Thursday, September 27, 2012

Join me in Austin Texas Oct. 10

Major Gifts Go Where Relationships Flow 

Join Marshall Howard, author of the acclaimed bestseller, Let’s Have Lunch Together, and the relationship-centered leadership expert, for two remarkable sessions, Wednesday, October 10th.
For over 25 years, Marshall has taught thousands of staff and board leaders how to raise a lot more money, easier and quicker, through the power of relationship-centered leadership.  Because leaders lead, not push.  They engage the right people in the right way.  Leaders create traction and build buy-in.  Nonprofit leaders create partnerships that continually raise lots of money, year after year.
The first session, 9 a.m. to 11 a.m., is “Major Gifts Go Where Relationships Flow.”
Marshall will show key staff and board leaders how to fine-tune their leadership skills and raise more major gifts . . . the relationship-centered way.
Achieve these amazing breakthroughs:
  • Uncover three major gift opportunities already at your doorstop
  • Learn two comfortable ways to transform these opportunities into major gifts within a few months
  • Learn Marshall's comfortable, genuine plan to build the types of relationships you and your organization needs to survive and thrive.
*Cost of registration is for two participants. We strongly encourage you to bring an Executive Staff member or Board Member.
Each participant will receive a copy of Marshall's book, "Let's Have Lunch Together" (retail value $24.95 each)
The second session, 1 p.m. to 3 p.m., is “6 Secrets to Successful Campaigns.”

Wednesday, July 25, 2012

Horse Trainer Shows Teachers How to Build Relationships

It seems that in any type of training, personal rapport is the most important ingredient.  I have that as my main tenet - in fundraising, I call it establishing trust.

Here's am excerpt from a recent story from the Los Angeles Times about a consultant working with underachieving schools to raise test scores!

Dennis Parker is a part-Cherokee trainer in rural Zamora, Calif., who sports a silver ponytail beneath his cowboy hat. But his recent demonstration was aimed at training a different breed grappling with far bigger tasks: educators under mounting pressure to raise students' standardized test scores.

As a dozen educators watched, Parker explained that good relationships are key toward boosting achievement and that horses and humans both respond to similar strategies. Build rapport with friendly chatter. Gain respect by giving out tasks. And give treats not simply as rewards but just to be fun.

"Can you do that with your kids?" Parker asked. "It's like training horses; you don't break them, you teach them."

At Wilson in Santa Ana, Parker demonstrated the art of building relationships, using his horse-training techniques with fourth-graders. He bantered with them, saying they looked like sixth-graders. He used fun language — learning is "easy easy lemon squeezy" — and let the children choose the colors of classroom magnets. Offering choice helps children — and horses —become more cooperative, he said.

Personal rapport, he said, is one of the most overlooked tools in the quest to raise test scores.
"I work on relationships as much as the curriculum," he said. "Kids won't exert a lot of effort if they don't like or respect their teachers or have a say in their day."

To read the whole story

Friday, June 15, 2012

In the last three weeks. I’ve been to four different conferences talking about my bestseller, “Let’s Have Lunch Together.” My keynotes focused on relationship-centered fundraising and major gifts. Other presenters talked about special events, selling products to raise money, integrating social media, prospecting for major gifts and marketing.

One presenter did, however, mention that nonprofits continue to lose their donors at an alarming rate, with typical new donor retention running at only 30%. Why does this matter? Even small improvements in loyalty have a dramatic impact on the lifetime value of fundraising.

To me, it’s a simple equation. Just as in business, the cost of retaining a customer is far less than the cost of acquiring a new one. Loyal customers or donors become a strong community voice for your organization or as I call them, “Relationship Ambassadors.”

Here’s what I didn’t hear at these conferences – How to Train Everyone in Your Organization to Become Relationship-Centered.

When I asked community-based organization staffers to identify their customers, they all said, “the recipients of the services.” I disagreed: “Those are the beneficiaries of your good works. Your true customers are your donors, board, supporters, volunteers and, even grant makers. Without them you could not provide the services.”

What are you doing to involve everyone in cultivating and stewarding those who make your organization survive? Could you do more to make it thrive?

American Express recently told Fortune Magazine (April 30, 2012) how it transformed the Customer Call Center from transaction-oriented to one that capitalizes on building on the relationship with the customer. “We converted from a robotic, scripted environment to a conversational environment that brings the personality to life and brings one-to-one connections, which is what ultimately builds and sustains relationships.”

Couldn’t everyone in your organization from the Chairman of the Board to the receptionist to the program directors and the Executive Director learn how to seize opportunities to interact with each “customer” and build powerful alliances?

On my website, under Free Resources, I’ll show you some amazing results with Relationship-Centered Fundraising. Call me and I’ll show you how everyone in your organization can work together.

Thursday, March 22, 2012

Can you jumpstart your creativity?

I am a great fan of NPR and listen to in the car and download it to my iPad.  Last night I heard science writer Jonah Lehrer, author of Imagine: How Creativity Works, explore where innovative thoughts originate and explains how some companies are now working to create environments where they're more likely to occur.

Here's a great story about looking at a problem from a different angle can be the solution! He begins the book by talking about a frustrating challenge for Procter & Gamble, trying to invent a new line of soaps for their mops. They gave it to a team of chemists who struggled for years to come up with a stronger soap. You can make a soap stronger, but then you may peel the varnish off wood floors, you may irritate delicate skin. So after a couple years of struggle and failure, the executives at Procter & Gamble decided let's just outsource this problem. They gave it to a design firm called Continuum and they began by spending nine months watching people mop their floor.

They said we don't know more chemistry than the chemists at Procter & Gamble, an innovation powerhouse and we're not going to out-chemistry these chemists. You know, maybe we should just watch people mop?

So they watched people mop splashing around dirty water in the bathtub. And the first thing they discovered is that mopping is a terrible idea, that people spend more time cleaning the mop, than they do cleaning the actual floor.

It becomes very clear that mopping is a bad technology and they needed something better. But they didn't know how to replace it. And so then one day, they're making another field visit. And it's an elderly lady, and they surreptitiously spill some coffee on her floor. Because one of the things you find when you make sight visits, and you tell people we're coming to watch you clean your floors, that they clean their floor before you actually get there, you know, because they want the house to be spotless. But then you're not really seeing how people do it.
And so they intentionally spilled some coffee on her floor, and watched how she cleaned it up. And although this lady said that she always vacuumed and mopped, that's not what she did. Instead, she got out her paper towels and tore a paper towel and wet them with some water and then wiped it along the floor.

And right there, that is when they had their big idea, and that's where the Swiffer came from. Here's the entire interview -

Can we jump start our fundraising creativity by watching the donor (or someone who gave and doesn't anymore)?  Can we find out what their motivation were - how they make their decisions?  I know there is a lot of research on the subject, but like the outside design firm, I think you should go to the source.  For major gift givers, ask their motivation; what is the pleasure they get; what satisfies them that their donation has made a difference?  Be sure to engage in a two-way conversation.  You may find some creative ways to reach out and reward your donors and keep them!

Wednesday, February 15, 2012

A Tale of Two States - Creating Stong Partnerships

My consulting helps clients build a "Partnership Council," a major gift group that reaches out, brings in new leadership and resources and raises between $500,000 and two million dollars through multi-year campaigns.

Most of you know that working with prominent business executives and community leaders can be a tricky union. They often have their own agenda and their own style. Here’s how two clients in two states - one with too much control and own with too little - solved this problem.

In Georgia, I have a go-getter client who has built his agency into a nationally-recognized leader. Now he's facing the end of a large private funding cycle. I helped him recruit leading businesspeople with resources throughout the country onto a Partnership Council. That was the goal.

However, instead of creating an orchestra with the Executive Director as the conductor, this turned into a one-man band. Despite capable staff and engaged leaders, the client made every appointment and every ask.

Finally, I pointed out that the goal was to build "Relationship Ambassadors" who could work "for and with" him. The Council members needed to be coached and encouraged to reach out to their networks and bring him in as needed. Now, there are dynamic Council Chairs working with him to set appointments, make asks and greatly expand the campaign’s reach to raise $500,000 in the first year.

In Ohio, my client is a social worker and the chair is a very dynamic, salesperson. Here, the chair made all the contacts and filled the Council but did not introduce the client to her contacts. To reach their goals, the project needed a strong guidance from the staff professional. I coached my client to take charge, reach out to her own contacts - a state legislator, reality television star, landlord – and begin to recruit Partnership Council members on her own.

She also was firm in her request to meet the Chair's contacts before the first Council meeting. Now the two of them are on the right track together to expand this Council, reach their leadership and financial goals to raise $650,000 in the first year together.

In both cases, trust, shared values and goals are helping the organization and their high-powered volunteers make beautiful music together.

Friday, January 27, 2012

What are the right and wrong ways to raise funds?

I recently read this post by Veronica Dagher, Dow Jones Newswire and there are some great ideas to remember here!

For some charities, the difference between success and failure may not have much to do with how they spend their money. It may, instead, have to do with how they ask for money.  Here's what they charities should do—and what they shouldn't.
1. People Give to People  - this is my favorite comment
Relationships are the "heart and soul" of fund raising, it's always about who is asking.

A charity is much more likely to have success when the person making the appeal has a relationship with the potential donor. What's more, when a charity receives an introduction to a potential donor from an existing supporter, even if it's solely through an email, the charity is automatically seen as more credible in the eyes of the potential donor. In addition, charities that take the time to cultivate relationships with existing donors year-round, not just when the charity needs money, are likely to be more successful in their appeals.

2. Show Me the Leadership
Fiscal integrity is a key characteristic of strong nonprofit leadership. Prospective donors need to know that the charity's CEO will ensure the responsible stewardship of donations made to support the mission.  The charity needs to let the prospective donor know specifically how the money will be used, she says, and then, most of all, follow up and communicate with the donor on how the money was put to work.  This is a great way to follow-up and build the relationship.

3. Teach, Don't Sell
An organization that teaches a donor about an issue has a much higher chance of success than one that just "pitches" a donor about the organization's cause. For example, an organization that educates a donor about what's working and not working in education reform will likely resonate more than a charity that solely tells the donor about the charity's work in education reform, he says. Similarly, giving donors a firsthand experience of an issue, say by inviting them to volunteer in the shelter the charity is asking them to support, can make a big difference.

4. Tap Their Passion
Charities that help donors uncover their values, passions, dreams and aspirations can be a breath of fresh air to donors who may not be used to being asked what they want.  This is part of what I teach and it takes a good back-and forth and a willingness to share.  A fund-raiser might ask a prospect questions such as, "When did you first learn about giving back?" or "If you had $1 million that you had to give way, what would you change or preserve in the world?"

The questions will help the charity uncover the underlying story of the donor and gets to the core of how and why the donor really wants to make a difference. Ideally, the donor will want to support the inquiring charity's cause. But either way, by asking these questions the charity will likely be remembered by the prospect as the one that cared about the donor, not just the donor's wallet.

5. Start Them Early
Ideally, a child, from a fairly young age, is learning from his or her parents and grandparents how to be a wise giver, says Nathan Dungan, a wealth coach and president of Share Save Spend, which is based in Minneapolis. While children are likely to learn about giving through their families or schools, charities that simplify their messages for kids and engage children using understandable pictures and videos can help build a future generation interested in philanthropy, he says.
Nonprofits that teach kids and their parents how even a small sum of money can make a huge difference for someone working their way out of poverty, for example, can resonate with a child from an early age, Mr. Dungan says.
The Wrong Way
1. Making a Confusing Pitch
On a site visit to a charity with a donor who was picking among three organizations to give $100,000, the charity's director did his best for an hour describing what the charity did and showed the prospect large photos of some of the organization's programs.  But as they left, the donor's first question was, "What is it that they do there?" The charity's "catalog of 'We do this and we do that and at Thanksgiving we do this' " just confused the prospect.

2. Insulting the Donor
"Saying to a donor 'Your dad always funded us' rarely works."This can be insulting to donors, because it assumes something about them before even getting to know them. Charities risk alienating donors if they don't realize that a donor's personal choices will be shaped by that person's own experience, which might be very different from that of a parent or anyone else the charity may have worked with who knows that prospect.
Charities can also insult a prospect by asking for an inappropriate amount, says David Ratcliffe, managing director, institutional philanthropic sales, at U.S. Trust Corp. in New York. "Asking for too little is almost an insult, but by asking for too much, the donor could be taken aback and not want to give further," he says.

3. We're Desperate!
A plea of desperation may work with donors once, but it's not an effective long-term strategy. Repeated "emergency" requests will cause a charity to lose credibility with donors and few donors are looking to support what she calls a "sinking ship."  .

4. Getting Complacent
An organization's current donor base can be the lifeblood of an organization. Ignoring that donor base or taking their donations for granted could prompt existing donors to stop giving, says Gillian Howell, private-philanthropy executive at Bank of America.
Just because an organization has received the same grant for the same amount for 10 years, it shouldn't assume it's going to get it automatically this year, says Ms. Howell.  Not sending thank-you notes or timely gift receipts or failing to visit donors can hurt an organization's reputation with existing donors and prospects, she says.

5. Taking No for a Final Answer
Many nonprofits fail to think about how a donor who may not be able to support them this year might be able to contribute in the future, says Jane King, a Boston-based financial adviser. Nonprofits that hang up the phone before asking such prospects if they'd like to receive information about incorporating the charity into their estate plans or asking the prospects to volunteer, for example, could be missing an opportunity to receive money down the road, she says.

Tuesday, January 3, 2012

Community Health Workers Learn From Patients

In a recent Los Angeles Times article, I read about America Bracho, who started Latino Health Access in Orange County 18 years ago. "She puts more emphasis on education, prevention and participation than medical care."

The California Endowment chose central Santa Ana last year as one of 14 underserved areas across the state to take part in a $1-billion program to focus on building healthy communities.  Latino Health Access has more than 60 employees and hundreds more volunteers.

Mario Marin, 55, learned about the organization 10 years ago after becoming a diabetic. He took free classes on how to manage the disease and soon began teaching them.

Before long, he had given up his job at a Carls Jr. and was working for Bracho's organization full time. Marin said his life is completely different from what it used to be, when he drank regularly, smoked and ate unhealthfully. "I have much experience to share," he said.

During a recent training session for community health workers at a hospital in south Orange County, each of the participants said their name, their favorite food and their hobby.

That, Bracho told the group, is how promotoras connect with their community. They don't develop relationships by asking about glucose readings, but rather by talking about what they have in common: favorite foods and hobbies.

And, she told them, promotoras must be open to learning from the people they are serving.

"Unlike a doctor or a lawyer, we help each other," she said. "It's reciprocal."

I think this is a great model from all medical personnel!