This is a recorded session from the 2020 AAM Virtual Annual Meeting and MuseumExpo.
Presenters: Donna McGinnis, President & CEO, Naples Botanical Garden and Kate Brueggemann, VP, Development, Adler Planetarium
Donna McGinnis: Good afternoon, everyone. Thank you for joining us today for planning for sustainable success fundraising management in a changing world will start at the half-hour look forward to seeing you then.
Hello, everyone. Thank you for joining us this afternoon for planning for sustainable success fundraising management in a changing world. We will start in five minutes.
Good afternoon, everybody and welcome to planning for sustainable success fundraising management in a changing world. It is fantastic to have you here. We’re excited to share some of what we have been researching and working on as everybody looks to fundraising over the next year or so and we look forward to having your participation as well.
My name is Donna McGinnis. I’m president and CEO of Naples Botanical Garden in Naples Florida. I’ve been in this CEO position for about three years. It’s my first CEO position. And I came up through the ranks in fundraising in performing arts and then museums and then burdens, I am not a plant specialist. I am the MBA, who works with the scientists and a lot of my role has been in the Chief Development Officer universe as well as now in the CEO position.
A little bit about my organization because my co presenter Kate Bergman and I are in pretty different situations right now. So, I’m at a botanical garden. Which as an outdoor location? We’re going to have the chance to open up earlier than indoor locations are, so we are getting ready. Over the next few weeks.
To probably open back up to the public in a limited way we have the advantage of being able to offer outside outdoor access without having to open up our buildings and we’re in an area that is a smaller community. It is about 300,000 people and swells up to about 500,000 during the winter and it’s very seasonal so we’re going into summer, which is usually the time of year that we have the lowest audience because everybody that winters in Naples has headed back up to their hometowns and they’re headed to you.
So, we’re in a different position then institutions in the north, which are really looking to capture a lot of audience in the summertime. So, Kate Bergman, could I ask you to introduce yourself as well.
Kate Brueggemann: Yes. Hi, good afternoon, everybody. I’m so happy to be here. My name is Kate Brueggemann, and I am the vice president for development at the Adler Planetarium. I’ve been in my position at the Adler for about three years. This is my first vice presidential position. Previously, I’ve worked in either communications or fundraising and I spent the majority of my fundraising career at advocacy organizations as well as museums and I’ve worked at Botanic Gardens and History Museum and now a planetarium I think Donna and I have really great examples of differing museums and different realities. Our museum is located on museum campus and the City of Chicago. Chicago has about the greater Chicago area has about 10 million residents and we anticipate the majority of our admission revenue happens in the early spring to early fall months. And so, this is really the most populated time for our museum. So, we’re looking at a longer shut down period, then what outdoor organizations might be expecting like Botanic Gardens and arboretum’s
as well as I’ll mention our organization has also gone through layoffs, about two weeks ago. So, we’ve been impacted and a lot of different ways and are looking towards how we can best pivot our organization and our fundraising program for not just the year ahead but the years ahead.
Donna McGinnis: Great. Well, we wanted to get a sense of who’s in the room. So, if you would locate your raise hand feature.
If you move your cursor around, you should be able to find that. So, what we’re going to ask you a few questions and cave is going to take a look at the numbers in the room and see who we’ve got. So, Kate. Can you see what it looks like we’re at 162 participants right now. So, if you are a development professional, raise your hand.
Let’s see, and Kate, are you able to lower all hands here, I’ll do that. Okay, how about this. If you are a CEO or executive director, raise your hand.
Kate Brueggemann: Looks like we have about 32
Donna McGinnis: Okay, so it looks like we have a lot of leaders in the room, as well as development professionals, probably from all at all levels. Okay, so let’s do this. If your institution is completely mostly an indoor visitor experience, raise your hand.
Kate Brueggemann: Almost of us are inside institutions.
Donna McGinnis: OK, so now if you are mostly outdoor such as a garden or a historic site, raise your hand.
Okay. All right. So, this really does you know maybe shaped today’s conversation because that that may there are a couple of questions coming up that this may affect. So do you have a membership program? So, if you have a membership program, raise your hand.
Kate Brueggemann: The majority of us do. There’s about 100
Donna McGinnis: Excellent. Okay, so a lot of us have membership programs to work with. So, we’re going to be talking some about that today. Okay, so here’s one.
Raise your hand if you anticipate that you will reopen by the end of summer.
Raise your hand if you think you’ll reopen by the end of summer.
Kate Brueggemann: At two of us.
Donna McGinnis: Okay, so it looks like about half.
Okay. So last question I’m going to ask you because this affects how we’re raising money right now as well. Raise your hand if your board of directors helps raise money.
So, this means that they’re actively helping you in some way. Not that they are supposed to, because they’re all supposed to. But if they’re actively helping even if not all of them are but you have board members who are in the trenches with you, raising funds.
Kate Brueggemann: About…
Donna McGinnis: Right. Okay. Well, that gives us, you know, it gives us a starting point, because some of what is really important is you know the basics are still the basics. And so, we’re going to talk a bit about that today.
We still have to have solid annual development plans we always have to have an annual plan we plan the work the plan that’s how this work is successful. It’s just that right now. Some of our tools are not available to us. So, for example, our fundraising again events like galas and walks and dinners and group experiences.
Those kinds of things we don’t have available to us right now if we’re closed. We don’t have on site member acquisition, and this isn’t a window of time that we’re doing face to face in person fundraising conversations, whether it’s with individuals or with companies or foundations.
So, the toolbox has changed, but having a plan is still important. There’s no magic bullet now that we’re in a crisis, it’s even more important that we have these things together. So, what you see on the slide is everything that you should have in your annual fundraising management plan.
And so, some of the things that we’re going to have to look at for the coming year your case statement probably hasn’t changed. But your financial needs may have.
So, some of what we’re hearing, especially from the financial sector is the potential this, this may be a U-shaped curve in terms of the economy where we may see the economy dip down it’s not going to bounce right back as like a V shape, but it may dip down for a few months, perhaps, but then it’s going to come back as consumers have confidence. Again, as there is some immunization possibility on the landscape. We know that demand is going to return. So, what we have to do is be sure that we don’t cut back so far that you sort of eat into the muscle of the organization. And then you aren’t able to spring back when the market returns and when visitors are feeling comfortable about coming back again. So, a lot of figuring out the financial goals now is what is the dip in your organization. How long do you think you’ll be closed? What is the financial impact on your organization right now and what is the gap? What are you looking at what’s that short term gap? And then what do you think is sustainable, as the organization comes out of its financial impacts from coronavirus so my organization, we’re anticipating that we will have been closed. About three months when we’re able to reopen we’re making plans in case there’s a rebound in the virus. And we see that that happened, but we don’t have a lot of revenue at risk because we just don’t have a huge amount of general admission ticket sales at the front door and as long as we can keep our membership with us.
We’re going to be okay financially. So, there is going to be a gap, but we have figured out what it is and we can talk to our board about it looks like we’ll have you know a lower than usual revenue stream and a couple of ways. But then in year two, we should bounce back.
Kate, could I ask you to talk about your organization, though, because you have a longer window a planning and probably a different reality when it comes to financial need.
Kate Brueggemann: What was complicating our financial situation is that we were poised to be beginning a capital campaign, the summer. And so, we had positioned ourselves and held back on some major asks that we might have been more likely to pursued early in their year and anticipation for our capital campaign. So, our reality is in a fundraising perspective, we’re looking towards still moving forward with major gift fundraising and then overall for the organizational health we’re looking towards other virtual museum earned income opportunities. So now that we know that private events and admissions are likely going to be close to us for a little while trying to identify what are some other areas of opportunity for us.
Donna McGinnis: That’s great. So, this is a really important point of being able to really figure out and articulate your financial needs because that’s what donors are going to ask, they’re going to ask tell me what you need and tell me why. And especially if you can say we need to raise X dollars to fund a gap so that we can very quickly get back on our feet when the audience rebounds. That’s the story. You need to be able to tell and also, you know, let’s talk about, you know, the financial goals for each area of fundraising. So, you might have individual donors, you might have corporate and foundation gifs. Some of the things that are just going to be important to look at and for you to have conversations direct conversations with your donors about for companies in your community have some of them been affected negatively
Donna McGinnis: By what’s happening right now. If so, are they going to contract. They’re giving. Sometimes we in the cultural community have to be delicate because some organizations may switch their funding to health and human services in this window. So, we have to be you know, really careful to see what the tenor of the community and the funders are for public Grantmakers if there are tax revenues that are funding some grant programs. It could be that their budget reductions there.
And we have to pay attention to whether they’re going to be cuts in grant programs, foundations, we’ve seen a number of foundations loosen their restrictions. So, a number of organizations have reported that even that they had a grant for a program, but then the foundations allowed them to use that for operating funds and other things that the organization might need. So, some restrictions couldn’t loosen up there if there’s long term impact to the market. However, you may see foundations, take a look at how much they’re spending in granting every year and how they’re allocating it your individual donors are they stepping up to help you. Do you have some who’ve been affected negatively or been affected by layoffs and event sponsors? If you have donors who really are only coming in for events that if that’s something you’re not going to be able to do, or you’re not going to make the switch to virtual is that in reality going to be income that you can rely on. So, it’s really important to really look at and talk to your donors to see how they’re doing and what they may shift.
We know that there’s some things we can’t do for a while. We can’t do fundraising events where we bring people together. On-site sales and private group experiences that need for cultivation, so we don’t have those in our toolbox, but we do have things that we can do such as pick up that phone.
Not to text, but to have a conversation with somebody. This is absolutely the time that you may have donors who have the time to have a conversation with you and will appreciate that. It’s absolutely the right time to reach out as well as put notes or cards in the actual snail mail instead of email. It’s a great time to do that as well.
An example of something that we’re doing in our organization is we’re getting our cafe cleaned and back up and running.
And we’re using it to serve meals to our staff working out on the garden grounds because as your team returns to work, you’ll realize you can’t put lunches in the refrigerator and things like that.
So, we are instead of asking donors to go to lunch with us, we are delivering lunch made by our chef. And so that’s a way that we can use a resource.
Show up on the front step with a mask on and at least wave, but it’s a nice touch. And those are the kinds of things we can do. So, Kate, can you take it from here in terms of sort of the underpinnings of putting a plan together.
Kate Brueggemann: Yeah, I think I wanted to start with looking at and talking about the philanthropic landscape. Because if you are a person who is more of a data nerd like I am. This can be a really challenging environment because you don’t necessarily have reliable national or local trends that you can rely on and so, I’m sure. Like you, I spend many hours on webinars trying to learn as much as I could. In the early days of the coven crisis. And I think that if I could write one sentence of what I learned on each of those webinars, is that we will see a setback but philanthropy across the sectors will come back and so for many of us.
There is a heightened focus on fundraising may be the only way that your museum is able to raise funds right now.
And so, what we can do is we can look at the data that is available to us for national trends. I think equally important, understanding what your local trends are what’s happening in your community, what our civic leaders.
Really promoting and how is your face for support connected to that. And then lastly, I think that there is a real opportunity for us to highlight what are the natural strengths of our program.
We may not have a strong in person membership program, we may not have admission or private events. But what are the hallmarks of your philanthropic program that you’re able to pivot and transition on right now.
And so really thinking about how you can take this information and adjust your plans and what I have been hearing from other organizations is that this is really a time for pivoting our plans, but not stopping our fundraising activities. Understanding where there might be additional opportunities within your program. So, you might be focused on like we are.
Major giving stewardship. So, such as what data had mentioned, I love that you’re able to deliver food to some of your most important investors for us. That’s really meant plethora of zoom and Google need calls. And so, I think in these phone calls. I’ve talked to many development leaders who are spending most of their time on the phone and in these video chats. And I think that that’s a really wonderful opportunity for us to more deeply connect with our donors, we’re not necessarily always talking about our organizations in these calls, at least in our organizations experience it’s really more talking about the donors experience and what it is that they’re seeing and understanding for us, it’s always been. It’s also a good opportunity for us to get some insight into areas of expertise and that we may not be privy to. And so that’s also been helpful. We’ve gleaned some really great information that we’ve been able to use in our planning as well.
But so same hallmarks as, as Dan mentioned before that the fundamentals haven’t changed and make sure you’re listening, more than you’re talking and I think that also trying to figure out as membership may move, Bob. What are some other opportunities that you have with your annual giving program are you able to promote a membership program where you’re highlighting the things that people can do at home, and perhaps there’s more virtual program? And I’ve seen some really exciting.
Public and membership programming coming out of museums right now. And I think there’s some really strong innovation happening. And then I would just give two examples of that, what has made sense of our particular environment, looking at local, national trends, our community programs.
And our organizations natural strengths is that we’re, we will be moving forward with our major gift requests. And so, I know some people have taken this opportunity to not move forward with some of their requests, but we’re still going to be moving forward.
With some of our most critical. Now we’ve changed edge and what we’re leading with right now are things that are relevant to what’s happening and also with our closest investors. So, thinking about that was, it was a different strategy for us and we had to reposition ourselves that we were able to do that fairly quickly. And then also we Chicago is a very strong gala environment. And so, we have significant gala that raises between 1.5 and $2 million a year for our organization. And so, we made this strategic decision to hold our virtual gala and for us, the gala is a rallying point, but it’s also going to be an opportunity to feature what some virtual programming will be for the museum moving forward. So, giving people some more access to what they can expect from our organization.
And then moving on to the next area which is the development cycle.
This is how we do our work. This is our regular work for development and right now stewardship and communication are certainly leading I think related to communication having a written plan having whether it’s for a month, three months, six months.
Making sure that you’re really thinking about how you’re going to be communicating with each of your donor audiences and that it’s segmented by audience thinking about how you’re going to communicate. I think that for us. We’ve become exceptionally direct communicators; we’ve been very honest and what our organization was facing and we let people know here’s the hard decisions that are coming up.
And here’s the decisions that we’re going to have to make. And then we came back and told them, and then here’s the decision we made. And so having those kinds of ongoing communications were very helpful especially going through a period of layoffs looking at as we’re talking about our organization, making sure that we’re mission first, and all things.
We’ve been very helpful. It’s been very helpful to be able to talk about activities that people can do at home.
And really asking our donors and members when we’re on the phone with them. What would you like to hear more from us about what is it that we could do to really help you at this time? And that kind of information has been really key for our staff who are developing those programs. And then lastly, the personalization and executive leadership outreach.
Our CEO has been very active in regularly communicating with our board members. We’ve had very personalized communication from our leadership. And so that’s been two of the main items that we’ve seen with our leadership.
And then I wanted to share one example down if you don’t have met my. Thank you so much. So, this was when I would say one of the strengths of our program was that we have a online Citizen Science platform called zoom universe. This is a partnership between the Adler Planetarium and the University of Oxford and says universe was one of the early things that we’ve really focused on and our donor communication band. It was already ready to go. We had a list of what’s ready. What’s on deck and what needs some more time to think through, and this was one that was already ready and so what we did is we talked primarily to reach out to all of our donors, but we really focused on our corporate donors who now had a large employee base that were remote, and this is an online Citizen Science platform. And so, we worked with our corporate social responsibility officers and talk to them about the tool.
Some of them weren’t completely familiar with this platform. And so, it was a good opportunity for us to explain what the universe was. And then we created a few personalized experiences for our corporate supporters, and they really appreciated it. So even the people that weren’t able to take advantage of it appreciated having an opportunity for volunteerism and that was something that we heard early on from our trustees was that we’re very concerned on what kinds of engagement. We’re going to be, how are we going to keep our employees, together with us and so this we felt like was an answer to that.
And then we’re going to talk a little bit more about what is motivating people giving right now and Donna’s going to lead us through that conversation.
Donna McGinnis: Thank you. KP so as we said before, it’s very important to talk with our donors.
To find out what’s happening with them what they need, what they’re able to do what situation they’re in, and how we can fit in and keep ever in the zoo universe. Like that’s such a brilliant idea to take something like that and have a great storage of opportunity.
You know, while you are disconnected and not able to have people see in person, what it is that you can do. So, if you’re a development professional you’ve seen this. So, these are the reasons why people give and a couple of the things that are hugely important to remember is that people give to opportunity and not needs. And so how you position your request is going to be very important.
That you’re giving people the opportunity to do something new or get something done not from the perspective of what you need and how your budget is broken down by bucket. So, for example, if you say to a donor, “please make your gift, so we can make goal in the annual fund.” Internally, that’s a budget bucket, but to a donor that has absolutely no meaning. But if you can tie that to your gift allows us to fill in the blank with whatever favorite exhibit or program there is that’s what you want to be looking for, or even if what you need is some assistance with the gap until things return to normal.
If you can articulate that and say, please help us we’re putting together X dollars that we know we’re going to need for cash flow to get through the next 18 months. That’s something valid to talk about and even more important is that people give to success and not distress. So, I was in fundraising in 2008 2009 when the market really tanked. And there was a really significant recession that affected all kinds of philanthropy, it affected individual donors.
The change in the market significantly impacted foundations and what they were able to invest it and give and companies were very, very careful about where they put their money and so personally. That’s where I really saw this shift where conversations with companies foundations. Clubs and major donors began to shift to are you a well-run organization. Do you have strong leadership? Do you have strategy? Are you financially sustainable and then we can talk about a philanthropic investment to get something done?
Organizations who go out with a message of emergency, please give so that we can meet payroll, please give or we won’t make the rent. That’s something that while it might be a really valid concern for you donors are generally going to step back from that because what they don’t want to do is put their philanthropic investment into what could be perceived as a black hole.
So even if you’re facing a shortfall. If you can demonstrate with your financial models that it is a short-term dip. That’s what you want to be talking to people about so we need to know for all of our donors. What motivates them what they care about. And we need to know kind of the donor types. And so, the three you see listed an outcome based donor.
They’re the ones that you talk to about mission and your programs and things that take more than a year to do and investment in what you are delivering for the world and for your community.
Whereas a brand donor is really interested in being affiliated with your organization. They love what you do. They love being part of it. They love the people who are associated with it. You’re a fit for them in a number of ways. So, it may be less about specifics and less about specific outcomes, but being affiliated with you is what’s important to them.
And then the transactional donor. That’s more of the what’s in it for me donor. So those are your members who get thing. You know who get back of the house experiences and the first chance to do something and free admission. And it’s also some sponsors because they’re considering these things as part of a marketing program. So, it has to align with those goals.
So those are really important motivators to think about as well. And all of that coming together is what drives how we’re going to approach an ask. And what we’re going to ask them for they all have different motivations to give, and we have to understand that we have to be able to show up and demonstrate that we are listening to what they want and need and that we can deliver that so often I explained this to board members and fundraising volunteers as it just is the situation any longer that you can say buy a table at the gala. Or I will put your logo on this. It’s a much more it’s especially with corporations, much more of a major gifts conversation. So, let’s talk about…Oops, sorry, that was me. Let’s talk about when it comes to solicitation and especially right now. So, these are all things that, you know, if you’ve been in development. So, we have to have laid that groundwork. We have to have gotten to know the donor, we need them to understand who we are and what we do and why that work is important and why we need the gift. But then when it comes to asking the right person has to be the one asking is it your CEO. Is it a beloved volunteer? Is it a board member who is it that will that they will be the most influenced by and who can they not say no to frankly?
And asking in the right way, as I mentioned, we some of our tools. We don’t have in the toolbox. We can’t go do a one-on-one visit right now probably for the most part, so…
How are we going to do that in the most personal way possible, but we all know that the more personal, the better at the right time, this could affect us.
We, I would not be surprised if what you have heard from potential sponsors is we just don’t know right now. You may have a number of donors who were saying, I just need to know what’s going to happen first. That isn’t to know that is, and I’m not comfortable making a decision right now. Asking for the right amount and to support the right thing and so supporting the right thing is especially important right now because we have to articulate what we need and why and be able to explain it.
So, a couple samples. I wanted to share with you that our organization is looking at. So, this is what we call tree rescues. And so, in South Florida. You wouldn’t do this in any northern community, but we can move trees around we can move like big trees around so we can take a 20-foot palm tree and move it to a different location and planted and it will grow.
And so, what that means for us is sometimes we find out that there’s a fantastic specimen of something that’s very rare that maybe a collector has or is in a public park or some public land.
And we have the opportunity to bring it to our botanical garden, and it’s going to be an important session for a living collection, so this is an example of you know for some donors. They need something really concrete they need something really tangible that they can do for us.
And when it comes to who’s asking, we have a head of horticulture, that is beloved among our audience. And so, this tool works in a number of ways because this is a unique thing that we can do. Nobody can say no to our head of horticulture because they love him so much. And so, what we say is Brian Galligan really wants this tree.
And we present it to them in a way that they can make a gift will move the tree will show them the video will let them come out and watch the track and watch the planting with all the big equipment and then it will carry their name for as long as they have it. For as long as we have it in the collection. So, this is an example of something that that makes sense now for people who are interested in continuing the work that we’re doing, but they need a thing to attach their gift to and then another example is something that we’re doing as a thank you to our community. And so again we’re heading into summer and we’re likely to be able to be open. By July or so. And so, what we’re planning to do is free admission for essential workers.
In our community so that they can come with free admission and bring their families through the end of 2020 and so what we’re doing is asking our donors to help support that with gifts and so this we’re putting in front of them. It’s something that really relates to today, but we’re being sensitive and we’re not saying you should give us money instead of our local hospital or food bank. What we’re asking our members to do is give so that we can thank all of those people who’ve done so much for us and allow them to come and enjoy the garden that our members love so that’s a way to, again, connect with what our donors may be feeling right now and how they feel like they can be helpful in something that’s going to make them feel good and give them some recognition.
Kate. Can you talk with us a bit about sort of how to put the team together to get all this done?
Kate Brueggemann: So, the team has stayed the same. Our team is primarily Oh god. You mind advancing to the next slide.
Thank you. Our team is the same. So, we have our fundraising team includes our board members, our CEO and directors.
Development staff and other staff. What I will say is that the team has stayed the same, but how people are working together is very, very different. And what people need specifically from development staff has changed to I think looking at and this is an example of a work plan to all that we’ll get to in a second and what we needed to address is how does, what does board relations and development committee work look like in a crisis mode. And so, for us, it was a lot of additional communication.
Having a plan, but not being locked into that plan, bringing really just a straw outline of what we’re thinking the strategy and asking for input has been helpful and has allowed us to pivot.
Several times during the last few months. I think one of the more challenging roles that all of us probably have right now is the management of event committees, whether you have an auxiliary board that primarily works on events and how do you have it, not just the event, but also the supporting board. And so that’s the work that we’re doing at the other right now and I imagine there’s many people who are looking at that work and primarily we’re doing it through really open communication.
A lot of transparent thinking about what the future holds. And then we’re going to be working together on the events that we’re able to host virtually moving forward.
So, what this really this environment is really made clear to many organizations is that we may need to start looking at a new business model that some of the revenue models that we had existing either weren’t diversified enough or aren’t weren’t aren’t going to see us through the next several months. And so, when we’ve developed a plan for the building. We have a great opportunity to think not just about sustainability, but how can the organization also be more inclusive. And so those are some of the things that we’re thinking about moving forward. Understanding that we’re going to be in a recovery period for a period of time right now I think looking towards having a response when people ask how they can help them, whether it’s donors or board members and so if you can advance to the next slide. This is an example of two tools that we wanted to share, and I’d be happy to share these with anybody. If you want to contact me through the AAM conference features. This is the work plan for the Adler Planetarium, and this is an internal documentation. So, this is something that our fundraising team focuses on it is known and seen by other members of the staff, but it’s not really a communication tool for other members of the staff. And so, this is help see us through on this time will say we transitioned to a Scrum methodology, our fundraising team did which focuses on one and two weeks sprints. And so that’s been really helpful.
For us as we’ve looked at how can we more efficiently and effectively manage our fundraising projects. And then if we can advance to the next slide. This is a document that we do share externally primarily with our board of directors and with this would be appropriate for Development Committee. Or an auxiliary committee and we call it the playbook. And it’s just really an at a glance of what is happening with the fundraising program for the year. What are our main goals? When are they happening and just giving people a little bit of insight into what is our strategy moving forward? And so, this helps.
Specifically, when we’re looking at engaging particular board members, we can say this is where we really need your help. And if you can help enhance the program and these specific ways. That’s what we found. This has been a nice entry point into those conversations I do want to get to some of the questions and answers that people have been sharing. And so let me look in the questions and answers. And so, the first one.
We had a question about what have you learned from your conversations with donors and I think mine have been incredibly varied. I don’t know if Donna You have additional insights sitting in the role of CEO as to what you’re hearing from your donors and your one-on-one conversations right now.
Donna McGinnis: So, you know, it varies by group, I think, very quickly, our board members and retired board members those who’ve been involved with us at that level.
They wanted to know that we had a plan. And so, we very quickly figured out what the short-term financial impact was going to be what was likely to happen. And, you know, had a lot of calls with them a lot of briefings.
And then you know it is that successive wanting to know what’s going on. And are you is the institution. Okay, and what’s going to happen next. And when are you going to reopen a lot of what we are hearing are going on in their life. So, for example, so, we don’t in our community have a lot of corporations, we have typically branches of other businesses and so there isn’t a ton of corporate philanthropy, but that is here is kind of suspended because a lot of them are either looking at contracting their community relations budgets, where they’re really focusing on immediate needs like the hospitals housing, food, shelter, those kinds of things that are important.
We also run a community that has a large number of older people who are retired and so they are terrified of what’s happening right now with coronavirus. And so, there’s a lot of distractions. So, while there are some donors. We’re talking to about gifts and about coming along.
There are a number of people that just are concerned about their own situations, and they’re too distracted to really think about anything heavier or longer-term than either renewing their membership or something that looks fun like moving trees around.
Kate Brueggemann: Here we have another question on really how you build a new donor relationship. So, the question is specifically around a private foundation who has a great mission fit with the museum. And we all know that we have a better chance of receiving funding if we’re able to have some type of one-on-one interaction and not just a name on the page. So how can we start building donor relationships? During this time, is the question. And I would say I think for our organization, we’ve really focused on our current donors and so we spend most of our time talking with and engaging with our current donors.
We have seen a few windows of opportunity for new donors, and we’ve been able to pursue a few note donor gifts that most of the giving that’s happening right now is from already existing supporters I would say what I’ve heard that has worked fairly well has been my experiences Google meets and zoom one on ones. People are very open, you’re able to access people’s calendars in a way that you might not have been able to before, and I would also say share this contact in this name with your board of trustees as a way to engage your board of trustees and say, you know, we’re really looking to build this relationship. Does anybody know the leadership on this foundation? But I think just the following those steps is probably the best way to start a new donor relationship.
Donna McGinnis: Yeah. The only thing I would add to that Kate is just, you know, recognize it’s going to be harder right now to do that.
The as much as you’re able if you’re doing work that they fund or that they have a high interest in is if you can just get on their radar to let them know what it is you’re doing can be a helpful first step. But what I’ve seen from the especially the national funders that we work with their focus. We’re talked about focusing on current relationships with donors, a lot of foundations are focusing on relationships they already have with nonprofits and so they’re thinking right now is we want to take care of the grantees who we already have in our circle. So, it is just recognized that it’s going to take more work and a rather unique approach to breakthrough right now.
Kate Brueggemann: And we have two questions on types of donors and so when we talk about donors, our outcome donors or our brand owners or are transactional donors and how, how can we really think about how we’re building a relationship with those different types of donors and another question on are these types actually labeled in our database. And I’ll say that these, these are just general types of donors and they’re not necessarily something that you would although you could label them in your database, I think, in my experience, the way that I think about these donor types is that I need to understand what is going to motivate a person’s giving, are they in a relationship with our organization because they really want to see some good and so we have examples of supporters who really want to see an increase of different types of people in STEM and or, so that would be an example of a transactional donor. So, I would, I would like to engage with a transactional donor in a different way than I would, for somebody who’s more interested in the natural affiliation and been associated with our organization, Donna. Have you seen differences and donor types and how you’ve been able to build relationships?
Donna McGinnis: That’s such an interesting question about labeling them in the database. I read that really has never occurred to me before, but I think, you know, like when we do visit reports, we’re kind of putting that information in there. But, you know, essentially what matters to them. So, and I think, too, it’s like you have to break down how many people you’re talking to because you can only actually as one person build a relationship with X number of people so you know you if you start from the top of your highest level contributors donors sponsor whoever that is and work your way down to the lowest level of membership.
You probably won’t get to spend a lot of one-on-one time with your members at those most basic levels and if and typically members at those levels are more transactional, but you can’t always make that assumption. So, and that’s why we asked the question at the beginning. If you have a membership program, you have a base of people to start with, which is fantastic. So, you’re not always going out into the universe trying to find everybody who might care about what it is that you do. And so that’s why things like member events are so important because if you have you know, it’s not uncommon to have 80 or 90% of your members be giving at the lowest levels because they’re giving because there are certain benefits that they want to have now they might also really love you and be willing to give more. And so how you need to find that up is if they show up for tours. If they show up for behind-the-scenes things if they’re doing things to indicate that they’re interested in learning, then you know that there’s something beyond just transactional and then you can start to explore that. So, then you want to talk to those people who show up at those kinds of member events and figure out okay, who really is interested and might have some capacity to do more and they go into the list of people that you might invite to participate in a special appeal of some kind or do they love a certain type of artists certain type of education program.
Something that sometimes it’s just testing. We’ve really figured out over the past couple of years that our gala is a ladies hat luncheon in November, and it is one of the things in our community.
But it’s very much about brand and a see to be seen. And so, it raises a very nice net, which is fantastic, and we meet some women who have further philanthropic intentions for us with that. So, it does generate some leads but for the most part, it’s not even a great feeder for membership, so we just know that that’s more brand and transactional and we don’t want to try to kill ourselves with converting that group of 600 to membership into philanthropy, all the time.
So, it really is about. You can’t really learn these things without having a conversation, but sometimes if you’re dealing with big groups of people. That’s where those events when we can. Once we can do them again come are really important and volunteers as well. If you have, you know, volunteers, they’re more likely to be outcome-oriented or brand affiliated in that if they really love the organization they’ll, they’ll do whatever it is you want and don’t discount the weight of that favorite staff member or favorite curator, like I mentioned, our head of horticulture, if it’s something that Brian wants that’s going to be a much different appeal than if it’s something even that I’m asking for if I bring up his name then oval. Of course, I want to do that for him. So, it’s in the in higher education. There’s that favorite professor, but in our worlds, we have some favorites to…
Kate Brueggemann: Those are so great. I always learned so much being with you, Donna. Thank you. And there’s this is a good question and I think there’s probably a number of us who are either in new organizations are getting ready to transition to new organizations or may have found ourselves out of work right now and are looking for a role.
In the middle of this, how do you begin? How do you if you’re if you’re brand new, and we’re in this situation, how, how do you start to build relationships with donors when most of the in-person activities are close to you. And so, I think this is really helpful and I don’t. I think my best response to this is that this is a real opportunity to communicate over-communicate and so there’s always a reason to communicate what is happening with your museum and with your donors and also, I think this is a really important opportunity for us to ask for advice. I think that there’s a lot of people that are trying new things and whether you maybe you’re testing some type of new programming. Is there a segment of your donor base that you could invite to test it along with you and let you know what their feedback is I think that, you know, thinking, thinking through what are the ways that you can build donors into our ongoing work and how our museums are going to not just survive but thrive through this time, I think there’s some good opportunities there, Donna? Do you have any additional thoughts?
Donna McGinnis: You know, like you, Kate. I’ve done a ton of asking for advice, and a lot of hey, we’re making a decision about something and I’m going to tell you first before anybody else because I really want your reaction. So that’s a lot of what we’ve done.
And I have to say, just as a leader of staff, you know, for those of us. For those of you on this call that have a team of some size that you’re leading through this. It is a really challenging time. It’s like keeping a group of people who are so passionate about their work and used to be able to work together.
Distance, like this, like how you keep a team motivated and connected is really a challenge, but when you can turn over a project or something where you can really see that when that’s where you can see that come through and I might be getting off topic here, but you know I’ve, you know, even with people who are very new. You know, we’ve had somebody who was on board a month and then had to step virtual with us.
You know, some people are adapting better than others in this environment, and some of them are just killing it. They’re doing such a great job, but you know, on the other side of that, if we are Supervisors of people who are new. It really is important for us to help show them the way and probably be checking in with them even more than we are with others because that is a really challenging thing to be doing.
If we can figure out how to do it, Kate. I love feedback on that question from the larger group. So could we ask you, and let’s see if we can figure it out to raise your hand if you have a comment on some of these questions or especially related to the career piece of this for those who are looking at either having to make career changes because of the situations in their institutions or who are looking for, you know, how they can add value. We’d love to hear from you.
So, raise your hand if you would like to make a comment, Kate. Can you see the raise hands?
Kate Brueggemann: I cannot
Donna McGinnis: Okay. Let me see if I can see
Kate Brueggemann: Additional I can, we can do this. Why don’t we could also I can post both of our emails for further follow up questions in the Q&A portion and people can access those and then oh, excuse me, I can see the raise your hands, and then we can also ask one more. There’s a group of questions that are in the Q AMP. A that are related, that I want to try and talk about
Donna McGinnis: Oh, great. Okay.
Kate Brueggemann: The last few minutes, which is, how are we as museums able to differentiate ourselves in in this crisis when we know that direct relief is going to lead and so we know that many of the direct relief organizations are really leading and fundraising for right now.
How can we as a sector and as individual museums help to differentiate the work that we’re doing and really highlight the importance of the work that we’re doing.
I’ll offer one item that we’ve done is we’ve created a impact report, which was just a really high level overview of here’s the things that our museum is doing and a few of them were related to direct relief and a number of them were related to how we were meeting the needs of the community. And so, the question that I put to our program leaders was think of the ways that we are really relevant in the work that’s happening right now. And can you tell me what are some of the great things that are that our organization is doing and leading so that I can share those three things that might be hidden otherwise with our donor community. So, I think that’s, that’s one answer, but let me let Donna also try them with our last few moments.
Donna McGinnis: And it is one of those things that is difficult it you know the the worst thing we can do is be tone deaf about this and step out and missed up because there are a lot of community needs. And so, for our organization, we’ve been through this.
In 2017 we had a major hurricane hit our community. And so, we took on a huge amount of damage at our organization. A lot of our garden was wiped out. But, you know, we were in a situation in our community where food and gasoline wasn’t getting into the community. We didn’t have power. We didn’t have drinkable water. There were much bigger issues.
For the community to deal with. And so, we did raise money from our members and people who really love our garden. But we knew it was not the right thing to go out in that window of time where we had a good couple of months that there was just a lot of basic human needs that had to be met.
But what the community really needed from us was to be a gathering place and a place to reflect and a place to get a taste of being back to normal. So, our job was to get back open so that we could be a place where you didn’t have to think about all those other things. Those of you that you know, are maybe in my age group. And we’re working at the time that 911 happened that was really the case with our parks and cultural institutions and performing arts organizations.
We’re the place that people are seeking solace or connection or, you know, a chance to reflect or get away from and a chance to be in the community again and do something positive. So, that is a lot of our job and talking about how we serve the community in that way is where we really I think can position ourselves well with all kinds of donors.
Well, it looks like we’re out of time. Thank you everybody for joining us, we will share our contact information. Thank you so much for participating in this this year is virtual am conference, and we hope you’re getting a lot out of it and Kate final words from you.
Kate Brueggemann: This is. Thank you so much. I hope that this was helpful, please do feel free to contact Donner, or I with any questions and I’ll just let everybody know that a copy of the slides and the webinar will be available to all registrants, thank you.