Ep 94 | Starting Conversations with Patrick Kirby
One of my mentors, and I've used this, I've used this thing that he said, forever. For the longest period of time, one of my fundraising mentors said, Never ask for a major gift unless you know the name of your donors dog. And he said it now like it was in passing, right? Because he was a genius. And that's kind of what he did. But the more I thought about it, the more brilliant that was because you're having conversations with your donors about things that are not the size of their checking account, but things that matter to them. – Patrick Kirby
Having conversations with your donors can be scary but the impact can be big. Donors want to feel important and want to feel cared for. By having conversations for them you can set yourself apart from the pack. Patrick Kirby is sharing ways to get over the fear of conversations with your donors and start talking.
In this episode you'll learn:
→ importance of picking up the phone.
→ how to prep for those in person conversations
→ re-engaging lapsed donors.
→ reaching out to third party to help you gain visibility.
Want to skip ahead? Here are some key takeaways:
[9:45] Pick up the phone and call your donors. Check in on them and see how they're doing. Take notes and remember to follow up on the things you learned about your donor.
[13:09] Be prepared to ask quesions and then listen. That's how you'll learn about your donor and have a more real conversation that will lend to future talk. Don't feel the need to rush the conversation and make the ask right away.
[23:33] Don't forget to go back into your donor history and reach out to people that haven't given in the last year. Give them updates on what you've been up to and reengage them.
[33:15] Encourage your donors to reach out to their friends and family and share why they love to give to you. Think about other collaborations you can build on to get more visibility and immediate trust.
Founder, Do Good Better Consulting
Patrick Kirby is the Founder of Do Good Better Consulting, author of the Amazon best seller Fundraise Awesomer! A Practical Guide to Staying Sane While Doing Good, host of The Official Do Good Better Podcast, and a believer that “we’ve always done it this way” is the most dangerous phrase in the English language.
Patrick has spent nearly fifteen years working as a fundraiser in the nonprofit industry, for organizations of all shapes and sizes, and strives to ‘Do Good Better’ every day. From organizing $10,000 cure walks to $1 million galas, Patrick’s passion lies in creating creative solutions to make fundraising less boring.
Patrick married out of his league to his wife Shannon, has three ridiculously adorable children named Spencer, Preston and Willow, and lives in West Fargo, ND. Learn more at https://dogoodbetterconsulting.com
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[INTRO] Hey everyone, Sami here, your host of the digital marketing therapy podcast. Thank you so much for joining me for another episode. I want you to imagine what it was like when you first walked into that first meeting with a big potential donor, or maybe you haven't done it, and you're getting prepped for that, right? What did that feel like? how nervous were you? I mean, it's terrifying. And that's what we're going to talk about today, we're going to talk about ways to think about conversations with your donors differently ways to continue to have conversations and how to play the long game, to keep your donors coming back and increasing their gifts time over time.
So I'm joined by Patrick Kirby today from Do Good Better Consulting. And it's a lovely conversation where he just kind of shares some ways to think about your approach to having conversations with potential donors with current donors. And you know how you can do that even in light of the pandemic. And you know, how we can kind of create those conversations even when maybe right now you can't go face to face yet.
Patrick Kirby is the founder ofDo Good Better Consulting, author of the Amazon bestseller “Fundraise Awesomer, A Practical Guide to Staying Sane While Doing Good,” host of the Official Do Good Better Podcast and a believer that “we've always done it this way” is the most dangerous phrase in the English language. I couldn't agree more with that.
Patrick has spent nearly 15 years working as a fundraiser in the nonprofit industry for organizations of all shapes and sizes, and strives to do good better every day from organizing $10,000 cure walks to a million dollar galas. Patrick's passion lies in creating creative solutions to make fundraising less boring.
Patrick married out of his league to his wife Shannon has three ridiculously adorable children named Spencer, Preston and Willow and lives in West Fargo, North Dakota.
This conversation is a fun one. And you know, definitely kind of outside of the digital space and more so in the traditional face to face conversation space, which is kind of fun and refreshing. So I'm just would love to hear what you think about the takeaways that Patrick shares with you because there's lots of good stuff in here.
Before we get into the episode, this episode is brought to you by the online fundraising virtual summit. We kick off in less than a week. So February 8, registration is open now for this free event where you're going to learn from 20 plus experts over five days on how to grow, launch, build, retain, expand, ask for more money, but create your monthly donor program that really supports your organization and your financial stability. I am so excited about the content that is coming to you through this workshop. Again, it's free, head on over to https://onlinefundraisingsummit.com to register, share it with all your nonprofit friends. And we kick it all off on February 8. I look forward to seeing you there. Let's get to it.
[CANNED INTRODUCTION] You're listening to the Digital Marketing Therapy Podcast. I'm your host, Sami Bedell-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.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.
[SAMI BEDELL-MULHERN] Hello, listeners, please join me in welcoming Mr. Patrick Kirby to the podcast. Patrick, thanks for joining me.
[PATRICK KIRBY] Thank you so much for having me.
[SAMI BEDELL-MULHERN] Yeah, I'm so excited that you're here. And we're going to talk all about fundraising, which is kind of a rabbit hole of a conversation. But before we jump into some kind of tactics and whatnot, why don't you share kind of why is nonprofit fundraising a passionate thing for you? Why is this something that you love to support organizations and doing?
[PATRICK KIRBY] I remember all too well, my first fundraising gig and not knowing what the hell I was doing. And so I'm constantly throughout my, like, 15 years of fundraising. I've had constant flashbacks to either having conversations with donors or setting up an event or, or asking people for money. And having that deer in the headlights look or this fear that I didn't know what the hell I was talking about kind of thing. You know how you wake up in the middle of the night and I'm not sure if you were a theater kid like I was, but I would wake up in the middle of night having a nightmare about not remembering any line to any play I was in and onstage or not rehearsing at all and it would get stage fright and I wake up this horrible nightmare. I get I got that a lot, doing fundraising in my early years. And so any sort of thing that I can help or when I got into the sort of consulting realm to help nonprofits raise money, I use that as kind of my motivation. Like I want to prevent people from having that your panic attack moment when they're ready. right to have a cup of coffee with a donor, something like that. And they not they don't know what to do. I want to arm them with, like the confidence that they'll be able to pull it off.
[SAMI BEDELL-MULHERN] So I wasn't a theater kid, but I was a dancer and I still have nightmares where I'm going onstage and I have forgotten all the choreography. Yes. So I feel.
[PATRICK KIRBY] Yeah, I don't, I don't know the psychology of that, or what that means in dream circles. But I need someone to explain that, wherever my anxiety goes. But I remember because I remember having that I would wake up and have a big meeting, or I'd have a big committee meeting or something like that. And I would have, like a mild aneurysm about going in and doing that, because I didn't know enough or didn't think I know enough. And, and a lot of nonprofit, fundraisers feel that way on a regular basis, right. They don't know enough about their organization, they don't know enough about giving opportunities, they don't know enough about their donors to feel comfortable making a mask. And I'm, I'm I say to everyone that I talk to, it's okay. Because they don't know anything either. And they know a lot about themselves, but they don't know a lot about you or your organization or what their options are, and you're on an equal playing field. It just doesn't feel like it.
And so, the back to your original question, which is why I got into this, I want people to not have that feeling and which I had back in my early days of doing fundraising and and that's why I'm super passionate about trading about fundraising.
[SAMI BEDELL-MULHERN] Yeah, that's amazing. And I think, you know, 2020, kind of maybe exacerbated, I feel like I always say that we're wrong. Exacerbated.
[PATRICK KIRBY] I'm going to go with it I like it.
[SAMI BEDELL-MULHERN] Anyway, made it a bigger kind of traumatic thing, because now it's like, Okay, well, I already kind of didn't know, maybe what I was doing or what I should be doing. And now I'm supposed to be doing all these other things that I've never done and don't know what I should be doing. And my organization doesn't know what we should be doing. So it's kind of taken that that stress to a whole new level for a lot of folks.
[PATRICK KIRBY] You know, it was funny, it's not really funny, it's more of like, frustrating is that you had to learn an entire new way to fundraise. At least you thought you did. Right? Right. You had to learn about doing virtual events, you had to learn about sort of all the fun technology pieces that you could connect with your donors. Ironically, 2020, as I've seen, it is actually getting back to the basics and actually embracing old school style of fundraising more than it has over technological advances.
And the reason I say that is we're so zoomed out at this point, we're so tired of being online, we're exhausted about whatever political debate is on Facebook that does your right. Is that a handwritten note? and picking up the phone is actually a revolutionary tactic currently, that don't that nonprofits are not using to connect with their donors.
Yeah, so what was old, again, old is new again. And it's valued by the the individual donor is because they're not bombarded with emails that don't open up. They're not bombarded with social media messaging that you can't, you can't get to the top right, it's already flooded, the market is already saturated with with who to donate to and what your nonprofit does. You can't unless you're going to spend a ton of money on advertising, you're not going to get there. So picking up the phone, and writing a note hand writing a note. And having a conversation like we used to do is the is the really interesting way that is separating the good fundraisers from the hohem. fundraisers well.
[SAMI BEDELL-MULHERN] And, um, you know, with people picking up the phone and making phone calls, you're more likely to get them and having real conversation with them now to because they're home, or they're working from home, or they're, you know, yes. So your ability to go deep with that donor and really build that solid relationship is probably easier than it even would have been before.
[PATRICK KIRBY] And think about the elections over so you don't have to worry about like spam phone calls about like, who to vote for or who not to vote for, and then really name a time that you've picked up the phone and had a really fun conversation with either one of your friends or whatever. Nowadays, it's rare, isn't it? I find it rare to kind of gab on the phone for longer than a few minutes. Because there's always something to do right we have the attention span of gnats and slowing down your solicitation process and being very meaningful and purposeful with with why you're calling a donor to ask better questions and to engage them in a way that makes them feel great that you're paying attention and you're listening and you're and you're having, you know, an interesting line of questioning or conversation that they haven't had before. It automatically separates you and makes you more intriguing so that they pick up the phone the next time.
[SAMI BEDELL-MULHERN] Well, because I think we're all used to this phonebank donors from the national organizations that call and say, Hey, last year, you donated dollars to insert organization, you know, can we put you on for a gift this year? You know, and those are now becoming automatic, hang ups. So you can easily set yourself apart by just calling saying, hey, how the heck How the heck are you? How you doing?
[PATRICK KIRBY] One of my mentors, and I've used this, I've used this thing that he said, forever. For the longest period of time, one of my fundraising mentors said, Never ask for a major gift unless you know the name of your donors dog. And he said it now like it was in passing, right? Because he was a genius. And that's kind of what he did. But the more I thought about it, the more brilliant that was because you're having conversations with your donors about things that are not the size of their checking account, but things that matter to them. And so if you can pick up the phone, like you said, Sam, and not say, Hey, what about your $53? Again, and you ask, Hey, how is Grover? Right? I know that he was having some stomach problems, the last time we were talking, is he feeling better? Who on earth is asking that question from an organization that's trying to solicit money from you? Nobody, right? So they're instantaneously bonding on a deeper level. I mean, don't be super creepy about it, like, Hey, I saw you on Facebook, you look really good. And those swim trunks like that. That's alright, that's an excessive bit. But if you're but if you're authentic, about really caring about their family, and how they're doing and how their mental state is, and how, you know, their vacation was, if they had to cancel it, whatever. If you know a little bit about them, you can now put them into a donor category a little better than anybody else can.
Because you might have a program that helps, you know, a kids, you might know they have three kids. So you might know that they have a passion for this. Or they might not have kids, but they have three dogs, and you're not, you know, a dog and cat organization that that might be a really good avenue for you to make an ask towards whatever. But you'll only find that out by asking better questions, and how well can you really engage somebody in only a digital form, right, it's usually a back and forth text message or whatever, those those meaningful conversations that one used to have over a cup of coffee that you can't do necessarily anymore. God willing, we're gonna be there soon. But like, that has to be replaced with something. And they're gonna find more meaning in it the way that you're gonna find more meaning in it. And that bond is going to, you'll really get you bigger gifts and more dedicated donors in the long run.
[SAMI BEDELL-MULHERN] Yeah, so let's back up a little bit and talk you know about what you said at the beginning about you got into this because you wanted people to feel prepped, ready to go ready to walk into the room? So if we're, if we're trying to have these initial meaningful conversations, we're trying to reach out to people like Where did you find like you've you finally started to get that confidence and hit your stride? Like, what kinds of things did you door what did you learn that might steps people can skip?
[PATRICK KIRBY] That! Yes, so I would say we could talk about how to how to cultivate a list and that there's, there's plenty of ways to do that with you know, sort of have your initial friends and family of those who you're serving open doors for you. And that's kind of your initial thing, or going to your local, you know, chambers or your local rotary clubs and that kind of thing. You know, tell your story about what your organization does. But when you get in the door, you talk to a to an individual, surprising them by asking them better questions, not necessarily going right into what you do. It is not about your need to have a gift. But it is very much about that donors need to give and you need to figure out from questions on how you can connect those dots.
What about that donor really loves your organization or could potentially love your organization, what their background wasn't their history, what in their family life, what in their current situation has some sort of thing that would connect the dots that requires you to listen.
Larry King just passed away, right? I don't know if anybody's been Larry King fan. I always like to watch him on infomercials because I thought it was hilarious. He did over 50,000 interviews and one of the last interviews that he gave about giving those 50,000 interviews and he said I never learned anything from talking. Right, which as somebody who likes to talk like myself, this is the most difficult challenge of all, which is like I just like to talk about things, but pausing and listening to some of the key words that they have to say and you then using your brain and your analytical skills and to start connecting the dots to whatever program or service that you provide, is really critical. So don't think of it this as kind of how you get out of your I'm terrified of making an ass don't think about it as a, I'm gonna only ask for money. Right? Think about your ways that you can ask for a next meeting, or a new name, or a connection to an organization or a business that you might not have. Those are all asks, those are all ways that you can engage your donor potential supporter without making a financial ask. And I think if we can make asks that don't necessarily always involve money, in the long run, because this is a long game, this isn't a short sprint, I want to get this, this is a long game, you want to make sure that you are getting them to give to you for ever, they love you in the organization.
So that requires you to have patience. And if you just think about it from a dating, you know, thing, right? Don't go get married on the first date, you have to know a little bit about that person. So take your time and that pause and understanding that you're not going to get everything that you want out of a particular donor on that first conversation will set you up to make yourself calm, you know that you don't have to rush into this, you can take your time and enjoy meeting somebody because I think it's fundraisers we are people person or people, people, people. We like to work curious by nature. So let that curiosity sort of blossom in your conversations. And that will sort of give you that comfort level a little bit and not put all the stress on your shoulders about I need to get 10 grand out of this person or 50 bucks.
[SAMI BEDELL-MULHERN] So what do you say then to people that are like, okay, 2020 are not fundraising, you know, especially if you're dealing with larger asks, Mm hmm. Sometimes there's that pressure from your executive director from your board from whoever, where they're like we need, you know, 20 grand now sponsor x just dropped away, or corporation x, you know, didn't give us what we thought now we need to go find this money right now.
Which is always an uncomfortable model to have, which is why we talk about a lot of diverse diversity in your fundraising. So you don't feel those. But when you're in that moment, and you're walking into the meeting, and yeah, how, you know, how can you just step out of that? Or what types of things can you kind of do to advocate for yourself as a fundraiser in those organizations?
[PATRICK KIRBY] Well, first of all, I think you need to have conversations with your executive director in your board, sort of dictating the reality of that, right, if this donor that you're going to go meet with doesn't have the capacity to give you $20,000, the expectation shouldn't be we need to raise $20,000 with this one person. Now, what I think you can do is have clear conversations with those potential donors to say, Hey, listen, one of the things that this, you know, this year, and this year and a half has proven, is that it's a little unpredictable. And we just have to be given a little bit of grace, have a conversation about how one of our major fundraisers or one of our major donors just dropped out. And it leaves us with a $20,000 gap. I know that you are a dedicated supporter of this organization, and I know you've given as generously as you possibly can, is helping us fill this gap, something that you would be interested in helping us do.
I didn't make an answer for 20 grand, I just established the situation at hand. And I know that they're a supporter, I gave them a big old pat on the back for it. And I offered them the ability to help come to the table and close a significant financial gap from that conversation. And their answer will lead you to what you want to say next. Right. So it's, well, of course, I'm going to support you in any of your endeavor, I don't think I can do the full 20. And then your response would be you know, hey, listen, can't blame a guy or gal for trying? is there is there a number that you're comfortable with in order to help us get from point A to point B? And now you're throwing it back on them to have a conversation? Right? So you're, you're you're in a negotiation spot, you're not being I need this now or my job is is that that's at stake, because you've already had a conversation with your executive director laying out that this is the situation.
And going back to that conversation with your ED or your board is knowing your donors well, by having long term conversations with them will allow you then to justify in you're not asking for more than they would be comfortable with so that they still feel that they're making an impact of the organization without making them feel weird about it.
[SAMI BEDELL-MULHERN] Well, I love the honesty, I love you know, even just saying we have a shortfall. And I think even now more than ever, that's more acceptable to be that blunt and honest with your donors to say like we really know that you want to help us with our mission. This is where we're at how can you know, right? How much how much more does that make them feel invested in the success of the organization?
[PATRICK KIRBY] Right, you're coming to them. Listen, I know that you're one of the few individuals on our list that have the capacity to help us in the immediate need. Wow, what a great honor to say that. Right? Right. I think I can give you all of it. But I now know that I am a key stakeholder in the success of an organization, I feel trusted enough that you are going to call me first in order to give me the news like this happened. That's a really good honor. And if you do it in a way that is authentically, true, you're not desperate. But you're also not in a passive mode. Right. So now you are specifically tying your conversation to at least some monetary thing. But at the same time, you're giving them the ability to help the organization.
[SAMI BEDELL-MULHERN] Donors want to help, they don't know how to thing like they don't know how to help. You're giving them a path on how to do that. Well, how many times have you heard people say, I would have given money, but you never asked me for it? So I didn't know. Yes. I didn't know you needed it.
[PATRICK KIRBY] Yeah. And that's that, I think, is where I think a lot of organizations find themselves currently. And I mean that in a way of like they, they want everybody to think they're doing great. And if donors think you're always doing great, then there's no need. Now you don't want to be the needy organization that goes oh, God every month is terrible, right? Nobody wants to give you a sinking ship. But there's got to be a reality check on to that the reality is that we have needs and that 2020 increase those needs, and they'll refer we're going to have to have increased funding period.
In North Dakota, here, we're in the legislative season, and they're going to have a 15% cut across the board. That's the suggested budget for the year is 15% cut across the board, which means our health and human services, which deals with everybody from disability, disabilities to access to special ed or whatever, it's going to take a big hit. So organizations who deal with developmental disability or delay are already looking at a 15% shortfall. People know that the reality is that there is going to be a little bit of a challenge to get through 2021. So why not have a conversation with your donors about saying, Hey, could you increase your gift 15% to counteract some of the cuts that are coming down from the government, they already know it, they read what's going on, they understand it's not that big of a jump, and all of a sudden, now you're giving them a tangible route, in order to increase their donation that's going to have a direct correlation to the conversation that's happening at the Fed at the state level. Yeah, that is being aware of your situation and giving them options and then making them feel invested in the success of your nonprofit.
[SAMI BEDELL-MULHERN] Um, I think that's really smart and a great way to use storytelling of your organization and kind of what's going on in a way that connects people.
Okay, so let's say we're not, let's say we are hearing, Okay, forget that. Cuz that was not the right way to start that sentence. But anyway, when we take a look at diversifying the streams of income that our organization is bringing in, and so yes, we do want to be having these one on one conversations with donors, but obviously, we can't have them with every single donor. And then we're getting bombarded with Okay, well, we have to do online events, or we have to do social media now. Or we have to do you know, content creation and email or like all of the things, what other kind of areas do you think are good for fundraisers to kind of dip their toes in at the beginning, to maybe get some quicker wins with lower levels of donations.
[PATRICK KIRBY] Um, find your last year, but not this year list of donors, find people who gave to you in 2019, that didn't give to you in 2020. And you put them on their high priority, get a hold of them and call them and ask to get them back on the team. The quickest way that you can get some really quick wins are to reactivate some relatively new ish donors that fell off your radar, that they either feel like they they didn't get an ask, or they didn't feel connected. And this gives you a real good opportunity and a very clear path on what to do next. Right.
So if you have 50 donors that didn't give to you in 2020, but gave to you and years prior, those are the first 50 phone calls that you have to make right now as low hanging fruit to get something in the door. The other way is how do you invest some of your mid donors and sort of increase and so come up with a an idea or a program or some sort of thing that you will increase their donors, you know, their donations by 10, 15, 20%. Right. So it's a 20% that we're trying to do in order to stave off some of the cuts that we think are coming down the line or in order to supplement some of the growth that we've had in programs and not the growth in our funding. You've been selected at one the 100 individual donors who have been really, really good to us, and we'd love to ask you for an increase in 20% this year, in order to help us achieve our our budget to be on point this year.
So it's specifically making asks it's it's using what you have now, it's not doing anything different than adding an element to what you're doing already fundraising. But going back to those who helped get you to where you are now, and making sure that they're back on the squat, that's a really good, easy way to do it. The other way is to have informational, I would say, you know, online meetings, right? So use that and then take that content itself, and then distribute it in different channels.
What's an update? You know, what is your update on service in 2021? How would you do in 2022? People know it. And I explained to a global audience or your, your social media, or those that follow you how you did? How many did you serve? What was your impact? What was the thing that you already have that and you've got a computer that probably has a camera on it, because you've been on zoom calls for the last 10 months. So you've got the you've and you've got zoom account. So you can push record on here, create your own update video and send it out in an email and put it on social media. And you can cut it up into different little snippets. And hey, we can't we couldn't have done that without you. Yeah, it was a challenging year. Yeah, we're still looking down the barrel of a budget, that doesn't look as great as it could be. But in order to be at this position, you had to help. And so thank you so much, we looking forward to sort of on a regular basis, coming up with some updates to where we're, where we're going, what we're doing, what we're seeing some trends, and we invite you as part of the conversation, we invite you to donate as always, here's a link below. That's it, you don't have to get overly complicated.
I think that's the other thing that 2020 really stuck out to me is that over complicating things, really messed up a lot of nonprofit organizations because they were now spread way too thin, doing things that they really weren't experts at. And now they were trying to figure out what's the best case scenario on what to keep what to trash whatever. Go back to what got you there?
[SAMI BEDELL-MULHERN] Well, I think what you're saying too, is go back to your database and your data, like take a look at your data. And I think that's an area that I see a lot of organizations put they don't pay attention to at the beginning, because they're just kind of shooting fish in a barrel and trying to figure out exactly like, Okay, well, we just got to go get money, let's just go get money. And they get a little frantic and recording that donor data, keeping track of who they are, and where they've given how they've given how they got into your organization can then help you when you get into these situations, and you need to reach out to different different types of people.
[PATRICK KIRBY] Absolutely, no, it's 100% right. And I don't think that people think that that is as valuable as it actually is. Because every one of those donor conversations that you had sitting in asking really good questions should be in your data. So if there is a program that's suffering, or that needs a little bit of a boost, and let's just say it involves kids, who in your database that you have met with that has kids or had talked about the passion for their particular projects that involve kids, there's your donor list right there, right, right, don't have to go and find new ones, you've got them sitting in the donor database.
[SAMI BEDELL-MULHERN] So let me ask you, I'm gonna put you on the spot here. Because I just get this question all the time. When it comes to donor management software, or a CRM or whatever you want to call it. They can be one of the bigger kind of first investments that you need to make in the fundraising of your of your organization. Do you have a favorite? Or do you have a couple of database or database tools that you like to recommend?
[PATRICK KIRBY] Yeah, I usually recommend Donor Dock, https://donordock.com They are their group, their neighbors of mine, they're right down the road right down the road from us are based here in Fargo, North Dakota, actually created by a gentleman who was in the donor database world, but not for nonprofits that tried to go and help nonprofits. And so they took a business system and tried to make it into a nonprofit system and it failed wildly.
I happen to know this because I was one of the groups that actually used the nonprofit version of this that failed miserably at implementing it. And so ironically, he was on the calls that I would be on when I was the CTO of an organization yelling about where the hell my data went, right. So he's in the background taking notes. And turns out a couple of years later, he says, I think I got a better way to do this. And it's it's online, it's it's really intuitive. It's, it's very inexpensive. It's like 60 bucks a month or whatever, that's all and it automates your emails. It reminds you when to contact donors. I don't get any money from this. I just really like the program. I just I feel like they're a great product. And that's put together one of those things. So I would recommend Donor Dock, if you don't like Donor Dock, there's a Little Green Light is a really good resource for you that's relatively inexpensive, if not free, as you're sort of getting started.
But even if you just have a spreadsheet, even if you just have cocktail napkins, get it into some sort of thing that you can have to take notes with, I think one of the most important things is just do that. There's a number of different resources. But if you just get your data in one place, that's a wonderful start.
[SAMI BEDELL-MULHERN] Yeah, I would advocate to put it into a CRM because I think those automations and the tools that it gives you where it just says, Hey, this person hasn't been touched in six months, like just not having to manage that piece of it means that you can make more personal phone calls. And you can write more handwritten letters, because you're not having to comb through that data. I think it's well worth the money if you use them correctly, because that's the other pieces, I think a lot of organizations get them. And then don't take advantage of all of the tools and the resources that are there. So use them, it can be your best friend, and automate, and use and use the simple yet just do the basics of the basics in that in that system.
[PATRICK KIRBY] And again, most of the reasons why those big institutions do well and raise so much money is because they've got like 17 people on their team, right, five people working the data, then three people cultivating at the same time, while these major gift officers are going out there to do it, you don't have those resources. So at a bare minimum, make sure that you're reminded that you owe somebody a phone call, right? Yeah, that's okay. Because people like you, and they like your organization, and you're doing awesome things, you've made a connection with them, right, they don't necessarily care about other ones that come along that are fancier than care that you connect, that's the whole point of that, which is you just made, which is really good. It's just you need to connect with them and remind yourself that you need to do that.
[SAMI BEDELL-MULHERN] Okay, so, um, kind of one of the last things that I wanted to touch on is, you know, once you're connecting with them on a regular basis, though, like, I mean, I have this conversation with people all the time about content creation, you know, like a year from now, when you've got these systems in place, and you've been doing this work really well. And you've got that all these relationships, like, you're going to be so happy that you put the time and effort to get this done now, right? Like, that's the long term strategy for the longevity of your, of your business.
So then, let's say where they are like, then what's the next logical next step as far as then continuing to grow and get in front of, of new potential people? Right.
[PATRICK KIRBY] That becomes, we talk a lot about this, both on you know, sort of our trainings in sort of the podcasts even is that third party endorsement is exponentially better than first party solicitation.
Your donors who love you want to tell their friends about how awesome you are. And that's the best, most ideal situation is where they set you up with other individuals who might be potential high capacity donors to say, I love this place, it gives me wonderful joy to give and watch them grow and make an impact.
I'd love you to meet Phil and Phyllis, have them set you up with a meeting. And so that asked then becomes not necessarily about money, but about who else that they know that would like to feel as good as they do when interacting with you and your organization? Yeah, that's, that's going to be the ultimate because you're not even selling yourself. You're just positioning it as how can we help you feel good? Mm hmm. Here's a number of programs that we do I know that from your friend, Darrell, that he suggested that you like to travel a lot. And we've got this program that we've got this, this and this and I think that'd be a really interesting thing. I'd love to talk to you about it, and how, how else that what other organizations are you involved with write asking that question will lead you and your brain to connect the dots to other programs that might be similar.
And because you were just recommended, they might consider giving to you maybe a small test gift, right? You've got them in the system. And now you treat them the way that you treat your other donors to make them feel great about their gift. And then eventually, that long term relationship pays off to either a larger gift or a sponsorship down the line. And then they tell their friends about how great of an organization they are. Maybe they invite them to an event or they invite them to be on a mailing list or they send information or posted on Facebook. It's all about the progressive nature of a relationship and what that naturally and organically grows around you. And the better you treat your donors, the better they're going to talk about you to their friends and their folks, because folks who give you know our high capacity philanthropists have friends who are high capacity to anthropos right. So this is a problem because if you mistreat one or two or slip up the danger is that you're on. They all talk, by the way, that the dark secret that I learned from a high capacity donor was they all talk to other high capacity donors, and they all know who's great, and who sucks, and who's up and coming, and who needs a little bit of extra help. And they all work with each other in order to figure that out. Because there's a finite amount of people within those little niches who have these abilities to help right, the donor lists that you have the dream donors that you have in your communities are the same dream donors that every other organization in your community has.
So, so what are you doing different in order to curate and cultivate those those people? So to your question, because brevity is not my strong suit, as you can already tell, is that use your donors who love you, to connect you with other people who might love you just as much. And it reduces the amount of time that you need to just go cold call, when everything you've been saying really is just be authentic, be real, and just have conversation. And listen, you'll get to know people first, and then share about you later. Maybe you know, or share about your optimization later. Yes, it is not about you, as much as you want to think it is it is not about you, it's all about donors. And I know there's a point where you have to convert and you have to make an ask, and that happens, right? So you get to a point where you just don't want to, you know, they might be chugging along at some really low level, and you know, they've got the capacity to give, and you're gonna have to turn the corner there and make those assets live. Listen, I know that you like us, and I know that you want to help, here's what we're looking for. And is there a way that you can help us in a more significant way you can have that conversation, but on the on the on the whole? Your your gift to them is a relationship to make them feel good about what they're about to do financially. And that's give you money?
[SAMI BEDELL-MULHERN] Yeah, well, and then the other piece, I think that's important to call out that you mentioned was, they might give an additional small gift just to see how they're treated. And I think that's so important. Not to trust, or not to just judge donors off their initial gift. I remember, I can't remember what jewelry store I was in or why I was there. But we were having the same conversation with them about how they can't, they don't you know, she does really well, because she doesn't judge people that walk walk in and she had a customer come in. I mean, we live in Iowa, so she had a customer, or we were in Iowa at the time. I mean, right off the field, totally in like muddy clothes, looking like crap, whatever. Ended up being some big hot shot at john deere, and bought like, a ton of stuff like hundreds of 1000s of dollars, right. And so she's like, you just never know. And I think that is so true. When it comes to your initial gifts because they want to they're they they're not going to give you that 20,000 $100,000 gift, they need to know that you are fiscally responsible that they can trust that you're going to actually do your mission that you are doing what you say you're going to do and that you're going to be here in a year. Right?
[PATRICK KIRBY] I'll tell you a really quick story is that when I was working to my one of my former employees, we got a gift from somebody who passed away, right. So it was a bequest gift. And it was, it was a really significant amount were like what what this is kind of really interesting, who is this person, we had no record of like this. It wasn't on our mailing list we didn't know about. And we went back into the data. The only gift that we got from this gentleman was $6 in 1984. That was the last gift that this guy gave. He passed away. And part of his estate went to us for the grand total of $300,000. Wow.
Now, that's awesome. And what a great relationship that we must have had with him back in 1984. But I don't have a lot of regrets. But one of the things that I do is not knowing that person leading up towards the end of his life on how he would like to see or what we were doing and building a relationship with him. What could have that been? Like what if moment always happens when you don't hear and talk with somebody who then gives a gift to somebody else? You're like, oh, man, they were a donor of ours? Well, what did they do differently to build a rapport with you with them rather than you? Did you reach out? Did you have conversations? were you asking better questions and and that's really why I harp on this, like, get to know them a little deeper than you would normally expect in a transactional world we live in, because you never know what that $6 gift which to your point is going to turn into a six figure gift at the end of the day. That's the remarkable part about fundraising is you just don't know.
This is like a giant game of clue. Like playing clue you're gonna love being a fundraiser because you don't know if you know, Phil was in that castleton area with a candlestick chock full of gold that he donated to you, right? That's this is the mystery and the fun part about building rapport with your donors and not knowing if that grumpy old farmer is an executive at at john deere, who's gonna drop 100 grand, right?
[SAMI BEDELL-MULHERN] Do you think that organizations also tend to get a little bit egotistical on we serve this population, we serve this, whatever we we adopt dogs better than anyone else. And we are doing better, like our process for cleaning up the rivers is better than everybody else, like we have the best childcare, and you can feel that way. But then tend to feel a little entitled, like you should just give me your money. Because we're doing good, and you should support us and doing good. Yeah, I think that complacency gets real bad real quick. And then you forget who got you there, or what your donor base did in order to support you to become the leader in those specific realms.
[PATRICK KIRBY] And if you forget about that basic relationship, or that humility of you know, that little bit of humility, I think is always a good thing to have. You can be confident. But competence doesn't need to go with the territory of like, okay, now I can put it on cruise control and not care, because everyone else who is as passionate as you were at the beginning, yeah, are passionate now about their new nonprofit or their new collaboration with other groups. And that passion is going to be seen and heard and felt, and donors want to feel as passionate as they do. And so if somebody has, you know, similar organization to do similar things, maybe identical, but similar things, and they're a hell of a lot more passionate than you are, well, then where are they going to go? They're going to feel that sort of that burning out remember how much this makes me feel I'm so excited to be a part of this new upstart upcoming kind of group that seems to be building momentum, or the ones that just send you the same thing every time and don't really call out, right? You're going to instantly that's how human nature is right? We're going to be attracted to those who are sort of going on, like building momentum. So you always have to move forward, you always have the momentum, you have to be a little bit of humble. But yeah, it is exactly right, you can get a lot calm, you can get overconfident in that. If you get too far, if you get too far gone, it's a little bit and it just becomes a transactional relationship as opposed to a donor relationship.
[SAMI BEDELL-MULHERN] Well, okay, so I love everything that you said, I think it's a good reminder just for fundraisers. I mean, I know we're kind of talking to those that are newer and getting started. But it's just I think this conversation is a good reminder for all fundraisers, to just kind of sit with yourself a little bit and remember why you are at that organization and what you're doing and to ask questions and listen.
[PATRICK KIRBY] Yeah, absolutely. And take a deep breath. I mean, you're gonna feel like you're the only one not understanding how you're doing this, and everybody feels that way. So you're not alone. This is something that everybody feels, and again, be you be authentically you in trying to build rapport with people who are also humans, like highcapacity. donors are the same people that like you are, they just have a lot more zeros in their bank account. That's all. And they're trying to find meaning in their life too. And they're trying to find a way that they can feel like they can make an impact. And so you're providing them an avenue on how to do that.
[SAMI BEDELL-MULHERN] And hearing a no, doesn't make you a failure doesn't at all, it's just it.
[PATRICK KIRBY] And here's the thing, if you hear a no, and that organization is not a good fit for them. Think about it this way. You're doing them a service by finding a finding a path that's more direct to what they're going to feel good about. And it frees up your time to not pursue that donor in perpetuity, because they're never going to give to you because they like something else. So always have your time to go find somebody else who's as passionate about the organization as you are.
[SAMI BEDELL-MULHERN] That's Yeah, I'm so glad you said that. Because that's so true. So true.
Any other last parting words of wisdom you would like to give fundraisers as we're entering kind of into February of 2021?
[PATRICK KIRBY] Isn't that crazy? You've got this. I think it's Oh is always overwhelming. Coming out of 2020 was just a I mean, it's, it was the worst for everybody and everybody who says it wasn't as either a liar or who bought stock real early and like Amazon. But it was hard for everybody and the the ones who stick to it and the ones who are constantly reminded that you are in a place, doing good and helping
Those making impact and you just want to help them with your help a donor feel like they're going to make an impact to, you're going to be fine. You're going to be fine. Just take it. Take a deep breath, you're going to be fine. You got this?
[SAMI BEDELL-MULHERN] Yeah, no, that's great. Well, Patrick, thank you so much for being on this episode. And if people want to find out more about you, and your consulting company, and all these fun events that you have coming up this year, how do they do that?
[PATRICK KIRBY] Go to https://dogoodbetter.com it's got all the stuff you need, or find us on Facebook or Yeah, just stuck us on the internet. It's pretty damn good, better consulting.com.
[SAMI BEDELL-MULHERN] We will link all of that up in the show notes as well, to make it easy for you guys to find more about Patrick, and thank you so much. Oh, thank you.
[PATRICK KIRBY] This is great. I love having conversations with you. So this was just another one of a great one. So I appreciate it, man.
[CLOSING] Thank you. huge thank you to Patrick, again for joining me. We'll have everything linked up in the show notes at https://www.thefirstclick.net/podcast. And he is a speaker at the online fundraising summit. So I really hope that you will register at https://onlinefundrasingsummit.com to check out more goodness from Patrick because he's amazing. I always love all the conversations that I have with him. So, again, https://onlinefundraisingsummit.com. For now, I hope you'll subscribe wherever you listen and leave us a quick little review so other people can hear and learn more about this wonderful podcast and I will see you in the next one.