Messaging should come from this lense. What are you actually doing? In real-life terms? Why have you made the decision to do that? Corporate messaging has exploited the word community and other concepts so much that people are hungry for a sense of reality.

          Participants:

          Khadija Hill
          James Barnard
          Hawken Brackett
          Franklin Guerrero
          Cathy Dodge-Miller
          Patrick Powell
          Ivan Alekhin
          Angel Terol
          Joanna Schofield
          Sierra Rosen
          Tilghman Moyer
          Patrick Powell
          Michael Spicer
          Rebekkah Brown
          Louis Diez