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It’s hard to believe that it’s been two months already. Two months since COVID-19 reared its ugly head and “Stay at Home” guided our lives, organizations, schools and businesses.
We send our condolences for the lives lost, and pray for those battling the virus and all those struggling with life’s challenges.
Our community institutions have definitely been impacted. Schools have quickly and exceptionally moved to distance learning. Organizations have been called on to dramatically expand their services to meet the needs of the most vulnerable in our communities. Yet other organizations have implemented creative ways to deliver their mission to reach their constituents. All done at a distance and with fewer resources.
Thank you so much for doing your part by carrying on, in spite of the challenges and revenue uncertainties.
Even in this darkness, there has been an abundance of good. Generosity has become a driving force, a saving-grace for many of us. Individuals wanting to make a positive difference is commonplace. Volunteerism, donating food to pantries, sewing masks, shopping for the elderly and charitable giving is up. Charitable giving even in these uncertain economic times is going strong. Donors appreciate the outreach, the gratitude, and concern for their well-being they are receiving. And they are giving what they can and, in some instances, giving more. What a blessing.
Some early findings from the BBB Wise Giving Alliance tells us that more than 52% of donors expect to give the same this year as last and more than 30% expect to give more. That means it’s up to us, the philanthropic sector, the nonprofits to make sure our mission remains in the hearts and minds of those who make the mission possible . . . the donors.
Just like you, J. Milito & Associates has spent the last two months adjusting to a new way of life, of doing business. We have been blessed with opportunity. Opportunity to spend more time, talking with customers, and nonprofit leaders across this great country. Through our weekly virtual “Conversations”, “Philanthropy in Times of Coronavirus” Facebook group, e-newsletters, and good old-fashioned conversations, we learned much and shared more to make sure organizations felt supported and appreciated.
And on April 20th, we got back to doing what we do best – picking up the telephone and raising funds for life-changing missions and ministries. While setting up a remote call center was not without challenges, we took great care to assure that our telephone fundraisers are working in safe environments and customers campaigns are treated with the same high-quality standards and care as the last 22 years.
We are having great conversations with donors. They are grateful for the outreach and concern. Their generosity has not waned. Donors are eager and willing to share what they can to support the causes they love, and help the individuals and families needing access to important programs and services! The generosity has warmed our hearts.
J. Milito & Associates is truly blessed by the trust so many have placed in us. For more than twenty-two years we’ve walked together with many in support of amazing missions and ministries.
And know, we remain committed to our nonprofit colleagues and friends. We are here for you, because we believe that the work you do is so so important.
Hopefully the worst is behind us. The future is in front of us. What you do today will have an impact on your philanthropic efforts long after this pandemic is behind us.
Today, it’s time to adapt your development plan to address the many unknowns that stand in front of you.
Questions such as: How might our organization be impacted through the summer, into the fall and at calendar year end? What resources will be needed and how will goals be met? What about special events and other in-person fundraising? What are the best strategies and times to fundraise over the next six months? Addressing these now, with contingencies, will help you stay focused on what’s important – those served by your mission and ministry.
J. Milito & Associates can help you look at your plan, answer these questions, and assure that your philanthropy efforts and your fundraising activities are successful.
While our team continues to work remotely, our hope is to be back home in our offices after June 1st. There is much to do to get ready to make this transition, again. Better, smarter, more grateful.
Again, we’re thrilled that our current campaigns are showing positive results from donors including increased gift amounts, bequests, and an out-pouring of gratitude and support from constituents to their favorite charitable organizations. Telephone outreach can help you get through this.
Together, we will get through this.
Know Your Donor. Share Your Mission.
“When you stop talking, you've lost your customer. When you turn your back, you've lost her.” ~ Estee Lauder
Now is not the time to stop talking. Not the time to turn our backs on our donors. We might think staying away is appropriate even thoughtful. That staying away is what is best for now --- for our organization and our donors.
Have any of you heard or said anything like this?
“People are scared and financially hurting. Asking them to donate now is just plain mean! There'll be a massive backlash with many, many donors vowing to never give to us again in their lives! Our entire fundraising program could collapse!”
We have this idea that we know best what is best for donors right now during this crazy crazy time . . . but unless you’ve initiated communication and asked them directly, you don’t really know . . . for sure.
There seems to be a bit of a gap right now between what we – philanthropic organizations – think is the appropriate time for fundraising – and what we are hearing from donors. Information that is being shared by donors themselves.
While we haven’t had enough time to do thorough scientific studies of donor behavior during a crisis of this magnitude, we do have some data that came out of the last great recession and more important is some encouraging information that’s been gathered over the past months.
During previous recessions, the average philanthropic organization surprisingly saw only a “2-3% revenue drop”. Those organizations who kept their mission alive, saw less of a drop – some even saw growth.
The BBB Wise Giving Alliance recently released a survey measuring sentiment of both donors and organizations. While the sample was small – 118 organizations and 1000 individual donors, the findings are incredibly telling.
Here’s what organizations surveyed shared . . .
And here is what individual donors shared . . . . .
As my favorite blogger the Agitator says about these findings ---
“Clearly, there’s quite some daylight between what the charitable organizations believe will happen and what individuals say they intend to do. Part or all of this gap will be closed– or not– by the charities’ skill and willingness to seize on the empathy and generosity of donors who are signaling they intend to rise to the challenge.”
Our job now is to begin to close the gap. The gap between our perception and the donor’s reality (as best as we know it right now).
We can close this gap by not turning our back on donors but rather by “talking” with them . . . communicating with them about our life-changing mission.
I hope you are up for the challenge!
The future of your mission and its beneficiaries depend on it.
“You never know when a moment and a few sincere words can have an impact on a life.” ~ Zig Ziglar, author, salesman, and motivational speaker
Donor Communication is about just that. Sharing a few sincere words to impact and inspire another . . . the donor . . . to take action . . . make a philanthropic gift . . . on behalf of the mission and its beneficiaries.
It ALL starts with your mission.
Your mission is your unique purpose. It identifies the beneficiaries of the service and the value delivered.
Your mission is the reason you get up every morning and go to work.
Your mission is the good you do. The good you do every day to make the world a better place.
How has your mission, not your organization, been impacted by the pandemic?
It’s important to remember, if your mission was important in December 2019 and important in February 2020, it is still important today . . . during the pandemic.
Now is not the time to take a mission vacation. To wait for the right time to talk to your donors and supporters. To be polite, passive and apprehensive. Now is the time to put your mission front and center in the hearts and minds of your donors and supporters.
We have a lot on our minds these days. The pandemic. The quarantine. Holidays without loved ones. Close quarters. No privacy. Too much privacy. Finances. Jobs. Etc. Etc. Etc. It’s overwhelming. It really is.
The good news is most Americans want to help. They want to do good.
Of those 1000 individuals in the BBB survey, no one said “Go Away.”
So, our job is to wave our flag, tell our mission story and inspire action.
How do we do that? The quote from Winston Churchill answers that question . . . .
“If you have an important point to make, don't try to be subtle or clever. Use a pile driver. Hit the point once. Then come back and hit it again. Then hit it a third time - a tremendous whack.”
Now is the time for us to make our point. To pull out our pile-driver and hit our point, once, twice, three times --- with passion, urgency and appreciation.
Now is not the time for the faint of heart.
Now is not the time for over thinking, over planning, over pondering.
NOW IS THE TIME to take action. Craft your messages. Inspire generosity.
The airwaves are starting to get very very crowded.
How will you make sure that your mission stands out? That your mission gets the attention it deserves?
“Wise men [and women] speak because they have something to say; Fools because they have to say something.” ~ Plato
Let’s use this opportunity to say something WISE and amazing. Let’s use this opportunity to communicate the following message . . .
“The COVID-19 pandemic is affecting the mission of (name of your organization) in the following way(s) ______________________________________________”
Next week . . . Part 2
We continue to keep you updated on what's happening with us and what we're learning on the telephone during Covid-19.
Click here for our latest conversations and discoveries.
We’re thrilled to report that J. Milito & Associates is back on the phone raising much needed funds for our customers’ life-altering mission and ministry.
We have taken great care to assure that our telephone fundraisers are working in safe environments and our customers campaigns are treated with the same high-quality standards and care as the last 22 years.
We are having great conversations with donors. They are grateful for the outreach and concern. Their generosity has not waned. Donors are eager and willing to share what they can to support the causes they love, and help the individuals and families needing access to important programs and services!
J. Milito & Associates remains committed to supporting the nonprofit sector’s philanthropic efforts not only during this crisis, but beyond.
Please contact us if you are interested in learning more or using our services to stay connected to your donors and supporters.
Keep doing good.
J. Milito is still here for you during the COVID–19 crisis.
In accordance with Michigan’s “Stay at Home” Order, our call center operations are suspended until at least April 14, 2020. However, our leadership team is working remotely to assure that you have the resources and support you need during this time.
Feel free to reach out if you have questions, concerns, need resources or someone to bounce ideas off, or maybe just talk.
Please stay safe and be well.
Message from Greg Winer, CEO, J. Milito & Associates
J. Milito & Associates COVID-19 Statement
“Extraordinary times call for extraordinary measures.”
These are crazy crazy times. The philanthropic sector is being challenged. While the challenge doesn’t feel good right now, we need to look at this as an opportunity. An opportunity to implement the extraordinary . . . with extraordinary results.
If our mission was important last month, it is important today. Maybe even more so. That said, it is critical that we not stop philanthropy and all that goes with it.
If we do this, we will have success and our mission will do more good. Because “DOING MORE GOOD” is what it is all about.
Let this quote from Helen Keller guide you through these difficult times -- “Be happy with what you have while working for what you want.” We can’t change the crisis, but we can change how we manage our organizations through it.
Many organizations feel they should take a step back and delay sending their Spring Appeals or other fundraising communications. We’ve heard organizations say, “we don’t want to be insensitive during this uncertain time by asking for money.”
Now more than ever, it is important to stay connected to your donors and supporters and engage more deeply and significantly. This is an opportunity to share our mission stories with those who have expressed an interest in the incredible work we do.
In the words of the late great Jerry Panas, “there is no perfect moment to raise money. The fact is that in good times and bad, Americans give to worthy causes. When times are difficult, they seem to respond with even greater dedication, generosity, and a genuine sense of sacrifice. They will allow nothing to interfere with their fervor in supporting worthwhile causes.”
Tom Peters tells that “If a window of opportunity appears, don’t pull down the shade.” During these trying times, we need to not "pull down the shade" on our missions and those served as a result. We need to embrace the opportunity (however horrible it is) to DO GOOD.
Many organizations who have decided to move forward with their Appeals find themselves struggling with “do we go with our original theme for the appeal or do we change it to reflect the times”.
It is important that moving forward with our appeals means that we must:
“Philanthropy is the gentle art of teaching the joy of giving.” ~ Hank Russo
There is joy in giving. Give your supporters the opportunity to be joyful in these less than joyful times.
When written in Chinese, the word 'crisis' is composed of two characters. One represents danger and the other represents opportunity.
How will your organization look at your upcoming Appeal as an opportunity?
We’d love to hear how your Appeal turned out.
In the US, there are approximately 1.3 million organizations in the philanthropic sector. The organizations feed, house, heal, rebuild, educate, inspire and nuture people in every demographic and socioeconomic status. Every day, these organizations "foster civic engagement and leadership, drive economic growth and strengthen the fabric of our communities."
If you are reading this right now, you are likely one of those organizations.
THANK YOU for all you do.
We know that this is a difficult time for our partners in the philanthropic sector. Organizations must continue to serve the community throughout this pandemic. While social distancing has interfered with service delivery, you carry on anyway because access to food, clothing, shelter, safety, health, and wellbeing must continue.
Our hearts and prayers are with those who are personally affected by the coronavirus. At a time when we need our friends and loved ones close by, we press forward together, apart. Because that is who we are.
There’s work to do. But you don’t have to do it alone.
We are here for you. Here for you, because the work you do is so, so important.
For more than twenty-two years, J. Milito & Associates has partnered with hundreds of amazing organizations across our country in support of their mission and ministry. For that we are truly blessed.
Because you are important and because we care about you, here are a few tips to help you get through the next weeks/months. What you do today will have an impact on your philanthropic efforts long after this pandemic is behind us:
Remember, J. Milito & Associates is here for you, here to be of service to your organization. No strings attached.
Whether it’s through the Facebook group “Philanthropy in Times of Coronavirus”, or weekly interactive conversations for fundraisers, J. Milito & Associates is here for you. This is our opportunity to give back to the philanthropic sector, to help make us stronger and focused on our missions and ministries.
In accordance with Michigan’s “Stay at Home Order”, we have suspended our call center operations until at least April 14, 2020. However, our leadership team is working remotely to assure that we can be here for you need during this time.
Please feel free to reach out if you have questions, concerns, need resources or someone to bounce ideas off, or maybe just talk.
We will get through this . . . together.
These are indeed trying times. Our world is faced with a pandemic that has all but stopped our daily lives. Around the world our fellow humans are coming together (apart) to defeat this deadly disease.
The philanthropic sector has a great responsibility at all times, and especially during this pandemic. The sector has the responsibility to hold together the safety nets so many in our communities rely upon. Beyond providing for the basic needs -- food, clothing, shelter, safety, health and wellbeing -- the philanthropic sector also provides the cultural enrichments that enhance our lives with vibrant and meaningful experiences. The pandemic has made these the safety nets and cultural enrichments vulnerable.
So what do we do?
How do we keep our eyes focused on our mission and those benefiting from our good work?
We can choose to panic, or we can keep calm and look at this as a time of opportunity. A time to be creative in how we invite others to partner with us to keep the mission afloat.
People, so many people, are asking “how can I be of service?”
We, the philanthropic sector can answer that question. And we don’t need to feel guilty. We shouldn’t feel guilty, because helping feels good and there are many out there who are eager and willing to help. And the need is great.
During the coming days and weeks, J. Milito & Associates is here for you, here to be of service to your organization. No strings attached.
Let's get through this together.
Do you know your donors? Not as a group, but individually?
Do you know what motivates them? What inspires them? What turns them off?
The way to really get to know your donors and find out why they support your organization, is by asking them. Having "live" conversations. And listening.
Donor conversations are not just reserved for major donors. You should be having conversations with all donors -- your regular $25 donor, your monthly donor, your $500 mid-level donor, and everyone in between.
Want to learn more?
Join us for this valuable webinar with Erica Waasdorp of A Direct Solution & Janice Fonger of J. Milito & Associates on the power of conversation in fundraising.
You’ll learn why “live” conversation with your donors is the best way to learn who they are, why they support your organization, and how they wish to be engaged in the future.
By talking to your donors on the phone or in person, and truly listening to what they have to say, you will…
Erica and Janice will share tips and strategies to help you transform your donor relationships into lifelong connections.
So, talk to your donors today and raise more money tomorrow!
Be a part of the conversation.
Join us Tuesday, June 18th from 12:00 – 1:00 pm EST.
Seating is limited. Register today!
Susan donates $500 to your organization.
So, how do you acknowledge the gift and express gratitude to Susan?
Does your organization recognize Susan as a major donor? Or an average donor?
Susan considers this a "major" gift, the largest she gives to any organization.
Susan is what some might consider a “mid-level donor” – a donor stuck between the average and major donors.
And much of the time, those “mid-level” donors get lost, forgotten and neglected.
Susan and her fellow “mid-level” donors make up a larger percentage of overall regular giving than the average or major donors. And, they tend to give at above-average levels without much cultivation.
But imagine what Susan might be inspired to give with a little attention and gratitude.
If you can get Susan and other mid-level donors like her to renew their gifts, the likelihood of renewing them again goes up an average of 20% to 61%. (Fundraising Effectiveness Project).
How we keep “mid-level” donors like Susan engaged and generous is all about stewardship. They need our help. They need our guidance. They need our sincere gratitude.
The "mid-level" donor needs us to
If we do these things they will remain lifelong friends of your organization.
Because a good stewardship plan for your “mid-level” donors like Susan pays off in the long run.
Susan and other “mid-level” donors are most likely to become your future major donors, capital donors, and legacy donors.
Let J. Milito & Associates work with your organization to identify your current “mid-level” donors and create a stewardship plan that will result in success for your organization and all your Susan’s!
So, you’re now offering donors an option to give monthly. Fantastic!
How’s that going?
Did you know . . . with a few tweaks and targeted strategy, you can grow your monthly giving program to provide a reliable source of revenue to sustain your organization long-term?
The average retention rate for monthly donors is 70%. So the average attrition rate is 30%.
The average retention rate for first time donors is about 40%. The average attrition rate is 60%.
"Donor attrition is the equivalent of termites eating away at your home. Many home owners are unaware that the support system of their flooring is being destroyed."
If you do these simple things, you’ll boost your overall retention rates and reduce the risk of “termites” eating away at your foundation. Fewer lost donors (“termites”) mean more revenue for your mission and ministry.
And a well thought out and organized monthly giving program will keep your organization free from the pesky termites. *
Monthly Giving is a win/win for the donor and your organization because . . .
© Donors give more overall
© You are helping to build stronger relationships with your donors
© Donor Retention increases and “termites” (attrition) decreases
© Monthly Donors have a higher likelihood of becoming major and legacy donors
© There is now ongoing, reliable, and predictable revenue to support your life-changing mission.
© Fundraising costs are lower overall
So, how can you grow your Monthly Giving program?
#1 Shower Donors with Gratitude and Appreciation
“Making donors feel truly appreciated is what can separate you from the average nonprofit.” ~ Jay Love, Bloomerang
Mail your thank you letter within 48 hours of receiving the initial gift. The letter should be personalized to that donor and make the donor feel truly appreciated. And remember: “A receipt is not a Thank You.”
No need to send form letters every month after you’ve processed the payment. Send the receipt at year end.
A thank you call is a must for ALL donors. Recruit your ED, Board, and staff to make those calls. All gifts of all sizes matter and should be acknowledged with a phone call. Many legacy givers started out as small one-time donors.
Thank your donors often and sincerely. Remind them that they’re part of an important cause.
“When people give to charities, it activates regions in the brain associated with pleasure, social connection, and trust; creating a ‘warm glow’ effect.” ~ 2006 Nat’l Institutes of Health
After all, your organization is responsible for keeping the ‘warm glow’ alive in your donors for years to come.
#2 Communicate Regularly
Your organization should communicate with the donor regularly. Communication is so much more than just “asking” and receipting. It is about a well-planned year-long effort to inform and engage your donor in the good work their gift made possible.
Not all donors are the same, so make sure your communications are tailored to fit the donors in your monthly giving program. And communications to the exclusive Monthly Giving Club, will make your donors feel even more special.
Your job is to communicate enough, so that donors feel good (‘warm glow’) every single month they give.
© Demonstrate the impact of the donor’s gift,
© Show donors how their monthly gift makes a difference,
© Celebrate serving constituents more efficiently and even serving more constituents, and
© Provide opportunities for donor input and feedback.
#3 Offer Additional Giving Opportunities
Just because you now have a Monthly Donor, don’t stop asking for additional gifts of support. Monthly donors are loyal and if inspired they will give again and in other ways.
Give them opportunities to:
© Upgrade their monthly gift at least annually
© Support special initiatives
© Give to capital campaigns
© Give a one-time gift at year end
Always the best way to find out if your monthly donors are amenable to additional giving opportunities is to ask. Not ask for the gift, but rather ask them “are there other ways you would like to support the mission”. Engaged donors will likely welcome additional opportunities to support their beloved cause.
So take your current monthly giving opportunities, tweak them a bit, and watch the revenue stream in for your life-changing mission and ministry.
As we start the new year, many organizations are looking at their year end results to see if they made their "goal".
What that means for many of you is, "did we raise more money than last year", or "did we hit our $$$ goal". Hitting your financial target is good; very very good. It means that you can keep doing more amazing life-changing work on behalf of those you serve.
But did you know . . . termites are keeping you from doing even more life-changing working?
A recent article "Attrition is Your Enemy" by Panas, Linzy & Partners drives home a very important point about what happens when we ignore donor attrition.
Donor attrition is the number of donors who gave last year (or some year) and who don't give again.
The average donor attrition rate ranges from 40-60% (or more).
That means that every year you will lose at least 40% of your donors . . . and the revenue they bring to your organization.
Let's say your organization brought in 1,000 new donors last year. If your attrition rate is 40%, only 78 of those donors will still be with you in 5 years.
Think about how much lost revenue that is. Think about how much less goes to your mission and those you serve.
"Donor attrition is the equivalent of termites eating away at your home. Many home owners are unaware that the support system of their flooring is being destroyed."
How many of you are slowly losing the foundation of your organizations due to termites . . . donor attrition?
"It costs 4 1/2 times as much in staff, time, and resources to secure a new donor as it does to keep one who has already shown he loves you."
Remember, getting the first gift is the easy part. Getting the second, third and subsequent gifts, is where your job really begins. This is where you do your magic to keep the termites away.
This is where you shower your donors with gratitude. This is where you let them know that you couldn't do it without them.
Don't neglect your donors. Don't be afraid to talk to them. Share the impact. Share the joy.
Send the termites packing.
Did you know . . . . many nonprofits saw December income drop by as much as 25%?
We can speculate on the reasons, but that doesn't change the results.
Did you experience a similar shortfall?
Are you worried about the termites eating away at the foundation of your organization?
If so, J. Milito & Associates can prepare a custom analysis and plan as a solution to your year-end shortfall.
The plan includes:
J. Milito & Associates can help you get 2019 off on the right foot and keep the termites away.