Building a Grateful Patient Program During a Recession


As fundraisers look ahead to the new year, many see storm clouds gathering on the horizon. 


There has yet to be a marked shift in donor behavior, but some fundraisers say it’s only a matter of time until that changes because of inflation and a possible economic recession.


A poor economy presents real challenges for fundraising. From total giving decline to fewer donors, fundraisers are feeling the pressure on their already demanding job. 


The need to fundraise persists and often increases during an economic downturn—especially for healthcare fundraisers. Here are ways to move forward with your grateful patient program despite a recession.

Communicate Clearly

Total giving will most likely decline if economic conditions don’t improve. Clearly communicate the impact of the recession on your organization and how donations from grateful patients can help.


This could include information regarding budget cuts or challenges your organization is facing. Additionally, communicate the specific ways donations can make a difference. Donors who have a clear understanding of how their funds make an impact will be more inclined to give. 

Leverage Social Media

Use social media to share stories and updates about the impact of grateful patient donations. This is also a great way to engage with existing and potential donors.


Being active on social media increases the visibility and awareness of your program—all of which benefits your fundraising efforts.


  • Facebook: Shorter posts usually receive more likes, comments, and shares. People prefer messages that are quick and concise. You’ll also want to include the “ask” early on. Put your donation link at the beginning of your post, followed by brief copy.
  • YouTube: Educational videos create awareness about the important issues of your nonprofit and are good ways to make your brand visible on YouTube. Focus on videos that appeal to emotions—people are more likely to give to a cause they can relate to. 
  • Instagram: Stories generally are viewed more than regular Instagram posts. Highlight your best stories to increase followers and inspire donations. Gain more followers by hosting interactive question-and-answer sessions through your Instagram stories.
  • Twitter: Twitter is most effective when you post often. Frequent posting with hashtags offers a better opportunity for people to discover your organization’s content. It also creates more opportunities for engagement.

Offer Flexible Giving Options

During a recession, donors may have less disposable income than they did previously. Consider offering flexible giving options, such as making small, recurring donations or donating in-kind goods or services.


Here are some other ideas for flexible giving options.


  • Digital wallets: Google Pay and Apple Pay automatically populate payment information on a donation form through secure facial recognition. This eliminates additional barriers for donations and reaches donors where they are.
  • Hybridization: Hybrid campaigns allow donors to show their support in multiple ways. For example, before your signature event, donors could upgrade their one-time donation to an automatic recurring donation.
  • Cryptocurrency: Cryptocurrency is a tax-deductible digital payment method when donated directly to a nonprofit organization. With a marketplace worth over $3 trillion and more than 100 million users across the globe, this form of flexible giving is a growing method for nonprofits.
  • Payment apps: Apps like PayPal and Venmo increase action from supporters who have already established trust with these platforms. They can use existing balances and stored information to donate.

Engage Donors

Engage with grateful patients by thanking them personally and sharing updates on the impact of their donations. This helps to build strong personal relationships and encourages ongoing support.


Donor retention vs. acquisition can be effective regardless of an economic downtown. Donors are retained when they are:

  • thanked (early, often, sincerely, and graciously);
  • communicated with;
  • engaged regularly (and not always about giving a gift); and
  • invited (when appropriate) to invest more in the organization and its mission.

Diversify Fundraising Efforts

In addition to your grateful patient program, consider diversifying your fundraising efforts to include other types of fundraising, such as grants, corporate partnerships, and online fundraising campaigns.


Diversifying your fundraising portfolio with multiple revenue streams is crucial to sustainability. Just like a financial advisor wouldn’t recommend investing in only one avenue, your nonprofit shouldn’t rely solely on one fundraising effort. Instead, diversified fundraising efforts help to ensure a steady stream of support for your organization and improve your adaptability.

Best Ways to Use Artificial Intelligence in Fundraising



Artificial intelligence (AI) can be traced back to World War II. The famous mathematician, Alan Turing, helped the Allied Forces crack the Nazi encryption machine. At the war’s end in 1945, Turing focused on computing machinery, famously positing whether “machines could think.” His writings laid the foundation for a future vision of artificial intelligence—the replication of human intelligence in machines. 


Fast-forward to the present, and AI is now ubiquitous. Innovative technology has provided us with assistants like Alexa and Cortana, recommendations on YouTube or Netflix, chatbots, facial recognition, and self-driving cars, to name a few. However, AI is no longer the future; it’s the present. 


Yet, there are some industries where AI may not seem to be an obvious fit—namely, those characterized by a high level of interpersonal relationships and human connections. However, even in industries requiring constant human interaction—such as the field of development—AI can still play a significant role in simplifying tasks and freeing up time for your constituents and staff.  


Here are some of the best ways to use artificial intelligence in fundraising. 

Data Analysis 

Nonprofits collect much data on their operations, donors, and the people they serve. AI helps analyze this data to identify patterns, trends, and insights that inform strategy and decision-making. 


For example, AI can analyze donor data to identify trends in giving patterns. These trends can then be used to tailor your fundraising campaigns.


AI automates time-consuming or repetitive tasks, freeing staff to focus on more impactful work. For example, you can use AI to automate sorting and categorize incoming donations, analyze social media data to identify potential donors, or address common (repetitive) questions. 


  • “Can you give me the bank transfer details? I can’t seem to find them.”
  • “When did I make my last donation?”
  • “I know I saw a date for the gala. When is it again?”


Using AI eliminates the need to respond to these commonly asked questions and allows your development staff to focus on more mission-critical activities. 

Predictive Modeling

Another way that AI is beneficial for fundraising is how it can help anticipate future needs and trends. This allows your organization to be proactive in planning and resource allocation. 


For example, AI in fundraising can improve workforce efficiency by analyzing donor data to identify prospects and predict upcoming donor lapses. This could potentially shape how you prioritize your time with donors.


It’s important to note that while AI can be a powerful tool for nonprofits, it’s not a replacement for human judgment and decision-making. You must also consider the ethical implications of using AI and ensure you are using it responsibly and transparently. This is because AI can unintentionally result in a bias against constituents since it is trained on large data sets compiled by humans, and natural preferences (age, gender, or race-related) can creep in. 


If AI is employed correctly, efficiency and productivity invariably increase, resulting in more high-value solicitations and additional revenue.

Donor Retention Strategies: Inspiring Donors for Continued Giving


Donors are a vital part of any nonprofit—their support aids the overall impact of your mission. But donor retention rates continue to diminish year after year. In fact, donors who gave in the first quarter of 2021 and again in the first quarter of 2022 fell by 6.2%, according to the Foundation for Philanthropy 2022 First Quarter Fundraising Report.


Donor retention vs. continual donor acquisition can be a more impactful strategy to support your development efforts. This is because acquiring donors is a costly endeavor—donor acquisition often represents a substantial portion of any nonprofit’s overall marketing budget. And the return on investment for donor acquisition may feel defeating—in some cases, the cost to acquire a donor can be 50–100% more than the donation itself.


Invest your time in donor retention vs. donor acquisition. Here are some strategies to consider.


Donors value being informed about how their contributions are making a difference and how the organization uses the funds. Communicate with your donors through regular updates, newsletters, and impact reports.


  • Updates: Schedule a time on your calendar to send regular updates to donors. Choose a frequency you can realistically follow because consistent updates help build relationships. 
  • Newsletter: Use your newsletter to inform your audience about recent donor successes. This also connects readers to the donor and highlights their support.
  • Report: Allot a section in your annual report to highlight donations—whether quarterly, biannually, or annually. This gives donors a chance to see how their donation is helping your organization strive toward the goal. It’s also an opportunity to detail the effects of the problem they’re addressing.


Show your appreciation for your donors by recognizing their contributions publicly, such as through social media or on your website, and privately, such as through personalized thank-you notes or phone calls.


  • Social media: This is an excellent avenue to showcase donor contributions. Social media is all about storytelling, so create visually appealing and engaging content that tells your story. A bonus is when users opt to share your content (user-generated content). This type of content acts as a testimonial for your organization and helps broadcast your mission beyond your immediate audience.
  • Thank-you notes: Saying thank you should be obvious, but sending a thank-you note is often forgotten. When possible, aim for a personalized, handwritten thank-you note to make supporters feel instantly connected. If that isn’t feasible, use segmentation to send different groups of donors customized thank-you emails.


Engage your donors in meaningful ways that align with their interests and passions. This provides a unique opportunity for supporters to interact personally and immersively. Look for continuous opportunities for donors to volunteer, attend events, or participate in decision-making processes to boost engagement. 


  • Events: Plan a special donor appreciation event—like a gala, dinner, or auction—to recognize and engage donors.  
  • Volunteer: Invite donors to volunteer for special events or to be on committees. This helps deepen their involvement in your mission and offers a unique perspective.
  • Decision-making: Ask donors for their feedback. One area to consider is your communication strategy—specifically, how does your communication messaging align with your mission? Receiving this type of feedback eliminates barriers in the donation process and facilitates easier giving.


Donors are more likely to keep giving when they know how their money is making a difference. Help them understand the impact their contributions are having on your mission and the people you serve by sharing stories and data that demonstrate the difference their support is making. 


  • Email campaign: Create an email campaign that has an emotional appeal—whether the emotional appeal is heartwarming or humorous, donors are more inclined to respond to stories they can relate to. 
  • Interactive video hangouts: Host a video hangout with donors and discuss exactly how their donation is making an impact. 
  • Photo collages: Post photo collages to your social media channels to express your appreciation.


Being transparent increases donor trust and loyalty by demonstrating your ability to be ethical and responsible with donations. Identify how your organization uses donations and how funds are allocated. This includes providing clear and concise financial information, such as annual reports and audited financial statements.


As you continue to plan your donor retention strategy, combine these tactics to help deepen your donor relationships and earn their loyalty.

Four Areas to Consider as You Prioritize Your Advancement Resources


Advancement services often support many departments by employing their expertise in managing, analyzing, and leveraging data to inform organizational strategy and conduct daily operations that engage and steward stakeholders, supporters, and members. From prospects to alumni and everyone in between, advancement services play a critical role in advancing the organization’s mission.


When your advancement services team supports many different departments, this valuable resource can often be spread too thin. Avoiding this common challenge begins by focusing on effective prioritization.


Here are four areas to consider as you prioritize your advancement resources.


Division Goals

As you begin to prioritize your advancement resources, consider how they align with your established division goals. Focus your prioritization efforts on being strategic. Identify specific projects that directly support the division’s goals. As you do this, ask yourself, “How are the different advancement projects aligned with those goals?”


This may require further analysis into the type of project and its impact. For example, if you have 100 projects, what will make the most impact toward your division’s goals and help propel the organization forward?


Overall Tenant

Another thing to consider as you prioritize your advancement resources is to focus on the overall tenant as a more operational team. Common tenants behind properly stewarding resources are the data that philanthropy or alumni relations use as an asset.


They can influence properly stewarding the resources that are essential to operations.

This is important because in many instances, properly stewarding resources improves the data quality that supports your data-driven decision-making. When it comes to data quality, your organization should always prioritize these types of projects and requests.


Business Practices

Standardizing business practices is always top of mind when it comes to your Constituent Relationship Management (CRM) project implementation. Advancement services are often at the forefront to drive operational efficiency and can impact efficiencies overall. If an advancement project can significantly standardize your business practices, consider prioritizing your advancement resources there.


Division Knowledge

Finally, when considering how to prioritize your advancement resources, consider the projects that offer opportunities to increase the broader knowledge of the division. This also includes increasing the ability to self-serve. Both types of projects should rise to the top because they will increase your return on investment and offer long-term dividends.

Here’s What to Do When Your Advancement CRM Vendor Relationship Goes Bad


Precision Partners has worked with multiple Constituent Relationship Management (CRM) clients and vendors in our years of practice. Through our experience, we’ve seen many vendor relationships in action—some end well, whereas others do not.


Here’s our best advice for what to do when your advancement CRM vendor relationship goes sour.


Scenario No. 1—Reconciliation

When your advancement CRM relationship is starting to go wrong, reconciliation is the first and often the most viable option. This will likely require effort from both parties, including a factual discussion. Fact gathering helps to identify the root cause of the issue.


The most effective way to establish reconciliation is to create a two-part plan. First, all parties must be willing to work collaboratively to create a plan that rights the wrongs that created the issues.


Secondly, both parties must address safeguards that will prevent from getting back to the same situation.


The goal of reconciliation is to create something satisfactory for both parties.


Scenario No. 2—Future Collaboration

If both parties are unable to agree on satisfactory reconciliation, the second option is to sever the relationship with your vendor but allow the opportunity for future collaboration. This option is viable if both parties can’t come to terms now but want to leave it in a way to work together in the future. This option requires both parties to compromise to some degree.


The compromise must be done in a way that leaves each party whole or satisfied.


Scenario No. 3—End All Ties

The final and least favorable option for responding to a vendor relationship that has gone sour is to sever the relationship with no possibility of future collaboration. Organizations should only use this scenario if they’ve exhausted the first two options, and they have decided there is no way to come to any sort of agreement.


This scenario happens most frequently when there is an unwillingness to compromise on both parties. And too often, this decision is a result of the parties involved making the advancement CRM relationship personal instead of focusing on what’s best for the institution.


Deciding to sever the relationship with no possibility of future collaboration is always advised against. The advancement industry is small and dissolving a relationship may prohibit future initiatives. If possible, it is best to devise a satisfactory amendment where both parties can walk away from concluding that relationship. In any scenario, all parties should not feel taken advantage of.

Hiring an Advancement Services Executive: What to Consider Beyond the Resume


Hiring an Advancement Services Executive is essential to your institution’s overall advancement goals. However, doing this requires you to go beyond the resume to understand a candidate’s expectations and what truly motivates them. When you go beyond the resume, you can more effectively align expectations of the role with their interests—subsequently increasing your ability for retention.


Here’s what to consider.


Organizational Culture

When it comes to hiring an advancement services executive, most institutions think deciding on organizational culture starts and stops with answering the question, “Is this person a good “fit” for our organization’s culture?”


But when organizations make assessments based on the personality perspective, it can often be opinion-based. This is especially true considering the industry standard of a series of panel interviews that include peers, reporting managers, and internal customers.


Organizational culture comes up a lot when it comes to personality fit. But it’s necessary to dig deeper and assess the path you’re developing with your organizational culture before you can decide if (and how well) the candidate fits.


To do this, consider the objective of the position and how that applies to your current organizational culture. Additionally, you must clearly understand your organization’s cultural status. For example, have you established an organizational culture that you want to maintain, or are you looking for a disruptor to be a change catalyst?


To understand where your organization’s culture is within the process, ask yourself these questions.


  • Have you done a lot of work and established a vision for your organizational culture?
  • Do you have a direction in your organization’s culture you want to maintain?


If the answer is “yes,” then the traditional personality assessment for organizational culture fit would work because you have guidelines established—you’ve developed the organizational culture to flourish—and you are looking to fulfill the position from a personality fit perspective. In this case, you would want to answer the question, “Does this person align with the direction we’re going in?”


But on the contrary, and something many organizations don’t often look at (or are unaware of) is they are actually looking for a new hire to be a change catalyst. When this is the case, you’re not looking for a culture fit, but you’re looking for a disruptor that goes beyond the resume evaluation process.


First, determine where you are with your organizational culture. Have you assessed whether you want to maintain that path, or are you ready for a change? Depending on your answer, your new hire evaluation should differ.


The assessment for hiring an advancement services executive should then consider their role in disrupting your organizational culture. But first:


  • Are they aware and comfortable with being a disruptor?
  • Are they prepared and have the strategic vision to be a disruptor?


Knowing where your organizational culture stands is an important part to hiring the best candidate for your advancement services executive position.


Strategic Advisor

Every institution “thinks” they need to hire for a lateral move. They want the person who’s done it before—one who’s been in a similar organization and succeeded with similar tasks. But you must be honest with yourself and assess, are you an institution that can attract top talent that has done it before?


If you’re not a sought-after institution, recruiting top talent can be challenging. It can even be more difficult to retain a person of this stature because when they’re done doing the task you hired them to do, they often move on.


Before you “think” you need to hire for a lateral move, clearly define the type of position you’re hoping to fill. Ask yourself:


  • Is this a strategic advisor—a lateral move where you want this person to impact your institution the same way they did for another organization?
  • Or is this a growth position where the candidate has the potential to grow with your institution and the capability to establish a vision as they evolve?


Hiring for a growth position is not wrong, and it’s not a “second-best” choice. But it does, however, create an opportunity for your organization that is often overlooked. With the growth position, you’re allowing the person you hire to evolve alongside your organization.


And in many cases, this develops loyalty and increases retention. This is because they’re growing in their career and with the institution.


Internal Service Model


As you consider hiring an advancement services executive, you’ll need to understand where you are in terms of advancement services. Specifically, what type of support advancement services provides to other departments within Development and how they operate as an internal services department.


What type of internal service model are you looking for?


The focus is either developing a service team to support other departments within Development OR are you looking to establish a strategic partner who can influence and consult other departments on how to get things done.


With the influence scenario, not only are they servicing other departments, but they are the experts that individuals can come to to get advice or help make things better. This creates a different dynamic within the internal services team and requires an openness to influence other departments effectively. Be aware that if you’re looking for the influence option, some team members may be reluctant to share their expertise because they think, “You’re not in our world, don’t bring in someone new.”



Leadership is a vital skill and must be carefully evaluated during the hiring process for your advancement services executive position. But first, do you know exactly what type of management you need?


Too often, institutions “think” they need one type of leadership and hire accordingly, but quickly realize they needed another type of leadership.


  • Are you looking for an individual whose primary focus is team development and management where their focus is managing and improving operations? OR
  • Are you looking for a contributing manager who is not only managing the team but also must be hands-on to complete task-based work?


If you’re not clear about the type of leadership you need up front, there may be challenges with who you selected and your ability to retain them.

The Great Resignation: Is this a Challenge or Opportunity for Advancement?

We’re amid a moment of dramatic change across American life as people in all industries are quitting their jobs at record numbers. As nationwide labor shortages continue to impact every aspect of everyday life, nonprofits are not exempt.


What may be even more concerning is many nonprofits can no longer compete with wages seen in the private sector. In a recent New York Times article, Carrie Miranda, executive director of Looking Upwards, a nonprofit in Middletown, R.I. said, “we’ve lost our ability to be competitive. We used to compete with hospitals and other health care entities, and now we’re competing with the convenience stores, the fast-food places, the coffee shops … I’ve heard more and more people say, ‘I’d love to stay in this job, I’m passionate about the work, but I need to feed my family, I have to pay my rent.’”


This period has been deemed the “Great Resignation” and arose from what many think was a result of the pandemic and social and political events. In fact, four million American workers quit their jobs in April 2021, 3.6 million joined them in May, and 3.9 million followed them out the door in June.


But the mass-exodus may be more in part to a workforce that feels burned out and disenfranchised, only exacerbated by the pandemic and social and political events. Modern employees are reassessing their values, more aggressively protecting their time, and opening themselves to possibilities that give them a greater sense of purpose. They are seeking a new normal that goes beyond remote work.


The turnover trend has a lasting impact, especially in advancement. In an industry built around relationships—particularly among frontline fundraisers—organizations are finding it increasingly difficult to create a sense of continuity with donors.

The Great Resignation offers one of the greatest advancement recruiting opportunities in recent history. Nonprofit leaders are afforded the chance to shift their recruiting and retention efforts toward motivated, purpose-driven candidates, in search of careers with a more meaningful path. Here’s where to start.


Mentorship is important in any industry, and the lack of mentorship can hinder a career path regardless of job title. Focus on providing your advancement team the mentorship and coaching they are looking for by helping them develop their skills and build their experience.


For more experienced advancement team members, ask the question, “How I can prepare you to take over for me?” They might not want to do your job, but this helps illuminate and frame future discussions and growth plans.



It is incredibly important to set expectations from the beginning. If you’re interviewing an advancement candidate that wants to work remotely, but your organization operates on a hybrid model, it’s vital to make this clear.


Even beyond the interview, transparency should empower all conversations with your advancement team members. Workplace transparency is a philosophy of sharing information freely to benefit the organization and its people. For example, executives share company information with the whole team, or individual teammates sharing feedback with each other.


Transparency has become particularly important, especially as the workforce continues to mitigate several external challenges. Transparency must also coincide with understanding. Today’s modern workforce requires a level understanding that didn’t exist in the traditional workplace.



It’s important to ensure you set your advancement staff up for success by scheduling regular check-ins and managing expectations. Regularly connecting with employees helps you deter future challenges or address issues before they become a problematic.


For example, if your employee is frustrated because a lack of resources, you can brainstorm solutions to ease their frustrations. This may include getting them adequate resources or connecting them with team members for support. Either way, this level of communication helps employees feel supported and decreases the likeliness of resignation.


Professional Development

Most advancement team members want to grow and challenge themselves. In many cases, employees desire to find opportunities that expand their skillset. Growth-focused opportunities equip staff with the tools they need to progress in their career.


Traditional work culture thought of promotions in terms of three-year cycles: The first year you learn the job, the second year you do the job, and the third year you innovate. But it can be helpful to make the steps necessary to advance as clear as possible so employees understand what’s expected of them. Additionally, you may be able to promote an employee earlier than expected, which benefits both parties.


When job openings do arise, evaluate the position’s job description before you rehire. Ask questions that help your organization assess the value of the role.


  • Does this position need to be filled?
  • Does this position need to be rethought?
  • Is there anything in the job’s description that someone else might want to try or add to their expertise?
  • Do the job tasks fit better somewhere else?


Before you fill the role externally, look internally to see if your existing team might be interested. This helps your staff feel engaged in a meaningful way.


Shifting the way your organization recruits and retains your advancement workforce is important for the current moment. But these tactics help to build a healthier, happier, and more productive advancement team, which will be important long after the Great Resignation expires.

Five Tips to Get Creative with Your Constituent Holiday Greetings

For many years, there has been a tradition of institutions sending their constituents a holiday greeting. Unfortunately, this is usually a long, drawn-out process.

Deciding on an appropriate message for your constituent holiday greeting is hard. Constituent holiday greetings require choosing the perfect message. But it can’t be an ordinary message—it must be carefully thought through and appeal to a broad audience without any political or religious affiliations.

Then, the constituent holiday greeting design adds another level of complication. Many institutions ponder how to create a design that is “on-brand” while simultaneously appealing to their many audiences. Again, without any political or religious affiliations.

Finally, there is the delivery method of your constituent holiday greeting. Traditionally, constituent holiday greetings are printed and sent through the mail. This method, of course, requires additional time to package the envelopes, prepare the addresses, and add postage—not to mention the cost of postage. Physical greeting cards may be standard among the older population, but younger folks may think it’s a less-acceptable concept and toss it. Plus, eco-conscious constituents may see this method as wasteful.

It’s time to reconsider the way you send holidays greetings to your constituents. Here are five tips to get creative this holiday season.

#1—Make a Holiday Video

Videos are always a great option to engage constituents without added effort. Your holiday greeting video can be produced—and distributed—quickly and professionally with the help of online services.

Platforms like ThankView build better relationships with personalized video. You can easily create and send personalized videos to raise awareness, promote events, update stakeholders, and thank those that matter most.

#2—Send Mobile Postcards

Using a smartphone or tablet, you can easily create a holiday postcard. Apps like JibJab and Smilebox provide a quick and fun way to send personalized greetings that won’t cause clutter.

#3—Deliver A Photo Slideshow

What better way to say “Happy Holidays” than to create a photo slideshow of how constituent donations impacted your institution? Use a design tool like Canva to make stunning slideshows in seconds.

#4—Say “Happy Holidays” in Real-Time

If you want to deliver a very personalized message, jump on a video conferencing platform like Zoom and say “Happy Holidays” in real-time. This may not be feasible for all your constituents, so reserve it for your new constituents or ones that meet a specific criterion.

#5—Create a Custom Card

If you insist on sending a physical greeting card this holiday season, opt to create a custom design. Look to your art department to create an illustration. If multiple artists want to participate, consider having a few variations to send to constituents.

Avoid putting any text on the front of the card. Then, have the cards printed in a standard photo size of 5 inches wide by 7 inches tall. Finally, write a note inside with instructions that encourage constituents to upcycle the card into a framed piece. This way, constituents who may not love getting a printed card due to waste can repurpose their holiday greeting and save the planet.

Holiday greetings are a great touchpoint during the holidays. Every institution should retain that touchpoint but also rethink the delivery. Happy holidays!

Canva Slideshows:

Preparing for the Year-End Giving Rush

It’s that time of year again when the holiday season is quickly approaching. And if you’re in advancement or development, you’re probably thinking about what else this time of year means: the year-end giving rush. In development, the end of year is synonymous with increased giving.

In fact, 31 percent of all annual giving occurs in December, and 12 percent of that happens in the last three days of the year.


Additionally, 28 percent of nonprofits raise between 26–50 percent of their annual funds from their year-end ask.


Is your team prepared to manage the rush?


This time of year, is demanding for those on the front line of fundraising, but also those in operations. Your gift operations team may face the downstream effect of the increased number of gifts coming in a concentrated period.


Your Constituent Relationship Management (CRM) team can survive (and thrive) with a bit of upfront planning. Here’s how to get prepared.

Schedule a Planning Session

Schedule a planning session and invite your front line staff and operations team to join. Identify how they may be able to support each other during this busy time. Do you need to adjust any processes and procedures to make things work more seamlessly for both departments?


For example, there may be exceptions to cases that require the front line team to let the operations team know more information about a prospective donor. There may also be exceptions to your processes and procedures if there was a push for tribute donations or leveraging corporate matching.


Knowing all the information up front—for the front line and operations staff—will help everyone move through the year-end giving rush more efficiently. Plus, everyone will have access to the information and data they need to measure the success of their campaigns.

Review Messaging and Expectations

Review campaign messaging with your front line fundraisers and giving staff. You wouldn’t want to make a campaign push and have your front line staff be unaware of what is being put out there from a year-end perspective. Your front line staff need to know all messaging and expectations so they can act accordingly when donors and supporters start responding.


You should also review the statistics and identify how many appeals have been sent out. Do your best to project an average response rate so your team can begin to distinguish a number and estimate expectations.


Get prepared with these questions.

  • Is there any unique data tracking that needs to happen with these gifts?
  • Does the data need to be associated with a particular campaign or appeal?

Understanding this information increases the success rate of your front line fundraising teams.

Evaluate Staffing and Conduct Training

You’ve reviewed your messaging and informed your team. Now you need to look at your staff availability. Determine your staffing needs.

  • Are you adequately staffed?
  • Does your staff have the capacity to accommodate year-end giving?
  • If you don’t have enough available staff, do you plan to staff up for the end-of-year demand?

Once you’ve determined the number of staff, now you can consider the tasks they’ll need to complete. Since accuracy and speed are essential, consider refresher training for your staff. Everyone must be proficient and able to get the information entered quickly and correctly. Additionally, all staff members on the gift operations team should be experts on managing what you consider “high volume.”


If necessary, establish specialists to handle low-volume, high complexity gifts—things that need to be dealt with “kid gloves,” such as a VIP donor.

Establish Clear Guidelines for Records Management

Since this is a busier time for your staff, the tendency to make mistakes may increase. Set clear guidelines for record management. You need correct information for receipting and acknowledgment reasons—the objective for year-end needs to be on what is required to get the gifts in correctly.


But be aware that mistakes will still happen. You can fix some mistakes, but it is unrealistic to correct all errors on a record due to the volume of gifts. Identity where to expend your time and effort from a records maintenance perspective. And establish a method of tracking records that will need attention once the rush is over.

Communicate Progress

It is essential to communicate your progress for year-end gift processing. Your front line fundraising colleagues are waiting and looking closely at the results of their year-end giving campaigns. This is why it is important to publish and communicate your progress.


Communicating your progress helps your fundraising team determine their success as it relates to their goals. In addition, keeping communication open during this time helps ease stress, allowing your team to focus and work more efficiently.

Overcome the Challenge of Managing Advancement Operations During a CRM Implementation 



Undergoing a Constituent Relationship Management (CRM) Implementation is a significant undertaking. It can become increasingly challenging to juggle all that needs to occur in operations while not derailing your CRM implementation project. 


Even during an 18-month CRM implementation project, your institution is trying to raise money and increase donor engagement. This is in addition to your everyday responsibilities—your team can’t hit the pause button to complete your CRM implementation. 


Because of this, you need to focus on the types of decisions being made. Here’s how to overcome the challenge of managing advancement operations during a CRM implementation. 


Avoid Unnecessary Changes 


Avoid making unnecessary changes to your existing donor management system during a new CRM implementation. When you undergo unnecessary changes, your risk to the CRM implementation increases exponentially. It can push your project to focus on the “current state”, while the project is trying to identify and facilitate a “future state.” It is problematic if the current state becomes the moving target. 


All aspects of the implementation—from data conversion to process engineering to business requirements—start to shift on the project team. The change management impact of moving that current state target is enormous. 


Additionally, fulfilling changes outside of your CRM implementation can disrupt your stakeholder’s transition period. For example, you go from steady-state to transition, then you come out on the other side. But you’ve thrown your stakeholders into a transition that has nothing to do with the actual CRM implementation. 


Throughout the project, your stakeholders have multiple streams of change and get confused. They may: 


  • wonder what they were doing before;
  • be confused as to how they can adapt and adjust to what they need to do in the future; and  
  • be frustrated that they must adapt and change again.


One way to avoid this is by making your CRM transformation roadmap an integral part to your overall framework—step-by-step navigation to get your institution from the point of departure to the end of arrival. Your roadmap should include:


  • taking a set of actions;
  • implementing activities; and
  • achieving outcomes in a planned sequential manner. 


The CRM transformation roadmap, as the name implies, is more than a “quick fix.” Instead, a practical roadmap needs to be based on strategic and operating model considerations. 


Make It Mission-Critical 


If changes must happen during a CRM implementation, they must be mission-critical. But before you make that kind of decision, there needs to be a complete risk management plan around the change in the current system. That risk management plan will then become a part of the CRM implementation and should be a well-thought-out process and not taken lightly. The absence of a risk management plan increases the risk of CRM implementation success. 


The risk is essential to user adoption of the CRM implementation and their ability to adjust to the new future state. They will remain in transition and stuck figuring out the changes made to the current system. 


Resist Launching Other Initiatives 


Launching other projects or initiatives during a CRM implementation can create a resource strain. You don’t want to “shut down,” but you also don’t want to put unnecessary pressure on your stakeholders. 


In and of itself, a CRM implementation is a considerable effort. However, adding ancillary projects or initiatives splits your stakeholder’s time. Taking on projects—including a CRM implementation—is usually in addition to your team’s workday. 


Continually fractionalizing your team’s time and input can jeopardize their well-being and quality of work. They parse out their time and attention, so their productivity, level of engagement, and overall contribution diminish—it becomes unilateral suffering.


Avoid spreading your team too thin by looking at your resource plans. Eliminate launching new projects and initiatives during a CRM implementation. It is such a heavy lift, there is not much else your team can manage during this time. If you must focus on additional projects that can’t be avoided, divide up the resources. Dedicate one group to working on the CRM implementation, and a different set of resources to work on the mission-critical project. 

5 Tips to Offset the Daily Struggle of Advancement Services and Support Your Development Officers



Those in advancement services often face many obstacles when it comes to being pulled in different directions. The first obstacle is time management. They may be faced with managing operational activities on top of a slew of daily tasks. Your advancement team may struggle to allot time for emergencies—the “at the moment need” that advancement services are tasked with supporting.


On top of their already burdened workload, those in advancement services must work in standard training and development. If they’re able, they may also be tasked with working on internal team projects to innovate or do better in the future. 


If your advancement services team is struggling in the day-to-day, here are five tips to offset so they can provide the quality support your development officers need. 


Conduct A Staff Assessment


Your advancement staff is one of your most valuable assets as an organization. As such, you don’t want to overwork them. Instead, take time to complete a staff assessment to identify how much work each team member has and if it’s time to add to your team. 


First, meet with each employee to identify their primary duties and associated volume. Then, track activities for a set time—this could be a couple of weeks or a month. Incorporate seasonality and non-standard work. As you conduct your staff assessment, decide if you have adequate resources to address all the necessary factors. 


Ask yourself these questions. 


  • Does the advancement team have adequate time to complete operational activities? 
  • Is there enough time in the advancement teams’ schedule to support emergencies as they arise? 
  • Is the advancement services team able to participate in standard training and development? 
  • Does your advancement services team have the ability to participate in internal team projects?


If you’re falling short on any one of these factors, this could indicate that you are understaffed. Conversely, if you’re unable to fit all of these components into your staff’s workload or schedule, you might have too few people. 


Consider hiring to help support your existing advancement services team or offset the workload by hiring a consultant


Be Flexible with the Work Environment 


When it comes to daily operations, consider the working environment. Many times, the “heads-down” work that staff or team members need to complete may not be conducive to their working environment. Do they have uninterrupted time in their schedules that they can use to complete these types of tasks? Consider being flexible with staff in finding that optimal environment. This might mean offering a remote work option to complete the work. 


Or it could mean offering a spare office for them to go into and close the door. Being flexible with the environment provides optimal productivity for team members to complete their daily operational tasks. 


Revert Emergencies to Management 


Emergencies should always be directed toward management.  Any emergency request or needs from the development officers should be reviewed and prioritized by management. Management can help identify what can be removed or postponed from the advancement team’s workload to accommodate the emergency. Always avoid simply piling on more work.


Establish Dedicated Time for Training and Development


Allot time for your advancement services team to participate in training and development on a quarterly basis. 


If possible, ask your team to share insights and ideas on applying the training to their daily tasks. It’s one thing to absorb the information. But training and development should be about bridging the gap on how to incorporate it into everyday usage. 


Use Internal Projects for Team Growth and Future Development


Internal team projects are essential for growth. In many cases, projects that are completed often result in increased productivity and effectiveness. Based on department priorities, your team should allocate time for internal projects each quarter to be fit into their workload. 


Are You Ready to Accept Cryptocurrency Gifts? Here’s What You Need to Know



The number of organizations accepting Bitcoin and other cryptocurrencies has been steadily growing in recent years. For example, UNICEF has been accepting cryptocurrency since 2019[1], whereas another well-known organization, Save the Children, began taking the digital currency in 2013[2].


For many organizations, the idea of accepting cryptocurrency may feel impossible—you may even doubt the benefits of receiving digital currency. But with the right approach and knowledge, your organization can benefit significantly from accepting cryptocurrency.


Here’s what you need to know if your organization is considering accepting cryptocurrency gifts.


Things to Consider


Cryptocurrency is a digital currency that runs on decentralized networks and has secured cryptography. It does not have an issuer or a centralized regulator—which means it’s not controlled or influenced by a government or organizations like banks.


Cryptocurrency is like a digital asset that exists on a network spread over a vast number of computers. It can be thought of as secure digital files as money for transactions.


The decentralized network usually comes in the form of a blockchain—technology that records and manages digital transactions—and uses a peer-to-peer network to form blocks of information linked to new blocks whenever new data or transactions appear. Because of this, it’s easy to trace and impossible to duplicate or counterfeit.


The Benefits


Accepting cryptocurrency benefits donors and organizations alike. One of the most significant benefits for organizations is the ability to reach a younger generation, specifically millennials and Generation Y. These generations are technology savvy and form the single largest generation of contributors to the economy[3]. Other benefits of accepting cryptocurrency include:


  • offering an additional payment method;
  • expand your donor reach and diversify your audience;
  • take advantage of significant tax breaks;
  • convenient and fast;
  • monetary value remains stable over time; and
  • offers your organization a competitive edge.


How to Accept Cryptocurrency


Even though it may be overwhelming at first, most organizations can begin accepting donations via cryptocurrency with some simple additions to their fundraising policies and procedures.


First, decide how your organization will accept donations. You can opt for a payment processor, a personal wallet, or a hybrid model. Individual wallets help you to directly and manually control your cryptocurrency. The downside of this model is that it does require you to have an in-depth understanding of how cryptocurrencies operate. It may be more of an undertaking but ultimately worth it since you can use web wallets (online), software wallets (downloaded), and even hardware wallets (devices).


The payment processing method is the more preferred choice for most organizations since it acts as a third-party processor and diverts the technical expertise and offers better security. This option offers you a fast and straightforward mode of accepting cryptocurrency donations but does come with its own set of requirements.


Payment processors that can handle cryptocurrency donations include:


  • Engiven: A platform specially designed for 501(c)3 nonprofits to easily manage their cryptocurrency donations.
  • The Giving Block: The go-to payment solution for over a hundred nonprofits and universities that accept crypto donations.
  • Bitpay: Currently one of the most powerful platforms for managing nonprofit cryptocurrency.


Then there is the hybrid model which offers you components of the personal wallet and the payment processor. This model provides better tracing features for donations and blockchain transactions and may have a better interface and user experience compared to wallets. But a hybrid model doesn’t include dedicated management of payment processors or the total independence of wallets.


Cryptocurrency Policies and Procedures


When you decide to move in the direction to accept cryptocurrency gifts, consider these things to ensure compliance.


  1. Update your gift acceptance policy for accepting cryptocurrency gifts for your institution.
  2. Educate your staff about institutional policies surrounding cryptocurrency and why its important.
  3. Establish oversight in these initial stages of accepting these gifts to carefully evaluate the acceptance process and discuss lessons learned to update or modify policies accordingly.


Cryptocurrency is a phenomenon that has the potential to become as far-reaching as the internet itself. For any emerging industry—including nonprofit organizations—those that adopt these policies early on will benefit significantly, including reaching a younger donor population that has historically been a struggle for institutions. Cryptocurrency donations allow you to tap into digital finances and virtual money, which continue to grow bigger every day.






3 Steps for Engaging and Connecting with Alumni


Have you ever wondered how successful colleges and universities convince past students to give something back to their alma mater? Most often, it’s because they’ve established ongoing relationship and engagement strategies with their alumni.


An alumni engagement strategy requires careful consideration of things like nostalgia, trust, and emotion. More importantly, it means identifying marketing techniques to elicit those feelings.


Communicating with your alumni should be a part of that strategy. One of the easiest ways to communicate is through an online platform like PeopleGrove[1].


An online platform can:


  • provide alumni with access to career opportunities;
  • centralize directories, alumni job boards, and chapter management;
  • advance your mission by driving higher engagement; and
  • measure increases in giving.


It’s a no-brainer; your alumni serve many valuable roles for your institution—helping to build and grow your brand through word-of-mouth marketing, plus offer mentoring, internships, and career opportunities to fellow students.


There is a significant investment to implement an online alumni network platform. Often, the same investment falls flat because institutions think, “build it, and they will come.” In turn, the information technology (IT) department acts as the pseudo “community” for its alumni.


That approach is always ineffective. Think about it like this. You’re an alum of the University of California, Berkeley. UC Berkley reaches out to inform you of their new alumni community, offering you the opportunity to join fellow alums and network—suggesting you can catch up with classmates and gain access to powerful relationships.


But six months pass, and you realize you’re interacting with very few people, or worse, the same people, and no one is responding to your inquiries. Alumni quickly become discouraged and leave the platform.


These online engagement platforms are great for enabling meaningful connections throughout your community—whether that’s an alumni community or constituent community, but only if you have a strategy. Here’s how to make the most of your online platform by engaging and connecting with alumni.


Step 1: Market Your Program


Get rid of the idea that just because you build a platform, your alumni know about it and want to use it. Overcome this challenge by marketing your program so alumni are aware of its value and usability. Marketing can’t be a one-time thing. And it should be a thoughtful and continuous marketing plan.


Form a marketing committee. Use your network to find help by tapping into alumni who work in marketing. Then evaluate other alumni organizations. What are they doing to market their platforms? Don’t necessarily copy what they’re doing but take inventory of how they talk to their audience and solve their wants, needs, and desires.


Effective marketing includes understanding your value proposition and knowing what your alumni expect to receive. Think about how you can best reach them, and set specific, measurable, attainable, relevant, and timely (SMART) goals. Finally, assess your goals often and evaluate your plan regularly.


Step 2: Educate About Useability


Another reason alumni may leave your networking platform is that they don’t understand how to use it. You can’t assume alumni know how to take advantage of this resource, even if it is a user-friendly platform.


Take into consideration that you probably have alumni spanning several generations. Be mindful of the nuances of each generation and their specific wants, needs, and desires—providing ideas about how (and why) they should use it.


Emphasize the ease of use—which can also be a part of your marketing tactic. Create marketing content that answers alumni questions. For example, “Have you tried the ABC feature? If not, here’s how to use it.”


This type of communication should be ongoing. Develop a communication plan that educates alumni frequently—this promotes sufficient engagement and increases your retention.


Step 3: Maintain Your Metrics and Measurements


Like anything, you need to measure and analyze your metrics regularly so you can adjust as necessary. Schedule weekly or monthly check-ins to see what’s working, what’s not, and determine a plan to course-correct.


Opportunities for Capitalizing on Post-Pandemic Fundraising Online

The global pandemic forced rapid changes across every industry sector, including advancement. As we continue to move toward the new normal, we’re seeing some of those changes—especially regarding the emphasis on online interaction—stick around.


Organizations should continue to take advantage of online fundraising platforms and methods to supplement their advancement initiatives. Donors are continuing to engage online, and we anticipate this becoming even more prevalent in post-pandemic fundraising.


There are two areas to pay particular attention to: Do-it-yourself fundraising platforms and third-party fundraising. Here’s why.


DIY Fundraising Platforms


The shift to DIY fundraising where supporters can easily launch their own campaigns and raise money is growing quickly. Anyone with a desire to raise money for their favorite organization can do so online and begin fundraising quickly. This model is particularly successful for smaller organizations.


DIY fundraising operates like a traditional peer-to-peer[1] campaign—enabling individuals to create personal fundraising pages on your organization’s behalf. Most often, supporters choose to do a DIY fundraiser centered around a holiday, birthday, or special occasion.  They create a fundraising campaign under a parent campaign and ask for donations to fund it.


DIY fundraising is a multi-tier approach, allowing your organization to empower its donors. You can think of it as a tree. You have the main trunk (your organization’s campaign website). From there, personal fundraisers create their own branches from their personal fundraising website. Each branch represents a different campaign—some branches are larger, and some branches are smaller. But each branch is necessary.


Supporters can connect their own beliefs, values, and identity to your mission using their personal fundraising pages to inspire donors with a story, driving your mission forward on their own terms. This leads to high fundraising goals and a personal desire to see your campaign succeed. Plus, you’ll be able to reach a new pool of donors that might have been inaccessible otherwise.


The impact of DIY fundraising is often greater and provides increased fundraising potential because of high personal buy-in. DIY fundraising campaigns increase trust between your organization and new potential supporters, drawing on their network to increase donations.


People are more likely to donate to a cause that their friend or family feels strongly about. In fact, 46% of respondents in a Classy report[2], say they choose to donate to a cause if a family member or friend asks them to. In addition, 50% state that a friend or family member being personally affected by a cause would motivate them to give.


Make DIY fundraising easy and fun by providing support. Create a DIY fundraiser toolkit to assist supporters with setting up their website, procedures for structuring their story, adding images, and other specifics to match the same look and feel of your brand. Offer examples to illustrate what other supporters are doing. Once its live, be open to promoting their fundraiser on your organization’s email list, social media, and more.


Third-Party Events


A third-party fundraising event is when a business, organization, community group, school, or individual plans and hosts a program or an event that benefits an organization. These events are hosted by (or paid for by) the beneficiary, but all proceeds generated support the mission of the organization. Third-party initiatives can be an excellent fundraising tool with a high return on investment (ROI) because it doesn’t require many resources from your organization.


The pandemic taught us that third-party events can still be successful even in an online atmosphere. Virtual events cater to those with demanding schedules or those in distant locations. But they also serve to reach new audiences—specifically, Millennial and Generation Z donors.


Third-party fundraisers give organizations a tool to solidify relationships, inspire new ones, and create an avenue to gain donations. Online platforms let the donors organize and promote their event independently.


Third-party fundraisers can be even more successful if you identify your top fundraisers and then offer them support—whether it’s helping them promote their event or offering guiding principles and fundraising tips. Imagine how your top fundraisers could succeed with your expertise!


For example, help your best supporters build their fundraising website so it has a few extra bells and whistles. Discuss their fundraising strategy and goals and provide feedback for best practices. Help them build their campaign and strategize to engage their network of friends and families through tried-and-true methods.


Supporting third-party fundraisers with these additional resources creates an opportunity to increase the output of the online platforms and fundraising campaigns. Their campaigns will exceed expectations and your organization warrants the benefits.




Understanding Staffing Models for CRM Application Support

Most organizations have little to no control over the structure of their Constituent Relationship Management (CRM) application support staffing models. It’s essential to understand how they are different—plus the pros and cons of each—so you can effectively moderate issues as they arise.


The resources available to your project team may vary and are contingent on your organization’s predetermined staffing models. We discuss the differences and how to mitigate their deficiencies.


Decentralized Staffing


Larger organizations tend to require a decentralized staffing model for their CRM applications[1]. Within the decentralized model, resources and staff may sit within the development team and have their own program analyst and Information Technology (IT) resources. These positions are often placed within Advancement—they are also funded and have a reporting structure that promotes through the advancement team.


A significant benefit of the decentralized staffing model is that you have access to your resources—staff are specialists and understand the business practices for any technical solution they provide. Staff lives and breathes fundraising, advancement, engaging constituents, and the context for technology solutions.


However, a downside of decentralized organizations is that employees may struggle with multiple individuals having different opinions on a particular decision. These organizations will need to overcome the obstacle of getting everyone on the same page when making decisions.


Another downside with this model can be that resources get narrowly characterized from a technology standpoint. The staff becomes experts in the technology, and their innovation may diminish over time because they are so specialized.


Decentralized staffing models are most successful when they utilize diverse expertise and knowledge—including a broad-based management team to ensure the organization has knowledgeable directors or managers to handle various types of situations.


Centralized Staffing Model


In the centralized staffing model, the need for technical resources or support to get things done relies on a “borrowing” structure from a central pool of resources. Smaller institutions tend to benefit from a centralized approach to their technical help. This model allows several departments—including the advancement team, HR team, the finance team, and the institutional teams to be supported by shared resources.


Centralized organizations can be highly efficient regarding strategic decisions. On the contrary, they can face adverse effects of bureaucracy—which can damage organizational effectiveness.


The benefit of a centralized staffing model is that staff can become specialists and remain acutely aware of new technology and procedures. Staff in this model tend to stay up to date on new platforms, programming languages, and other resources—their technical knowledge and skillsets are broader.


Centralized staffing allows an institution to streamline processes and create business operation efficiencies related to policy development, technology, pay practice, and resource management. In this model, you can (in most cases) attract better resources because they have a variety of projects to work on—offering a diverse workload for the highly skilled person.


One of the most significant downsides of the centralized staffing model is that resources and staff are shared. You’ll need to develop policies and procedures to indicate the methods that support you (and your team) to meet their deadlines.


Think about questions like:


  • How will your staff get into the queue?
  • How will your resource staff manage an abundance of requests?
  • Will you be able to meet your deadlines with their current workload?


Changes may take longer to initiate in a centralized model. Leadership must evaluate requests for policy, workflow, or technology changes at an enterprise level, requiring investigation, testing, pro and con analysis, and shared governance vetting. Once approved, the change must be communicated and rolled out—requiring an additional level of planning and coordination.


Sharing resources with the rest of the institution can get complicated. Not all institutions can avoid this type of staffing model and must work to mitigate these setbacks.


Hybrid Concept


A hybrid staffing model allows staff to gain the best of both worlds. In this scenario, employees can experience the benefits of becoming experts in their field while concurrently sharing resources.


In the hybrid staffing model, the resources belong to the centralized team but include staff with a comprehensive technology skillset. Often, the Advancement department pays for the services to have dedicated resources or at least a commitment to dedicated resources at a certain level.


The hybrid staffing model type tends to work well in larger institutions since they can afford resources within their department.


Staffing models vary depending on your organization. One is not necessarily better than another—whichever one you have, be sure to understand its complexities and plan for any deficiencies. Doing so will increase your team’s strategic and tactical capacity—keeping your organization at the forefront.


Best Practices for Digital Communication with Donors



These days, it’s nearly impossible to find an organization that hasn’t conducted some form of online fundraising. Does your team actively engage and support donors with digital communication? It can be difficult with limited in-person interactions.


Plus, the digital environment is a loud and busy space. The competition for donor attention is at an all-time high. Without a coherent, unified digital communication strategy, you risk losing focus and visibility—especially true if you’re targeting an older population.


A comprehensive digital communication strategy is the single best way to ensure a personal interaction without the in-person interface—helping you to put your overarching fundraising or donor acquisition goals into action.


When creating a digital strategy for your organization, focus on these constituent parts to simplify the process.


  1. Determine your goals.
  2. Examine your audience.
  3. Define your constraints.
  4. Equip your team with the right tools.
  5. Craft a communication plan.


A digital communication strategy is only effective if its well-received by donors. Here are four best practices to ensure donors engage with your digital communications.


Personalize Conversations


A nonprofit’s success is related to the relationship they have with donors. Whether you’re sending out an appeal or a thank you letter, you must personalize your donor communications—80 percent of people say they engage with personalized messaging[1].


In a world with primarily digital communication, it feels less ambiguous. Digital communication requires you to be more purposeful with how (and when) you communicate.


Personalize your donor communications by:


  • addressing them by name;
  • communicating with them as an individual, not the organization they’re affiliated with; and
  • referencing their previous involvement and its impact.


Use Donor-Centric Language


Having a donor-centric tone when communicating with your constituents goes a long way. Switch your general messaging to donor-centric messaging—it can be as simple as speaking to “you” vs. “we.”


Incorporating a donor-centric tone also requires an awareness of your donor’s goals. By understanding their unique needs, you can connect and engage with them better.


Empathize with your donors by asking questions that engage with purpose.


  • What is most valuable to you?
  • How do you envision supporting our organization?
  • What are ways we can help you achieve your goals?


Leverage Multichannel Communication


A multichannel approach is essential for donor communications. It allows you to reach a larger audience and reinforce your messaging. Donors vary with how they prefer to communicate.


Email marketing is a common way to communicate, but its important to utilize other channels such as:


  • social media;
  • website landing pages;
  • text messaging; and
  • telephone


Make Technology Simple


There’s no doubt that technology will impact your digital communication strategy in 2021 and beyond. Donations are happening online more frequently, requiring the use of eSignatures or transfer of documents.


Often, donors are sending documents with sensitive or confidential data through email that isn’t always encrypted.


Some donors may be hesitant or discouraged from supporting your organization due to security concerns or complicated technology processes. If you’re dealing with an older population, how do you communicate effectively and leverage technology? You’ll need to simplify technology and clearly explain the requirements.


You may consider implementing programs to support your digital communication strategy. SignNow[2] offer organizations the ability to streamline document workflows, automate and collaborate donation form processing, request eSignatures, and protect sensitive data with advanced encryption to keep contracts and other sensitive information safe.





5 Questions to Assess Your Campaign Readiness for Advancement


At times organizations need to raise substantial funds for a specific purpose apart from annual budgets. Typically, campaigns fund tangible things like an expansion, renovation, or restoration. Capital campaigns are always based on an ambitious vision, or more commonly referred to as Big, Hairy, Audacious Goals (BHAG).


When it comes to capital campaigns, some organizations focus primarily on the question of campaign feasibility. But it is just as (if not more) important to focus on the question of campaign readiness.


If you are preparing for a capital campaign, much focus is on your gift officers and programs to develop your overall campaign strategy and identify campaign priorities. During this process, there are often many questions as planning gets underway.


The campaign feasibility assesses the external environment, whereas readiness examines the organization’s ability to manage and maintain a campaign. Here are five questions to ask within your organization to determine if your capital campaign is ready for launch.


Can we identify a lead gift?


The success of capital campaigns highly depends on the initial lead or principal level gifts. If you aren’t able to identify lead gifts, you likely won’t develop the campaign you are envisioning.


The most successful capital campaigns identify where the top two or three gifts will derive. For example, if you’re looking to raise $1 billion, you’ll need to identify lead gifts upwards of $100 million.


Can we identify major gift donors?


Similar to lead gifts, it’s essential to know where a significant number of major gifts will come from. If you can’t, it might not be time to launch, and your time would be better spent developing your major gift fundraising for your annual fund.


How well-positioned are we to solicit, receive, and steward the gifts that donors will give?


Donor relations are an organization’s comprehensive actions promoting long-term engagement and quality interactions with donors. Positively manage prospect relationships over time by focusing on the seven steps of solicitation.


  1. Identify
  2. Research
  3. Plan
  4. Cultivate
  5. Ask
  6. Close
  7. Thank and Steward


Are our advancement services teams prepared for a capital campaign?


You can’t reach audacious capital campaign goals without the proper teams to support your initiatives. If the expectation is that your current staff and resources are sufficient for campaign production, you might fail to reach new, ambitious goals. Instead, assess the areas you may need additional support.


From prospects to patients, members to alumni (and everyone in between), the people who fuel and fund an organization’s future present an immense amount of data to be captured, managed, and visualized—ultimately leveraged by the experts in advancement services[1].


Do we have the prospect development pipeline to meet our capital campaign goals?


You must know what’s in your fundraising pipeline. One way to determine if the pipeline works as it should, is to determine whether people from your donor list are spread throughout.


Remember, there are three main reasons people donate:


  • deep passion for the cause;
  • belief in the organization; or
  • know someone affected by the mission.


Accurate Constituent Data


In addition to readiness, accurate constituent data, efficient and reliable gift tracking, and reliable campaign reporting are critical components to your capital campaign success.


An organization’s most valuable asset is its accurate constituent data. The Constituent Relationship Management (CRM) system is usually the central piece of software at an organization. The CRM is more than a database—proving intelligence and functionality organizations need to optimize fundraising and communication with their supporters.


Accurate data sets you up for fundraising success—allowing you to set reasonable goals, evaluate your team needs, reach constituents, track gifts efficiently, and analyze reliable campaign reporting.




Developing Advancement Operations Procedures

Everything You Need to Know About Developing Advancement Operations Procedures

We’ve all seen what happens when colleagues think the other followed up with a major donor — and then no one does. Without proper procedures in place, it can be difficult to organize complex programs and maintain efficiency.


When it comes to streamlining processes or developing operations procedures for your advancement team, there are a handful of key steps to success to follow. It’s equally as important to document procedures as it is to implement procedures in your department, so be sure to not only write the steps down but also share the new processes within your department and to external stakeholders to ensure alignment and buy-in.


Let’s unpack how to develop procedures that help your advancement operations go more smoothly, as well as the steps to implement the program in your institution.


How Developing Procedures Improves Productivity

Developing Advancement Operations procedures improves productivity by streamlining existing processes.


You see, standard operating procedures can help bring much-needed structure to any organization. This is especially true for institutions with limited budgets and resources. But by investing the time and effort into defining standard ways of working, you save time when amidst the execution of a high-profile event or impending deadline.


If these procedures are developed and implemented in advance, they will be well established  (and quickly accessible) when needed most.

8 Must-Haves for Effective Procedure Documents


What exactly does an effective procedure document contain? When you’re compiling your procedure documents, make sure they have the eight key features listed below.


  • Objective: Describe what will be accomplished by using this procedure.
  • Background: Give the user some context about why this procedure was developed.
    • For example, are you trying to comply with a regulatory or institutional policy?
    • Additionally, are there any significant changes in this procedure that need to be identified upfront?
  • Scope: Describe what this procedure will address. What need will it fill?
  • Responsibilities: Provide a high-level overview of all participants and their role in the procedure.
  • Definitions: Supply a list of business terms that will be used in the procedure.
  • Process Overview: Provide a high-level description of the overall process that will be used for this procedure.
  • Procedure Steps: Describe all the key procedure steps in detail.
  • References: Create references to other related information, including policies, other procedures, forms, templates and other institutional systems.

Getting Buy-in From Stakeholders


To get buy-in on these procedural changes from your stakeholders, you’ll need to be transparent about what you’re trying to achieve. For instance, why are you implementing these changes now? What challenges will they solve? How will your organization improve due to the implementation of these advancement operations procedures?


If you’re able to answer these questions clearly and with confidence, you’re well on your way to creating an operations procedure that your stakeholders will encourage and embrace.


5 Steps to Implement Top-Notch Procedures in Your Organization

Now, let’s take a look at how to implement best-in-class procedures in your organization. To do so, you must take these five steps.

1. Educate Users on Best Practices

Best practices keep organizations in a position to be donor-focused and bogged down with operational challenges, so identify them early and reiterate them often. Once your users are equipped with deep knowledge of these best practices, they’ll thrive under your new procedures.

2. Standardize How Information Is Captured

When standardizing how the information you collect is captured, you’ll want to do two main things.

First of all, increase the speed of your data entry to maximize efficiency. Second, improve the accuracy of your data entry by making every extra effort to do so—without losing the speed gained from increased efficiency.

3. Decrease Ramp-Up Time for New Staff

By streamlining your training processes, you’ll decrease the ramp-up time required for new staff. Decreasing the time needed for onboarding and training is ideal at any point, but it’s especially critical when you want a new hire to dive into their workload right away.

4. Develop a Reference Library of Business Practices

Developing a reference library of business practices for all users will help you get everyone on the same page. As a bonus, it will also help you avoid receiving similar questions from different users down the line.


When developing your reference library, you’ll want to understand the use of reporting in procedures. This will ensure your reference library of business practices will remain relevant as the organization evolves.

5. Inform Users About How Data Entry Impacts Reporting

If users are informed about how data entry impacts reporting, they’ll be more likely to take pride (and extra care) in their data entry tasks. So, let them know the full extent of their impact.


Continuing the Success of Your Procedures

Continue the success of the new procedures you’ve implemented through optimized procedure management processes and robust procedure development services.


Procedure Management Processes

Your procedure management process should establish the procedure owner, along with any Subject Matter Experts (SMEs). This process should also educate business users on new and revised procedures.


Additionally, your procedure management process should establish a procedure review schedule, with a cadence that is quarterly, semi-annual or annual.


Lastly, procedure updates should be scheduled multiple times per year to ensure your procedures are being managed effectively.


Procedure Development Services


When developing your procedures, it’s good to have options. (Such as, a trusted advisor to counsel an organization on the critical selection and number of procedures to establish as an institutional foundation).


When developing these procedures, you’ll want to be mindful of the 8 Must Haves for Procedure Documentation. You should also hold regular procedure review workshops. Reviewing and validating  recently developed procedures and workflow with key stakeholders.


Once any revisions have been made and final sign off achieved, you can then implement the new procedure through staff training. Being sure to measure user adoption across the institution.


Procedure Development Planning: Final Thoughts

To recap, your procedure documents must have an objective, background, scope, responsibilities, definitions, a process overview, procedure steps and references.


Everything You Need to Know About Developing Advancement Operations Procedures


Not forgetting these success factors in your organization, either. They include:

  • Educating users on best practices
  • Standardizing how information is captured
  • Decreasing ramp-up time for new staff
  • Developing a reference library of business practices for all users
  • Informing users about how data entry impacts reporting


Once you develop and implement effective procedures, you’ll also want to manage and measure their success.


Procedure Development Made Easier with a Trusted Operations Partner

As a leader in higher education and/or healtchcare, it can be difficult to maintain service levels to demanding schedules and major donors. With proper standard operating procedures, your team can boost productivity while maintaining quality service.


Reach out for a customized consultation with Precision Partners, so you can focus on achieving your fundraising goals and maintaining excellent relationships with your donors.

Current State of Advancement: Is Your Acknowledgment Process COVID-19 Proof?


Are you struggling with how to fundraise in the current environment? 

Many institutions are. The uncertainty created by the pandemic, along with a slowdown in our economy and growing civil unrest, can make it difficult for your voice to be heard. 

So in these times and beyond, transparency and sensitivity are critical in your donor communications. How can you ask for funds tastefully, and genuinely thank the donors who contribute them? 


Advancement in a Pandemic: The Current Landscape

As you can imagine, this was a difficult year for individual giving. In fact, individual giving decreased by 6 percent in the first quarter of 2020, compared to last year. That’s nearly $25 billion in lost revenue for nonprofits if this trend continues throughout the year.


Although technology and data enable us to live and work in a socially-distanced world, these tools alone will not lead us to success. In the face of a global pandemic, our relationships have increasingly taken center stage. These relationships were always important, but COVID-19 has made us remember their true value. After all, human connections allow us to survive in the short term and thrive in the long term. 


Take a look at one of your most fundamental, human-connection-centric business practices—thanking your donors. This practice of planned gratitude, also known as your acknowledgment process, doesn’t go unnoticed. It’s greatly appreciated by the donors themselves.

But is your acknowledgment process COVID-19 proof? 


Assess and Document Your Current Acknowledgement Process

Currently, you probably follow a standard acknowledgment process that may look something like this: 


4 Tips to Revamp Your Acknowledgment Process

Since nothing about 2020 has been business as usual or typical, it’s not sufficient to use standard acknowledgment practices anymore.

Go a little further with your acknowledgment process and tailor it to the times. Below are four (4) tips to help you do just that.


1. Change Your Verbiage

Our first tip is to change your verbiage. The way you word your acknowledgment email and letter should address COVID-19.

Directly address how COVID-19 has had an impact on your institution, and on your community. Recipients will appreciate your honesty and they’ll empathize with your circumstances. Remember, we’re all in the same boat. 

If you don’t acknowledge COVID-19 in these communications, you risk coming across as if you’re going through the motions…and no one wants that. 

So, breathe deep, and craft a message as though you’re communicating from one human being to another—because you are. 


2. Thank Donors at Every Level

Gift minimums might’ve made sense before the pandemic, but they definitely don’t make sense now. 

Discard your gift minimums for saying thank you, and acknowledge anyone who gives a gift during these tough times. Throughout unprecedented uncertainty, these special individuals have decided to support your institution—now that’s a big deal! By thanking all your donors, you’re showing that you truly see and appreciate their efforts. 


3. Get Personal

Don’t be afraid to get a little personal. People appreciate those extra steps, especially amidst all this uncertainty. 

If your standard practice is to send an email or a letter, try giving people a call to thank them instead. After all, people’s routines have been disrupted, and they’re feeling more isolated than ever before. Hearing your friendly voice, and discussing something that evokes feelings of hope (like your institution), can add extra positivity to someone’s day. 


4. Expand Your Acknowledgement Process

Go beyond the donors, and expand your acknowledgment process. Don’t stop at expressing gratitude only to the people who’ve given a gift; include those who are fundraising on your behalf in your communication process. 

Additionally, pay attention to people who are sharing heartwarming stories about your institution on social media, and take the time to thank them. Expressing this gratitude one-on-one is great, but so is sharing their posts on your social media channels (with their permission). Doing this will amplify the appreciation on both sides while encouraging others to follow suit. 


Relevant Acknowledgment for Advancement: Final Thoughts

  • To recap, your current acknowledgment process likely needs an update for this pandemic world.
  • The current landscape for individual giving to nonprofits looks dire. Therefore, change is essential to survival.
  • When it comes to your acknowledgment process, don’t follow the status quo.
    • Change your verbiage, so that people can see how the current landscape has affected your institution and your community. 
    • Don’t set gift restrictions—thank donors at every level.
    • When thanking your donors, get personal. A quick phone call can come across as more heartfelt than your standard acknowledgment email. 
    • Expand your acknowledgment process to include those who are fundraising on your behalf and those who are sharing your institution’s stories on social media.


With these actions, you’ll be sure to strike a friendly, positive chord with those you’re acknowledging. These tips will help you in strengthening and maintaining your donor relationships for years to come.


If you would like an assessment and clear roadmap, contact us to Future Proof Your Acknowledgment Process.


We will help you create an acknowledgment process that is not only effective during the pandemic but sets you up for being responsive to your donors in the future.

How to Improve Your Advancement and IT Partnership

I often find myself at the intersection of Advancement Operations and IT Support. I consider both groups my colleagues. From each area I hear the frustrations and challenges about working together. What makes it so difficult for Advancement Operations and IT Support to work together and how can you improve these interactions?

Acknowledge and understand that you will often feel like you are speaking different languages. Use the following structure as a guide for your communication:


For Advancement Operations:

Discuss the business challenge that you are facing – how does it impact your daily operations? Why is it important to address now? Why do you feel that a technology solution will make it better? Discuss what you have heard and where you have received your information.

For IT Support:

Reiterate your understanding of the business challenge that Advancement Operations is facing. Actively get confirmation that you understood it correctly? Do you agree that a technical solution will achieve the desired results? If not, be very clear and specific why this is the case. If a technical solution is suitable, have you successfully addressed this issue or a similar issue before? Do you perceive any challenges or barriers to success? Are you available to help? If not, provide alternatives to address the challenge.

For Advancement Operations:

Reiterate your understanding of the technical solution, solution approach, or next steps. Actively get confirmation from IT Support that you understood it correctly. Do you perceive any challenges or barriers to success with the solution or approach? If so, be honest and discuss your concerns.

For Everyone:

All discussions should be professional and respectful. Every person in the room is an expert, it requires patience and an open mind  to communicate with colleagues who have a different expertise.

  • Be willing to explain the terms and acronyms that are second nature to you
  • Be willing to share a day in your life to provide context to the conversation
  • Be willing to stretch yourself and learn something new

Why is Business Process Improvement so Challenging for Development?

Why doesn’t Business Process Improvement just happen?  This is an important question many institutions are trying to answer.  Let me suggest a better question to ask: What challenges will you encounter when trying to improve the critical processes that you use everyday?  Let’s investigate why this happens …

Continue reading “Why is Business Process Improvement so Challenging for Development?”

Are You Using the Wrong Fundraising Model?

There are two main fundraising models institutions utilize.


Transactional fundraising and relationship fundraising. Although fundraisers say they want to build lifelong relationships, many fall into the trap of the transactional fundraising model. Can your current fundraising practices pass the pressure test for Relationship Fundraising? Continue reading “Are You Using the Wrong Fundraising Model?”

How do you know your new fundraising system is a success? Your staff actually uses it!


If you are not performing this then you may be missing a great opportunity to improve the success of your new fundraising system.


There is really only one way to find out how your staff feels about their new fundraising platform.

Continue reading “How do you know your new fundraising system is a success? Your staff actually uses it!”

Benefits of Having a Trusted Advisor On Your Advancement Services Team – Stay Ahead of the Curve

(This is Part 2 of a 2 part article. In Part 1 talked about the top 10 reasons why you need to add a Trusted Advisor to your team. In this second part I am going to a little more in depth as to why having one will help keep you up to date on the latest tools and technologies for fundraising and philanthropy.)


Do you ever get the feeling that you are the last to know about the latest technology, tools, and trends in fundraising? Sometimes just the fact of being made aware of new technologies and strategies by a volunteer or the development board can send you scrambling to implement the latest shiny new tool without the benefit of a well thought out plan or strategy.


Maintaining or stabilizing your current operations is important and can take up the majority of your time and focus. As important as that is, it is also imperative you continually strive to evolve and improve the operations. The competitive and ever changing landscape of fundraising demands that you stay current in the latest trends and technology. Without staying current your organization won’t have the right information to make key strategic decisions that will impact your overall success.


How are you supposed to accomplish all of this?


One solution is to dedicate 15% of your staff’s time to tracking and staying on top of the latest trends and technology. Have them get to know the vendors to discover and evaluate what new technology is out there and then determine what will work best for your organization. Have the team spend some time forecasting not only what trends and tools work today but how it will impact you in the future. By doing this you can stay ahead of the game and plan your next move.


Simple right?


Okay, we know that while that might work, the reality is neither you nor your staff have the time to do all that. As well-meaning as you might be to try, your day is too busy putting out fires and just trying to keep up with the backlog of projects. Your staff doesn’t have the time to stay current on everything that is changing and developing. The problem becomes the more it is neglected the further behind you are in terms of the latest technology used that makes all your efforts successful. It’s like being with a group of your friends while they are looking up restaurants in the area on their cell phones while you look at your old flip phone that doesn’t know what a browser or app is.


So what is the solution?


What about a trusted advisor that you can turn to that will provide you the information you need on a regular basis? Someone that specializes in knowing the fundraising market, knows the technology, vendors and trends. Someone that has the relationships built with vendors that would allow them to sit down and evaluate what will work for you. Your advisor needs to be someone that knows your organizational culture and business practices. Someone that can sift through all the noise and clutter and present you solid solutions to your fundraising technology needs. Someone that will listen and be able to advise you what will work now and in the future.


Your organization, the donors and your staff deserves the very best. By adding a trusted advisor that knows the industry and is interested in your success you can achieve excellence.


If you are want to be ahead of the curve in knowing the latest tools, technology, and trends in fundraising, give me call at (424)206-5379.


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Dauwn Parker leverages her extensive background in CRM consulting and experience in fundraising operations to guide her clients to success. She offers her clients valuable leadership coaching, lessons for avoiding common pitfalls, best practices, tools, and techniques. Clients find Dauwn’s communication style as a differentiator in her services, whether conducting a large group facilitation or a one-on-one coaching session, she breaks complex concepts into consumable segments of information making it easy to understand for anyone regardless of their role in the organization, level of experience, or skill set.

Top 10 Benefits of Having a Trusted Advisor On Your Advancement Services Team

(Because this is such an important topic I decided to run a two part article. The following is part 1.)

At some point it becomes necessary to bring on a trusted advisor to take your fundraising efforts to the next level.

As with any business endeavor it helps to get the perspective of someone that is outside the normal team. There are several reasons for this. You don’t have the needed expertise, people who work together every day become comfortable with the way things are and sometimes overlook things, sometimes things just need a fresh perspective from someone that knows the industry and what your needs are.

After all many successful people have business coaches, companies hire security consultants to get an impartial audit of systems and policies, insurance or benefit advisors make suggestions as to the best plans for the company employees and list goes on.

Advancement Services provides the backbone of your philanthropy operations. Doesn’t it make sense that your Advancement Services Team has a trusted advisor to depend on?

The top 10 benefits of having a Trusted Advisor to empower your Advancement Services Team are:


  1. You want to expand and grow, to do this you have to take on projects that you have never done before. Having a trusted advisor who has the experience to guide you will not only reduce costly mistakes but assist in guiding you and your team to achieve the outcome you desire.


  1. You gain the confidence and continued support when collaborating or brainstorming with an expert. Instead of getting a staffer to research and analyze something in an attempt to determine if it is right approach, a trusted advisor will have the knowledge to quickly determine the right direction and present it to you.


  1. When you are inundated with requests for improvements or new technology a trusted advisor is able to give you an objective evaluation of what to do next that will align with your strategic vision and produce the most value.


  1. When you are faced with continual resource constraints having a trusted advisor on your side can help you develop and present a case for not only more but the right staff or technology.


  1. A knowledgeable expert on your team will be able to evaluate and give objective feedback on the health of your projects in progress and also provide an impartial assessment of the level of risk in your current business practices.


  1. A trusted advisor, that knows your industry, can assist you in assessing the skills of the staff and provide training and professional development coaching tailored specifically to your needs and goals.


  1. When you conduct executive briefings for your Chief Philanthropy Officer (CPO) or Chief Information Officer (CIO) having a trusted advisor, who is an industry expert, assisting in the briefing will help you to deliver information in a clear and informative way. The added benefit of having an expert with you in briefings is that it will help you convey your message in a persuasive and powerful manner.


  1. Continuity in the face of staffing changes. Things happen, people leave or have extended periods of absence. A trusted advisor, who understands the overall goals, can maintain momentum of the strategic plan and assist in the selection and orientation of new staff.


  1. A trusted advisor can provide you with access to a network of vendors, contracted resources for staff augmentation, and contacts at other organizations similar to yours. An industry expert will have the necessary contacts and resources, that you may not have, that can help get you to the next level.


  1. Having a trusted advisor brings you to the next level by achieving excellence through continued process improvement in records management, gift processing, prospect research, and portfolio management. Adding an industry expert on your team will help you incorporate industry best practices and keep you informed on how other organizations may achieve success.


Having a trusted advisor to guide you can mean the difference in standing still or propelling your efforts to the next level.

(In Part 2 we will discuss how having a Trusted Advisor is imperative when it comes to keeping up with the latest tools and technology in philanthropy.)


If you have the challenge of mounting demands and not enough resources,contact us at (424) 206-5379 to discuss how to jumpstart your productivity in the new fiscal year.


Profile pictureDauwn Parker leverages her extensive background in CRM consulting and experience in fundraising operations to guide her clients to success. She offers her clients valuable leadership coaching, lessons for avoiding common pitfalls, best practices, tools, and techniques. Clients find Dauwn’s communication style as a differentiator in her services, whether conducting a large group facilitation or a one-on-one coaching session, she breaks complex concepts into consumable segments of information making it easy to understand for anyone regardless of their role in the organization, level of experience, or skill set.

Calling all Frontline Fundraisers – What’s in it for You?

Institutions are now required by their Boards to provide more transparency and accountability for Fundraising Campaigns. This has prompted an array of metrics that not only evaluate progress towards fundraising goals but also evaluates daily productivity.

Here are some metrics that might look familiar…

  • Number of Face to Face Visits
  • Number of Phone Calls
  • Number of Proposals Made
  • Average Time Spent in Cultivation
  • % Increase in the Number of Donors in Your Portfolio
  • % Increase in Dollars Raised from Donors in Your Portfolio

While there is no denying that this information is beneficial to Executive Management and the Board in evaluating progress and performance, what benefits do you receive as a frontline fundraiser? Share how you use Fundraising Metrics  – What works? What doesn’t work?

Leave a comment or email me at [email protected]