10 Keys To Writing A Speech

“This is my time.”

1

That attitude will kill a speech every time.
You’ve probably sat through some lousy speeches. Despite the speakers’ renown, you eventually tuned them out over their self-indulgent tangents and pointless details. You understood something these speakers apparently didn’t: This was your time. They were just guests. And your attention was strictly voluntary.

Of course, you’ll probably deliver that speech someday. And you’ll believe your speech will be different. You’ll think, “I have so many important points to make.” And you’ll presume that your presence and ingenuity will dazzle the audience. Let me give you a reality check: Your audience will remember more about who sat with them than anything you say. Even if your best lines would’ve made Churchill envious, some listeners will still fiddle with their smart phones.

In writing a speech, you have two objectives: Making a good impression and leaving your audience with two or three takeaways. The rest is just entertainment. How can you make those crucial points? Consider these strategies:

1) Be Memorable: Sounds easy in theory. Of course, it takes discipline and imagination to pull it off. Many times, an audience may only remember a single line. For example, John F. Kennedy is best known for this declaration in his 1961 inaugural address: “And so, my fellow Americans, ask not what your country can do for you; ask what can do for your country.” Technically, the line itself uses contrast to grab attention. More important, it encapsulated the main point of Kennedy’s speech: We must sublimate ourselves and serve to achieve the greater good. So follow Kennedy’s example: Condense your theme into a 15-20 word epigram and build everything around it top-to-bottom.
There are other rhetorical devices that leave an impression. For example, Ronald Reagan referred to America as “a shining city on the hill” in speeches. The image evoked religious heritage, freedom, and promise. And listeners associated those sentiments with Reagan’s message. Conversely, speakers can defy their audience’s expectations to get notice. In the movie Say Anything, the valedictorian undercut the canned optimism of high school graduation speeches with two words: “Go back.” In doing so, she left her audience speechless…for a moment, at least.
Metaphors…Analogies…Surprise…Axioms. They all work. You just need to build up to them…and place them in the best spot (preferably near the end).

2) Have a Structure: Think back on a terrible speech. What caused you to lose interest? Chances are, the speaker veered off a logical path. Years ago, our CEO spoke at our national meeting. He started, promisingly enough, by outlining the roots of the 2008 financial collapse. Halfway through those bullet points, he jumped to emerging markets in Vietnam and Brazil. Then, he drifted off to 19th century economic theory. By the time he closed, our CEO had made two points: He needed ADD medication – and a professional speechwriter!

Audiences expect two things from a speaker: A path and a destination. They want to know where you’re going and why. So set the expectation near your opening on what you’ll be covering. As you write and revise, focus on structuring and simplifying. Remove anything that’s extraneous, contradictory, or confusing. Remember: If it doesn’t help you get your core message across, drop it.

3) Don’t Waste the Opening: Too often, speakers squander the time when their audience is most receptive: The opening. Sure, speakers have people to thank. Some probably need time to get comfortable on stage. In the meantime, the audience silently suffers.

When you write, come out swinging. Share a shocking fact or statistic. Tell a humorous anecdote related to your big idea. Open with a question – and have your audience raise their hands. Get your listeners engaged early. And keep the preliminaries short. You’re already losing audience members every minute you talk. Capitalize on the goodwill and momentum you’ll enjoy in your earliest moments on stage.

4) Strike the Right Tone: Who is my audience? Why are they here? And what do they want? Those are questions you must answer before you even touch the keyboard. Writing a speech involves meeting the expectations of others, whether it’s to inform, motivate, entertain, or even challenge. To do this, you must adopt the right tone.
Look at your message. Does it fit with the spirit of the event? Will it draw out the best in people? Here’s a bit of advice: If you’re speaking in a professional setting, focus on being upbeat and uplifting. There’s less risk. Poet Maya Angelou once noted, “I’ve learned that people will forget what you said, people will forget what you did, but people will never forget how you made them feel.” Even if your audience forgets everything you said, consider your speech a success if they leave with a smile and a greater sense of hope and purpose. That’s a message in itself. And it’s one they’ll share.

5) Humanize Yourself: You and your message are one-and-the-same. If your audience doesn’t buy into you, they’ll resist your message too. It’s that simple. No doubt, your body language and delivery will leave the biggest impression. Still, there are ways you can use words to connect.

Crack a one liner about your butterflies; everyone can relate to being nervous about public speaking. Share a story about yourself, provided it relates to (or transitions to) your points. Throw in references to your family, to reflect you’re trustworthy. And write like you’re having a casual conversation with a friend. You’re not preaching or selling. You’re just being you. On stage, you can be you at your best.

6) Repeat Yourself: We’ve all been there. When someone is speaking, we’ll drift off to a Caribbean beach or the Autobahn. Or, we’ll find ourselves lost and flustered when we can’t grasp a concept. Once you’ve fallen behind, it’s nearly impossible to pay attention. What’s the point?

In writing a speech, repetition is the key to leaving an impression. Hammer home key words, phrases, and themes. Always be looking for places to tie back and reinforce earlier points. And repeat critical points as if they were a musical refrain.

As a teenager, my coach continuously reminded us that “nothing good happens after midnight.” He’d lecture us on the dangers of partying, fighting, peer pressure, and quitting. After a while, my teammates and I just rolled our eyes. Eventually, we encountered those temptations. When I’d consider giving in, coach would growl “Schmitty” disapprovingly in my head. Despite my resistance, coach had found a way to get me to college unscathed. He simply repeated his message over-and-over until it stuck.

Some audience members may get annoyed when you repeat yourself. But don’t worry how they feel today. Concern yourself with this question: What will they remember six months from now?
7) Use Transitions: Sometimes, audiences won’t recognize what’s important. That’s why you use transitional phrases to signal intent. For example, take a rhetorical question like “What does this mean” – and follow it with a pause. Silence gets attention – and this tactic creates anticipation (along with awakening those who’ve drifted off). Similarly, a phrase like “So here’s the lesson” also captures an audience’s interest. It alerts them that something important is about to be shared. Even if they weren’t paying attention before, they can tune in now and catch up.

8) Include Theatrics: During his workshops, Dr. Stephen Covey would fill a glass bowl nearly full with sand. From there, he’d ask a volunteer to place rocks into the bowl. In the exercise, rocks represented essentials like family, job, worship, and exercise, while the bowl signified the volunteer’s time and energy. It never failed: The volunteer couldn’t fit every rock in the bowl. The sand – which embodied day-to-day activities like transporting children, shopping, or reading – took up too much space. Something had to be cut. Usually, it was something essential.

Covey would then encourage his volunteer to consider another option: Start with placing a rock in the bowl, adding some sand, and then alternating rocks and sand until the bowl was full. Like magic, there was suddenly enough space for both, as the sand gradually filled any gaps between the rocks. The message: Maintain balance. Never lose sight of the essentials as you tend to the day-to-day (and vice versa).

Of course, Covey could’ve made his point verbally and moved on. Instead, he illustrated it with household items in a way his audience wouldn’t soon forget. If you have a smaller audience (or a video screen), consider incorporating visuals. Keep the props, storyline, and lesson simple. When you’re done, leave everything out to symbolize your point to your audience. Whatever you do, don’t play it safe. If you do, your speech will be forgotten in no time.

9) End Strong: In 2004, I attended a Direct Marketing Association (DMA) conference. I don’t recall much about our keynote speaker, except that he was tall and southern. I can’t even remember what his address was about. But I’ll never forget the story he used to close his speech.

The speaker was a friend of Jerry Richardson, owner of the NFL’s Carolina Panthers. A few years earlier, the Panthers had drafted a fiery wide receiver named Steve Smith. While Smith excelled on the field, he was a nightmare in the locker room. Eventually, Smith was arrested for assaulting a teammate during film study.
Already reeling from bad publicity from other player incidents, Richardson was pressured to cut Smith. But he chose a different path. Richardson vowed to spend more time with Smith. He decided that Smith would be better served with guidance and caring than further punishment. Eventually, Richardson’s patience paid off. Smith became the Panthers’ all-time leading receiver – and scored a touchdown in their only Super Bowl appearance. In fact, Smith still plays for the Panthers to this day.

If the speaker intended to remind me how powerful that personal attention and forgiveness could be, he succeeded in spades. Fact is, your close is what your audience will remember. So recap your biggest takeaway. Tie everything together. Share a success story. Make a call to action. Don’t hold anything back. Your ending is what audience will ultimately talk about when they head out the door.

10) Keep it Short: What is the worst sin of public speaking? It’s trying to do too much! Your audience’s attention will naturally wane after a few minutes. They have other places to be – and don’t want to be held hostage. And the longer you stay on stage, the more likely you are to stray and make mistakes. So make your points and sit down. Never forget: This is their time, not yours.

 

Source Jeff Schmitt – Forbes.com 

http://onforb.es/PsOlcn

5 Hotels Chains to ask for Donations NOW

This will save you hours of time compared to finding all these fundraising auction item sources on your own. When requesting items for your charity auction, be prepared to provide your non-profit 501(c)(3) number. You should request item donations at least six weeks ahead of time, but some businesses want to hear from you at least 90 days before your event. Many companies also limit their donations in various ways, so it’s best to apply as early as possible. Links are to each company’s donation page. Remember that when requesting any kind of donation, you should always explain “what’s in it for them”. For the company, this would mean explaining the publicity & promotional opportunities their donation provides, the demographics of your event, estimated attendance, amounts raised in previous years, and how the funds that are raised this year will be used.

Submit local non-profit charitable contribution requests through their online form.

Submit local non-profit charitable contribution requests through their online form.

Supports local charities in these three areas: environmental sustainability, creating local economic opportunity, or providing disaster relief.!

Supports local charities in these three areas: environmental sustainability, creating local economic opportunity, or providing disaster relief.

Hilton supports non-profit groups only in the communities they serve.􀀀

Hilton supports non-profit groups only in the communities they serve.

Each hotel works with local non-profit groups in their community. See donation request directions on website.􀀀

Each hotel works with local non-profit groups in their community. See donation request directions on website.

 Best Western - Submit your donation request by email and be sure to provide the requested information.􀀀

Best Western – Submit your donation request by email and be sure to provide the requested information.

10 Restaurant Chains to ask for Donations NOW

This will save you hours of time compared to finding all these fundraising auction item sources on your own. When requesting items for your charity auction, be prepared to provide your non-profit 501(c)(3) number. You should request item donations at least six weeks ahead of time, but some businesses want to hear from you at least 90 days before your event. Many companies also limit their donations in various ways, so it’s best to apply as early as possible. Links are to each company’s donation page. Remember that when requesting any kind of donation, you should always explain “what’s in it for them”. For the company, this would mean explaining the publicity & promotional opportunities their donation provides, the demographics of your event, estimated attendance, amounts raised in previous years, and how the funds that are raised this year will be used.

Canada only. Offers donated products for charity events in communities where they operate.

Canada only. Offers donated products for charity events in communities where they operate.

Regularly makes in-kind donations to local community events and fundraisers

Regularly makes in-kind donations to local community events and fundraisers

Provides $25 gift cards to schools and non-profit organizations. Send your donation request letter to the attention of the General Manager at the restaurant closest to you.!

Provides $25 gift cards to schools and non-profit organizations. Send your donation request letter to the attention of the General Manager at the restaurant closest to you.

$100 gift certificate for a dozen cookies per month for a year (AZ, CO, IN, MA, NE, TX, UT only).!

$100 gift certificate for a dozen cookies per month for a year (AZ, CO, IN, MA, NE, TX, UT only).

Laudrey's, Inc. Donates a $25 gift card to 501c(3) charities that benefit the local communities of our restaurants. Own's 40 different restaurant chains with 450 locations including Landry's Seafood, Chart House, Saltgrass Steak House, Bubba Gump Shrimp Co., Claim Jumper, Morton's Steakhouse, McCormick & Schmick's, Mastro's Restaurants and the Rainforest Cafe.!

Laudrey’s, Inc. Donates a $25 gift card to 501c(3) charities that benefit the local communities of our restaurants. Own’s 40 different restaurant chains with 450 locations including Landry’s Seafood, Chart House, Saltgrass Steak House, Bubba Gump Shrimp Co., Claim Jumper, Morton’s Steakhouse, McCormick & Schmick’s, Mastro’s Restaurants and the Rainforest Cafe.

Supports charitable organizations in our restaurants’ local! communities. Contact the Operating Partner or any manager at your local P.F. Chang’s to inquire about charitable giving availability.!

Supports charitable organizations in our restaurants’ local communities. Contact the Operating Partner or any manager at your local P.F. Chang’s to inquire about charitable giving availability.

Provides several printable coupons good for a free pint of ice cream for your fundraiser event (schools and non-profits).!

Provides several printable coupons good for a free pint of ice cream for your fundraiser event (schools and non-profits).

Donates gift cards to nonprofit groups for fundraising purposes. They have a list of criteria your request letter must include, then mail or drop off the request at your local Cracker Barrel.!

Donates gift cards to nonprofit groups for fundraising purposes. They have a list of criteria your request letter must include, then mail or drop off the request at your local Cracker Barrel.!

Provides a restaurant gift certificate to a limited number of non- profit organizations.!

Provides a restaurant gift certificate to a limited number of non- profit organizations.

North Carolina, South Carolina, Georgia, Oklahoma and Arkansas and California

North Carolina, South Carolina, Georgia, Oklahoma and Arkansas and California

3 Ways to Get More Business Donations & Raise More Money

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Many national companies prefer to use a single point of contact to help streamline their donation
request fulfillment process. Clearinghouses fulfill this function by helping match schools and
nonprofit organizations with businesses that want to help.

Most clearinghouses offer both a free service platform and a paid one. My suggestion is to try
the free platform and see if you like it.

If you do, then it’s well worth the extra fee to use the paid platform. Why? Because it provides
even more business donation matches for your group and therefore helps you raise a lot more
money.

The best one – and the easiest to use – is called Donation Match.
Donation Match – Find hundreds of donated items for fundraising auctions, raffles, gift bags, or
giveaways with just a few clicks. Use their custom application to reach multiple companies and
brands who value your event audiences, all in one place. This is as easy peasy at it gets!

Bidding For Good – Primarily does online auctions for nonprofit groups, but also has donated
items from businesses that they can add to your auction. This is an easy way to raise money
online as long as you have enough active supporters willing to make enough bids online.

Good360 – This is a good source for surplus products from businesses. NOTE: These product
donations cannot be auctioned off to raise funds. These products also cannot be sold, traded or
bartered or be given as gifts to volunteers or sold in thrift shops. All product donations MUST be
given to the needy, ill, and youth that you serve in your community. Groups must also pay
administrative fees and shipping charges.

Why Some Fundraisers Succeed While Others Fail

why-some-fundraisers-succeed

This guest article by multimillionaire nonprofit benefactor Paul J. Meyer describes the qualities possessed by successful fundraisers and contrasts those with the qualities exhibited by the unsuccessful fundraisers.

Paul is not just describing his own experience as a nonprofit donor. He took the time to personally interview 30 other major donors to find the common qualities possessed by a successful major gift fundraiser.

From the Donor’s Perspective: Why Some Fundraisers Succeed While Others Fail

Author: Paul J. Meyer

In order to get their valuable perspectives on fundraising, I interviewed more than 30 donors of the highest caliber who have given millions and millions of dollars to various charities, ministries, and organizations. I asked them why some fundraisers succeed while others fail.

These are the qualities and characteristics the donors felt made successful fundraisers:

Sincere relationship — Above all, successful fundraisers are sincere.

Personal integrity — Successful fundraisers are upfront, genuine, and always operate with integrity.

Knowledge of their charity — Successful fundraisers are well informed.

Clearly defined goals — Successful fundraisers clearly state the mission, needs, and opportunity a donor has to help accomplish the mission.

Regular communication — Successful fundraisers keep donors in the loop.

Assurance of cost effectiveness — Successful fundraisers show donors that their money is doing what was promised.

Credibility — Successful fundraisers use donors’ funds for the intended purpose only.

Matching gifts — Successful fundraisers think about lead gifts or matching gifts so donors’ gifts are multiplied.

Deserving cause — Successful fundraisers help donors feel that they are making a worthwhile contribution to a worthwhile cause.

Shared vision — Successful fundraisers seek donors who share the organization’s vision and want to make a difference.

Passion — Successful fundraisers believe in their cause so much that they contribute to it themselves.

Common interest — Successful fundraisers find donors who are interested in their mission.

Enthusiasm — Successful fundraisers are enthusiastic about their cause.

Quality presentation — Successful fundraisers present the charity in an enticing, concise, and articulate manner.

Gratitude — Successful fundraisers must have an air of gratitude, no matter the amount of the gift.

Persistence — Successful fundraisers are persistent without being offensive.

Negative Qualities Of Unsuccessful Fundraisers

On the other hand, these are the qualities and characteristics the donors felt made fundraisers fail:

Lack of personal relationship — One of the most common reasons that fundraisers fail is that they haven’t established a relationship with the donor.

Negative characteristics portrayed — If something is said or done that runs up the “red flag” for the donor, the fundraiser will most likely fail.

Lack of sincerity and belief — Failure comes when fundraisers are not sincere and do not have a strong belief in their charity.

Poor communication — Failure is imminent for fundraisers who do not communicate, including communicating about the charity and keeping in touch with the donor.

Lack of clear goals — Fundraising without clear goals leads to lack of balance and action.

Lack of integrity — Any hint of a fundraiser’s lack of integrity, and the donor will slow down, back up, or demand answers.

Perceived ungratefulness — Fundraisers who fail rarely give donors a personal thank-you for their gift or else they use it as a steppingstone to the next request.

Desperation letters — Desperation letters are not effective, well received, or quickly forgotten.

Pressure selling — High-pressure salesmanship is a serious turnoff.

Lack of knowledge — Fundraisers fail because they cannot answer the questions that donors ask.

Inaction — Many fundraisers fail because they are not getting the message out to enough people.

Wastefulness — Fundraisers fail when they do not spend the donors’ money wisely.

Lack of interest — Fundraisers who fail seldom do the homework necessary to know if the prospective donor is even interested in the charity.

Inappropriate appreciation — Unsuccessful fundraisers don’t take the time or care to find out how their donors expect to be appreciated.

Forgetting the obvious — If a fundraiser does not leave a donor with all the necessary contact information, the donor cannot give.

Wasting time — Prospective donors do not appreciate when fundraisers are insensitive to their time and schedule.

Having a donor’s perspective can help make the difference between success and failure as a fundraiser!

About the Author
Paul J. Meyer is a New York Times best-selling author, successful entrepreneur, and a millionaire many times over. His life-long passion is helping people develop their full potential in business and leadership through tried and true methods of achieving success. Visit www.pauljmeyer.com for more resources. Article via http://www.fundraiserhelp.com

 

Life begins at the end of your comfort zone

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Your event is just around the corner, you are at a standstill. You still need Sponsors, Volunteers and to hire that DJ. Stop. Take a breathe. This uncomfortable feeling you have, the uneasiness and restlessness, its part of the job. That is why YOU were chosen out of all the other applicants to do it. The rush of 6 months prior to your event can be overwhelming, exhausting and every day seems to go by faster than the day before. Here are some tips to  keep things in order, stay healthy and accomplish your goals.

START SMALL

Instead of having one main goal – a successful event. Create small goals for yourself including daily goals. For example:

TODAY:

– check emails

– follow up with 10 potential sponsors

– reserve chairs

EAT WELL

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Stress can cause sickness and exhaustion. Keep your body healthy by making time for yourself. You may feel like you do not have time, but you do. Taking 30 minutes – 1 hour a day  for a walk, workout, yoga or reading a book will reenergize your body and create productivity. Besides, wouldn’t you rather take 30 minutes each day and be well or a week off work because you are sick, which will set you back and be more stressful?

SLEEP

You may find it hard to sleep at night with all the worries in your head. However, maintaining a normal sleep pattern 6 – 8 hours a night will absolutely keep your blood pressure down, help you to focus and maintain and proper work day. Don’t worry too much at night, there is always tomorrow! Just leave it at work and enjoy your pillow. Some tips to help you sleep – nighty night tea; lavender pillow spray or a warm bath. Enjoy!

Copyright 2014 Beahm Auction Group

 

 

 

Human centerpieces and performance art served up at gala.

MOCa Galal Centerpiece

How do you even begin to find the words to describe a museum gala for which each and every guest (Eli Broad, even) is required to wear a white lab coat, and at which the table centerpieces are live humans, and the dessert is an offering of edible body parts?

Epic. That’s what the Museum of Contemporary Art’s annual gala was on Saturday night. Titled “An Artist’s Life Manifesto,” the event was conceived by performance artist Marina Abramovic. And it managed to generate its share of controversy before it even got off the ground. The use of humans as centerpieces, which dancer Yvonne Rainer called “exploitative” and “a grotesque spectacle,” manifested itself, in part, in nude prone female bodies rotating in the center of several large round tables. (What was grotesque was that, as Abvramovic put it, she was “allowed” to use nude female bodies, but not male ones.)

Other tables had live human heads poking through. Cards at each place setting instructed guests to “look but don’t touch” the performers. “The centerpiece will observe you. You may observe the centerpiece. No touching, feeding, offering drink, or disrespecting the centerpiece. All communication and connection with the centerpiece must be non-verbal.” And so on.

(If you think the performance art aspect was limited to the efforts of these performers alone, we suggest you try to eat a frisee salad while being silently judged by your centerpiece.) MOCA Gala1

The piece was designed to provoke and disturb, and it worked.The lab coats, which everyone was asked to don on the way into the gala tent, were designed to make guests part of the experiment. They also leveled the fashion playing field — to interesting effect — and made some of the Hollywood pretties look like cast members straight out of “General Hospital.”

The event, which raised $2.5 million for the museum, culminated in a performance by Deborah Harry followed by the offering up of body parts for dessert — in the form of two life-size cakes that were perfect doppelgangers for Abramovic and Harry. After the two ladies plunged their steely knives into their confectionery doubles, reaching inside to rip out the “hearts,” waiters dismembered the toes, breasts, etc., and served them to guests. A surreal scene if ever there was one.

By way of introducing MOCA Director Jeffrey Deitch, Broad described the last two years at the museum as a “spectacular turnaround.” The museum’s endowment has doubled and attendance has tripled during Deitch’s tenure, Broad, a MOCA trustee, said.

Deitch called Abramovic “the most influential performance artist working today.”

When the artist took the stage, she said, “it has not been easy to force you all into lab coats. But I like the idea of transformation.” She thanked the 120 performance artists participating in the evening’s work, some of whom had to hold their position and concentration for four hours.

Gov. Jerry Brown and Mayor Antonio Villaraigosa were among the high-profile guests. From the art world, Doug Aiken, Ed Ruscha, Kenneth Anger and Mark Bradford were there. Hollywood types included Liz Goldwyn, Dita von Teese, Kirsten Dunst, Gwen Stefani, Will Ferrell and Nicole Richie. There were plenty of fashion folks too — Monique Lhuillier, Jeremy Scott, Chrome Hearts’ Richard and Laurie Stark, Pamela Skaist-Levy and Gela Nash-Taylor, and Cameron Silver. Hedi Slimane was in the house as well. The designer-turned-photographer opened an exhibition at the museum’s Pacific Design Center space on Friday, titled “California Song.”

Before the lab coats went on, some spectacular outfits made a quick appearance. Von Teese was in a Jean Paul Gaultier gown (she had just accompanied the designer to the opening of his retrospective at the Dallas Museum of Art). The artist Rosson Crow was in a fit ‘n’ flare vintage Don Loper gown, and Gelila Puck had her hair in a 1920s coif, in the spirit of her flapper-esque hand-painted James Galanos gown. Scott no doubt was wearing one of his own designs — a gold tuxedo vest sans shirt — and Lisa Eisner had on a festive full skirt trimmed in fur. Wanda McDaniel was representing for her boss, wearing a fun dress with Giorgio Armani’s face on the front.

The white lab coats might have made it hard to see the fashion statements, but they made a statement themselves. As the lab-coated people decamped to the valet line, we wondered aloud about one more piece of performance art.

We’d all make one heck of a flash mob at the local emergency room.

Article via LA Times– Booth Moore and Adam Tschorn

Photos: At top, one of the several tables at the MOCA gala’s “An Artist’s Life Manifesto,” directed by Marina Abramovic on Nov. 12, 2011. At middle, left, Will Ferrell and Monique Lhuiller at the MOCA gala. Credit: Both by Frazer Harrison / Getty Images for MOCA. At right, Deborah Harry performs while being carried onto the stage at the MOCA gala. Credit: John Sciulli / Getty Images for MOCA.

 

Father’s Day – A Poem to My Hero

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The world always needs a hero, that hero is dad.

Fathers are wonderful people
Too little understood,
And we do not sing their praises
As often as we should…

For, somehow, Father seems to be
The man who pays the bills,
While Mother binds up little hurts
And nurses all our ills…

And Father struggles daily
To live up to “HIS IMAGE”
As protector and provider
And “hero or the scrimmage”…

And perhaps that is the reason
We sometimes get the notion,
That Fathers are not subject
To the thing we call emotion,

But if you look inside Dad’s heart,
Where no one else can see
You’ll find he’s sentimental
And as “soft” as he can be…

But he’s so busy every day
In the grueling race of life,
He leaves the sentimental stuff
To his partner and his wife…

But Fathers are just WONDERFUL
In a million different ways,
And they merit loving compliments
And accolade of praise,

For the only reason Dad aspires
To fortune and success
Is to make the family proud of him
And to bring them happiness…

And like OUR HEAVENLY FATHER,
He’s a guardian and a guide,
Someone that we can count on
To be ALWAYS ON OUR SIDE.
Helen Steiner Rice

How Often Should You Thank Recurring Donors?

thank-you-road-sign

People often ask, is it important to thank a recurring donor every month?  The answer depends on how they gave in the first place.

When the Recurring Donation Comes Through Offline Methods.

When someone becomes a recurring donor offline, say through direct mail, telemarketing, face to face, TV, or any other ‘offline’ medium, Ialways recommend sending an immediate snail mail thank you letter for joining but then after that NOT to send .donors monthly thank you letters.

It costs money to send a thank you via snail mail which defeats the purpose of having someone join as a recurring donor. However, you should send a tax receipt in January of all their gifts, so they have it for their records and, of course, you should always thank the donors in your annual appeals, recognizing them as special.

Online Recurring Donor Receipts: Make them Personal and Special

For online credit card recurring donors, where a monthly thank you email is typically generated automatically, I recommend something slightly different.

Definitely send a snail mail letter to thank the donor for joining the recurring giving program andsend the tax receipt via snail mail (and email) in January.

But you’ll also have to make an extra effort to alternate the monthly thank you receipts. You’re certainly not treating these donors special if you keep sending the same standard thank you month after month. These donors are making a considerable ongoing contribution to your organization so you should treat them special.

While I like PayPal and Network for Good a lot for their ease of use in having donors join a recurring giving program, their email receipts are not great. In the “off the shelf” versions of these services your org can’t change the messages, although customization is available in Network for Good’s Donate Now option.   Just take a look at these automatically generated receipts:

PayPal

You sent an automatic payment

Hello e waasdorp,

You sent an automatice payment to Marstons Mills Public Library, Inc. Here are the details:

Amount: $5.00

To: Marston Mills Public Library, Inc

For:

Customer service URL: http://www.xxxxx

Customer service email: smartn@xxxxxx.org

Customer service phone: xxx-xxx-xxxx

Automatic payment details:

And here’s a Network For Good example

From: donations@networkforgood.org

Date: May 21, 2014 at 6:23:51 AM MST
To: xxxx

Subject: Thank you for your donation!

The following donation(s) were scheduled to be processed today per instructions from pledge(s) you’ve made in the past.

Nonprofit Organization: NAME
Frequency: Monthly

On behalf of your favorite charity(ies), we thank you for your generous support! By making an automated donation online through Network for Good, you have chosen one of the most efficient and cost effective ways to give to charity.

Your contribution is tax-deductible to the extent allowed by law. You may save or print this receipt for your records and the information will be conveniently stored in your donation history for you to access at any time.  This email certifies that you have made this donation as a charitable contribution and you are not receiving any goods or services in return.  This receipt may be useful to you when completing your tax return.

Your credit card will be billed as Network for Good instead of the names of the organizations receiving the funds because your donation is to the Network for Good Donor Advised Fund (tax ID 68-0480736), which will re-grant your donation to the charity/ies you designated.  All donations are final and may not be refunded. Your donation has been processed as follows:

Name: xxx

Address: xxxx
City: xxxx
State/Province: xx
Zip/Postal Code: xxx

E-mail: xxx
Phone: xxx

Total Donation Amount: $10.50

Method of Payment: Visa
Name on Credit Card: xx

Credit Card Last 4 Digits: xxxx
Date: Wednesday, May 21, 2014
Time: 9:23 AM EDT
Reference Number: xxxxxxxxxxx

These have been abbreviated here, but they both continue in this dry legalistic way. And this  ‘standard approach’ does not apply to just PayPal or Network for Good receipts. We can certainly explain why these two are just not able to make it any more personal because it’s not the organization issuing them, they’re just the ‘middle man’ if you will. The sad news is that I have seen even several large organizations with other credit card processing systems where the email receipts are not very good either when they could be much better.

Do the above email receipts seem special to you? Do they tell the donor about the impact their gift is making? Absolutely not. A receipt is not a thank you.

How to Make a Better Impression

But, there is a simple solution that does not take that much time or extra resources, and it WILL make a world of difference to the recurring donor you’re trying to keep and in the future upgrade to higher levels.

If all is well, you should have already coded these recurring donors in your email list as a special segment. If not, start doing this as soon as possible! You’ll benefit from it in the short and long run!

Here is a simple recommendation to address the issue of recurring donor receipts that does not take that much time:

1. Create a special variation of your email newsletter to include a thank you to your recurring donor

I trust that you’re sending out an email newsletter or message to your donors at least once a month. If so, I recommend creating a slight variation of the email introduction that simply says:

Thank you for being such a great member of the Circle of Friends (fill in name of your monthly giving group). You make a difference to the many people (animals) etc. we serve (fill in specifics)… Thanks to you we’re able to have the funds to…    (fill in specifics).

Then go into the rest of your email blast announcing upcoming events and activities… or better yet tell the story about one of your clients. Do not repeat the amount and date of their gift in this email but focus on the fact that they are such a loyal donor to your organization and they’re truly SPECIAL! You should be able to do this in the first few lines of your email newsletter.

This way, it gives the recurring donor that ‘special feeling.’  It’s not a lot of extra work on your part and it’s also less important at what time of the month you send that email. And believe it or not, you can occasionally even include an ask for money in some of those email blasts (but do fit it in with your overall communication strategy! If you’re already in the mail heavily, you may just use those email blasts as reminders.

The long and short of it is, you just told the recurring donor how special they are to your organization and the difference their ongoing gifts make. And, if you get feedback and testimonials from your recurring donors, don’t be afraid to use them. People love hearing from other donors confirming that they made the right decision (joining your recurring giving program)!

2. Send at least four special email thank yous at a minimum

If you are not yet sending a regular email newsletter now, I highly recommend you do at least four special email blast thank you emails to your recurring donors annually. They don’t have to be very long or elaborate, just personal and really appreciative. Many organizations tend to change up their typical snail mail thank you letters once a quarter, depending upon their annual fund schedule, so just make a simple email variation, work in the reference to being a recurring donor et voila!

I’m all for keeping things simple and manageable, so try to use what you already have in place and make small tweaks to accommodate the recurring donors. It is important to treat this special group special. You’ll continue to benefit from these recurring donors, month after month, for many years to come!

And, if you have questions or special email thank you notes to share, please feel free to email them to erica@adirectsolution.com.

Original article by Erica Waasdorp. She is the author of the hot new book, Monthly Giving: The Sleeping Giant.