Ep 117 | Using Tech to Turn Donors into Major Givers with Anne Murphy

I think that it was a really safe bet before to really rely on one to one in person relationship building, cultivation, solicitation and stewardship. I think that was a totally fine approach. And now, in part due to the pandemic, I don't think it's a fine approach anymore in that our jobs are to advance the missions of our organizations, and sometimes that's going to mean changing our business processes. It's going to mean changing our mindset. It's going to mean training and development, getting better, getting comfortable with new tools. – Anne Murphy

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There has been a lot of buzz surrounding how tech and automation can make things feel personal, impersonal, or non-personal. In this episode, I speak to Anne Murphy about using technology to convert donors into major givers.

What You'll Learn:

  • Engaging with our donors 
  • How Anne Murphy got into working in the nonprofits space
  • Using the model of forthright diplomacy

Want to jump ahead? Look at these key takeaways:

[03: 26] Anne’s story. Anne got into the non-profit space early in her career while doing her internship after having a mentor that encouraged her to read and find out why donors give.
[14:43] The Secret Sauce in Anne’s Digital Outreach. Profound engagement at scale.
[24:55] Determining the flow of messages sent to donors. There are 7-9 steps involved, starting with the most basic sequence to identify those to go to.
[29:28] A model of forthright diplomacy versus opaque messages. Donors are more receptive to being very open. 
[36:38] What about Episode 111? How to set up your metrics and where to begin to start with tracking data.
[45: 31] Anne’s one-stop-shop. 


Episode 111 | Where to Start with Tracking Data with Chris Mercer
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Anne Murphy

Anne Murphy

Sr. Director of the Division of Business and Engineering at Oregon State University Foundation

Anne Murphy, Sr. Director of the Division of Business and Engineering at Oregon State University Foundation, is a leader in higher education advancement, having begun her journey as a development intern and mentee 25 years ago. She is also the founder of Fundraise Without Fear, working with nonprofit founders, leaders, and volunteers who know they need to fundraise but don't know where to start. She's an avid backpacker, traveling the world to find the best trails, vistas, and waterfalls. She lives in Oregon with her two teens, husband, and the people in charge: her two dogs. Learn more https://courses.annemurphysolutions.com/guide

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Full Transcript

[Sami Bedell-Mulhern] Hey, welcome to another episode of the digital marketing therapy podcast, your host here Sami. So excited to be with you today to talk about, you know how to kind of pull things through during post-COVID. So how could we take a look at how we are engaging with our donors? And how are we turning these one-on-one conversations into one to many conversations and still kind of cultivating them and pulling them through. I know I get a lot of conversations about how tech and automation can make things feel personal, impersonal, non-personal. 

And so I'm excited to have Anne Murphy here to share with us some of her experience and how they've kind of taken this conversation created automation and still continue to build their major gift campaign and is an advancement leader with 25 years of experience in higher education and community fundraising. Through at least 10,000 conversations with donors and working with fundraising staff and volunteers, she has developed a keen understanding of the mindset of those who give and those who ask. She leads groups and individuals toward effective philanthropy currently serving as a Senior Director of Development for the OSU division of business and engineering. 

That's Oregon State University for those of you who might not, or might have multiple different OSU in your world. I'm the founder of fundraising without fear and coaches, nonprofit leaders, and volunteers, ready to change the world by fundraising for organizations that advance social justice. She is known as an authentic leader and a gifted fundraiser. We have such an amazing conversation all around her real-life experience working for a new university and how they kind of pivoted and changed and how they talked with their team about working through ways to build out their fundraising strategies, things that they've stayed true to things that have changed. And so I think you'll really enjoy this conversation no matter what stage of growth you are in in your organization. 

Before we get to it, this episode is brought to you by our Patreon patrons. This is a new program that we've just launched, and we're so excited about it. So head on over to thefirstclick.net/patreon. And check out some of the amazing incredible benefits that you get if you join us inside of there. We have specific exclusive Patreon member-only things that you can get from Digital worksheets to consulting time, all the things so go check out the options and see which might be best for you and your stage of growth within your organization. And just within your journey as a fundraiser. Again, that's thefirstclick.net/patreon. We are doing some exclusive fun goodies for those folks that join us early so make sure you check it out. 

[CANNED INTRO] You're listening to the digital marketing therapy podcast. I'm your host, Sammy del Mulhern. And each week, I bring you tips from myself and other experts, as well as hot seats with small business owners and entrepreneurs to demystify digital marketing and get you on your way to generating more leads and growing your business. I am thank you so much for joining me on today's episode of digital marketing therapy.

[Anne Murphy] Thank you so much for having me, Sammy, I'm really looking forward to the conversation. 

[Sami Bedell-Mulhern] Yeah, it's gonna be super exciting too. But before we kind of kick into the conversation about cultivating donors in a digital age, would you just share with us a little bit more about your story and how you got into working in the nonprofit space?

[Anne Murphy] Sure. Delighted to so I'm one of the few people who actually got into the advancement space. Early in my career, I had an internship and I had a fantastic mentor who just brought me into her office and said, this was back in the day before we all used and lived and breathed CRMs. And she just directed me to the file cabinets and said, start reading figure out why these donors give you know what's their backstory and started thinking about what we can do with them next, I was like, I don't know 21 I mean, I knew nothing but I became indoctrinated in and fascinated with understanding why donors make gifts, and how they can do that in ways that advance the missions of nonprofits that they love. 

So I got into it when I was really you know, young and have just come up and been raised by amazing leaders in our field. So over the course of 25 years now I've done all the things you know, I have my experience and advancement is for sure a mile wide and there are areas of it where it's also a mile deep. And what I'm doing with my life right now is in addition to leading a large team in a campaign at OSU, Oregon State University Foundation. Also, I decided that all of that learning and mentoring and at least 10,000 conversations with donors and dozens of staff members, I realized that I can have a great impact on potentially a global scale, advancing social change, bringing all of that now out into the broader nonprofit sector. 

And so now I'm working with executive directors, leaders and volunteers, for nonprofits they love or that they lead to help them get comfortable with fundraising and develop the skill set. So I've been working with small to mid-sized nonprofits, one on one, and in some group settings, especially with training boards, to help bring everybody up, because I firmly believe that the world needs more fundraisers. And we could talk about that a little bit later. But that's, that's, you know, what I'm up to, and I'm so happy to connect with your audience. I would love to continue the conversation afterward.

[Sami Bedell-Mulhern] Yeah, and fundraising, I think sometimes can feel a little bit, you know, there's the tried and true methods that everybody goes through. But then there's also new things that are coming out. And it can sometimes feel difficult to find that balance between like, where, how far one way do we go? Or do we keep staying the course? Or how do we kind of evolve? And so in your 25 years of experience, you know, I'm curious kind of how you've seen that evolution, grow more into bringing people in, in the digital space, but then also how that kind of exploded in the last, you know, year and a half? Yeah, and COVID kind of turn things upside down?

 [Anne Murphy] Oh, my gosh, it's such a good question. And as, as you mentioned, the last year and a half has really taken things from I don't want to say zero to 60. But let's say 15 to 60? Um, I would say I would answer the question in two sections. One is what it was like before, and the other is where we are right now from, from my point of view, in my experiences. I think that it was a really safe bet before to really rely on one to one in person, relationship building, cultivation, solicitation and stewardship, I think that was a totally fine approach. And now, in part due to the pandemic, I don't think it's a fine approach anymore, in that our jobs are to advance the missions of our organizations. 

And sometimes that's going to mean changing our business processes, it's going to change, it's going to mean changing our mindset, it's going to mean training and development getting better and getting comfortable with new tools. And so you know, taking people from the frame of mind where the old way was working just fine, thank you very much, is a journey to get to the point where people, you know, when they wake up in the morning, the first thing they do is not, you know, send an email to one donor, but it's to go into their, you know, sales management technology platform and figure out what automations are going out that day. That is a big shift, and some nonprofit leaders and employees are going to take to it naturally. And we've seen that, and some folks are going to it's going to be a little bit more of a slog for them. And so much of that has to do with mindset.

[Sami Bedell-Mulhern] Yeah, I agree with that 100%. It is scary to kind of change the way that things have been done, because you've tested them, you know, what works, you know, what your close rate is when you one on one with a donor, but when you're kind of going into more of an abstract digital space or an automation space, it can feel like you're not actually making personal connections, and you don't know what kind of that you know, quote unquote, close rate is. 

So do you have any kind of mindset or like thought, things or ways that people can talk to leadership or whatever, if they're, they're like, okay, let's just dip our toe in this, like, let's just start to think about how we can reach out to people on social media or how we can kind of start to because we're really talking about a traditional sales funnel here. And applying a for profit sales funnel into the nonprofit space, which sometimes gets a little bit hairy. So kind of how have you seen people make that shift? And what tips would you have for people that are in organizations that are hesitant to make some of that shift? 

[Anne Murphy] Absolutely. It's a great question. So I think like so many things, identifying the people who are most willing and the greatest ambassadors right up front is important. I really have found that if you're trying to put a square around a square peg in a round hole with technology adoption, it's, it's, it's going to be a little bit of a rocky road. So one of the things that I've seen be successful is, I looked at the people who were already good at technology, right? 

So the people who are still maybe uncomfortable with the database, or maybe uncomfortable with, you know, they are the ones who are reaching out to ask like, how do you? How do you sort an Excel spreadsheet, or you know, other of those kinds of seemingly minor technology kinds of challenges. Those aren't the ideal ambassadors right off the bat, if there are people who've been coming to you and saying, gosh, there's got to be a better, better way to do this. Like, you know, I'm, I've got my spreadsheets, I've got my post it notes, I've got my email files, files, I've got my CRM, and I just, it just seems like it's too cumbersome. 

And, and that in this day and age, we must have a better way to do it. Those are your go-to people because as you suggest, new, you know, ways of doing business, you're going to need those early wins. And then I think the next step after that is to propose a pilot project. And I will share that when we launched the implementation of sales enablement technology, what we learned is that initially, the impression was like, why are we doing this? Who would want to do this? Why would anyone want to do it? I mean, it was a real paradigm shift. And but as soon as we had some of those success stories under our belt, people started to perk up, you know, they're like, Oh, this is working. 

And one of the ways that we proved that out so beautifully was when we all went to work from home at the outset of COVID. Some of the numbers did take a little bit of a dip, whether it was the substantive contacts or the open proposals. So for major gift officers, there was a bit of a, just, you know, a bit of a pause there as we all got acclimated. And as we convinced our donors, that zoom is a wonderful technology. And that, you know, not only would they benefit from meeting with us, but they can also do yoga online and see their grandkids online and go to church online, and all that kind of stuff. 

So, but what happened was, while we major gift officers kind of treaded water a bit, the folks who the three people who were in our digital experience, Officer space, very just kept on trucking. So their metrics improved at the beginning, while they are at the beginning of, you know, work from home, while the major gift officers kind of plateaued for a bit. So once we had those success stories under our belt, and we had data to support it, it was an easier sell to say, okay, we started with three people. Now let's go to 15. 

Right now, we're in the mode where we're, you know, we're piloting the 15 or so people. And we're adding people at each level of the organization into it. So it's been a very incremental approach. I will say that going from three people to 15 itself in a, we're only 175 employees to begin with. And we have, I don't know, probably 50 frontline fundraisers. So going from three to 15 itself was a leap, because it's a much different scale for coaching, and problem-solving. But that I hope that's helpful Sammy, that would be my description of how we got to where we are right now. 

[Sami Bedell-Mulhern]  Well, and then I'm curious, too, because you mentioned, you know, at the beginning, you got the quick wins, you know, with a major gift officers were struggling a little bit more. So kind of what pivots or changes have you guys made to continue to pull people through because that's a common thing we hear is, well, you know, the digital space is a, you know, impersonal, we can't actually make connections. There's like a great way to kind of pull people still all the way through, even though you're not starting the initial conversation with a one on one conversation. So how did that kind of evolve for you?

[Anne Murphy] Oh, it's been so awesome. So the power of video shouldn't be underestimated.

So glad you said that. Yeah. So the key that, you know, the secret sauce in our digital outreach to donors has been really I mean, the perspective is profound engagement at scale. So everything we do is About customization and about a profound engagement. And then it's how do we do that at scale? So we begin the arc AR outreach cadences, you know, like we would, let's say we're, you know, development officers traveling to the Bay Area, they would have, you know, whatever 50 or 60, people who they're going to start sending outlook emails to and asking them if they can meet. Well, we put that into a cadence and automation that begins with a video introducing the staff member, very warm, friendly, not to prove it's particularly polished that we've just determined, we did AV testing and determined that the videos that were authentic did the best. 

[Sami Bedell-Mulhern] And they're easier to do. 

[Anne Murphy] Oh, my God, so much easier to do. And all of us were on a massive learning curve, I had never put myself on video before and wouldn't have even dreamed of sending it to a donor. And I will lie, it took me I don't know, maybe like 85 takes for my first video. I mean, it was ridiculous. But eventually, I developed a confidence level with making the videos as have the other people in the program. So we start with a video. And we ask the person, we put our calendly link in there, and we ask the person to book a meeting with us if they're interested. 

Or, you know, we say there's a, there is one cadence that's like, Hey, you might not want to pick up the phone and have a conversation, you might not want to have another meeting on your calendar, here's the link below for our Giving Day, hop on there, you know, and then you kind of like, it's, it's kind of like a you don't have to talk to me kind of a thing. So we kick it off with it's very personalized. And each one of the emails that go out in our automation can be customized. So it actually forces each message is forced to us to review and we can edit it before we send it. 

So folks who worry about it being impersonal, I wish that there was just a switch, I could flip somewhere to convince people that it's not impersonal, it's way more personal than an Outlook email. And then when you can see how somebody interacted with your email message, that is everything. So then, you know, they opened it. They watched the video, they clicked on the calendly. But they didn't schedule. So maybe I should move. Maybe I should just call them right now. You know, or they're never opening my emails. Maybe this is not an email message they use.

[Sami Bedell-Mulhern] So, what software do you guys use to manage that for you guys?

[Anne Murphy] We are in a partnership with ever true and sales loft. So sales loft is our application for all of our cadences and automations. And then ever true is, you know, all the other things, it doesn't replace our CRM, but it certainly has a lot of nice features that make it really easy to do the work ahead of time to get your lists together. 

[Sami Bedell-Mulhern] What I really want to make sure we call out is that yes, like OSU is a huge organization, you have a lot of team members. But what if you're a small team and you're listening to this, really think about it because they added 15 team members right to do the work. And so at scale, they needed them, you guys needed that many people. But if you're a smaller shop, you can still execute and do the same amount of things. Oh, yeah. Don't be feeling like, well, we can't do this, because we're not a huge college organization. Because I don't want that to be the thing that's in people's heads because it's so not the case, like you guys scaled up and ramped up and changed your systems to support this in any organization that can do that at any size.

[Anne Murphy] Absolutely. And I don't want anyone to walk away thinking that you have to have this massive contract with a big company, because you could do this, you can absolutely do this with ConvertKit, or you know any of this of the automation software, your programs, you could totally do this and you can set up it's just kind of like the notion of development officer or advancement professional, integrating more of a marketing component into their standard operating procedures. 

So I think development officers don't always think of themselves or executive directors or nonprofit leaders. They don't always think of themselves as like a one-person marketing machine. Because we oftentimes have marketing departments or a marketing colleague who's brilliant, but in fact where we are right now in our society is you've got to market yourself. You know, we now know more than ever, that people give to people right? 

They do need to know, like and trust you, there's no way around it, none of us are going to be able to rely on the reputation of our institutions, as good as those are. And as passionate as we are about them. It really is about, you know, as development officers, the fact of the matter is the donor doesn't show up at your organization with a bag of money. Why on you, you know, your role is to let them know, what the projects are, how much the gift needs to be in order to accomplish XYZ, how to structure the gift, what's the right timing, so getting yourself out, there is part of your job. Now, it's not for somebody else to do, and you hope for the best. 

That's my like soapbox, Sami, on how the world has changed now. So the directors of development are awesome marketers, and they're marketing themselves. 

[Sami Bedell-Mulhern] Well, and I have to piggyback on that, because I agree with you, the statement that I make quite often is you're not special, your organization is not special. That's tough love. Yeah, you do great work. And we need you to continue to do great work, but you have to start talking to people as people and not from your own like, well, we do all this amazing stuff, why would you not want to give to us, just to your point, they're not showing up, but bags of money they can give, if you're a conservation organization, or you help, you know, kids get meals, or you help with whatever, there's so many great organizations that are doing the same work. 

So it's about how do you make those personal connections and make people feel special, and make them feel like they understand exactly where your money is going and how their money is making an impact. That's what I feel makes kind of the difference. And there's so many ways that you can do that in the digital space. And to your point, going back to your the emails are going out, we have this whole drip campaign for when people you know, or officers or go or development officers are going out to meet with people, that little piece of personalization, but the automation to where you don't have to go through and figure out exactly what you're going to do, it gets fed to you, and then you just clean it up and send it it's such a time saver.

[Anne Murphy] It's a time saver. And also what we've learned, and I think this is, this is one of the most important things for organizations with relatively small donor and potential donor bases. The thing that we've learned, that I think is the most impactful to our bottom line long term, is that when we have these automations set up, you remove that guesswork of did the people actually get qualified thoroughly. So it's like, you know, someone can go to San Francisco and send a couple of messages to somebody kind of warming them up a bit, but then the donor potential donor doesn't get any more outreach, because the trip is over. Or, you know, maybe they hear back from us from a particular development officer in another six to eight to 10 months. 

Whereas when that stuff is organized, and you know is pushed out to a deal, a Director of Development, what happens is, they do the entire sequence. So then we know that that person has had, you know, they've gotten their LinkedIn in mail, or you know, we found them on LinkedIn, they've gotten their email, they've gotten their phone call, or they've gotten their text, you know, they've done their seven touches, or So over the course of X number of days. And no, at the end of that we can decide, like really intelligently, we can decide, are we keeping this person in a portfolio? 

Or are we putting them out into the ether for a couple of years while they simmer and maybe make some gifts and attend some events, and then we'll bring them back into a portfolio because none of us I think, in this day and age, I don't think that any of the organizations that we work with have the luxury of kind of half-heartedly qualifying or disqualifying a potential donor because we don't have unlimited numbers. Right.

[Sami Bedell-Mulhern] And I kind of want to, I'm hoping maybe you can dive a little bit deeper on what you mentioned, you know, you have seven or so touchpoints over a period of time. And now because you have things you know, tracked more easily, you can make sure that you know, donor x is going through the whole sequence so that you can better qualify. Of those touch points, like how many of those are, and you don't have to be hyper specific, but like, you know, roughly how many are kind of very specific, like let's get together I want to talk to you about an ask versus how many of them are kind of, you know, let's get together. I'd love to update you on what the universities up to versus like, hey, it's been a while Let's catch up like how do you guys kind of determine the flow of those messages?

[Anne Murphy] Such a good question. So we started with some very basic welcome sequences. And you know, they probably have seven to eight to nine steps. And I would say, two thirds of the step, steps apply to each person, like, let's say, we don't have a phone number, well, that part of that cadence gets skipped or if someone's not on LinkedIn, that part of that cadence gets skipped. So we start with a pretty basic sequence. And we identified the right people to go into those. And those were, those are mostly discovery names. Then we created segments, for example, for our Giving Day, I created a cadence that truth be told, so I'm Senior Director development, so I don't have as much capacity to spend on Discovery. Fortunately, it's okay that I don't have a lot of time to spend on discovery because I have other things going on in my portfolio. But I created a sequence for our Giving Day solely to see what I could accomplish without rolling calls, because I knew I wasn't, I could tell myself, I'm gonna call these people. But at the end of the day, I'm not going to call them. And I mean, I'll just be honest, other things are going to come up. And I'm not going to make it to those calls. So I created a short sequence of people who I knew were likely to make gifts on our Giving Day. And if they were asked, but not if they weren't, and so I had on that one, just email, email, I think an email, email phone call. And what was fascinating was, I never even got to the phone call, because everybody responded to my emails. And they did the thing that they were supposed to do, they find that they made their gifts. And so for me as a super crazily busy leader, that is, that is a dream come true. I got my gifts. I got all my guests, I never made a phone call, yes, I spent a little bit of time customizing the emails I'm talking about, like 12 minutes, you know. So that's an example of like a custom cadence we're also working on putting people in this, I think is really cool. And might be the tipping point for some of your listeners is we created cadences for special projects. So an example would be let's say, a department decides they want to do fundraising in honor of somebody, oh, we know that there's a whole bunch of people who are likely because of whatever reason, whatever affiliation they had, are likely to be interested in at least knowing about the opportunity to support this particular initiative. So we created, you know, customized cadences for those initiatives, which allows us to fairly, you know, well to systematically determine who's going to raise their hand for that. And then we can move on to a little bit more sophisticated approach. So it's just separating the wheat from the chaff upfront, instead of the very expensive act of putting a few 100 people onto a call list. Yeah, your gift officer.

[Sami Bedell-Mulhern] No, yeah, that's so true. And, um, I want to make sure that I asked you this, because I think those examples are fantastic. And they're great. The success that you had with the given campaigns, though, like had those people been touched, like, it wasn't like you hadn't touched them in a year, and all of a sudden, you sent them an ask or was it?

[Anne Murphy] Huh? Oh, boy. Gosh, that is such a good question. So we do with let's say, the people who I put into my Giving Day campaign, that was very custom. So I knew who to put in there. I did. I didn't do a data poll. It was like, I know these, you know, 17 people need to hear from John Murphy in order for them to make their different Giving Day. So that was really customized and they were warm, right? 

We do a lot of cold outreach through this. And the first message doesn't ask for a gift necessarily, but we really are moving toward a model of forthright diplomacy. So I'm my team. I no longer advocate for these opaque messages that say, we would really love to hear your thoughts on the XYZ thing. And I realize that this is potentially a controversial perspective on this, but I no longer believe that that's the approach we should take. In this day and age. I find more often that donors are more receptive to us being very open about what our roles are and what we're here to do. I don't believe in fundraising. I only believe in fundraising. 

And I can give a dissertation on that. But I think that for what we development officers do in the world, and executive, you know, directors and leaders at nonprofits as they shift themselves shift their mindset to thinking more and more of themselves as fundraisers, I think it's really important to distinguish the more general kind of reach campaign from a nurture campaign. Yeah, I think that historically, we've kind of done ourselves a disservice by saying, like, hey, there's something we'd like to talk to you about and it's probably more helpful for us than it is for you. 

But could you make time on your calendar, versus you've made gifts to, you know, the organization before, we're incredibly grateful. I'd like to learn more about what motivates your philanthropy, I'd love to share with you the impact of your giving. And there are some neat things going on that, you know, if you're interested, we can chat about as well as know why you're calling. 

[Sami Bedell-Mulhern] Yeah. And I think we're all busy. And so to your point, asking somebody to tell me what they care about is going to take way more thought and effort, then you being upfront and saying, hey, these are the three different areas, you know, we've noticed, you've got to hear this, these are some additional areas that we're, you know, working on some amazing projects on that I think might interest you, I'd love to chat with you about them makes it so much easier, because they can either be like, you know, yeah, those things pique my interest, or No, they don't, but like if they don't, then they don't know, you're just kind of spinning your wheels trying to get somebody to give money to something they don't care about anyway.

[Anne Murphy] Yeah, exactly. I always kind of think of it in terms of, you know, is, are we asking people to participate in an oral history project? When we say, you know, what, you know, what's your relationship? What was it like, and what was it like 50 years ago, and all that kind of stuff. It's like, it's, it's nice information to have. But it does not advance the purpose that we're here for. And there are other people and other reasons to do those kinds of conversations. But for the most part, I think we benefit from being more honest and open. And to your point, if it's not a match, then it's not a match. And we can Yeah,

[Sami Bedell-Mulhern] We say this about email unsubscribes all the time, like, right, they hurt your heart a little bit. But at the same token, it's like, well, that's somebody I'm not paying for. Now, that wasn't gonna donate, to me anyway, who didn't really care about our mission, like just, they choose to leave, like, great, like, I hope you find some other cause that suits you better that you can participate in, that's going to, you know, make you happy. So I kind of want to before we kind of close, I feel like we could talk about this forever, because you and I are on the same page with a lot of this. But I want to make sure that we really talked about it because I love what you said at the beginning. Some of the metrics that you were tracking, weren't necessarily tied to gifts, but were tied to their engagement with your social media, with your emails with your campaigns. And I think that's so great, because I think we get hung up on that, and the potential and we self-select people based off of their initial gifts versus their engagement with us. So I would love for you to maybe talk a little bit more about how you guys came to those as metrics to track and what you've seen from that.

[Anne Murphy] So this is such a timely question. And we're kind of searching our souls over this summer about how does this shift our approach to metrics, whether it's metrics for our staff, and you know, what is, how do we? How do we support them in meeting their goals, right. Or metrics for, you know, resource allocation, or understanding where our donors are on the spectrum. You know, like, there's so many different ways to slice and dice this, the best part is, is that we have better data now, you know, because of these projects, you know, doing it this way, we have this very rich, very, you know, insightful data that we can use to make decisions. So that part is, I think, really huge and it'll be interesting to see you know, in another month or two check back with me to see you know, what decisions have we've been able to make based on data that we've never had before. The other piece, though, I think, to kind of wrap our minds around for All of us is that the notion that we can learn so much about our donors and potential donors by how they interact with our content, like the correlation. So we're launching this machine learning project working with a company called fund metric, and it's going to be a small pilot that will have three development officers in it. And what we're measuring is, you know, how long did the person watch the video, and they've got data on the correlation between how long they watch the video and what they actually end up doing with their philanthropy. And so, you know, looking at those kinds of connections, I just, it's, it seems, it seems crazy to me looking back that we haven't used this data. So I don't know if that answers a question or not. 

[Sami Bedell-Mulhern] But no, it does. Because I feel like, um, I feel like that's something we hear often is that, you know, if we pull people into the digital space, we know nothing about them. And we have no way of determining how to continue to move through. But to your point, if you have this whole automation, or this cadence, or this rhythm, and you can see, well, they've clicked on it, being able to really see Well, okay, they clicked on people that watch this much time of a video and watch this much, or click on this, or read this many emails are open are linked in there, this percentage more likely, I mean, that gets you closer to your traditional kind of close rate, where if I, if I set up X amount of meetings that I'm going to get x amount of, of dollars. And for folks that are kind of like, I have no idea where to start with tracking data. I encourage you to listen to Episode 111, where I talked with Chris Mercer. And he talks about how to set up your metrics, like where to even begin to start with tracking data. So you're getting the information you need, because it can be very overwhelming. So yours might not be quite the same as what Anne's doing. Because your goals might be a little bit different, right? So check out Episode 111. I'll link that up in the show notes. But he gives a great framework for how to start collecting, like where to start collecting data and what questions to ask your organization before you get started. So I love that. And I just really love the fact that you're doing it not based off of initial dollar amount only.

[Anne Murphy] Right? Yeah, it's not based on the initial dollar amount only because it's just, you know, only one indicator. Yeah, and we just don't need to use just one indicator, I'm going to check out that podcast, that sounds really like an interesting episode. But yeah, determining what facts, what data points to look at, I think is really important. And historically, I believe we've leaned on a couple of criteria really heavily, including ratings. If you work for an organization that has, you know, has ratings on donors and potential donors, I think that now more than ever, it's going to be really difficult to rely on those because they're so heavily weighted to property value. And as our donor, our younger donors, you know, begin, you know, coming up on our radar, those ratings are, are pretty unreliable. And so looking at other indicators, I think is really important now, and it doesn't, you know, because once you have the automation set up, it doesn't cost you anything to include them in a cadence, you know, so, no, there's no harm, no harm, no foul if they if they bolt from a cadence, because you know, it was already there for you.

[Sami Bedell-Mulhern] Yeah, well, so a couple key things that I just want to reiterate in case you have some final thoughts on those that I've heard you say that are great tips and tools is number one, set up your automations and your systems to be able to easily put in your face every morning. These are the people that I need to follow up with. So you're not spending time figuring out who those people are. really making sure that you're including the holistic picture of your donor so that you can pull great data through making sure you're touching them multiple times. And then, you know, having those conversations and those processes in place to kind of pull people through so that the whole thing is kind of seamless. And as you switch through to different departments, people know where to pick up, pick up where you left off. Yep. 

[Anne Murphy] There are two little things that I would add to that, that I probably should have woven in earlier. One is that it's really important. Let's assume that your leadership group or you are the leadership group, has already decided that yes, this is a priority for our organization. It is really important that messaging trickles down to the people who are going to be using the technology, especially because this is so new. And development officers are, you know, rightly skeptical about a donor potential donor list. So we need to help them get over That hump by ensuring that they understand that this thing that they're learning to do, actually does filter up to the mission of the organization. And that, you know, the CEO, or the executive director or the president, the board, whatever is in their corner, and also expecting them to do this. So that's one piece, I would say, is really critical as for folks who are using the technology, because they're often going to be the earlier career folks who don't, they're sitting in leadership team meetings going, Yeah, we want to invest, you know, half a million dollars into this, you know, they're sitting there going, you know, how am I going to become an Associate Director instead of an assistant director. So, there's that there's a supportive leadership, just like, with so many, so much, you know, other change management. And then the other piece of it is, I think that it's really important for organizations to be there for their staff during a process like this. I had multiple folks who needed one on one coaching, to get them over the hump. We tried everything, we tried group meetings, we tried video trainings, we tried office hours with the, you know, tech folks, we, we gave them stuff, we, you know, we did all these things. But at the end of the day, what they needed was to sit down with somebody and, and have coaching about why this matters. And really, like you can do this, like, you know, really saying you have these skills, I believe in you, if you need to sit down with me side by side, I mean, you know, virtually. And go through this, I will and here are some success stories I've had and you know, you listen to them, you hear what their objections are, you hear what they're struggling with, you let them know that you've got their back. It's that mindset shift that is so important, and that I think we can't overlook, as we're asking advancement professionals to do their jobs differently, you know, it's a switch that you're just gonna flip it takes it takes an investment and takes bandwidth. And hopefully, the folks who are out there in your listener base are, you know, are interested enough in their staff development, that they're willing to invest that time and energy into working one on one with folks as they develop as they adopt new technology?

[Sami Bedell-Mulhern] Yeah, I think the key thing that you said there is leadership needs to lead by example. Yes. And if they're not using the new system, the new process, they can't expect their, you know, other staff to do

[Anne Murphy] I would have no credibility, if I will, if I wasn't in the program to Yep, I would have there's no point we would never, we wouldn't be where we are today. Yeah.

[Sami Bedell-Mulhern] I love that. Well, I think you shared some really great ways to think about getting into a new space and kind of challenging the way that you think about using tech to pull people through and into larger gifts. Um, is there anything else that maybe you would want to add that I didn't ask about?

[Anne Murphy] Um, and I'll just share a couple of ways, Sami, would this be one, I can talk about a couple of resources.

[Sami Bedell-Mulhern] Yeah, you can now if you'd like to, okay.

[Anne Murphy] There are a couple of resources that your audience might consider. One is that if folks are on clubhouse every other week, I do a room with a couple of amazing colleagues from across the country called Well, it's the club nonprofits unite. So on the clubhouse app, you can find nonprofits unite, and you'll see the rooms that we're doing every other week. And what you'll get when you come into that room is free consulting from some of the smartest advancement professionals I have ever worked with, most of whom work with small and midsize nonprofits. So you can roll in with your question, your challenge or your gems that you want to drop. And you're going to get some of the very best in the business input and from multiple consultants, right. So you can get things from a couple of different perspectives. So I just wanted to share that with people. Yeah, it's really awesome. Like, I love those like three or four hours every other Saturday, or just an absolute highlight for me. it's just so juicy and so wonderful and so warm and welcoming. Um, the other two other things I will mention is if folks want to connect with me on LinkedIn, it's just put in Anne Murphy philanthropy, and that'll pop up, send me a comment on one of my posts. If you don't have in-mail to connect with me. That's a great way I'm on it, you know, constantly. But the third thing I wanted to offer is that I have a resource that I think your listeners might really appreciate. It's Took, you know, 25 years of, you know, working with donors, probably 10,000 conversations and put them into what is a one stop shop of the very best questions to ask your donors during the process to understand their motivation and their readiness for solicitation. I talked about everything from like, what is active listening? And how do you do it? And why is it important? I talk about how we are the keepers of our donor stories, and how not to project onto donors our stories, which I think is so important. Yeah. And questions to ask, you know, are you learning about their value system? Are you learning about their hopes and dreams or fears? And then, are you learning about who makes decisions in the family or in the community? Like, who are you actually working with? Are you essentially staffing the donor to go home to their family to pitch this project? Or are you actually talking to the decision-maker? Yeah. And then things like, you know, are we in their estate, you know, getting into some of the nitty-gritty so that you can do that follow up on a more kind of like the science, part of the art and science of fundraising. So it's a really great resource. I think it's probably one of a kind, I haven't ever seen anything like it out there. And I hope that people will take advantage of it. And I know you're going to put the link in the show notes, I'm happy to, you know, share that with the world and have a great time writing it.

[Sami Bedell-Mulhern] Awesome. That's so I'm so thankful that you're sharing some of these resources with folks. Because no matter where you are in the fundraising process, and in your career, there's always going to be things that you need to hear at different times that will catch you at the right moment. So I think that's great that you have all of that included in there. Yeah, yes, we will absolutely include all of these in the show notes at thefirstclick.net/podcast/. And thank you so much for joining and sharing all of your amazing wisdom. This has been wonderful. Oh, it's been a treat for me.

Thank you so much for having me. Big Huge thank you again to Ann Murphy for joining me on this episode. I hope you enjoy the conversation as much as I did. Again, you can find all of the links to things that she talked about at thefirstclick.net/podcast/ in the show notes for this episode, as well as the links to our new Patreon page where there are tons of exclusive benefits that you can get access to just by signing up. So I hope you'll join us there and I hope that I'll see you in the next episode.


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