Writing Contact Reports

Posted on 02/03/2016 - by Dan Allenby

Contact ReportIf a tree falls in the forest and no one is around to hear it, does it make a sound? Maybe. Maybe not. Now, if you have a great meeting with a prospect and you forget to log a contact report, does it really matter? Absolutely.

A contact report is a written summary of a development officer’s interaction with prospect. It records the time and purpose of the meeting and highlights important information that came out of the meeting. Contact reports are important for three reasons.

First, they provide an easy way to share intelligence with others who work with or on behalf of the prospect. It’s a much more efficient method of communicating a lot of information to a lot of people than having to rely on additional meetings or conversations. Distributing contact reports to colleagues is a good and common practice. It can be as simple as sending an email.

Second, the mere act of writing a contact report forces you to reflect back on your meeting and determine what was and what wasn’t important about it. A good contact report is concise and only includes information that is relevant as it relates to advancing a prospect’s relationship with the institution. A contact report should not tell the reader what color tie the prospect was wearing, that his sister’s husband’s cousin just got a speeding ticket, or that the waiter spilled orange juice on your lap. It should, however, tell you how he feels about the direction of the institution, what campus events he recently attended, or which professor the prospect liked best when he was in school. It’s also helpful to include other details that, while they may not be directly related to your institution, help to paint a picture of the person like their political views or what other philanthropic causes they support.

The best time to write a contact report is as soon as possible while the details of the meeting are still fresh in your head. Don’t get caught up thinking it has to be long or elaborate. In fact, short and sweet is usually best. It’s not a novel. It’s the cliff notes. At a minimum, though, it should include:

  • Your name
  • Prospect’s name and their relationship to the institution (e.g. alumnus from Class 1994)
  • Prospect’s estimated wealth, giving patterns, gift capacity, and inclination rating
  • Date, time and location of the meeting
  • Other participants (e.g. spouse, dean)
  • Summary of the meeting (no more than 5 sentences)
  • Key outcomes from the meeting (in bullet form)
  • List of next steps and your goals for cultivating and soliciting the prospect in the future
  • Other items of note (this is where the extra details go)

Third and finally, contact reports are good for posterity. Staff come and go (some stay longer than others) but a prospect’s relationship with an institution can often last a lifetime. Contact reports can not only help new staff when they need to get up to speed quickly and learn about the prospects they’re going to be responsible for cultivating, but they can help experienced staff recall important details and past events. They also provide a useful point of reference when thinking about how to best engage a prospect going forward.

Unfortunately, writing a contact report is easily (and frequently) put off. But the longer you wait, the more likely it is that it will never get done. When a contact report goes unwritten, a lot can get lost. Colleagues may not get clued in, you may not have a chance to process the meeting thoroughly, and future generations may never know about those things that you worked so hard to uncover. Sometimes, when a contact report goes unwritten, it’s as if the meeting never happened at all.

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Webinar: Successful Direct Mail

Posted on 01/27/2016 - by Brian Allenby

Tuesday, February 16th at 1PM EDT (75 minutes)

Presented by Gina Fiorillo, Director of Annual Giving at the Rutgers University Foundation

Click here to learn more or REGISTER TODAY!

Gina_FiorilloDirect mail is still the primary source of donors and dollars for most annual giving programs today, which is why it’s so important to produce appeals that balance the latest trends with traditional proven techniques. Successful direct mailcampaigns are the result of data-driven segmentation, creative design, and clear messaging.

Register online for your entire team to learn how to produce successful direct mail appeals for your annual fund.

WHAT YOU’LL DISCOVER

  • Guidelines for acquiring, reactivating, retaining, and upgrading donors through direct mail
  • Ideas for segmenting, designing, and producing effective appeals within your budget
  • Methods for analyzing results and maximizing ROI
  • Examples that have worked at other institutions
  • And more!

WHAT YOU GET

  • Access to the LIVE webinar; invite your entire team
  • Your questions answered by an expert
  • Copies of the presentation materials and resources
  • List of event participants so you can expand your network
  • Link to watch a recording of the webinar following the live event
  • Premier Members get unlimited access to all webinars. Click here to learn more!

ABOUT THE PRESENTER

Gina Fiorillo is the Director of Annual Giving at the Rutgers University Foundation where she manages multi-channel fundraising efforts including direct mail, phonation, and email. Her 18 year career includes work at Kean University and Douglass College as well as several non-profits including Slow Food USA and the Georgia Street Playhouse. She holds a BA in English from Rutgers University and is an active member of the Association of Fundraising Professionals.

Click here to learn more or REGISTER TODAY!

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Salary & Professional Development Report – Available Now!

Posted on 01/20/2016 - by Dan Allenby

CareerIn the fall of 2015, Annual Giving Network (AGN) conducted a survey of 870 annual giving professionals who are actively employed at colleges, universities and independent schools in order to identify their characteristics, pinpoint obstacles to their success, and establish salary benchmarks.

Click here to download a FREE copy of the report, which addresses the following questions:

  • Are you being paid equitably?
  • How much experience do you need to take the next step?
  • Which advanced degrees will give you the biggest advantage?
  • Where can you turn for career advice?
  • And more!

Click here to download a FREE copy of the report today.

Annual Giving Network (AGN) helps fundraisers advance their programs and careers. As the world’s leading resource for annual giving professionals, AGN provides access to training, webinars, workshops, case studies, and the latest research.

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Participate Events

Posted on 01/13/2016 - by Dan Allenby

Fish SchoalingShoaling is a term used in biology to describe when a group of fish stick close together. In general, fish shoal with others of similar size and appearance, choosing members of their own species whenever possible. There are many reasons why fish shoal. Collectively, it makes them more effective at searching for food and moving through the water. It’s a defense strategy — large groups as less vulnerable to predators than individual fish — and is also thought to increase the likelihood of finding a mate.

Since their beginning, alumni relations programs have expended a considerable amount of time and effort helping alumni shoal. Among their more traditional approaches have been putting on campus events like homecoming or class specific celebrations such as reunions. For many programs, regional chapters and clubs have also provided a way for alumni to gather at happy hours or sporting events.

Realizing the value of bringing alumni together, today’s annual giving programs are also beginning to leverage events as a way to achieve their fundraising goals and provide better donor stewardship. A few years ago, the University of Chicago launched “Participate” — a series of festive parties organized to encourage young alumni to give. To get on the invitation list for a Participate event you must have a) graduated in the last ten years and b) made a gift in the current fiscal year of any size to any designation. Events are organized in key regions throughout the country where there are significant populations of alumni. They’re promoted through email, social media, and word of mouth by volunteers.

Attendees are treated to high-end drinks and delicious appetizers while they greet old friends and make new connections. There’s no dress code but — as the university’s website jokes — that doesn’t stop many alumni from looking snazzy when they show up. For those who aren’t sure if they qualify for an invitation, the annual fund’s website includes an Honor Role of Donors list so they can look for their name.

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Segmenting Donor Populations

Posted on 01/06/2016 - by Dan Allenby

Fruit SegmentationNo two donors are the same. Each one has had a different experience as it relates to giving that influences the way you should communicate with them. They do, however, all share one thing in common – none of them has either a 0% or a 100% chance of giving in the future.

Organizing past donors into segments allows you to create customized messages that will increase the likelihood that they will respond to your appeals. While there is an unlimited number of ways you can subdivide your donor populations (e.g., interests, behaviors or demographics), a good place to start is to consider their giving record.

  • Current Donors are those individuals who have given in the present fiscal year. Since they’ve already been “counted” toward your participation goal, your messaging should focus on acknowledging their giving and its impact. While a traditional annual giving approach is to hold-off on further solicitations for this group, it’s not uncommon for programs today to pursue additional gifts from current donors. If you do, however, it’s particularly important to let them know that you’re aware of and appreciate their recent support.
  • Prior-Year Donors are those individuals who gave during the last full fiscal year but who have not yet given in the current fiscal year. A term that’s often used to describe this segment is LYBUNT, an acronym which stands for “Last Year But Unfortunately Not This.” Generally speaking, prior-year donors are the most likely segment to renew their giving. Among competitive colleges and universities, approximately 60 percent of prior year donors can be expected to give again in the current fiscal year.
  • Multi-Year Donors are a sub-segment of prior-year donors and are those individuals who have donated in more than one past year. This is important because the likelihood that a donor will renew their giving increases with each successive year that they donate. For example, someone who has donated in each of the past four years is more likely to donate than someone who has donated in each of the past two years. Among competitive colleges and universities, approximately 66 percent of multi-year donors can be expected to renew their giving. Moreover, the likelihood that a multi-year donor will renew their gift is over 80 percent once a donor gives for five years in a row. Therefore, a useful goal for any donor is to get them to the five-year mark as the “tipping point” in getting them to become a consistent lifelong donor.
  • New Donors are another sub-segment of prior-year donors and are those individuals who made their first gift last year. New donor retention rates are usually much lower than the overall prior year donor segment. Among competitive colleges and universities, approximately 26 percent of new donors can be expected to renew their giving. In the case of first year-out graduates who made their first gift as part of their senior class gift campaign, it’s not unusual for less than 10 percent to renew their giving. For this reason, new donors represent a huge opportunity when it comes to increasing the rate of renewal as well as overall participation.
  • Lapsed Donors are those individuals who have given at some point in the past but who did not give in the prior fiscal year. A term that’s often used to describe this segment is SYBUNT, an acronym that stands for “Some Year But Unfortunately Not This.” Lapsing is the term often used to describe when a past donor misses or skips a year of giving. Among competitive colleges and universities, approximately 15 percent of donors who are less than five years lapsed can be expected to renew their giving. Within the lapsed donor populations are several additional sub-segments that deserve your extra attention: those who made a leadership gift before lapsing, those who made multiple gifts in a single year before lapsing, and those who had a streak of consecutive giving before lapsing. Each of these sub-segments is more likely to donate and more likely to upgrade than the lapsed donor population in general.
  • Long-Lapsed Donors are individuals who have given at some point in the past but have not done so in a significant number of years. In the same way that multi-year donors become more likely to give again with each subsequent gift, the likelihood that someone will donate declines with each additional year that someone lapses. Once a donor lapses more than five years, the chances of them giving again the following year is often less than the chance of getting someone to give for the first time. This tipping point is commonly referred to as “the cliff” and you should do your best to avoid letting your lapsed donors fall over it.

Segmenting your donor populations reduces guesswork and prevents you from treating your best prospects in a generic way.

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Rulins

Posted on 12/30/2015 - by Dan Allenby

Woody GuthrieIn January 1943, American folk music legend Woody Guthrie famously jotted down a list of 33 resolutions in his diary. He called them rulins – personal promises to help start the year on a good note – like “learn people better” and “dream good.” Each one was ambitious, simple, and sincere.

With a new year underway, it’s a good time to make some personal (and professional!) promises of your own. To help your program get off on the right foot, here are 10 Annual Giving Rulins for 2016:

  1. Increase alumni participation
  2. Engage young alumni better
  3. Launch a donor challenge
  4. Thank your volunteers
  5. Be data driven
  6. Test more email appeals
  7. Make giving fun for students
  8. Get along with major gift officers
  9. Improve caller retention
  10. Send more handwritten notes

Happy New Year – good luck!

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Webinar: Analytics for Annual Giving

Posted on 12/23/2015 - by Dan Allenby

Tuesday, January 19th at 1PM EDT (75 minutes)

Presented by Meg Weber, Executive Director of Annual Giving at Colorado State University

Click here to learn more or REGISTER TODAY!

150303_Meg_WeberAnnual Giving programs are rich with data. If analyzed properly, that data can help you develop strategies that will raise more money and increase participation. Analytics can also help determine how to allocate your valuable time and resources so that your program is productive and efficient. If you don’t measure it, you can’t manage it!

Register online to learn how to develop a data driven strategy for your annual fund.

WHAT YOU’LL DISCOVER

  • Methods for measuring and analyzing your appeals, programs, and segments
  • Recommendations for developing reports, benchmarking, and developing basic predictive models
  • Guidelines for translating your analysis into specific ideas that produce results!
  • Examples from other institutions
  • And more!

WHAT YOU GET

  • Access to the LIVE webinar; invite your team
  • Your questions answered by an expert
  • Copies of the presentation materials and resources
  • List of event participants so you can expand your network
  • Link to watch a recording of the webinar following the live event
  • Premier Members get unlimited access to all webinars. Click here to learn more!

ABOUT THE PRESENTER

Meg Weber is the Executive Director of Annual Giving at Colorado State University where she oversees all appeal marketing and stewardship across the university. Her 16 year career in annual giving includes work at Washington State University, The University of Texas at Arlington, and The University of North Texas. She is a regular presenter with CASE and several of her programs have been recognized by CASE for excellence in fundraising.

Click here to learn more or REGISTER TODAY!

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The Donor Funnel

Posted on 12/16/2015 - by Dan Allenby

Donor Pyramid - Rightside UpWhen asked to describe annual giving, many are tempted to talk about its activities: appealing for gifts, processing payments, sending acknowledgements and stewarding the donors. Others describe annual giving through its common metrics. They’ll tell you how much money it generates or how many donors it helps to secure. And then there are those who talk about annual giving mechanisms—the solicitation channels or the constituency-based programs employed by annual giving departments to cultivate and solicit donors.

While all of these things are very important parts of a program’s anatomy, they don’t really get to the heart of annual giving and its role within that larger context of an advancement program. To explain this, a “pyramid” diagram is sometimes used and includes different levels to indicate various types of giving that a donor can engage in during their lifetime. As you can see above, annual giving can be a key initial step in process of converting occasional donors into special donors, then major donors, and ultimately principle donors over time. For advancement programs, this is a model for effective prospect management and cultivation over a lifetime.

The problem with using a “pyramid” model, however, is that it places annual giving near the bottom of the process, suggesting that it may not be as important. After all, it’s the small set of big donors that “matter” according to the 80/20 rule. But this visual misses the mark. A more appropriate model would be to invert the pyramid so that annual giving is near the top of a “funnel.” Instead of viewing annual giving as a means of moving donors “up” into higher forms of giving, it can help ensure that all of the other aspects of a prospect management strategy fall into place. Remove or hamper the top of the funnel, and fewer gifts will get through to the narrow spout.

Donor Pyramid - Upside Down

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Securing Prospect Meetings

Posted on 12/09/2015 - by Dan Allenby

Personal MeetingsA lot of things need to be aligned before you can make an effective gift solicitation. First of all, you need to find the right prospect. This is someone who either has a relationship or an interest in your institution as well as the capacity to make a gift.

You also need to determine the right time. Maybe it’s been a year since the prospect’s last gift, a reunion year for their class, or a special occasion for your institution like an anniversary of its founding. Or maybe they’ve recently been engaged in some way by visiting campus, volunteering, or receiving an award.

Finding the right place to meet is important too. The best location is always where the prospect feels the most comfortable. But if you have a say, try to meet at the prospect’s home or office so you can see them in their own element. This will allow you to look for clues about their interests and learn more about them as a person.

A meeting doesn’t just happen on its own. You’re going to have to ask for it. When you do, make sure it’s clear to the prospect “why” you want to meet with them. Even though “asking for money” might be on your agenda try to focus on some of the other good reasons why you might be asking for a meeting. For example:

  • You’d like to give them an update about what’s been going on around campus
  • You’d like to talk with them about their reunion or other upcoming event
  • You’d like say thank you for their past giving and tell them how it’s having an impact
  • You’d like to get their opinion
  • You’d like to talk with them about “leadership”

When you’re clear and direct about why you want to meet with a prospect, the likelihood that they’ll take the meeting goes way up. The same can be said for the solicitation itself. When you’re clear and direct about why you’re asking and how their support will have an impact, the greater the likelihood that your solicitation will end in a yes.

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Salary & Professional Development Report – Available Now!

Posted on 12/02/2015 - by Dan Allenby

CareerIn the fall of 2015, Annual Giving Network (AGN) conducted a survey of 870 annual giving professionals who are actively employed at colleges, universities and independent schools in order to identify their characteristics, pinpoint obstacles to their success, and establish salary benchmarks.

Click here to download a FREE copy of the report, which addresses the following questions:

  • Are you being paid equitably?
  • How much experience do you need to take the next step?
  • Which advanced degrees will give you the biggest advantage?
  • Where can you turn for career advice?
  • And more!

Click here to download a FREE copy of the report today.

Annual Giving Network (AGN) helps fundraisers advance their programs and careers. As the world’s leading resource for annual giving professionals, AGN provides access to training, webinars, workshops, case studies, and the latest research.

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