27 May Donor Engagement & Energy Strengthens!
Let’s get on with the good news!
Yes, donor engagement and energy continues to strengthen. People are being drawn together in ways that were unheard of just months ago. People are sewing masks for friends and family, donating meals to health-care workers and offering help to neighbors in need. Many businesses and institutions have pivoted to virtual engagement, and to a deeper level of connection than anyone would have ever guessed.
The Christian education, ministries, and missions that have seized upon these times as an opportunity to not be forgotten have learned new skills and broadened their reach and levels of support. They are strengthening plans for donor giving and expecting growth for the years to come.
With such effort, we have seen remarkable response to some of the urgent questions and needs of this crisis. How do we continue to educate our youth? How can we safely care for our homeless? How can we help kids to stay happy, healthy, and safe this summer? Many donors have stepped forward and continued to support these and other beloved missions wherever they’ve felt the call.
What seems to be working for our colleagues out in the field? Here are some ideas and encouragement shared and collected by our guest host panelists through our recent Zoom Panel Discussions. We hope it revitalizes and strengthens you!
Keep active with your annual fund planning.
Consider a cost-based tuition model with an annual fund plan that covers smaller non-operating budget projects. This model sustains well through health and economic crisis.
Continue to communicate in a low-pressure way such as “We’re still here, God is providing, help when you are able” sets a calm, reassuring tone.
Replace active asking with conversations on well-being and sharing love for the mission.
When major donor gifts come in (and they will), find a cool, new way to thank your donor and show your love and appreciation. Consider driving to their home and place a gift basket and yard sign by their front porch that says “we love you” with your school verse. Give them a call as you drive away and let them know there is a surprise for them.
Be cautious as to when it is the right time to follow through with the ask. Consider language such as “hey we are still here, we know we had asked awhile back – if you can help that’s great, if not, we’ll come around another time”. Realize the ask is still there and that you are not withdrawing it, but will come around to it another time.
(Click here for more insight from Sam Barfell of Southside Christian School.)
Christian Higher Education
Move from being a big cruise ship to that of an agile kayak able to navigate through today’s changing and/or future turbulent times.
Become “lean and mean”. Look for today’s opportunities to shrink size, space and scale, streamline and/or eliminate duplication of services. This puts you in a position able to transition quickly and smoothly through crisis.
Start an educational or community initiative that collaborates and links with others in local communities that share your vision and mission.
Form a President’s Advancement Advisory Council with energetic staff, major donors, community members and others that share your vision and mission.
Don’t be afraid to go “against all odds” with fundraising events or galas. Seek new ways to hold them or invite big-hearted celebrities to join you in sharing your mission. They are very willing to help during challenging times.
Put prayer, marketing and ministry together and be spiritually creative. Try a series of prayer or other meaningful short, 30 second videos to show it’s “our turn to pray and care for you”. Try 30-minute virtual lunches to pray and share how things are going out there for your students, staff and donors.
(Click here for more insight from Bill Blocker of the College of Biblical Studies.)
Place focus and emphasize on how to keep new donors (via the current crisis) on board and engaged for the long haul. Even with lack of funds from storefront sales, giving is ticking up.
Yes, do keep up with the personal donor phone calls. Donors will ask, so be prepared to answer when donors ask, “how else may we be of help?”
Gently steer donors to your website to give online via your phone calls or inbox e-News. Keep your “give button” front and center on each webpage. Provide current testimonials and update all content. Keep needs out front.
Blast social media with 30-second snippets featuring clients and their stories.
(Click here for more insight from Tony Gooch of Durham Rescue Mission and Greg Kelley of World Mission. An article featuring more of Greg’s thoughts will be posted next week.)
Camps & Ministries
(Click here to see the recent article submitted by Amy Carlson of Youth Haven Kids’ Ministry.)
Do you have any ideas or encouragement to share? We’d love to hear from you. Please share your comments below. Thank you!