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Monday, January 23, 2017

Arts in the Community

Getting to know Ryan MacPherson, the new Development Associate at OperaDelaware. 

A healthy arts scene in a community is often a good sign that there is a thriving economy too.

We are in an area blessed with a plethora of musical performances, staged plays, special cinema screenings, art exhibitions and pop up concerts and activities too numerous to mention. There is always somewhere to go and something to see.

As you can tell OperaDelaware (ODE) is my personal favorite, even if I can't read a note of music. To be transported into a world of magic lifts my heart and spirit every time. Their Spring Festival in 2016 drew critical praise.

In fact, the Washington Post noted "it's worth the trip". This was for the staged east coast premiere of the forgotten Opera Amleto  by Franco Faccio based on Shakespeare's Hamlet. Maybe you saw the "Essere" (to be) signs all over the place? This year the spring festival features Rossini in all his glory. Check it all out on the ODE website:

I urge you to find a favorite arts organization and support them with attendance and donations. The arts give us additional perspectives and we can all benefit from them.

See you out and about! 

Monday, January 9, 2017

"Thank you, Donors"

Nonprofits, your year-end appeals are over, and I sincerely hope they were successful. Now is the time to be mindful of saying "thank you" to donors so they know that you are truly appreciative. In all cases, think of yourself as the donor and follow your best instincts.

I love lists, so here is one with tips on thanking donors.

Remember that timeliness is a virtue.
All thank-you letters for donations made in December should be written and mailed before the end of January. Within 30 days, is my mantra.

Mind your spelling. Misspelling a name is a cardinal sin. I'm appalled at the times I write a check or register for an event to find my name spelled Bonnie, not Bonny, on a thank you or nametag. Check carefully; it's how donors spell their name, not how you think they spell it. While you are at it, make sure the names in your database are spelled correctly, too. P.S. - Organizations that misspell my name don't usually get another donation.

Personalize the salutation. "Dear Friend" doesn't work. The donor took time to write the check, so recognize the effort and use the name they use. Also, do not say "Dear Ms. S. Jones;" say "Dear Susan." You can do better than lifting the name from a spreadsheet column.

Don't be boring. Boring letters are not read, so avoid a long introduction. Get straight to the point: What will happen because of the donation? Refer back to why you asked. Keep the introduction short and service-focused. 

Acknowledge special requests. "We will keep your gift anonymous" and "Your gift will go to the swimming program as requested" are two examples. The donor knows that you heard them. Keep notes like this in your database for future reference.

Focus your thank you on the impact of gifts. Refer to why you asked and be specific about getting started on the program or initiative to which the appeal is targeted and the difference it will make. If part of the gift will go to the endowment, stress how important this is to effective stewardship.

Provide contact information. Donors will want to know whom to contact if they have questions, if there's an error, or if they want to make an additional never can tell. Giving an email that says "" is totally unacceptable; give the contact information for a specific person at your organization.

An Alibi Engagement Study found that 21% of donors say they were never thanked for their gift. This is a cautionary tale for donor cultivation if I ever heard one. For further information on this or other development strategies, please give me a call at (302) 530-6806.