The Catholic Fundraiser

Tips to Use & Habits to Lose: On the Meaning of "No" and More

Posted by National Catholic Development Conference on 11/13/15 12:48 PM

Use It!

Invest in your staff

While leadership of the fundraising program is an essential ingredient for success, having the right people in the right places on your staff is equally important. Sometimes in our efforts to stretch our budgets, we may short change ourselves in terms of hiring and retaining people with the right skills needed to forward our mission.

Often we do not invest enough time and/or resources to help our staff members stay abreast of current trends and as a result their work can become stale and their energy depleted.

A good leader has to recognize what is needed to fulfill the organization’s mission and who best can handle the responsibilities and learn new techniques/strategies to reach organizational goals. These are the staff members in whom the leader needs to inspire personal and professional growth.

Moving from dollars to donors

One of the characteristics of millenials is their firm belief that, not only they can, but they actually are changing the world. Talkling about fundraising metrics, ratios and efficiencies as starting points for engagement in our missions are not highly motivating to this important segment of our society.

In addressing this age group our mission must be articulated in the language of change. Our actions and programs must demonstrate that partnering with us in a way to fulfill one's individual life mission: to change the world. Our fundraising efforts need to become even more donor-centered. Thus, the mission serves not only those less fortunate but it serves the donor as well.

Understanding the meaning of “no.”

Bernie Ross spoke at our NCDC Annual Conference in Washington, DC several years ago. Something Bernie often talks about are the “nine fundraising ‘no’s’.” He encourages fundraisers not to take “no” for an answer but to analyze what the “no” really means.

Once we understand what the potential donor is telling us, we can return to our offices, do further research, and try again. Bernie firmly believes that “no” is most often qualified and we cannot simply surrender and give up our quest for a gift because we heard “no.”

Here are his nine “no’s”:

1. No, not for this.

2. No, not you.

3. No, not me.

4. No, not unless.

5. No, not in this way.

6. No, not now.

7. No, too much.

8. No, too little.

9. No, go away.

Of course, Bernie strongly advises that the better we do our homework and understand the reasons someone might say “no” before we actually make the ask, the less likely we are to hear “no.”

Lose It!

Believing it is all about us.

Whether we believe it or not, often we act as though we think it is all about us. Rather than trying to begin from the prospective of someone who may not understand our mission or know much about us, we communicate things about ourselves that we like to hear and think are important to us even if they have little relevance to our target audiences.

Other times we try to create a “one size fit all” type of communication that may miss the mark for the majority of our audience. Perspective students do not want to read columns of information about alums getting married and having babies.

Perspective donors do not wish to scroll down through hundreds of years of history to learn about the Little Sisters of Hoboken today. We need to meet our donors and potential donors where they are whether that is in the mailbox or through mobile technology.

We need to communicate with them in language and ways that will be engaging to them right here and right now.

Overvaluing watchdog approval ratings.

In the last twenty years or so, ratings by charity watchdog groups have moved up and down the scale in terms of their overall importance to an organization.

While some of these groups have seemingly fair standards and processes for awarding charities for work well done, there are others out there who are self-proclaimed juries and judges, critiquing charitable fundraising community mercilessly, needlessly and sometimes wrongfully.

There are many reasons a charity may or may not qualify for watchdog approval.

While these ratings may be impressive in some circles, our challenge is to educate our donors and potential donors to make their own decisions, based on outcomes and the impact on the common good.

The more honestly we report what we do with the money entrusted to us, the more our donors and the public will trust us. 

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Topics: Tips to Use & Habits to Lose

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In this weekly blog we share tips, tactics and case studies for professionals in the Catholic fundraising community. Learn how to advance your mission with articles on technology, donor engagement, nonprofit leadership, social media, and emerging trends.

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