By Derrick Feldmann, CEO of Achieve
“Our organization has over 100 partners in the community helping us impact the people we serve.”
“We work with partners to spread our mission and have a broader impact.”
These are typical responses from organizations that reference partners when describing their work. The word partner is loaded and means so many different things to so many organizations.
During an interview with a donor I had a little time at the end of the visit to talk about their giving to other organizations. I asked this donor three questions:
1. How many organizations do you support financially that use the term partner when describing their work?
2. What does the word partner mean to you?
3. Does this affect your giving?
1. I support at least 5 organizations that talk about partnerships.
2. I have no clue what it means. I think it means the organization has something going with another group. To be honest, I typically tune out when they start talking about it.
3. I don’t give any more or less because of the partnership. I have a passion or interest in the organization. I think it means they are doing good work with others, but I don’t truly understand it so it bears nothing on my gifts.
Of course this is one donor’s response. But take a minute and think about how many times your organization uses the word partner. Now quadruple that when you consider all of the other organizations that are using the word partner in communication with your donors.
Talk in terms of partnerships and the actual relationships you have. Describe in stories what your relationship is and do not hide behind smoke and mirrors by adding logos to your website and collateral. It is too confusing and your donors don’t understand.
by Derrick Feldmann, CEO of Achieve
When thinking about donor engagement, organizations need to consider input opportunities. Today’s technology and social media tools provide the means to enable this interaction to occur.
Here are 4 simple tools to use with donors when asking for input:
1. Google Docs for Strategic Plan – Consider using Google Docs to allow your donor community to respond, react and contribute to a strategic planning document. Create a timed window of opportunity for the collection of responses and remarks. Utilize some of the contributors in a focus group via conference call or web meeting.
2. Blogtalkradio.com to Create a Radio Channel – Create a radio channel using Blogtalkradio and allow a chat to occur with questions and answers to issues relevant to your cause. This type of forum enables live interaction with the donor community while creating a channel for the organization.
3. Twitter Hashtags for New Ideas – Use a Twitter hashtag that is simple and allows you to ask for input on your next special event or outreach/branding effort. By using something simple as #orgidea you could create a stream of followers and pose questions about new concepts and ideas that spark reaction.
4. Facebook for Voting and Comments – Use Facebook for fans to vote whether or not they like a concept. Use great visuals and other short stories to convey the concept’s purpose. Consider having a fan spark conversation by leading the conversation and input sessions.
By Derrick Feldmann, CEO of Achieve
New organizations struggle with building a donor base. It can be a daunting task because of the big brand organizations in the local community that have been in existence for some time. So how do you find a supporter and build a following?
Here are a few tips:
Find Influencers in the Community: Work with your board, corporate supporters, friends and family to understand local connectors. The purpose is to see if there are any individuals that should hear about your work and individuals that are influential in the community.
Find Influencers Online: Search locally to see who has big followings in social media. Look to see which influential bloggers, twitter agents, and Facebook friends are out there. Connect with them about great content – your issue of your organization. Make content the focus – not promotion.
Look to Corporations: Visit with corporate grantmakers, sponsorship departments and marketing to find out if there are any employees looking to help or get involved with organizations. Ask the following questions: Are there young professionals looking to help an organization outreach? Is there anyone in the company everyone is talking about? Are there other vendors or other companies that are looking to find employee engagement opportunities?
It will take dedication, determination and hard work to build a donor base. Keep collecting names, send emails to your list and create ongoing engagement over time to ensure they spread messages for you. If you want something to happen, be specific and ask.