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You know the drill. Your volunteer board is back for another meeting. Everyone knows millennials are a powerhouse market to be tapped, so finally someone asks that million-dollar question — those five words that strike fear into many a fundraising team: “How do we attract millennials?”

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A donor recognition plan is a necessity, not a luxury. If it’s not a top priority on your to-do list, it’s time to reevaluate.

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“That’s not unusual.”

“It’s a common problem.”

“I’m sure it’s been frustrating.”

I find myself repeating these reassuring phrases to prospects and new clients all the time, about the same issue: development directors.

Most of my clients, from non-profits to alumni interest groups, have hired, and fired, their share of development professionals—two or three, five or six or more in just a few years—in that never-ending quest for donors and dollars. Why do non-profits burn through development directors so rapidly?

One of my top performing clients had five development directors in just under four years before we started working together. They ranged from seasoned, suit-wearing veterans to fresh-faced, social-savvy college grads. The first one spent his first eight months redesigning the logo. The second one burned out researching and purchasing a new donor database software. The third one spent every billable hour learning that software and every lunch hour complaining about it. The fourth quit when he learned there was no budget for someone else to update the software. The fifth scaled back the already sporadic donor communications plan because she was struggling to find anything to say. Instead of celebrating growing results, they were out thousands of dollars in salary and benefits, with nothing to show but a new logo, a database no one could use and an empty office.

Development directors arrive with that perceived special power to ask for money. Obviously personal solicitations and stewardship can be effective; it is a proven fact in fundraising that the most effective asks are based on the quality of the relationship between the prospect and the solicitor. A slick salesperson isn’t a substitute for the solid foundation on which successful fundraising is built—that high-quality relationship between the donor and the organization. Establishing that relationship takes more than a few lunches, cocktails and asking about the spouse and kids. A robust, clean database, a meaningful (to your donors) story, and a plan to communicate one-to-one, on a frequent, consistent basis are essential to sustainable success.

Our approach—and one of the reasons we’ve been so successful—is that we’ve demystified the process of fundraising. There is no magic bullet, no quick fix to your fundraising needs. No great hire, no development rock star who is going to take you to the promised land. Perhaps even more valuable, our experience indicates that if you invest in an ongoing dialogue, instead of in a high-priced solicitor, your organization will benefit from more than just raising money. It will grow and transform organically, resulting in a total rebirth.

 Answer these key questions honestly before you think about your next hire:

ü  Does your group have committed leadership and a strong board of directors?

ü  Have you developed and are you executing a solid strategic plan?

ü  Do you desire to maximize every dollar?

ü  Do you have a history of strong communications, a solid annual fund, and accurate database?

ü  Does your mission conjure up a positive cluster of opinions in your donors’ hearts and minds?

If you can’t check off these five criteria, you’re destined to burn through more development staff without a return on your investment. If you want a results-based partnership that helps you strive toward these five critical points, call me to explore better options. Ready to stop relying on magic bullets and superhero solicitors? Call me before you place your next help wanted ad.



According to Giving USA 2017, charities received a record $390.05 billion in 2016,  a 2.7% increase from the total giving in 2015. Though this number is impressive, nonprofits and charities continue to raise the bar when it comes to donor acquisition and gifts. Through advancements in technology and resource development, we're able to find new ways to expand philanthropic initiatives, and despite uncertain political times and an economy under transition, the future of philanthropy looks bright in the United States.

In order to prepare your organization for another record-breaking year in giving, check out these two charitable giving trends to look out for through the rest of this year and into the next.

1. Online Donations Are Increasing 

Donors are getting more comfortable with making donations online and the trend is only expected to increase. One source found that in June 2017, the number of online donors increased by 20% from the same month last year. The 2017 M+R Benchmarks Report shows that nonprofits also increased overall online revenue by 14%, with the monthly giving rate going up by 23% from 2015.

Additionally, statistics are showing more and more that social media works with improving your audience and increasing potential donors. When analyzing the social media accounts of nonprofits, Instagram audiences grew at a rate of 101% in just one year.

What This Means For Your Organization

How is your nonprofit performing online, and are you taking advantage of these online giving trends? Build your online presence and make your message heard! Affinity Connection will help you develop your online identity and make giving easier for your donors, with mobile-optimization for your website and emails!

2. Increases in Giving by Individuals and Households

The most recent edition of the Philanthropy Outlook found that total giving in 2017 and 2018 will be driven by individuals and households. This source of giving will account for 70.7% of total giving in 2017, and then slightly decrease to 70.3% in 2018. The positive overall growth of giving by individuals/households can be attributed to trends showcasing increases in personal income. Typically, as wealth increases so do the charitable donations made by a household.

What This Means For Your Organization

Focus on fundraising campaigns that are proven to increase household giving. Pay special attention to donor retention, and don't be afraid to ask your donors to increase their giving this year! Need help on putting together a successful campaign, and when it comes to asking your donors for more money this year? Let Affinity Connection do the hard work for you; our experts help you connect with your audience in a poignant new way, so you can bring in more than ever before. Find out how!


Fundraising events are a great excuse to bring your group together for fun AND funds. Keep these stats in mind when you start planning! 

Need help planning your fundraising event? Affinity Connection will help your team throughout the entire process; from picking the venue to providing on-site assistance during the day-of, we’re your right-hand man that knows the industry and knows how to make your vision for your event come to life. Let us bring your group together for a day or evening you’ll love so much, you’ll make it an annual occasion! 


So, you have an amazing story to share with your donors and potential donors. You have a beautifully designed newsletter or eletters. What else could you possibly need to skyrocket to fundraising success?

One little aspect of your alumni group’s efforts can go unnoticed, but it can make a huge impact.

The data you have on your donors can be the game-changing difference between your group’s failures and successes, losses and record-breaking profits. Have the wrong data, and your stories end up returned to you by the dozens, in the trash, lost in the world of snail mail or sitting forever unclicked in the bottom of a spam folder.

Your donors are moving, changing email addresses and switching up how they live and do business every day. Don’t waste time and money sending them information they’ll never see. Instead, make sure your data is correct the first time and all the time, by placing a priority on this part of your alumni outreach.

Feel like your database is already too far gone to save? An easy way to begin cleaning up your database and start reaching more donors (and, in return, seeing more dollars) is by simply asking. An affordable postcard mailing or short eletter asking for donors to update either their email or address can make a world of difference, and many have no problem doing so.

Ready to get started? This easy project is well worth the reward, as you start engaging not just a small pocket of your alumni, but all of them, reaping a greater return on your investment and building a stronger, better alumni community. Affinity Connection knows data and how important it is to your alumni group. Let us combine our skills with your current efforts to clean up your current database and start rolling in the new contacts. We’ll do all the hard work for you, so you can enjoy the fruits of our labor. 

Are you completely missing donors by not doing this one easy thing?

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About Us

Affinity Connection provides strategic, data-driven fundraising, branding and marketing programs that grow donors for nonprofit and membership-based organizations and inbound leads and revenue for for-profit organizations and businesses.  Integrated platforms for data, direct marketing and financial transactions streamline the donor and customer experiences, making every interaction personal and meaningful.

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