“Do Not Call” Refresh

Posted on 10/28/2014 - by Dan Allenby

Do Not Call ImageThere are five words that every phonathon caller dreads hearing: Take me off your list.

Applying a “Do Not Call” code (or any of the many “Do Not Contact” codes that exist on our databases) to a prospect record is a pretty extreme measure. That’s why it’s important that a prospect’s true intentions are clearly understood, accurately recorded, and kept up to date. But that isn’t always as simple as it sounds.

Intentions can be misunderstood or inaccurately recorded. For example, “Now is not a good time” might sound a lot like “Don’t ever call again!” when it’s coming out of the mouth of an irritated prospect. And it’s not uncommon for major gift officers to use “Do Not Call” codes to prevent their prospects from receiving annual fund appeals. (For the record, they should NEVER do this!)

The Annual Giving team at The University of Kentucky periodically reviews the comments associated with all of their “Do Not Call” requests. In doing so they noticed that, while some records had been coded for very legitimate reasons (e.g., “hard of hearing”), there were other reasons that didn’t seem as credible.

“Quite a few of our prospects cited the performance of our basketball team as a reason for not wanting to be called.”, says Anne Vanderhorst, Director of Annual Giving at The University of Kentucky. “But after winning our 8th National Championship, we thought it might be time reconsider some of our exclusions.”

So they sent a “We Miss You” postcard to every person who had been coded “Do Not Call” three or more years ago. The postcard informed prospects that they would be returned to the university’s calling pool unless they contacted the office and requested otherwise. It included simple instructions for those who wanted to continue being excluded.

“We sent the postcard to just under 5,500 prospects”, says Vanderhorst, “and we received less than 175 phone calls from prospects wanting to continue their exclusion. The remaining records were returned to the calling pool.”

Life is full of unexpected twists and turns. People can be misunderstood and sometimes they simply change their minds. So, when someone uses extreme and permanent words like “forever” and “never”, it’s ok to make sure they mean it.

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Posted on 10/22/2014 - by Dan Allenby

smallerWe live in an era of big data.

Today, we collect and store mountains of information on our prospects – work they do, gifts they make, events they attend, groups they belong to, and opinions they share. All too often, though, our big data sits in our big databases and leaves us at a big loss for to how to use it.

How can we make our databases smaller?

Predictive modeling (the use of statistics to predict an outcome) can help. It’s the same tool used by meteorologists to forecast the weather and by banks to evaluate someone’s likelihood to repay a loan. It can be also be used by fundraisers to segment a prospect pool, to decide how to allocate limited resource, and to make our vast databases feel smaller. Modeling can help to:

  • Rate an individual’s likelihood to make a gift
  • Determine the optimal solicitation channel for a prospect
  • Set appropriate ask amounts

According to last year’s AGN survey, 1 out of 3 annual giving program leaders considers predictive modeling to be an important part of their strategy. What’s particularly interesting is that this group also reported higher response rates for their direct appeals when compared with programs that did not consider it to be important. Perhaps predictive modeling isn’t as popular as it is effective.

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Webinar: Rethinking Direct Mail

Posted on 10/15/2014 - by Dan Allenby

Title: Pushing The Envelope – Rethinking Direct Mail Strategy
Date: December 9, 2014 at 1:00 PM EDT (60 minutes)
Presenter: Meredith Blair, Executive Director of Annual Giving & Regional Advancement – UC San Diego

Click here to register today! Save $50 off the regular price when you register before November 21st.

Meredith_Blair_Head Shot

Marketing, communications, and media have changed dramatically in recent years. But, make no mistake – direct mail is alive and well. In fact, direct mail is still the primary driver of donors and dollars at most annual giving programs today. Now, through data, analysis, and market research, we have an opportunity to rethink our mailings in new ways that improves results without increasing costs.

Register online for your entire team to learn how to develop a creative, efficient, and effective direct mail strategy for your Annual Fund.


What You Will Learn

Whether you’re a large, complex annual giving program or a one-person shop, our expert instructor will share ideas that are easy to implement, including:

  • Strategies for acquiring, reactivating, retaining, and upgrading donors through direct mail
  • Methods for leveraging analytics and market research to improve response rates and return on investment
  • Tactics that don’t require a big budget
  • Examples that have worked at other institutions
  • And more

Click here to register today!

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How To Ask For Money

Posted on 10/07/2014 - by Dan Allenby

Asking for MoneyThere are many reasons why people give to charity. The #1 reason is because they’re asked.

Asking for money doesn’t come naturally to everyone. Whether you’re a phonathon caller or a front line development officer, here are a few guidelines to consider for your next solicitation:

  • Little yeses can lead to big yeses  – warm up your prospective donors by asking them simple questions about themselves framed in a positive way. Are you enjoying this beautiful fall weather we’re having?
  • Preface each ask with a reason – know your case for support. Click here if you need some ideas.
  • Be specific, confident and precise – always ask for a specific amount. Avoid casual second attempts that start out like, “we’ll then how about…”
  • Set the bar high – if at first you don’t succeed, you can always try again with a smaller amount. Once they say yes, you can’t ask for more.
  • Make it palatable or symbolic – giving $83.33 each month may be easier to swallow than giving $1,000 all at once. If it’s participation that you seek, consider asking them for a penny per grad year (e.g., $20.11 for someone who graduated in 2011.)
  • Be prepared to overcome objections – familiarize yourself with common refusal reasons. Prepare (and practice) a response to each one. I understand. That is a lot of money, but we never know unless we ask.
  • The one who speaks first loses – don’t let an awkward silence get the better of you. After your ask, sit quietly and wait for them to respond.

Above all remember that it’s a conversation, not an auction. People make their own decisions about giving. You’re just there to lend a hand.

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Alumni Declension

Posted on 10/01/2014 - by Dan Allenby

The term alum refers to any of various double sulfates of a trivalent metal such as aluminum, chromium, or iron and a univalent metal such as potassium or sodium.

While I imagine that alum may be quite interesting to a scientist or an engineer, it’s not clear how useful it is to those of us who work in advancement.

Alumni Conjugation

On the other hand, an alumnus (male) or alumna (female) is a former student (often a graduate) of a school, college, or university. The term alumnae is used to describe a group of female former students and the term alumni describes a group of male former students or a group of mixed sexes.

Words do matter.

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2014 Survey of Annual Giving Leaders

Posted on 09/24/2014 - by Dan Allenby

Survey image 2

Do you work in development or alumni relations? Are you interested in annual giving? Would you like to know more about the latest trends in our field? Could you use more data to help inform your strategy, improve your results, and guide your career?

If so, make sure you SIGN-UP TODAY to receive a free copy The Annual Giving Network’s 2014 Survey Report, which will uncover answers to the following questions and more:

  • What’s a bigger priority for annual giving programs today: donors or dollars?
  • How much do annual giving leaders earn today?
  • Can “giving days” and crowdfunding really improve results?
  • Which vendors and consultants are recommended by your peers?
  • Are phonathon programs successfully adapting to the mobile migration?
  • What ROI should you expect for your direct mail program?
  • How are successful annual giving programs using social media?

Nearly 200 organizations participated in this year’s survey. The final report will be available soon!

CLICK HERE to have a free copy of the survey report emailed to you as soon as it’s available.

For more information, please contact dan@annualgiving.com

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Posted on 09/16/2014 - by Dan Allenby

SnackableCould your alumni think your institution is “worthy but not needy”? This isn’t an uncommon challenge for educational institutions today. Especially those with relatively large endowments and high sticker prices.

Education finance is complex and, for most, not easy to understand. If we don’t make a point of explaining it in terms that our alumni can grasp, it can make the idea of donating money to our annual funds hard for them to swallow.

Make your case for support “snackable.”

Stanford University, which raises nearly $1 billion annually, lists “Seven Reasons To Support Stanford” on their Annual Fund’s website. Here’s how they explain to their alumni why Stanford needs money:

  1. Tuition covers only about two-thirds of the real cost of undergraduate education.
  2. More than half of all Stanford undergrads depend on need-based scholarships from the university.
  3. Stanford’s endowment covers only about 23% of the university’s budget.
  4. Most gifts are restricted. Annual, expendable gifts provide vital flexibility.
  5. Federal support for university research is significant, but it’s been declining for years in real dollars.
  6. Stanford’s mission is global. Big ideas can be expensive. Making a difference is worth it.
  7. Every gift makes a difference! Most gifts made to Stanford are under $1,000. But together they add up to millions for financial aid, academics, research, and other programs.

I don’t know about you, but I’m getting kind of hungry.

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Fly Your Flag

Posted on 09/09/2014 - by Dan Allenby

Marquette FlagIf you happened to be in or around Chicago last March, you may have noticed a lot of Marquette flags flying about. That’s because Marquette University’s annual giving team, in conjunction with National Marquette Day, was testing something new.

“We wanted to boost donor participation, says Angela Krainz, a Senior Advancement Officer at Marquette, “so we offered a 3×5 Marquette flag to anyone who donated $60 or more. We focused our effort on Chicago because of the concentrated number of alumni, parents, and prospective students in that area.”

They kicked off the campaign with a postcard (see below) that drove donors to a web page where they could make a gift to the fund of their choice. They also promoted the campaign through Facebook ads and email. The effort generated nearly $30,000 and over 300 donors (a 1.8% response rate.) For nearly 20% of the donors, this was their first gift to Marquette.

“We were really surprised by how many parents participated”, said Krainz. Nearly 25% of the donors were current and past parents. In fact, they decided to run the flag promotion later in the year to all current parents, regardless of location, so that they could have a flag to give to their son or daughter as a holiday present.

They acknowledge that not every premium-based campaign turns out to be a success. Next time, they may focus more of their efforts online – possibly limiting it to a 24-hour time frame, incorporating a giving challenge, or asking donors to share photos of their flag display through social media.

“We only received positive feedback”, says Krainz. “Marquette alumni have a strong affinity for the university. They loved the fact they could get something to show their pride and help the university at the same time.”

Marquette’s compliance with the IRS’s regulations was simplified because they required a minimum donation and rewarded donors with a “token item” that contained their logo. Click here to read the current quid pro quo guidelines from the IRS.

Marquette Postcard Back



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Barn Lifting

Posted on 09/03/2014 - by Dan Allenby

Barn Lifting ImageIn 1981, Herman Ostry bought a farm near the small town of Bruno, Nebraska. His purchase included several acres, a creek and a barn.

At the time, he didn’t realize that the barn was built on low ground.  When it rained, the floor would flood creating a muddy and unusable mess. Unfortunately, the cost of hiring a construction company to move the barn was too expense. So Herman was forced to tolerate a muddy barn floor until, seven years later, he got an idea.

During the summer of 1988, the town of Bruno was celebrating its 100th anniversary. Herman used the centennial to convince 350 of his neighbors to help him relocate the barn to higher ground. In the afternoon, with thousands of live spectators and television cameras on hand, the volunteers banded together to lift the 20,000 pound barn and walk it over 115 feet to its new foundation.

The moral of the story? Sometimes a lot of little parts, put together in the right way, can achieve really big things.

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Webinar: Stewardship for Annual Giving

Posted on 08/27/2014 - by Dan Allenby

Title: Love Will Keep Us Together – Stewardship for Annual Giving
Date: October 21, 2014 at 1:00 PM EDT (60 minutes)
Presenter: Keturi Beatty, Sr. Director of Development – U. North Texas

Click here to register today! Save $50 off the regular price when you register before September 26th.

In annual giving, stewardship is much more than a gift a receipt or thank you letter. It’s showing donors that their contributions have impact and making them feel loved long after their donations have been processed. If done well, stewardship will not only help your Annual Fund raise more money, but it will create a community of loyal donors to support your organization for years to come.

Register online for your entire team to learn how to build a strong stewardship program for your Annual Fund.


What You Will Learn

Whether you’re a large, complex annual giving program or a one-person shop, our expert instructor will share stewardship ideas that are easy to implement, including:

  • Strategies to ensure a positive and rewarding experience for your donors
  • Methods for acknowledging and recognizing your donors in a way that efficient, effective, and scalable
  • Tactics that don’t require a big budget
  • Examples that have worked at other institutions
  • And more

Click here to register today!

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