During my 50 years of raising money, I’ve been to a lot of fundraising conferences. Indeed, the first was a WWF “Family” meeting 45 years ago in Washington, DC to talk about direct mail and legacies. From that conference on, as an audience member and as a frequent presenter, I adopted a rule: take ONE thing away from every presentation that I can implement on my return.
I wasn’t always successful. In the WWF example, I was. Within two years, WWF Canada had a vibrant, profitable direct mail program and we were talking to our donors about leaving a gift in their Will. But sometimes, practical ideas were simply not offered. I learned to avoid those conferences (and presenters).
This preamble is to introduce you to some stunning learnings from my most recent excursion, the annual conference of the Canadian Association of Gift Planners (CAGP) in Halifax, Nova Scotia in June.
I attended five sessions given by some richly talented people. In this article (Part Two) I share the idea – the gem – that I took away from sessions 4 and 5. Of course, there was much more, but I want to cut to the chase and offer you take-aways you can use tomorrow to raise more money for your important work.
Session Four: Building Sustainability by Breaking Down Silos: Re-thinking fundraising through a radical refocus on the retention of major, annual and legacy donors with Peggy Killeen, CAGP Foundation and Jim Langley, Langley Innovations
This was another session filled with great ideas. It began with the premise that current renewal rates are abysmal. Jim said that in some cases, it is over 80%. That means that for every 10 donors who make a first gift, 2 (that’s right, TWO!) will make a second gift.
My take-away was that we need to completely rethink donor acquisition. We need to figure out a way to recruit donors who will stay with us.
It is interesting that a take-away from a legacy conference involves acquiring new donors. But as I mentioned in the takeaway from Session 2, this is the future pipeline for your legacy program.
We all know that over the next 20 years, legacy programs are going to raise a lot of money. Our program people will be eager to invest this windfall in better programming but maybe some should be invested in donor acquisition. An investment might also be made from the mid-level and major gift programs. Intelligent, effective donor acquisition and retention are their future too. I wish I was running a fundraising program again. I’d propose, and act on this in a heartbeat!
Session Five: The Power of Legacy Videos with Michelle Bower Carter, Mission Productions & Media Inc.
A theme throughout the conference was the importance of storytelling to encourage people to make a planned gift. Once we accept this, the power of video becomes obvious.
Here are seven tidbits you can use to encourage your boss to invest in a legacy video.
Time to make your legacy video!
It’s been fun reviewing the material from the 2022 CAGP conference, which has become one of the best fundraising conferences in Canada.
Mark your calendar: Next year’s conference is in Vancouver, BC from April 19 – 21. Maybe I’ll see you there!
David Love raised his first dollar for the environment in 1969. He raised his most recent one today. He now occasionally works on legacies with his daughter’s direct response company, Agents of Good, where he is affectionately known as “The Godfather of Good. David’s book "Green Green" summarizing lessons learned in 51 years of fundraising is now available. Enter SN20 at checkout for a 20% discount. email@example.com