The Planned Giving Blogger

The art and science of planned giving.

Posts Tagged ‘Stewardship

Donor profiles in your planned giving newsletter?

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Tom Ahern, writing in his e-newsletter, asks whether putting donor profiles in your newsletter is worth the trouble.  The short answer:   “They can lead to bigger things … or nowhere. You decide.”

You’re at the worthwhile end of the spectrum, Ahern says, “when your donor profiles are meaningful to other donors and can lead somewhere. Then donor profiles become opportunities.”

Ahern’s article, which includes a good example of a worthwhile profile is worth a read.

Phyllis

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Written by Phyllis Freedman

June 29, 2010 at 11:50 pm

Stewardship done right: #6

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I got an interesting mailing from the salon where I get my hair cut.  It begins “Celadon is now in its tenth year and we would like to thank you for your loyalty to us, now and over the years.   As a token of our appreciation we have enclosed a gift for you.”

The gift was two salon gift cards, one to use myself and one to give away to a friend.

What they sent me was not as important as the acknowledgment of my loyalty (although I think they were smart to suggest that I introduce a friend to the place).  What’s critical here is the fact that the communication was completely unexpected.  Unlike a thank you note that comes in response to a donation or an annual report mailing that comes every year like clockwork, this mailing came out of the blue and delighted me because it was unexpected and because it recognized my special relationship to the salon.

I share this story not only as an example of stewardship done right but to suggest that today consumer expectations are exceedingly high.  If a hair salon is doing stewardship this well, what must donors expect of us?

Phyllis

Written by Phyllis Freedman

June 21, 2010 at 11:43 pm

Director of First Impressions.

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Alva is not just the receptionist at one of my client organizations.  She’s the Director of First Impressions & Stewardship.  The other day, while I was waiting to go upstairs to a meeting, I had the opportunity to overhear a few of her conversations with callers.

With her sunny voice and helpful attitude she provided good stewardship to everyone who called.  One donor called asking for a staff person’s cell phone number.  Alva suggested that the donor leave a voice mail message “since all staff frequently check voice mail while away.”  Instead of telling the donor, “I can’t give out a cell phone number” she turned what could have been a negative into a positive.  In response to another caller, I watched as Alva picked up what looked like a laminated fact sheet that gave her the answers to the callers questions and a referral number.

As you can probably tell if you’re a regular reader of this blog, I’m obsessed with stewardship:  the absence of it and also citing examples that are good.  I honestly think it’s one of the most pressing problems we face as gift planners. With only 60% of PPP members surveyed reporting that they have a formal stewardship plan, it’s no surpise that stewardship gets short shrift.  That’s in spite of the fact that research shows that if properly stewarded, bequest size goes up exponentially.

I guess it’s our obsession with the gift, rather than what happens after the gift.  Even though, as Penelope Burke says, “the gift is just a symbol of the relationship, it’s not the relationship.”

Who answers your phone?  Is it even a human being?  Is that person (or persons) armed with guidance about his or her importance to the organization and with FAQs or other information needed to be helpful?

Phyllis

P.S.  I’ll be speaking on stewardship at the Bridge Conference in DC, July 27th.  I hope I’ll see you there.  For those who can’t attend, I’ll post my slides after the presentation.

Written by Phyllis Freedman

May 25, 2010 at 11:22 pm

21st century donor engagement.

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Leave it to Starbucks to teach us yet again about creating an exceptional customer brand experience.  Their Passion Panel is an interesting model for what engagement could look like for today’s gift planning donors especially Baby Boomers.  When we want to offer donors the opportunity to deepen their engagement with us, a key component of both exceptional fundraising results and good stewardship, why not offer a innovative online engagement program?

Phyllis

The importance of impact.

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As if we needed another reminder, the Wall Street Journal reports on the increasing emphasis donors are placing on impact to drive their charitable choices.  The article notes the following reasons for the trend:

1.  Economic turmoil.  With less to give, donors are more focused on ensuring the impact of their gifts.

2.  Information availability.  The web has made it possible for donors to make more informed choices when selecting which organization or project to support.

3.  Growth in philanthropic advisors.  More high wealth donors are participating in programs or working with individual advisors to help them develop their own strategic funding plans.

I would add to this list, the rise of the Baby Boomer and the passing of the baton from the WWII and Silent Generation.  Whereas the latter trusted in institutions, Baby Boomers want proof.

Phyllis

P.S.  I’ve written about impact in a number of posts.  You can read a couple here, and here.

Written by Phyllis Freedman

April 19, 2010 at 11:50 pm

On being a donor advisor.

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Recently a client complained to me that his central planned giving office doesn’t help with closing gifts because they’re afraid to be seen as giving donors advice. Even with disclaimers to also consult with their own advisors.  He contends that donors need and want advice from trusted sources like the nonprofit they have supported for decades and the nonprofit’s representative, the gift planning officer they have come to know and trust.  By advise, he means things like helping a donor figure out which asset to use to fund a charitable gift annuity, as an example.

Opposition to providing advice flies in the face of the increasing tendency in the marketplace to build service, implementation and advisory components into the sale.  That’s according to Neil Rackham, interviewed in the TrustMatters blog.  Rackham introduced the notion of consultative selling in his book, SPIN Selling.  He says, “So instead of just buying a tangible stand-alone product, you are also buying advice and support.”

Trendwatching concurs.  In their latest trend briefing they refer to “Brand Butlers,” brands that have turned themselves into a service.  As Trendwatching puts it, “Jaded, time-poor, pragmatic consumers yearn for service and care . . “

This consultative approach doesn’t seem to me to be in conflict with PPP standards of ethical practice for gift planners.  So, what’s going on here?

Phyllis

Stewardship done right–by the White House

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Yesterday’s Washington Post featured a wonderful cover story about the process and people behind the way the White House handles the flood of communication from the public to President Obama.  The end result is a daily selection of ten communications forwarded by staff to the President that provide his daily glimpse beyond what he calls “the presidential bubble.”

As you can imagine, the numbers are staggering:  50 staff, 25 interns and a rotation of 1,500 volunteers are needed to respond to 100,000 e-mails, 14,000 phone calls and 63,000 letters and faxes per week.

What’s the relevance to gift planning?  Alot.  Our donors are our constituents.  Is your organization disciplined about responding to inquiries?  In a timely manner?  With a warmly written letter or e-mail or a warm person on the other end of the phone who has been trained to talk with donors?  Do you categorize the responses so you can keep tabs on what’s on donor minds and create a feedback loop that informs future donor communication?  Does the management team regularly read a sampling of letters so they’re in touch with what your donors are thinking?

I realize the President has tremendous resources at his disposal but it’s all about making it a priority.  If you scale down the numbers to what might be needed for your organization, and you commit to delivering excellent service to your donors, you can do it, too.  And, if you can’t get all the way there, make a start.  It will pay dividends.

Phyllis

Written by Phyllis Freedman

March 31, 2010 at 11:34 pm