How to Rally the Program People
I was so impressed with the way my colleague Sharon Kerr, who works for The Salvation Army in California, organizes and rallies her program people that I had to pass it on to you to copy and use, with her permission.
Here is what she does:
- She writes and tells them it’s time to gather information for her Summer Donor Report. This is done nicely, but notice there is no negotiation. It’s time. And it will be done. Love it.
- She makes it easy for them to respond by giving options, like talking to her assistant or sending their responses in an email. Easy.
- It gets better when she specifically tells them what she wants. And it’s not only the statistics on what has been done, but pictures, stories, newspaper clippings and event info. Yes!
- She offers to communicate news about them to donors in their areas. (The Salvation Army connects officers and program people to local donors and often these people move.) The point is that she is taking care of relationships any program person may have with the donor.
- She asks for any special sponsorship opportunities—situations she can pass on to donors.
- There is a an added incentive to cooperate when Sharon tells them that the public relations department, the direct-marketing agency and others in headquarters will see and use the information. Goodness, you don’t wanna be left out!
- And then, there’s the deadline—June 14. Don’t be late! And she makes a promise that adds a little pressure—she will visit donors in their areas on July 1. Goodness. Gotta get moving!
Sharon gets a pretty good response to this.
Why? Because it is directive, specific and time-limited, and it implies that you will be left out if you don’t participate. You don’t want to be seen as a non-participant. But even if that is not her intended message, the main point is that Sharon is rallying the program people.
Here is what her email said—I am putting it in this post so you can see how she executed her idea. She won’t mind if you copy it:
I know it feels like we just did this, but it’s time again for me to start gathering information for my Summer Donor Report! Once again, I will be visiting all your major donors with report in hand so I will need the following information from you:
Just like the Winter Report, please feel free to get me the information whichever way is easiest for you. You may call [her assistant] at [telephone number] and give her the information on the phone, you may gather it all up and send [a] huge email, or you may send it piecemeal. Those of you who responded to my request for camp stories are ahead of the game—you may cross those off your list (extra brownie points for you!).
Here’s what I need—
- Monthly stats for all your programs for January through May. I’m going to create a monthly average, so if an average number is easiest for you, please send that.
- Pictures of program participants, emergency service responses, etc. If you have posted pictures on Facebook, please give us a heads-up.
- Stories of how your programs had an impact on lives. This is easier than you think. Don’t worry about making it fancy or pretty—notes are fine. We can create a story from notes. For those of you with severe "blank page-itis," please call [her assistant] and simply tell her the story. She’s really good at putting a story down on paper. 😉
- Any newspaper mentions or clippings. If you have the actual story, great. If not, simply send us the name of the publication and the date (or approximate date)—we’ll find it.
- Any special events that have happened during this time or are about to happen—emergency responses, new buildings, etc. Please also let me know what your expected summer programs are going to look like—how many kids are going to camp, summer day camp, special events for clients, special volunteer opportunities, etc.
For those of you [who] are moving—I am happy to include a short personal note from you to your donors before you leave. (I’ll need either the actual letter or a scan of your letter with signature.) Your donors think of you as personal friends—even though you may have never met them face to face—and they will appreciate a quick note from you (short is fine).
If you have any special donor sponsorship opportunities, please let me know. (We just sponsored a client’s dental work at the [location].) I don’t always have a match right away, but it’s always good to keep me abreast of these things—especially while I’m out talking with donors. It’s the perfect time for me to bring these opportunities up! It’s really hard to say no to me face to face.
And remember—we are putting your stories into the Evernote folders. (If your access to these folders is not working, please call me.) PR, the agency and others at headquarters all have access to these folders and are using them. If they call you for stories, please direct them to Evernote. There is no need for you to be running around twice looking for stories! (Trying to make things a little more efficient!)
I need all of this by June 14—I plan to be out visiting your donors starting July 1!!
Thank you! We look forward to hearing from you!
Sharon is one of the better major gift officers I have seen who stays in touch with her program people. She gets a lot of help from them by treating them with respect, showing them how their help translates into funds for their programs and asking them for specific information by specific deadlines.
Try a version of this with your program people.
If you’re hanging with Richard it won’t be long before you’ll be laughing.
He always finds something funny in everything. But when the conversation is about people, their money and giving, you’ll find a deeply caring counselor who helps donors fulfill their passions and interests. Richard believes that successful major-gift fundraising is not fundamentally about securing revenue for good causes. Instead it is about helping donors express who they are through their giving. The Connections blog will provide practical information on how to do this successfully. Richard has more than 30 years of nonprofit leadership and fundraising experience, and is founding partner of the Veritus Group.