Ep 246 | Increasing Your Donor Gifts Over Time with Nate Morse

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Getting donors is tough work. So why don't fundraisers spend as much time retaining them as they do on getting new ones? When it comes to your monthly donors, being connected to them is so important. It's not about you though, it's about how they want to be connected to. This is what can feel overwhelming at times. In this episode you'll learn some ways to think about how you build community with your donors to increase their giving over time.

What you'll learn:

→ how to be unique and showcase your personality.
→ the importance of individualized communication and adding value.
→ building a stratgey that is donor-centric.
→ ways LinkedIn can support your community.

Want to skip ahead? Here are key takeaways:

[3:09] Retaining donors is a long-term strategy that will support your organization overall. It's important to get out of a scarcity mindset and the feeling that you need the money immediately. Instead, think about how you can retain donors so that you have more consistency in your funding. It's time to play the long game.
[7:26] Focus on providing value, and be as individualized as you can. That personal connection and sharing of impact builds trust and helps when asking for additional gifts. Don't forget to ask them for their feedback and connect with them personally on platforms like LinkedIn.
[8:36] Be unique so you stand out amongst the noise. Don't just send a regular postcard. Send a letter with something inside it so it stands out in the mailbox. Put your messaging on something unique so people remember it, like a Rubik's cube.
[14:47] Don't undervalue your smaller monthly donors. They likely want to be part of the community more so than the larger donors. And longterm they have incredible potential for your organization.
[17:08] Leverage LinkedIn to create virtual events. This allows you to get in front of new audiences. You can also create events for your existing donors, and ask them to bring their friends. It's a great FREE way your donors can help you grow and share the work you're doing.
[20:03] Pay attention to who your audience is and how they like to interact. Then craft the experience and the langauge around them. For example, if you're a little goofy, or serious.


Bluefishing: The Art of Making Things Happen

Nate Morse

Nate Morse

With a rich background in fostering business growth, Nate now turns his attention to the nonprofit sector. He applies his knowledge of the customer journey to the path of donors, emphasizing how understanding and nurturing these relationships can lead to increased and sustained giving.

His discussions focus on making the donor experience rewarding. By adopting strategies that businesses use to keep customers coming back, nonprofits can encourage donors to continue their support. Nate's insights help organizations create strong, lasting bonds with their donors, ensuring that every gift has a lasting impact. Learn more at https://natemorse.com

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50 Ideas to Add Value to Your Monthly Giving Program

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Full Transcript

[Sami Bedell-Mulhern] Hey, hey, it's time to talk about how we can turn our monthly donors into larger givers, or increase their monthly giving over time, and ways that we can kind of connect with people in order to ensure that we are giving them everything that they need, and everything that they want, as we kind of grow and expand on on the work that we're doing. And so I have a guest today, Nate Moore's who's joining us today to talk about things to think about things to consider when it comes to how we treat our donors after we've got them and why focusing on retention is something that can be super impactful.

With a rich background and fostering business growth. Nate now turns his attention to the nonprofit sector, he applies his knowledge to the customer journey to the path of donors, emphasizing how understanding and nurturing these relationships can lead to increased and sustained giving. His discussions focus on making the donor experience rewarding. By adopting strategies that businesses use to keep customers coming back. Nonprofits can encourage donors to continue their support. Nate's insights, help organizations create strong lasting bonds with their donors, ensuring that every gift has lasting impact. And you're going to hear some things that are great for hyper personalization, things that you can do at scale, a whole wide variety of ways to kind of approach your monthly giving program and the way that you work towards continuing to retain those donors. Why this foundation is important. You know, I love a good monthly giving program. So I think you're gonna love this episode. So I hope that you let me know what your biggest takeaway is, and kind of where you're excited to participate in this and where you're excited to expand on what you're already doing.

Before we get into it, this episode is brought to you by our February freebie 50 ideas for how to add value to your monthly giving program, you're going to get all the ideas that you need, and more four ways that you can connect more with your donors, again, to kind of mimic what we talked about this episode at scale, and in a hyper personalized way. So 50 ways that you can add value to your monthly giving program, go to https://thefirstclick.net/resources and download it today. I can't wait to see what you add to your program. Let's get into the episode.

[Intro] You're listening to the digital marketing therapy podcast. I'm your host, Sami Bedell-Mulhern. Each month we dive deep into a digital marketing or fundraising strategy that you can implement in your organization. Each week, you'll hear from guest experts, nonprofits, and myself on best practices, tips and resources to help you raise more money online and reach your organizational goals.

[Sami Bedell-Mulhern] Hey, friends, please join me in welcoming Nate Morris to the podcast. Nate, thanks for being here having me.

So we're talking about kind of donor experience donor journey kind of engaging with our donors, but it kind of begs the first question of, in your experience, and as you kind of been working with nonprofits, why do we focus so heavily on just getting new donors instead of keeping the donors that we have?

[Nate Morse] Well, I think that a lot of people may be looking for their first ones. And I think that's a pretty, a pretty big market, because the people that are looking for their first ones kind of have that, like they have a cut in their neck. And so they need to like fix it immediately. So there's a big market for that. So I think that's why it exists more in terms of people creating things that are drawing to that. But I don't think it's necessarily like the best long term strategy. Like it's good to focus on them in the beginning, and you should have them consistently. Right. But if they're, if they're let's just say, right, that you're, you're bringing them in, and then each one has an average amount that they're spending a month with you, then, you know, you're the math step stacks up pretty easily. Have you seen how it goes in long term, but there's also, you know, ways that, you know, once you get past that, then you should be focusing on, you know, optimizing and increasing their relationships with those donors.

[Sami Bedell-Mulhern] Well, and I like what you kind of alluded to there, which is like, you know, we're playing a long term strategy here, like a monthly giving program is not a, it's not going to be the thing that kind of stops a cash flow situation, right. It's something that's going to help prevent that in the future.

[Nate Morse] Yeah, I think it's more of a foundational thing. I think there are two different things. And honestly, a lot of people struggle with even just getting down the fundamentals, because they're so focused on little things that they don't keep the consistency of the things that are doing, you know, the 80% of the results.

[Sami Bedell-Mulhern] So, you know, let's just assume at this point, for the purposes of this conversation, that you have a monthly giving program that already exists, and it's something that we're working Keep on growing and increasing, right? It's something that we're trying to build and expand upon. So, you know, one of the things we talked about a lot on this podcast is how are we providing value to our donors? How are we making sure that we're making them the hero, the VIPs of our organization, so they know that their contribution is pivotal to us being able to do the work that we do. So how can we really start to understand and make the most of it and say, Okay, well, what do our donors really care about? Versus what do we think that they care about?

[Nate Morse] Yeah, and I think that a lot of what it is, comes down to status. And so you could think of okay, how does, what's the perceived? Like, if you have different levels or something, let's say, right, like, what, what's the perceived status kind of around each one? And so because that's how they're gonna, you know, it's kind of like, how you're playing good in life? To a degree, like, I guess it's you, you like cashing in? It's like tithing, right? No. But like, some people, the karma side, right, like they, they kind of do it like that. And yeah, I think there's a lot of status in there now for, for actually getting them to increase it, or even how to, how to retain them. I think that figuring out and it ties into what they want as well, I think that it's figuring out how to really personalize things for them. So how do you ask them questions that let you know, for example, like, we were doing a thing where everyone, we were figuring out, like what their favorite football team was, and then we would send them like a helmet, you know. And so you think if you can capture earlier on those things, where you're listening, then later on, it creates the relationship where it's more open, and then you already have all the prereqs that we're now you can actually ask them on to have it tie into those things. And then the experience for them is something that they aren't getting in other places, but it gives them that sense of status as well. Right?

[Sami Bedell-Mulhern] So that experience makes them you know, it's something that not all donors are getting only this group of donors. And so they have that kind of VIP status. And then when you go to ask for additional funds, it's like they've already been loved on and gotten that hyper personalization, that it just kind of increases would you say increases the trust that they have with your organization, and that they're doing right by the donor, but also doing right, by the impact that they say they're gonna do?

[Nate Morse] Yeah, so the value that you're giving them by doing those things, you're actually giving the highest degree of value, because personalized help is like the the, the best, like, the most relevant thing that you could get, right, but then since your, since you're going out of your way, and you're bringing them things or whatever. Or it could even be reaching out to them on LinkedIn, right. And like noticing different things that they've done, and just paying attention more than other people and maybe giving them if they want feedback on things, right? Something, something like that, right. And so they're going to be getting like that, that highest degree of value from you. And I think that that really opens up the side of how they are going to view you. Because it's not, it's not taking any time, right, you're doing your own stuff and giving it to them. So the cost equation of like, what's the cost for me to experience this, there's nothing because you're doing it, and it's relevant to you. So, I mean, I think that's way more relevant than sending, like, you know, pumpkin pie on Thanksgiving, or whatever, you know,

[Sami Bedell-Mulhern] right, making it personal.

[Nate Morse] Actually called Blue fishing, and it talks about where they use different ideas to, like, make it so that they, you're you're rememberable and, and whatnot. And so he would say things like, you know, when you're looking through your mail, you know, you're you're looking for the like letter that's handwritten, like the bit more pristine it is you actually don't want to write, because it didn't feel like it was made for you. So they would do things like they take letters, and they put like dice in them to make it like feel weird and have like, kind of a shake, or they, they'd send like a Rubik's Cube, right. So you could even put like, you know, this is, you know, solving whatever problem you guys solve, right? On the Rubik's cube. And so you can take these different approaches, almost like, you know, insurance company, like if you look at GEICO commercials or things like that, they just keep hitting the same angle from an entertaining way, in like a different scenario. So it's building that familiarity with you, and building an experience in associations with it, right. So then in the future, when you actually work with them, you'll you have all of that subconsciously built. So that's like the long game. But again, getting clients is or not getting clients, but like getting your first donors is, you know, a bigger foundational focus that you need to have down. And so like if you don't have that part, and you can't figure that part out then then that the whole The part that we're talking about where you're really paying attention to the journey, that is, you know, not going to, it's not going to work. So you do have to focus on the first part. And I think a lot of people just struggle with that. Because that because what they do is then they, they get it, and then they kind of get comfortable. And then they don't think that they need to go and do more things, and then they wait for the cycle, and then they'll want to go, because they have their own goals, right. So we'll go like beyond it, and then they'll kind of like, wait, and then they got to do it again. But if you can systematically have a long game, you know, that's going to make everything go up on its own and not have to just continue the get traction, get traction, get traction, like repeated cycle. So I think that's why it's there. And I think people self sabotage and hold themselves back from it, but may not be seeing it because of marketers and stuff pushing and saying that that's a priority, because that's the relationship that we're having. Right? Just like you want your donors, the experiences that are going to you re are also trying to make you like bond with

[Sami Bedell-Mulhern] that. Well, and I love that you said that? Because I do think sorry, my dog is loving, like, Oh, my dog is walking right now.

[Nate Morse] Um, he's max right there. Yeah, dogs the best cute.

[Sami Bedell-Mulhern] love that you're bringing this up. Because I also think that the beauty of a monthly giving campaign is it kind of fills that type of funnel for you to be able to continue to have like, just like filling the number of people that you have now that you can have conversations with about bigger gifts. Because we've all been in that situation where all of a sudden, like a grant, we don't get the grant that we've gotten for the last five years, or a corporate sponsor that we've relied on for 10 years drops out because they're not doing it anymore, whatever. You know, like we have those big ticket things that all of a sudden fall out that we weren't expecting to. And by focusing on like learning more about these, these donors, like you're you're talking about getting personal connecting with them, it makes it so much easier to kind of work them up into becoming a larger dork donor or, and introducing you to other people that might be a good fit, because they know that you've taken care of them and that you've taken the time and effort to steward that relationship.

[Nate Morse] Yeah. I mean, have you ever noticed that you're in a conversation? And even though they call you for something completely different, you ended up bringing up what they do? You know, so it brings way more opportunities for you to have those conversations. And I think that should be the actual point that people are grading themselves on, is how many of the right conversations are we having? Because if you look at that, then it's way easier to strike up conversations with people you already have relationships with, you know, and then and then winning changes a little bit in terms of your lead actions of what you should be trying to do. Yeah, so

[Sami Bedell-Mulhern] how can we kind of get out of the mindset of the individual monthly gift, because I think a lot of times, we don't like organizations don't want to create a monthly giving program, because it just feels like a lot of work for lower F or for not as much contribution right? We now have to find 100 donors to get us to that $500 versus one donor that could give $500 Why is that kind of a misplaced kind of philosophy or mindset? Oh,

[Nate Morse] well, I mean, you're already talking to the people. And if you don't have something that's relevant for them, then they're gone. Right? And then most people, their income increases over time. So that person should increase anyways, sure, there might be a lot of a little bit of work in the beginning to get things set up. You know, but I think that it's more of something that you would, you know, give to people who, like aren't qualified. Yeah. And there's going to be people that are coming through, you know, your website, your profiles whenever that it can be relevant to and you can make those ones automatic, right, people can just, people will probably pay that way easier, just while they're scrolling at night, you know, and you already have those eyes on you. So you just got to tell them their money isn't good enough, I guess. Yeah.

[Sami Bedell-Mulhern] No, I think that's a big I think that's like the power. I think that's the power of the monthly giving program is that you can you can make people feel like, well, it's true, but you can share the impact that they're able to make, like even if they're giving $5 a month, that's still probably a big deal for them. And they can feel like part of a bigger collective, because now it's not just that person. It's like, well, because of you and all of our monthly donors, we're able to do this impact. So it's almost like lifting up a group of people to be more dedicated to your organization and more connected, and as you said, as their increase is their income increases over time, the opportunity that they'll come to you as opposed to another organization.

[Nate Morse] And I think there's an interesting distinction there because the people that are paying less want to be part of something more, right. But then the people that are paying more out actually want to be part of something less, right. So earlier we personalized it. And then later we brought them in when they're part of something like because you could, you could just have some kind of way that they can get notifications and know about what you're doing, right. And then you could say, hey, we need this amount, because we're doing this thing, and then they would feel like they're involved in the moment. And they can like add more, you know, like, they might be the most engaged with you. Long term, because they're like actually doing something, you know, versus other people more or just paying and then like, that was the thing, you know, that's probably what it is, is actually as a lot of that the lab, no relationship needs to be built more. And they might not be. If they're not, if they're not trying to get everyone, and they're not trying to get the maximum out of each one, then they have an issue with themselves and their relationship with relationships. I think that's all.

[Sami Bedell-Mulhern] Yeah. No, I

[Nate Morse] like, what is like working right, and people optimized, like their intention. So you can like almost tell what their intention is based on what they're optimizing to. So it's not, it doesn't align with that?

[Sami Bedell-Mulhern] Well, and how, you know, I think having those deeper conversations with people that are giving at what we might perceive as lower dollar amounts, but over time are much larger. Like, those are kind of the bread and butter of your long term donor kind of foundation, like you talked about earlier, we don't build a strong foundation for fundraising. So by growing your monthly giving program, you're also kind of building in your own market research of like, how to grow and scale and, and get more donors to join your cause.

[Nate Morse] Yeah, that's a good point, you're, you're basically building the machine to help you not have to rely on those individual. So I kind of what you're saying. Yeah, absolutely.

[Sami Bedell-Mulhern] Yeah. Okay. So what else for you is something that kind of excites you about kind of retaining donors, and why this is a game changer for organizations if they do,

[Nate Morse] why. So I deal mostly with LinkedIn stuff. And so something that I really like is when they will use events. And that will, if you set it up in the right way, then that will make it so that they're the donors are bringing other people, like, let's say that they're like, boom, you get to people, you get to bring something like that, right. And then you can bring more people, just from that. And so you can have like, smaller scale versions of that on LinkedIn digitally. So you know, I think that helps. But instead of just making it for new people, make ones that are for your current donors, and then invite them, but then have them invite other people. So I think that's,

[Sami Bedell-Mulhern] so it might be like, sorry, it might be like a gated event that's only for like your monthly donors, for example, but because they're in your community, they get the opportunity to be the hero and invite some of their friends. And then you share it on like a public. Yeah, yeah. And that

[Nate Morse] needs to be, but the event needs to be like super awesome, where when they're done, they're like, I want to go again, so that the events start doing and start having their own momentum and poll, but that that can you know, that can extend even further, that's just just like one asset within it, right? Because you could even, you could even have on your profile, some of the things that you went over in those events and have them as like lead magnets or something like that, and then have nurture sequence to actually get people bought in on what you're doing, you know, and start the more of those right conversations.

[Sami Bedell-Mulhern] Well, I think that's super smart. Because you're allowing people to come into your network, and even if they're not ready to pull the trigger at that first event, it's super easy for them to stay connected, and learn more and continue to be nurtured and and everything you just shared. Doesn't require extra work per person, right? So if you have five people that show up to your event, or you have 500 people is very scalable.

[Nate Morse] Say again, there's gonna be the same amount of work. It's just Oh, yeah, for the front online. Yeah, definitely. Well, because it's online that you're seeing in person that was like, I don't know. Oh, no, not in person online, for sure. For sure. It's much more scalable. And yeah, you can you can do so much. Today versus before, everything was just like, you know, door knocking and cold calling and stuff like that. Yeah.

[Sami Bedell-Mulhern] So the last thing I kind of want to talk about is kind of this and, and there's been lots of conversations about this in the last few weeks in the podcast, but kind of your thoughts on like, you've already mentioned a couple of things like you said football helmets to donors based off of their preference and kind of personalization. What is your take on kind of this buttoned up, we have to be super formal, professional approach versus like letting our personality shine especially with regards to our monthly giving programs. Um, to kind of deeper that deepen that personal connection. Yeah,

[Nate Morse] that makes sense. It definitely depends on who you are working with. I think that's pretty much everything if you can't tell us about being as relevant as possible to the person. So I think that that, like, supersedes everything. But I think that we are in a phase where. So I think what I think what happened is that, like the agriculture Age ended industrial age came in, and then that's when people went to move into the cities. Right, and then everybody, like, wanted to compete on the level of being professional. And then I think right now, what we're getting is a like, circle back with the internet and a lot of regards. And so I think that the, the competitive route now is, is how do you add your own kind of personal kind of touch in it, so that they so that they can see, like, the uniqueness of you? You know, because that's like, kind of the most unique thing that you have, right? So where's that balance of expressing it, because now Now, when you look at someone, and they're just super, super professional, and a lot of the time, it feels like cookie cutter, right? Like, there's not really any of them, they just, like, copied and pasted something they saw online, and just tried to like be that, and that doesn't stick out, because that's now the baseline before, I think that wasn't the baseline. But I think now the pendulum is swinging backwards. Yeah,

[Sami Bedell-Mulhern] it doesn't feel personal. And you alluded to this earlier, it doesn't feel personal, if it's just a cookie cutter postcard that you got in the mail, or, you know, nothing that's kind of driving that, that creativity,

[Nate Morse] because if you can have, I know, people say, you know, they shouldn't always be friends. But I think that if you can develop that good relationship, that will allow it where now both of you care enough, where there's communication, and that means that if they are thinking of making a different decision, you know, that wouldn't help you, then, you know, now they're actually going to bring it up to you versus just walk away, or something, you know, and you can you can bring up more things. Now you have so many things in common, you can use all those reasons to be able to just talk and then just like I was saying earlier, naturally, they go into that conversation, if you don't have anything to bring up even a lot of times,

[Sami Bedell-Mulhern] no, that's such a good point. Because if you aren't connecting with your monthly donors, and somebody falls off, and you don't even recognize the name, that you there's no opportunity for conversation to find out like, Okay, well, why did you fall off? Are we not mission aligned? Do you, you know, to be to get back to you in a few months, when your financial situation changes? Like, do you feel like we didn't connect at all? Like you don't? exactly to your point, you don't have that opportunity for that added conversation? versus kind of having all those touch points and making sure you're connecting wherever and however that is. And so like, I know, it's harder to do at scale. But how, you know, do you think it's really important for people to initially connect with their monthly donors and say, like, how do you want to be connected with and, you know, maybe expand on that a little bit more from just email, phone, whatever, and, you know, add in things like SMS or LinkedIn, direct messaging, or kind of some of those other outlets so that you're really connecting with people where they are? You

[Nate Morse] could, you could, yeah, if you want to find out, then you can connect with them further. But I would, I would be trying to ask them, hey, doing some research on how, you know, we can do better. And I want to know, what have you seen? You know, besides us? What are some things that you liked or didn't like, or any ideas that you had like that? Because they'll they'll people will tell you, they're the ones going through the experiences, you know? And so I've gotten so much feedback, just from things like that. Yeah.

[Sami Bedell-Mulhern] And it probably surprises you some not but some surprising on like, what are things that they love? And what are some things they'd love to see? Because, again, they're not innately like in your organization, they don't know all the things that you're doing. And so sometimes it's hard to see what value people want when we're so in the weeds of the day to day work of what we're trying to

[Nate Morse] accomplish. You take that, and then they answer that question. And then you call all of them up. And then let's say that you have some new thing going on or some new reason or if you did this, it would help us get to x, you know, you can you can talk about that thing they said and and weave in this, you know, and so that might, you know, if you if you match strategies like that, that seems to work much better.

[Sami Bedell-Mulhern] I love that leading with value first but still getting that ask in there. Well, Nate, I think so many good nuggets of wisdom here and strategies for people to consider whether they are looking to scale out A personal level or kind of automate and create some bigger ideas and projects, any last words of wisdom for the listeners otherwise, I would love for you to share how they can find you and learn more about all the awesome things that

[Nate Morse] Yeah, so I do think that even if I could just from thinking of like, the only thing that they could if they were taking away one thing, you know, I think most of it has to do with that relevancy. But I think that in order for the relevancy there to be there, the that intention, that intention has to be there. So it has to be the you're helping them and not getting something from it. And I don't think you'll see it the right way until you're until that like, aligns.

[Sami Bedell-Mulhern] I love that. How do they connect with you can do

[Nate Morse] to https://natemorse.com, you can also find me on LinkedIn. That's pretty much it.

[Sami Bedell-Mulhern] I love it. And we'll link all of that up in the show notes at https://thefirstclick.net/246. Nate, thank you so

[Nate Morse] much for having me today. It was fun.

[Sami Bedell-Mulhern] So many different ideas. I hope that you are inspired and excited about expanding on your monthly giving program and really focusing on the donors that you have while you also recruit new ones. It's going to help you really build that foundation. And I think it's critically important for the longevity of your organization in the increase in impact that your organization can make. Again, the show notes and all the resources will be available at https://thefirstclick.net/246. So make sure you're subscribed on YouTube or wherever you listen to these episodes so you don't miss out on a single one. I really appreciate you taking the time to listen and choosing digital marketing therapy. Thank you so much, and I can't wait to see the next one.

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