Q: We have some new members of our sustainable funding team who we want to become solicitors/cultivators of our existing donors. How do I pass a donor relationship to someone who doesn't know that donor yet? I have way more people than I can cultivate but I'm the only one in the organization that currently has a relationship with them.
Malaika in California
A: Once an organization using the Benevon Model has launched their Multiple-Year Giving Society (donors who make commitments of at least $1,000 a year for five years), they will need to carefully evaluate the appropriate staff resources needed to sustain their cultivation and donor engagement efforts. We say that one full-time person who does nothing but donor cultivation could be accountable for managing about 200 relationships annually.
The primary "cultivator" must have a minimum of two personal contacts annually with each donor in your Multiple-Year Giving Society that they are responsible for cultivating. A personal cultivation contact means one-on-one, face to face, or a full telephone conversation where a true dialog takes place.
Once you have identified the major gifts staff or key volunteers who are committed to building a long-term relationship with each donor, you need to have a three-way meeting to transition your relationship to the new cultivator. Of course, you will brief the new development person on each donor's background in great detail. (Hopefully, you will have put detailed notes in your database to refer to!) The first contact is to introduce the donor to this team member. This can be done by phone but would best be done face to face.
In the first meeting, you want to assure the donor that the new cultivator has your trust and confidence and that they are in regular contact with you. Have the team member share a little about themselves, including why they are so passionate about your mission. Prepare some questions for them to ask of the donor as well. Tell the donor that this person will be helping to keep them in the loop on all that you are doing. Stress that you aren't going away!
Another good way to transition donor relationships is by having a small-group "CEO Golden Hour" where you invite four or five major donors to your office to share updates and challenges you're having and ask for their input, or themed sessions about new programs you've taken on. Give your new cultivator a prominent role in those small group meetings and let the donors know that you've asked this person to follow up with each of them to get their feedback.
It may take more than one meeting to "pass-off" the relationship comfortably, but if you are intentional about which donors you want to keep and which to transition, and if you are confident that the new cultivators are capable of building relationships, you should be able to do this systematically over a period of six to twelve months.
Q: How do you come up with enough different speakers that inspire? Sometimes that's the hardest part!
Margo in North Carolina
A: In addition to being sizzling, it is critical that your Point of Entry is sustainable for your organization to do twice per month! Having the right mix of stories and speakers, as well as back-up options, is essential.
In addition to the Ambassador who has filled and is hosting the Point of Entry, the Visionary Leader (executive director or CEO) and the tour guide (the development director or other staff), the Point of Entry will require between two to four additional stories and/or speakers.
Each tour stop at the Point of Entry includes a story about one life that has been changed by your organization. This story must be told from the first-person perspective through one of three mediums:
To gather great stories, go to program staff, your volunteer coordinator, or anyone else who is on the “front lines” of your mission. Perhaps there have been clients or families who have said they’d love to give back or help in any way they can. Or grateful volunteers who share their passion for your work with everyone they know.
Once you have identified possible stories, work with them on crafting a great, concise account of their experience. Sometimes it’s best to start with an interview to tease out the key elements before putting pen to paper.
Before you begin, give everyone time to practice their delivery and eventually have them move away from notes or cue cards. That will bring a level of authenticity and emotion to your Point of Entry that is key to success with the Benevon Model.
Q: What's different about the second edition of the book? Do I really need it if I already have the first edition?
Deborah in Minnesota
A: I'm very excited about the release of my new, second edition of The Benevon Model for Sustainable Funding: A Step-by-Step Guide to Getting it Right!
Since the first edition of the book was released in 2012, a lot has changed about the way we teach the Benevon Model.
While the terms and processes will seem familiar, we have significantly changed the way we teach many of the practices, tightened up the metrics, and simplified many of the steps, based on the extensive data we track on all of the groups we work with. We have modified many of our benchmarks, formulas, and checklists. In the past year alone, for example, we've tightened up the way we teach how to fill your Point of Entry Events. Every Point of Entry must be hosted and filled by a volunteer "Ambassador." Every Table Captain at the Ask Event must have been an Ambassador and hosted and filled at least one Point of Entry Event in the prior twelve months.
We've modified and updated job descriptions for the Team Leader, Ambassador, and Table Captain. We've developed a whole new way of talking to your board about the Benevon Model to have them understand that this is about engagement, more than fundraising.
All of that is reflected in this new edition.
While the words "second edition" may suggest just a new printing of the same book with a few minor changes, nearly every page of the first edition has been altered in some way to reflect our current teachings, up-to-date metrics, and easy-to-follow scripts, templates, checklists, rules, and formulas.
As I said on the inside flap of the book cover, "While this will not take the place of working with Benevon directly, if you are willing to take on and carefully follow the tried and tested directions here, you will avoid the biggest mistakes of self-implementation, and you will be rewarded with a breakthrough in sustainable funding for your favorite nonprofit organization."
Order your copy of The Benevon Model for Sustainable Funding: A Step-by-Step Guide to Getting it Right, Second Edition, today!
Q: I am contacting you to see if there is a suggested agenda for the “CEO Golden Hours” event you have mentioned in your materials. We would like to learn more about this event and how you recommend integrating it into the overall model.
Tina in Tennessee
A: The purpose of the CEO Golden Hour is to use your busy CEO or executive director's time wisely to connect personally with the donors in your Multiple-Year Giving Society. If your busy CEO can carve out just one hour a week for donor cultivation, you can maximize that time to reach as many donors with quality contacts as possible.
Donor cultivation is an essential piece of the Benevon Model. If you have already been through your first year of the model, you have launched your Multiple-Year Giving Society, where donors have pledged to give at least $1,000 for five years. The value of the five-year commitment is not simply financial—it's an opportunity to build and deepen your relationship with those donors over the course of their pledge.
We say that it takes a minimum of two personal cultivation contacts annually to do this, and that one of these contacts should be from your CEO or executive director.
While there are three options for how to use that hour, including scheduled one-on-one donor meetings or phone calls to donors, the most popular use of the CEO Golden Hour is the small group meeting with five to seven donors, the CEO, and a board member.
The development director calls each donor to personally invite them to attend a casual yet intimate box-lunch event where the CEO shares key updates with a group of five to seven multi-year donors. The program begins with brief introductions, followed by the CEO giving a few updates on things she is most excited about, as well as a few challenges. She shares the next big vision/dream for the organization, allowing plenty of time for dialogue amongst the group of donors.
Some groups organize this event around a meal, others simply provide coffee and light refreshments.
Many of the CEOs we work with host these right in their office, although you may want to consider what will be most convenient for your donors, time-wise and location-wise.
After the event, be sure you have a plan for following up with donors who were there, including taking any next steps around ideas they shared or questions they asked at the meeting.
Tags: Benevon, CEO Golden Hours, cultivation, dialogue, donors, Fund raising, Fundraising, non profit, nonprofit, Tennessee
Q: Can you have your Ask Event onsite? We are a school and we were wondering if we could use our gym as a way to save money. This is our second Ask Event; the first we did at a hotel.
Sandra in Oklahoma
A: Generally, we do not suggest having your Ask Event onsite. Most organizations are not set up for this type of an event. You'll need to consider everything from location and parking to the logistics of having a plated meal, round tables for ten people, appropriate A/V to play the video, and the ability to darken the room, to name a few specifics that can present challenges. We find that to make your facility work, you will likely end up spending quite a bit on rentals (tables, chairs, A/V, stage risers, etc.), so it may not be that much less expensive when it's all said and done.
Even if you do have the perfect set-up, there are other impacts to consider. While most of your guests should have already attended your Point of Entry Event prior to coming to the Ask Event, you will have new people at the Ask Event that have never been to a Point of Entry. If they have already been to the school for the Ask Event, it could be harder to get those people back in the door for a Point of Entry.
We find it best to keep the Ask Event offsite at a hotel or similar space, and use the school for the Point of Entry and subsequent cultivation events where donors are coming back in to see the impact of their financial support on your mission.
One way to alleviate the cost of putting on the Ask Event offsite is to find a few sponsors to underwrite the event. Consider vendors and other past corporate supporters in addition to individual donors who may have connections to these types of businesses. Take them through the process like you would an individual: have them experience a Point of Entry and receive a follow-up call and subsequent engagement based on their areas of interest.
Once you are at the point of recruiting them as sponsors, be sure to tell them the impact of having this event underwritten so that all of the funds raised at the event can go directly to supporting your students.
Offer them several options for recognition and let them choose the one that is most appealing to them. Make it a win-win for all of you.
Q: I'm new to an organization that has been using the Benevon Model for several years. I notice that our Ask Event has generated many unpaid pledges (more than 10% each year).
I can see that follow-up calls have been made after the event and reminder letters sent, but some pledges never receive a single payment.
Is this common? Is there a standard rate of non-payment that we should anticipate?
Meme in New York
A: We expect a 90-95% pay-off rate for donors in the Multiple-Year Giving Society (a minimum commitment of $1,000 pledged for five years).
This presumes several things have happened once the donor makes the pledge.
These key cultivation steps should ensure people are fulfilling their pledges. If you aren’t following these steps, I’d encourage you to get back on track before you lose more of these donors.
If you are doing all of this and someone is still not making their pledge payments, make a personal phone call saying that it seems something may have changed in their life circumstances that might be preventing them from fulfilling the pledge. Tell them you’d love to connect and see if there’s another way they want to support the mission and to get an update. If you don’t hear back, make one more contact saying you won’t follow up again, and then consider the pledge “defaulted” and write it off for that year.
Posted at 08:12 AM in Ambassadors, Applying the Model, Ask Event, Benevon Model, Cultivate, Follow up, Free Feel-Good Cultivation Event, Fundraising, Giving Levels, Giving Society, Mission, Multiple-year Giving Society, Personal cultivation, Pledge card, Sustainable Fundraising, Table captains | Permalink | Comments (0)
Tags: Ask Event, Benevon, benevon model, Fund raising, Fundraising, New York, non profit, nonprofit, pledge payoff, pledges, unpaid pledges
Q: I work for a small nonprofit (which is part of a national CASA organization) that is attempting to follow your model. We have been hosting a gala dinner (our major annual fundraiser) where we invite specific people to come. We provide a dinner (which costs us $25 per person), plus a basket raffle, open bar, games, etc. We don't sell tickets or charge to come. We net about $5,000 (not counting paid staff time).
We hope that people will cover the cost of their meal plus make a donation. Some do and some don't. Last year we had 150 guests attend the event. We are trying to figure out if it's best to keep it an invite-only, no-charge event or to charge a fee to make sure we cover our costs. If we charge we can also advertise it to the general public and hopefully gain more guests.
According to your model, how should we handle this: charge or no charge? Also, is it in line with your model to ever charge for anything?
Lori in Pennsylvania
A: The Benevon Model does not include any special event-type fundraisers. If you are wanting to utilize the Benevon Model fully and achieve the types of results you have read about in the book and on our website, your organization will need to fully adopt the process, without deviating.
Many groups have an existing fundraiser, like your gala, when they prepare to adopt the Benevon Model. You will need to decide if you keep that fundraiser while you adopt this new process or if you phase out your existing event and focus just on the Benevon Model. The biggest consideration in making that decision is ROI from the existing fundraiser in comparison to expected ROI with the model. Adopting the Benevon Model will also take staff resources, so that will be an important factor in your planning as well.
To achieve maximum results, you will need to stick to the model just as prescribed:
Assuming those metrics have been met, we see an average of $200,000 raised at the first Ask Event, with a minimum of 10% of the attendees joining the Multiple-Year Giving Society (a minimum commitment of $1,000 for five years).
We don't have any recommendations on how to improve your gala, but would encourage you to consider what would be possible if the same time and energy that goes into planning the gala, collecting the auction items, etc. could be dedicated to meeting the metrics above!
Posted at 08:10 AM in Applying the Model, Ask Event, Benevon Model, Converting events, Food and Drink, Fundraising, Mission, Multiple-year Giving Society, Point of Entry, Sustainable Fundraising | Permalink | Comments (0)
Tags: Benevon, benevon model, Fund raising, Fundraising, Fundraising, gala, non profit, nonprofit, Pennsylvania, special events
Q: I work for a domestic violence organization and we are interested in using the Benevon Model.
One of the things our board has been hung up on is the concern for confidentiality in sharing stories about clients and former clients at the Point of Entry.
I'm sure you have seen this with other organizations, and I would love any ideas you can suggest on how to be effective with the model while still honoring the need for confidentiality.
Sara in Georgia
A: The Benevon Model has been very effective for many domestic violence organizations and other nonprofits who have a need for confidentiality.
Even for organizations without confidentiality issues, finding great stories that highlight the impact of your programs and services can be tricky.
Below are the tried and true strategies that we have found are most effective for any organization working to create a sizzling Point of Entry, including those who must maintain client confidentiality.
Posted at 08:19 AM in Applying the Model, Benevon Model, Confidentiality, Domestic Violence, Human Services, Mission, Point of Entry, Point of Entry in a Box, Staff, Stories, Sustainable Fundraising | Permalink | Comments (0)
Tags: Ask Event, Benevon, Benevon model, confidentiality, domestic violence, Fund raising, Fundraising, Fundraising, Georgia, non profit, nonprofit, stories
Q: What's a good target for the number of people you actually reach on the follow-up calls?
Mary in Wisconsin
A: We assume that you will bless and release about 50% of the attendees following each Point of Entry. Some of those people will be individuals that you have talked to on the follow-up call who say that they are not interested in getting more involved with your organization.
Also included in that 50% are the people that you never connect with. We suggest that you start by making a phone call to each guest two to three days following the Point of Entry.
If you don't reach a guest, leave a message and then immediately follow up with an email. It may be easier for the person to respond via email, where they can suggest a better time to reach them.
Wait another two to three days and if you still haven't heard back via phone or email, make one final phone call and then bless and release.