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Tuesday, June 28, 2011

Transparency -- Cumbersome? Maybe Coming? YES

Today's Chronicle of Higher Education featured a story on higher education's opposition to HR 2146 (full article requires subscription to the Chronicle sorry ) which requires greater public reporting on federal spending.  Even if the requirements are cumbersome, no doubt they are --when are federal reporting requirements not cumbersom? -- they are coming to a grant or gift near you. 

And higher education, of all entities, has the human brain power to be ahead of the game.  So let's find ways to be proactive and not reactive on providing transparency. 

Monday, June 20, 2011

Choices - Do Donors Want Them?

The Chronicle of Higher Education recently featured an article by Thomas Barlett, partially entitled..."Save Us From Our Own Decisions."  He summarized a recent presentation by Dan Ariely, Eldar Shafir, and Sheena Iyengar (Ariely and Iyengar are featured on End|Start's resources link).  Two obvious take-aways for nonprofits are:  too many choices can overwhelm, deter, distract, a donor; people respond better to more concrete choices -- save one particular life than "end poverty for one million people."

Many organizations give donors a menu of possibilities -- sometimes under the guise of donor choice, sometimes because the internal politics of choosing one program over others is too overwhelming, sometimes because the organization is so large and complex.

But choice is, I believe, the future.  Giving will, in fact, be more and more directed.  With increasingly sophisticated consumers who are used to having more and more choice in how they spend their dollars, the change is coming.  Get with it, get ahead of it, or get caught in it by not being ready, open, and creative. 

Choice is key to engagement; engagement is key to support. 

Monday, June 13, 2011

Return on Engagement

The social networking community refers to "return on engagement" as an alternative to "return on investment"in measuring impact.

I think it works equally well for assessing how and when and why to invest in working with donors.  It relates directly to the classic fundraising strategy "If you advice, ask for money.  If you want money, ask for advice."

Engage someone -- in what is going right and what is going wrong (remember -- and you will build loyalty, establish trust, increase brand recognition, maintain attention, and get their investment.

You could just as well delete the "R and E" and say Turn on Engagement.  One of the hard realities that we have yet to truly face as fundraisers is that engagement is not static and that donors are more and more "not the marrying kind" i.e. they are more likely to lapse and have higher dissatisfaction and expectations when they make their first gift.