Donors, Fundraisers, and #MeToo

Did you know that 1 in 4 female fundraising professionals faces sexual harassment on the job? And that 65% of those women say that the Perpetrator was a Donor? I recently read the results of a survey done by the Association of Fundraising Professionals and The Chronicle of Philanthropy on the prevalence of sexual harassment in our industry, and the results were eye-opening.

I realize this is a tough topic. But before you move on, I ask that you don’t assume this problem doesn’t apply to you or your organization. As fundraising professionals, we are often surrounded by individuals with more power than we have, like donors, board members, and supervisors. Sometimes that power dynamic creates an environment with frequent opportunities for sexual harassment to occur.

The #MeToo movement has gained momentum and drawn attention to the prevalence of this problem in our society as a whole. In fact, the Time’s Up Fund to Fight Sexual Harassment has raised $21 million around the world in a matter of weeks.

This has the result of helping victims, including those in the fundraising profession, to feel more willing to share their experience with leadership, and to expect an appropriate response. Is your organization prepared for that scenario? If not, here are some steps you can take to be more prepared:

1. Talk about it. Share the results of this study with your leadership, your staff, and your board members. Say out loud that sexual harassment will not be tolerated at your organization, no matter who the Perpetrator is.

2. Create a process. Do your Human Relations policies tell an employee what to do if they have been a victim of sexual harassment at the workplace? If not, create a process for them to follow and make your employees aware of it. Also consider creating a crisis response PR plan you could follow if your organization is suddenly put in this spotlight.

3. Attend a training. Learn what you should do if you witness or experience harassment and how to respond if someone shares with you that they have been a victim. Some training opportunities are available with Zoe Training.

4. Say goodbye. Maybe you have a board member or major donor who is actually a Perpetrator of sexual harassment. These actions may lead to that person leaving the board or taking their donations somewhere else. Be okay with this possibility! You’re better off creating a safe environment for yourself and your employees, even if you lose donations as a result.

These are steps you can take now. Better to take them before a crisis than during or after. And even if you never have a crisis, the intangible benefit of a better culture for your staff is worth it!

Photo by Mihai Surdu on Unsplash

Posted in Culture of Philanthropy, Fundraising Mistakes, Learning Opportunities

Goodbye Donor Pyramid, Hello Donor Lifecycle Map!

Do you ever read something and lightbulbs start flashing in your head like your brain just went to Vegas? This was my experience when I recently read about the Donor Lifecycle Map. Talk about changing the paradigm! The donor pyramid focuses on the organization and how many donors you have at which levels right now. The Donor Lifecycle Map focuses on the DONOR and where they are in the lifecycle of giving.

This gets my brain excited. I know, I’m weird to get this excited about fundraising! But this simple illustration does something very important: it helps you focus on retention. Going back to the donor pyramid – you know what this looks like, right? It has a bunch of donors who give a small amount at the bottom, and a small amount of donors who give a large amount at the top. For years I have talked about moving donors up the pyramid, but what the pyramid assumes is that as long as you have enough donors in each level, you’ll be okay. On the other hand, the Donor Lifecycle Map is focused on how long the same person has been a donor to your organization. The longer they have been a donor, the more committed they tend to be.

I heard about this brilliant map in an article I read in AFP’s Advancing Philanthropy. The article highlighted a book written by Deborah Kaplan Polivy called The Donor Lifecycle Map: A Model for Fundraising Success. I have ordered my copy and can’t wait to read it! I believe this shift in thinking will help my clients to really understand cultivation and retention in a whole new way.

There are two ways to use the Donor Lifecycle Map. One is to plot where a specific donor is on the map to gauge their engagement with your organization. Another is to plot your donors as a group on the map to see where you are losing donors in the lifecycle. What percentage of your donors do you lose after one gift? How about after two gifts? What percentage of your donors are multi-year active givers? This illustration doesn’t show lapsed givers, but what percentage of your list would fit this category? How can you engage those donors to get them back on the Donor Lifecycle?

Ding! Ding! Ding! Jackpot! This is where the money is. Active cultivation of your current donors. Focusing on what donors who have already shown interest in your organization might need to stay engaged over time — instead of always starting over with someone brand new. See, pretty exciting, huh? I hope lightbulbs are flashing for you now too!

Posted in Culture of Philanthropy, Individual Giving, Learning Opportunities, Uncategorized

What Every Fundraiser Needs to Know about “Snow Days”

The end of March in Colorado can be very unpredictable. Sometimes it’s 75 degrees, and sometimes we get over a foot of snow. Sometimes those two things happen back to back! As I sit here to write this blog post, my kids are home from school because they have a “snow day.” I put that in quotes, because this is the view in my back yard:

Ummm…so where is the snow? Good question. Sometime early this morning, when it was snowing, a committee in our district decided to make it snow day. It looked like the storm was going to get much worse in a short amount of time. But Colorado fooled them again, and the weather got better instead.

So what does any of that have to do with fundraising? It made me think about an organization that makes a quick decision about fundraising based only on how things “look” at the time. Sometimes such a decision is made without really considering previous trends or other possibilities.

I’ve seen organizations decide to stop doing a fundraising tactic because it isn’t improving, without questioning why it isn’t working. I’ve seen organizations ask board members or volunteers to help with fundraising, but then quickly give up at the first sign of bad weather.

Before you decide to call it a snow day, is there a chance the storm is about to let up and the sun will come out? Consider these things:
– Are we doing the same things we’ve always done but we’re expecting different results?
– Are we assuming we know the reason something isn’t working, but we don’t actually know? For example, we assume our board members aren’t reaching out to their networks because they are lazy, but in reality, they don’t feel like they have enough information to reach out with confidence.
– Are we panicking when fundraising income takes a downturn and assuming it will keep getting worse instead of thinking about the other actions we can take?
– Have you asked yourself “what is the strategic purpose of this fundraising tactic?” Are you trying to acquire new donors? Do you need a way to improve donor retention? Are you looking for a way to upgrade existing donors?

Sometimes taking a minute to slow down can keep you from making a knee jerk decision that you’ll regret. And hey, if you DID make a decision you regret, focus on what you can learn from that decision instead of beating yourself up for it. And ask others for help when you need it. Sometimes an outside perspective can be exactly what you need most.

Posted in Fundraising Mistakes, Learning Opportunities