MEGables April 2018 - Volume 8...Power Up

Power Up

Are you hitting the proverbial brick wall in persuading senior leadership about the importance of investing in monthly giving? Or perhaps your monthly giving program has plateaued and you're wanting to strategically re-engage leadership and your team?

If so, it may be time for a power-up. That's gaming vernacular for earning more of the right resources to help you get where you want to go.

Before deciding how to power-up, take a step back. Pause and survey your leadership's fundraising priorities landscape. What are the top three fundraising priorities for this year? 

It wouldn't be a surprise if some variation of "meeting this year's total dollar goal" and "major gifts totaling $_____________" are on that top three list. Why? Because hitting dollar goals is how leaders keep their jobs and getting big dollar gifts are almost always the fastest possible way to get to a near-term dollar goal.

 So...what's our power-up recommendation? 

Attach your case for monthly giving program investment to senior leadership's top priorities. Most commonly that means helping them to remember something they intuitively already know, which is that the people they are targeting for major gifts are part of a finite group that needs to be replenished. And those people haven't always had the capacity or the inclination to give major gifts. It took time and engagement to get them to that point.

Every giver is somewhere in the pipeline. There may be 5-10% of all givers that are major gift ready now. Monthly giving is a way to systematically acquire, lovingly engage, and perpetually grow the other 90%...the rest of the pipeline. That's the case for investment. It's real and it resonates with leadership.

Call it pipeline power-up persuasion.


Energizer Bunnies

They just keep giving and giving and giving and giving.

And, it turns out that they keep giving even after their batteries are drained.

There are several fascinating insights about monthly giving in a classic monthly giving focused Chronicle of Philanthropy article titled, "Monthly Giving Can Add Up to Robust and Steady Revenue for Charities" (March 10, 2013).

One that is particularly intriguing is the below description of monthly giving's long-term impact on planned giving.

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"...about two thirds of the donors that have made pledges to her (the) organization in their wills are monthly donors."

It's commonly known that monthly givers are famously loyal, long-term donors with a typical giving tenure of five-plus years and that their life-time values are seven times those of traditional one-time/eclectic givers.

 

But who would expect that their generosity continues beyond the grave?

Energizer bunnies, they are.

MEGables March 2018 - Volume 7...Make it a WIG and Use Lead Measures

Make it a WIG and Use Lead Measures

It's one thing to recognize the transformative promise of monthly giving and make it a strategic fundraising priority. It's entirely another to execute...to deliver on that promise.

What's one proven approach that several of our customers with the fastest growing monthly giving programs employ?

They make monthly giving a WIG (Wildly Important Goal) and they use lead measures.

In their bestselling book, The 4 Disciplines of Execution, the authors (McChesney, Covey, and Huling), present a compelling and now many times proven methodology to help companies and nonprofits achieve their most important goals.

Arguably, the three most important words in the 4DX vernacular are:

Whirlwind - The happenings and demands of one's regular job. These are our often urgent, but rarely vital day-to-day activities. The whirlwind takes time away from achieving WIGs.

WIG - Wildly Important Goal, a goal that will make all the difference for the org or the team...overall or in a strategically important part of your mission.

 Lead Measures - The authors write, "Unlike lag measures, which tell you if you have achieved your goal, lead measures tell you if you are likely to achieve your goal." They insightful explain, "Great teams invest their best efforts in those few activities that have the most impact on the WIGs: lead measures."

What's an example of monthly giving program WIG and lead measure set?

WIG = Recruiting 150 new members for our insert monthlygiving program name in the period beginning insert date and ending insert date.

Lead Measure #1 = number of people to whom we make quality, personal monthly giving specific appeals. Our experience has taught us that when we make intentional focused monthly giving asks, either 1:1 or in small-medium size in-person group settings, we have an average sign-up rate of 25%. Our plan calls for engaging 400 people this way with an expected yield of 100 new monthly givers.

Lead Measure #2 = number of live phone-a-thon conversations with Lybunt donors in which we present monthly giving as the first giving option. We have just over 1,000 Lybunts. This segment has a 10% monthly giving adoption rate, the highest of any of our phone segments. We expect to add 100 new monthly givers from this group.


Bumper Sticker Theory

Ever find yourself stopped in traffic behind a car that is plastered with bumper stickers?

You may be like me. If so, you go into a rapid eye movement drill to read as many of them as possible before the light turns green.

Now... even a few minutes later, consider, what you remember.

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A bit fuzzy?

You may be drawing a blank...me too.

Now, consider this. The car in front of you has a single sticker centered on the back bumper.

It reads:

"Nothing Stops a Bullet Like a Job". You remember. And...that's the bumper sticker theory.

 

MEGables February 2018 - Volume 6...Pitch with Persuasive Power Words

Pitch with Persuasive Power Words

As we all know, words are powerful. They often make the difference between yes and no. Five words that have been cited as the most persuasive are: you, because, free, instantly and new.

What's an example of a proven, successful monthly giver recruiting pitch that uses persuasive power words?

"Become a Match MakerMatch Makers are monthly givers. As a Match Makeryou help create a new match every month. Your steady support provides the resources to recruit Bigs to match with waiting Littles, kids like insert first name of specific Little featured in narrative, and to help those friendships thrive over time. Because of the steady giving of Match Makers...generous people like younew life-changing friendships are created every month and the lives of kids like insert name of specific Little are instantly changed... forever."

Persuasive verbiage...right? And, we are providing that example without any cost to you. It's free. Please do employ persuasive power words in all your appeals, monthly giving and others, too.


Pixar's Practically Perfect Pitch

Arguably the greatest story teller of our time is Pixar Animation Studies.

Since 1995 Pixar has released seventeen films with total gross proceeds of $9.5 billion plus. Eight of them won the Academy Award for Best Animated Feature. Toy StoryFinding Nemo, and The Incredibles are three of their most widely celebrated movies.

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So...what can fundraisers learn from Pixar?

You may be surprised to know that Pixar has a "story formula" of sorts. 

Emma Coats, a story artist who previously worked at the studio, suggests that every 

Pixar movie shares the same narrative structure...and, thanks to Coats, it's publicly available:

Once upon a time ____________________________. Every day, _______________. One day ________________________________. Because of that, _____________________________. Until finally _____________________.

Call it Pixar's practically perfect pitch.

Like Pixar's acclaimed films, the best monthly giving programs have a repeat-able formula for the telling and selling of their great monthly giving program stories.

Think of it as a custom-crafted master screenplay and script for monthly giving asks.

What's your pitch?

MEGables January 2018 - Volume 5 Built to Last...Part 3 of 3

Built to Last...Part 3 of 3

Monthly giving programs are only as strong as the giver experiences they deliver and as the people and processes that guide and systemize them.

Some programs are shooting stars that rise and quickly burn out. Others steadily grow and then hit a plateau, where they linger. The special ones are those that take flight and keep growing year-after year.

What do the special ones have in common?

Long-term thriving monthly giving programs are intentionally launched and strategically nurtured with special care for the three Ps: Product, People, and Process. 

Product - As described in, MEGables Volume 3.

People - As described in the previous edition, MEGables Volume 4.

Process - Product and people together are usually enough to propel monthly giving programs to a first major milestone of say 100 monthly givers or so. Beyond that point, minor problems become major headaches that siphon away resources and energy that could be invested in growing membership faster and better engaging members. The third P, Process, is the most critical P for facilitating the efficient scaling of your monthly giving program. 

Process is what prevents the program from plateauing and backsliding as so often happens after that first milestone is reached. The visionary leader understands the vital importance of that process structure and insists that a master monthly giving program "how-to" guide be created, followed, and regularly fine-tuned. Process is the not-so-secret formula for scaling new monthly giver sign-ups and for "Systemizing the Love" for all members.

The three Ps working together...how monthly giving programs are built to last.


Fresh Ingredients

Stories. 

They are the emotional and intellectual hooks that attract and endear monthly givers. First, they draw us in and then they remind us of why we are giving to the mission.
It's one thing to prepare a few stories that inspire supporters to become monthly donors.

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But that's where 99% of monthly giving programs stop. They miss the    uber-valuable ongoing supporter engagement opportunity.
What's the disconnect?

Consistent, ongoing monthly giver engagement takes careful planning. Historically, that stewardship process including capturing impact stories to share with donors, was tedious, time consuming and expensive.

Times have changed. Thanks to ever-improving technology and innovative thinking, setting up an efficient system to engage donors, including producing and sharing new stories is significantly easier and less expensive than ever before. 

Everyday smart phones allow for quick and easy capture of video and digital photos on the same camera. On the story sharing side, social media and site content management systems give the stories a vehicle for virtually instant sharing. 

Additional tools like e-mail, text and user-friendly apps help universities and nonprofits leverage stories across multiple mediums. 

Monthly givers can access stories and special member content according to their own schedules and preferences. 

MEGables December 2017 - Volume 4

Built to Last...Part 2 of 3

Monthly giving programs are only as strong as the giver experiences they deliver and as the people and processes that guide and systemize them.

Some programs are shooting stars that rise and quickly burn out. Others steadily grow and then hit a plateau, where they linger. The special ones are those that take flight and keep growing year-after year.

What do the special ones have in common?

Long-term thriving monthly giving programs are intentionally launched and strategically nurtured with special care for the three Ps: Product, People, and Process. 

Product – As described in the previous edition, MEGables Volume 3.

People – Vision, tenacity, and consistency are the critical qualities of the leaders and doers that launch, lead, and manage long-term successful monthly giving programs. Usually there are two individuals (two roles) working in tandem, a dynamic duo of sorts, that are especially vital to launching and shepherding the most enduringly successful programs.

One half of the duo is the visionary leader. She or he is the one who sees monthly giving as a strategic fundraising priority. This leader understands that monthly giving delivers a predictable and growing revenue stream and becomes a relationship framework for systematically engaging donors with the mission of the university or organization. Additionally, the visionary leader knows that a monthly giving program is part of a donor relationship continuum and serves as a sort of farm system for cultivating givers that often go on to become major givers and legacy donors. Using his or her influence power and tenacity, the visionary leader garners top leadership and staff support and wins investment approval for the program. That leader takes the critical next step of finding the other half of the “dynamic duo,” the right person to handle the day-to-day marketing and operations execution of the program.

The other half of the duo helps operationalize the program. She or he should be adept at establishing processes and with building relationships. With mentoring and support from the visionary leader, this day-to-day program manager is the people-power that allows the program to get past the fragile program infancy stage in which many monthly giving efforts fail. The manager puts the processes in place that allow the program to scale and get to critical mass for sustainability. A rule-of-thumb for critical mass is membership of 100 to 150 monthly givers.

Departures of one of the two or the duo before the program reaches critical mass often is a significant setback. The longer the tenure of the dynamic duo, the more predictable the monthly giving program’s growth trajectory will be.

The second P, people, is the most vital of the three Ps. Only people have the capacity to inspire, create, manage and adapt. That said, without a carefully crafted first P, Product, as described in MEGables Volume 3 (insert link to MEGables Volume 3 here) and the third P, Process, your monthly giving program will not realize its full potential. 

Stay tuned for MEGables Volume 5 in January 2018 to feature Built to Last...Part 3 of 3 with a primary focus on the third P, Process.


MEG Grows with Young Pros and Alumni Advocates

 Given their own giving capacity and those of their personal connections, it’s natural that Executive Board members would be integral to nonprofits’ and universities’ major gift outreach and capital campaign efforts.

But what about Young Professional groups and Alumni Advisory Councils and Class Agents?

Some of the fastest growing Monthly Engaged Giving, MEG, programs engage young professionals and alumni advocates as monthly givers and recruiting champions. Their personal networks may not all be ready to entertain major gift asks or to buy $4,000 event table sponsorships. With that, for these groups, appeals to fellow alumni, friends, family, and other professionals for modest monthly gifts feel downright comfortable.

It happens naturally, and by design.

MEG grows with young pros and alumni advocates.

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With the switch, study participants could not consistently differentiate between butter and margarine. In another separate test, he asked participants to taste test the "white" margarine against a "yellow" version of the same margarine that had been wrapped in foil. In those days foil was a sign of quality.

The yellow margarine wrapped in foil was the overwhelming winner evidencing how consumers' transfer their favorable perceptions of the packaging, design and color, to the product itself.

The result?

Cheskin's recommendations were implemented. His client's margarine sales soared, the product category saw explosive growth and the principle of Sensation Transference was validated by consumer behavior.

What does all this have to do with fundraising and Monthly Engaged Giving?

Offering monthly giving as a bland, undifferentiated option without unique branding, engaging stories and creative design is like going to market with white margarine in wax paper. It might win a few members, but it isn't likely to endear your supporters and it certainly won't yield the revenue results that you need and want.

MEG, Monthly Engaged Giving programs are different by design. They're custom crafted with real substance and unique and engaging packaging.

Sensation Transference. Yes, it's a MEG effect.

MEG (Monthly Engaged Giving) is TwelveX's "Monthly Giving In-a-Box" fundraising methodology for recruiting new givers, engaging supporters, and boosting retention like never before.

twelveXgiving.com  |  913-254-3585

 

MEGables November 2017 - Volume 3

Built to Last...Part 1 of 3

Monthly giving programs are only as strong as the giver experiences they deliver and as the people and processes that guide and systemize them.

Some programs are shooting stars that rise and quickly burn out. Others steadily grow and then hit a plateau, where they linger. The special ones are those that take flight and keep growing year-after year.

What do the special ones have in common?

Long-term thriving monthly giving programs are intentionally launched and strategically nurtured with special care for the three Ps: Product, People, and Process. 

Product - When crafted and managed well, monthly giving programs provide a unique and consistently engaging giving experience for their members. The better the product ("the giving experience"), the more monthly givers that will join and continue supporting the mission. While there are multiple elements that come together to create that consistent, special giver experience, two elements are vital.

First, the monthly giving program must have a unique identity. That special brand, which typically includes a signature program name, tagline, and logo, "connects" the giver to the organization or university and mission, signaling to the giver that he or she is part of a special group that is working together to advance the cause.

Second, the organization or university, must methodically engage members with brand consistent communications and opportunities, such that the product ("the giving experience") continues to be vibrant and valuable for them. Those touch points are channels for mission specific people impact stories and even volunteer experiences that illustrate the power of their monthly giving. The best practice process for delivering consistently special monthly giver experiences is well described as "Systemizing the Love".

Though the first P, product, plays a vital program role as the substance of members' monthly giving experience, it is critically interdependent with the other Ps, people and process.

Stay tuned for MEGables Volume 4 and Volume 5 that will feature Built to Last...Part 2 of 3 and Built to Last...Part 3 of 3. In turn, they will focus on the other two Ps, people and process.


Sensation Transference, a MEG Effect

 Why are product marketers so obsessed with packaging?

Many would argue that Louis Cheskin's widely accepted, principle of Sensation Transference should get much of the credit...or blame.

Sensation Transference is Cheskin's coined name for his discovery that most people simply transfer their feelings about packaging to the product or service as a whole.

This principle has been repeatedly confirmed over time through independent research. With that, Cheskin orchestrated a 1940's "Margarine versus Butter" research experiment that proved the theory.

At the time, margarine was white in color and was not very popular relative to butter. For the experiment, Cheskin changed the color of the margarine to yellow, the same color as butter. 

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With the switch, study participants could not consistently differentiate between butter and margarine. In another separate test, he asked participants to taste test the "white" margarine against a "yellow" version of the same margarine that had been wrapped in foil. In those days foil was a sign of quality.

The yellow margarine wrapped in foil was the overwhelming winner evidencing how consumers' transfer their favorable perceptions of the packaging, design and color, to the product itself.

 

The result?

Cheskin's recommendations were implemented. His client's margarine sales soared, the product category saw explosive growth and the principle of Sensation Transference was validated by consumer behavior.

What does all this have to do with fundraising and Monthly Engaged Giving?

Offering monthly giving as a bland, undifferentiated option without unique branding, engaging stories and creative design is like going to market with white margarine in wax paper. It might win a few members, but it isn't likely to endear your supporters and it certainly won't yield the revenue results that you need and want.

MEG, Monthly Engaged Giving programs are different by design. They're custom crafted with real substance and unique and engaging packaging.

Sensation Transference. Yes, it's a MEG effect.

MEG (Monthly Engaged Giving) is TwelveX's "Monthly Giving In-a-Box" fundraising methodology for recruiting new givers, engaging supporters, and boosting retention like never before.

 

twelveXgiving.com  |  913-254-3585

 

MEGables October 2017 - Volume 2 Game changing monthly giving insight

Systemize the Love

What allows monthly giving to become monthly engaged giving?

Love does. 

"Monthly giving" looks something like this from the donor's perspective:
Soon after receiving an initial thank you for my "recurring monthly gift of $__", I begin to receive the organization's or university's general e-news. A drumbeat of other communications by mail, email, and even by phone, soon commences. They let me know about special events, giving days, etc., and they ask me for additional gifts. At the end of the year, a general "thank you for supporting _____" letter arrives along with a giving summary and tax receipt.

Am I feeling the love? Not so much. Why not? Because, there's nothing special about my experience. I'm lumped in with every other donor. It feels generic and "transactional" just like when I used to give one-time gifts.

 Does the university or organization appreciate my giving? Of course they do. Ok, so what's the disconnect? 

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Love is hard work. It takes intentionality, careful planning, and disciplined execution to methodically love on one's donors. As M. Scott Peck famously said, "...love is an action, an activity...love is as love does." So how can we "bring the love" and transform "transactional" monthly giving into monthly engaged giving?

 

First, we embrace the wisdom that "love" and engagement grow when donors believe that they are part of something bigger than themselves.

 

A first step towards inspiring that sense of belonging and unique appreciation is developing a cause-specific, endearing brand for your monthly giving efforts.

A named program signals to donors that they are more than just a "sustainer" or "recurring donor". They are part of a special team with a shared purpose.

The next step is to craft a year-round member "love" (engagement) plan. Examples of common "love" plan touches include branded communications with giving impact stories, welcome/thank you SWAG items, member-specific volunteer opportunities, and dedicated appreciation receptions. The member touches and benefits are designed to engage monthly givers around the brand, the mission, and the impact they are making with their faithful monthly giving.

Developing a monthly giving program "love" plan is actually relatively easy. It's the discipline of "consistent doing" that prevents most organizations and universities from delivering on the ideal of monthly engaged giving.

So...what do those that truly deliver monthly engaged giving do differently?

They systemize the love. They create specific processes, they calendar the supporting steps, and they assign responsibility and tasks to specific team members. Finally, they intentionally manage and adapt the system over time.


Love for the Marvelous, Modest Many

 What if the everyday people could have charitable giving experiences once reserved for big money givers?

Fundraising campaigns have long been conceived as relatively short term endeavors, usually 1-3 years in length and with a dominant focus on courting large gifts from foundations and wealthy individuals.

Those individuals and foundations typically receive a plethora of love and recognition in the courting, gift payment and campaign success celebration phases.

They often have their names prominently displayed, and enjoy special "insider" experiences relative to the university or cause.

MEG, Monthly Engaged Giving campaigns bring that kind of memorable, engaging experience to everyday people.

In contrast to the traditional campaign, MEG programs are perpetual campaigns designed to recruit and engage donors of more modest means, everyday small and medium size donors.

Because monthly givers are predictable long-term supporters their revenue value individually and collectively supports special treatment, custom branded monthly giver communications, special insider news and volunteer opportunities, etc.

A new charitable world is rising. Everyman and everywoman donors are feeling the love too.

MEG is all about those givers...the marvelous, modest many.

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