Blog

January 23, 2012
Terms of Endearment

Love the one you're with.
 
It's sage advice for fundraisers too.
 
Reality is that it's difficult to consistently and efficiently love on your donors, especially smaller and medium size donors. Traditional thinking and methods are limiting. Direct mail quickly becomes expensive. Even when donor touches are calendared, the tedious details of the same old methods often result in inconsistent execution. As a result, most donors end up receiving an initial thank you and an end of the year tax receipt. That's it.
 
Monthly Engaged Giving, MEG, the transformative new fundraising methodology makes loving on supporters easy and convenient. She does it by integrating processes and slices of low cost, easy to use technology into one systematic approach.
 
An example of one of MEG's engaging donor touches can be seen on the cloud at:
 
http://portal.sliderocket.com/BIEPK/Merry-Christmas-from-the-Valley-of-Smiles.
 
Tools like Sliderocket, which was used to create and share that Valley of Smiles thank you, make donor love easier than ever before.
 
Who wouldn't be emotionally engaged after seeing a thank you music, picture and video vignette like that?
 
It's game changing stuff. And, it comes standard with every Monthly Engaged Giving program.
 
MEG calls it Terms of Endearment.

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January 20, 2012
Nutmeg

It has an extraordinary history.
 
In medieval Europe, it was an expensive and coveted spice. At one point, its' price skyrocketed as it was believed it could ward off the plague.
 
In 1621 the Dutch engaged in a war to control nutmeg production in the Banda Islands. And, until the mid 1800s, these small islands were the world's only nutmeg source.
 
According to experts cited in a September 2010 Health magazine article, nutmeg has a number of health benefits including reducing tooth pain, comforting upset stomachs, helping one sleep better and even increasing sexual desire.
 
That's no average spice. It's got a distinct flavor and impressive versatility. It gets the job done.
 
Monthly Engaged Giving, the flavorful, modern equivalent for fundraising, engages supporters, reduces donor churn, helps improve cash flow and even gives nonprofits peace of mind. No one is suggesting it wards off the plague. But, then again, the day is still young.
 
She's making new fundraising history. Meet nutMEG.

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December 26, 2011
2012

I resolve...
 
To systematically grow a broad and engaged base of contributors.
 
 
To love on all of our donors like we love on our biggest donors.
 
 
 
To move beyond transactional annual fundraising programs.
 
 
 
To make our cash flow more predictable and to enjoy the peace of mind that comes with it.
 
 
 
To get off the hamster wheel.
 
 
 
The New Year is here. It’s time.

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December 08, 2011
Go Fish

Remembered and often loved. Two words. Six letters. So simple, some would call it silly.
 
It's the card game that's easy to play.
 
But there's more to it. Quick to the point, insightful and image rich, it teaches us. It calls us to action.
 
Knock and doors will open on to you. Ask and you shall receive.
 
It's fundamental fundraising. Along with Story Time and Terms of Endearment, it's a core component of MEG, Monthly Engaged Giving.
 
With it, you come alongside your donors. You share stories, extend an invitation and set the stage for an enduring relationship.
 
Go Fish.

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December 08, 2011
MEGabundance

The abundance mentality is the idea that there is plenty for everyone.
 
Many of us have been blessed materially and with valuable knowledge and expertise. And most would agree that we're quite good at tapping those blessings to create a better life for more and more people. History and studies show that to be true. Over time life spans have steadily increased as has the general standard of living worldwide.
 
At the same time, virtually everyone would acknowledge that we are a long way from the ideal of eliminating poverty.
 
According to the National Center for Charitable Statistics, there are more than 1.5 million nonprofits registered in the U.S. The number of charitable organizations and the generosity of Americans, $291 Billion of giving in 2010, suggest prodigious generosity and dedicated service.
 
That's an impressive existing commitment. With that, how do we move closer to the desired ideal?
 
Convince more everyday people to become regular givers. And inspire the people that already give to give more.
 
Get them hooked on the habit of giving.
 
Monthly Engaged Giving, MEG, helps nonprofits do just that. It's a fundraising methodology with a hook for good, a simple, bite-size way for nonprofits to engage more people in the abundance mentality.
 
It's not a silver bullet, but it's progress. Progress for good.
 
Call it MEGabundance.

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December 05, 2011
What She's Not

She's not a direct mail program nor is she another well-dressed, big Rolodex boasting capital campaign consultant.
 
And she's not fundraising software that requires a perpetual stream of expensive version upgrades and add-on modules.
 
Not same old, same old.
 
MEG, Monthly Engaged Giving. You can learn a lot about her by understanding what she's not.

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November 16, 2011
Annual Giving and Fundamental Attribution Error

Try running uphill all year while wearing a cement backpack. Now imagine doing so while dodging boulders rolling downhill.
 
Nonprofit fundraising professionals that are responsible for annual giving, get to climb that same hill every year. Because of the transactional one-time nature of those gifts, they must be re-solicited each year. The boulders are obstacles like declining direct mail results, caller ID screening, increased competition and ever more fragmented marketing channels. It's the fundraising world equivalent of the movie Groundhog Day playing in an endless loop with nails scratching on a chalkboard as background noise.
 
Sound like a recipe for success? Not so much.
 
If you want burnout, that's your recipe.
 
Worse yet, one suspects that many talented and hardworking Annual Giving managers are being unfairly blamed for the less than stellar results.
 
Forget the fact that there aren't many Annual Giving managers experiencing consistent year over year revenue growth.
 
What often happens? We have an inclination to blame the person instead of the situation. Lee Ross, a Stanford psychologist, wrote a famous paper about this deep-rooted tendency. He called it "Fundamental Attribution Error".
 
Not to worry. While they may be shell-shocked and demoralized now, those Annual Giving managers still have the capacity for joy and fundraising success.
 
Meet MEG, Monthly Engaged Giving. She changes the situation and loves the people.

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November 13, 2011
The Lost Decades

The giving participation percentages of college alumni that graduated in the 80's, 90's and 2000's are so low that some university advancement teams have begun calling them the lost decades.
 
Angst is building among fundraising leaders. The problem is commonly acknowledged. The enigma is how to fix it.
 
Unlike their parents and grandparents of the Baby Boomer and Mature generations that graduated in the 50's, 60's and 70's, the Gen Xs and Gen Ys of the 80's, 90's and 2000's aren't responding to traditional university fundraising methods. It's a different world, fast moving and complex. Alumni relocate more frequently. Direct mail is no longer a panacea. Caller ID and the proliferation of mobile phones have muted the effectiveness of student phonathons.
 
As they are so much more difficult to reach, it's increasingly important that every interaction with alumni of the Lost Decades maximizes the opportunity to establish sustainable long-term giving relationships. As with any effort to encourage a new behavior or pattern, the ask should be "bite size" manageable, convenient and easy to act on. Ideally the desired behavior is facilitated by an automatic process.
 
Make that happen. And, the lost will be found.
 
Meet MEG, Monthly Engaged Giving. She's a finder and a keeper.

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November 12, 2011
Many Together

Light is the task where many share the toil. Homer

 

A single arrow is easily broken, but not ten in a bundle. Japanese proverb
 
We must all hang together, or assuredly, we shall hang separately. Benjamin Franklin

 

Most nonprofit leaders intuitively understand this universal and timeless insight. Many hands make light work. There is strength in numbers.
 
Translating that knowledge into action is an entirely different thing.
 

Too many charities are dependent on too few. Too few revenue streams and too few individual donors don't make for long-term sustainability.

 

Enter Monthly Engaged Giving, MEG. She's the fundraising methodology based on enduring wisdom.

 

Many together.

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November 22, 2011
Spray and Pray

It's the practice of mailing thousands of donation solicitations and requesting favor from the Big Man.
 
For colleges, universities and nonprofits of all kinds, it's a long common way.
 
But today is a different day.  It's time to make new hay.
 
MEG, you say. She can.

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October 25, 2011
The Big Orange Splot

It’s the endearing title of Daniel Manus Pinkwater’s classic 1977 children’s book. Monthly Engaged Giving, or MEG, as she prefers to be called, loves to read. This book is one of her favorites.
 
Pinkwater’s protagonist, Mr. Plumbean lives on a very ordinary street where all the houses look the same. That is, until a seagull drops a can of orange paint on Mr. Plumbean’s roof. The resulting splot draws unfavorable attention from the vanilla loving neighbors. They implore him to paint over it.
 
At first, he plans to do just that, but then Mr. Plumbean finds inspiration. He gets all colors of paints. Before long his house has stripes, more splots and pictures of elephants, lions, pretty girls and steamshovels. Mr. Plumbean even builds a clock tower on his roof and adds vegetation and a real alligator to his front yard.
 
When the neighbors initially shout their disapproval, Mr. Plumbean says, “My house is me and I am it. My house is where I like to be and it looks like all my dreams.”
 
Over time, one after another, his neighbors share lemonade and late night conversation with Mr. Plumbean.  And, they too are inspired to build their dreams. Before long, each house on the street is unique, a castle, a red and yellow ship, a hot air balloon and so on.
 
There’s a powerful message here. And it’s not just for kids. Organizations of all kinds, including nonprofit fundraising teams, fall into the trap of sameness. The same ideas and methods are used and recycled until ordinary is everywhere.
 
The most successful fundraising nonprofits are often the ones that figure out how to tell their stories in a distinctive, memorable and effective voice.
 
Yes, MEG is a transformative individual donor fundraising methodology. Perhaps most importantly though, MEG is individually custom crafted for you to tell and sell your organization’s story. Each Monthly Engaged Giving program includes the development of a one of a kind program brand name, tagline and logo. It’s your voice, exclusively.
 
At the end of the day, as you talk with your supporters and appeal to prospective contributors, wouldn’t you like to say, “Our house is us and we are it. Our house is where we like to be, and it looks like all our dreams.”?

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October 28, 2011
The Valley of Smiles

Stories connect us. They capture our attention. They teach us. They inspire us to action. Few things capture our hearts and minds like great stories.
 
Nonprofits with fundraising success year after year seem to understand this. They have a knack for sharing the stories that capture the essence of how they make a difference for people and for the world. Extraordinarily blessed organizations take it a step further. They combine great storytelling with systems and tactics that continually engage their supporters. Their processes facilitate automatic giving and nurture planned givers. It's inertia for good.
 
Not easy. Some would even argue that it's the perfect intersection of fundraising art and science.
 
Imagine an individual donor fundraising methodology that allowed every cause to find that intersection. That's a story we'd all love to experience.
 
What would it look like?
 
Come to the Valley of Smiles www.ValleyOfSmiles.org
 
It's MEG, Monthly Engaged Giving, in action.

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