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Simple But Not Easy - A Petrus Development Show Episode on Building a Fundraising Program

Starting A Fundraising Program

In this week's episode of the Petrus Development Show, we continue our Q+A series with Petrus president, Andrew Robison.  Listen as Andrew and Rhen outline the intial steps for beginning a fundraising program.  Yes, we know this is a very quick primer - it's 30 minutes on the best ways to get started.  But, we also offer ways you can continue to learn and grow with Petrus after the podcast.



Show Notes: 

Nonprofit leaders who excel at programming often end up fundraising because of the need for money to fund their programs.  Organizations regularly need to start fundraising programs scratch, and it can be a daunting task.  Fortunately, Petrus experts have ample adivce on how to get started.  As Andrew explains, "while successful fundraising follows fairly simple methods, fundraising is not easy."  In this episode, Andrew and Rhen explain what sustainable fundraising is and how to get begin a successful program.


Specifically, Andrew answers the following questions: 

  • What is sustainable fundraising?
  • What does it mean to fundraise based on relationships?  
  • Where do you start when building a fundraising program?  What are the layers of a good development program?
  • What activities should you avoid when you're just getting started?
  • Where should a new fundraising program start with staff allocation and time management?
  • What should you look for in a first-time development staff member?


Listen to this episode and learn the answers to these questions and more!  As mentioned at the end of the episode, Petrus Development's BOAT (Basic Online Advancement Training!) program will begin it's spring cohort in the next few weeks.  Would you like to get an idea about what BOAT involves?  If so, click here to access a free BOAT preview course.  


Finally, we welcome your fundraising questions for potential use in future shows.  Are there questions you'd like to hear Andrew answer?  If so, email us at [email protected] with your question, and it just might appear in a future Petrus Development Show episode. 



aggierobison Howdy everyone and welcome to the Petrus Development Show. My name is Rhen Hoehn from Petrus Development, and today joining me is Mr. Andrew Robinson.

00:39.96 aggierobison Owner and president of Petris Development. How's it going, Andrew? Living the dream? I come into you Easter week. Any big Easter traditions in your house?

00:43.30 AROB I'm doing great, Rhen. How about yourself?

00:50.77 AROB Yeah, we always do an egg hunt. We do a couple of egg hunts in town. This year, a couple of weeks ago, we went to a different egg hunt in the community egg hunt, and there's one at the university. So I live in College Station, and Texas A&M is a university, and then there's the Bush School and the Bush Library is there for George H. W. Bush and 41, and they always put on an Easter egg hunt that we've gone to for gosh years since we moved back over ten years ago. They have games and little things for the kids, and then the Easter bunny comes, and then they do the Easter egg hunt, and we've always gone. And this year, they changed the schedule. I don't really know why. So there's like an hour and a half gap. There was like an hour and a half gap between when the games start and the Easter Bunny gets there and you want to take pictures, and then when the hunt is, and you know, I've got four kids, and two of them are pretty young, and they don't really, you know, if you can't keep them entertained for that long. And the games are fun, but they're not that fun. So, me and Cher are like, "Oh, are we really going to do that?" So then we found out about another Easter egg hunt in town that was put on by just, you know, a private group of realtors, and so we went there and it was great. The kids, they had a lot of tickets in the eggs, and so then you redeem the tickets for prizes, and we ended up going home with a bag of, you know, plastic junk, but kids loved it and it was fun, and we didn't have to sit around for an hour waiting for the egg and the other funny thing is, so one of the sponsors is Texas Roadhouse, and it's, yeah, it's a restaurant chain. I think they have it outside of Texas as well, um, but Texas Roadhouse's mascot is this armadillo, and so apparently there is an armadillo costume that they wear at the restaurant occasionally for different things, while the armadillo was at the Easter egg hunt, and so we got pictures with the Easter bunny and with the Easter Armadillo, which was different but pretty funny. Yeah, really very Texas themed, Easter, I guess, ah.

03:05.79 aggierobison That's the way to do it. That's for sure. Ah, excellent. We always go to the Easter Vigil at our church here at the campus ministry at Michigan Tech, and Father Ben likes to make it a big deal. It starts at 9 p.m., and his goal is always to hit at least 3 hours; if you don't hit 3 hours, it's a waste of time. So no problem this year with that, but the big deal after that is that there's always a big Easter feast starting at midnight with a candy cake, the whole thing. My kids, we took them a few years ago, and now they demand it every year, like, "We're going to the big feast party right?" At midnight, they get to stay up till 2 or 3 in the morning. They usually sleep on the pew in the middle of the Easter Vigil; they lay down, you know, by the time you get to the seventh reading.

03:30.67 AROB Ah.

03:38.90 AROB Ah, wow.

03:39.69 aggierobison It's a candy cake, the whole thing. And my kids, we took them a few years ago, and now they demand it every year, like, "We're going to the big feast party right?" At midnight, they get to stay up till 2 or 3 in the morning. They usually sleep on the pew in the middle of the Easter Vigil; they lay down, you know, by the time you get to the seventh reading.

03:49.53 AROB My guess. Oh.

03:58.66 aggierobison They're out. Then the key is when Father Ben comes around sprinkling the holy water, you gotta shield the kids so they don't wake up. They need that nap, and he likes to really lay it on, so that's how our battle goes. It's a good time though, good fun.

03:58.85 AROB Um.

04:04.60 AROB Um, yeah, I'm sure. Yeah, that doesn't surprise me; my kids are, um, I don't think they would stay awake until that late at night. Maybe I'm wrong, but we're an early-to-bed family, and usually by like 7:30 p.m., three out of the 4 kids are asleep in bed or at least in bed. Ellie is, she'll play in her crib for a while. And then we've got, on the other extreme, Annabelle, who's our 14-year-old, and she would stay up till two o'clock on a school night if we let her and be totally fine the next day.

04:44.25 aggierobison Yeah, our kids are usually early to bed. But once they learned about the pizza and candy in the middle of the night, that's when it became a strong desire. We're going to that every year. So good fun, good fun. You just got back from spending some time in Wyoming.

04:53.17 AROB Yeah, I get it. That's fine. Yeah, speaking of cowboys and were we talking about Cowboys? I don't remember; maybe we heard oh we were talking about Texas, yes, we're talking about Texas Armadillo and Easter. So I took my 9-year-old Nora, and she and I and our dog Penny went and we stayed for a month outside of Laramie, Wyoming, a little, not a little, a large horse ranch, and it was great. It was amazing. We saw they have a herd of 350 wild mustangs that live on their land. And then they've got about 200 head of cattle. So we woke up every morning and looked out the window, and the horses are there, and it was winter, so there was snow on the ground most days. They get a fair amount of snow, not like you up in Michigan or up in the U.P., but it was great. We had a good time, and we saw horses, cows, they had some barn cats. Of course, they had chickens and then wild animals. We saw a bald eagle just driving into town one day, we saw coyotes, we saw moose a couple of times, one from our bedroom window. They ran right across property. What else did we see? We saw snowshoe hare, we saw they have pronghorn antelope, elk, deer, and I think that was it.

06:21.39 AROB We saw a lot of wildlife, and the weather was cold, but I appreciated it. Wyoming is the windiest state in the country, and we were in a barn with an apartment, so I appreciated the wind for what it was by the end of it. When it came blowing down the hills across where we were, the whole barn shook, but it was fine. It was a great experience, and I'm glad we went. I have a new appreciation for Wyoming. Yeah, it was good, I reckon.

06:54.90 aggierobison Excellent, sounds like a great trip, all right? Well, should we get down to business here, all right? So today, we're gonna dive into what it takes to start a fundraising program. This is something, you know, a lot of people, maybe priests moving into a new assignment or someone starting a nonprofit and they get told you've got to fundraise to make this happen. And you know, nobody goes to college for fundraising; they may not have ever been around a fundraising program. So, the question is, where do I even start? What is a fundraising program? What does it all mean?

07:28.94 AROB Is a big topic, Ren. How to start a fundraising program in 30 minutes or less, is that our goal here? Okay, okay, all right, good.

07:29.17 aggierobison So let's unpack that. Hey, yep, we're gonna do the crash course here. So at Petris, ah, Petras here, we like to talk about building sustainable fundraising programs. Can you talk about what that means and maybe what it doesn't mean?

07:43.70 AROB Yeah, sure. So sustainable fundraising really means that you build up the systems and the processes so that when there's a change of assignments maybe the priest or the chaplain who's there or the executive director of the organization leaves and takes a new job or the development director moves on to a new position which, which happens or the board changes, whatever those changes are, the systems and the process are in place so that the fundraising can continue. Because there's ah, being in fundraising for 20 years and working with a lot of nonprofits and Catholic ministries who are either just getting started or trying to level up their fundraising. There is one certainty in fundraising and that is it takes a consistent approach over time to build up a fundraising program. It is not something that can be started today and all of a sudden you reap the benefits of it tomorrow, and then the trend line just goes up and up and up, right? You can have fast success in fundraising, but in order to create sustainability, you have to develop the systems and the processes. And that does take consistency and it takes time.

09:00.60 aggierobison So would you say there is a science to the process of building a fundraising program and fundraising itself?

09:05.98 AROB Yeah, I mean, I think that there's a science and an art, right? And so what does that mean to think of fundraising as a science? So, there are more, but let's talk about that kind of the two main um, sort of. Verticals of fundraising, right? Number one, you have the annual fund, and the annual fund is the letters that go out, the emails. The yeah, there's a lot of activities that you can do in the annual fund vertical. But basically, what it means is people are supporting your organization with gifts, with checks, with credit card gifts, and they're being asked, but they're not being asked directly. They are sort of seeing the need, identifying that, and supporting your organization. And so typically, annual fund gifts are smaller; they're kind of more frequent. You see a lot of dollars come in through volume because you know hundred dollars at the end of the year, fifty dollars at Easter, things like that. So that's your your kind of one side of fundraising is your annual fund. The other side of fundraising is your major gifts, and this is your intentional asks. And this is where, you know, Rhen, you've been a longtime supporter of the organization, I know you care deeply about this um, the work that we do, and you want to see us do more of this work. Would you consider a gift of $1000 this year to really help us advance the work that we are accomplishing?

10:42.28 AROB In part through support from people like you. So that would be, you know, major gifts. How do those two work together? Well, your annual fund produces your volume of donors, and then you identify who's the most interested. And then your major gifts produce the opportunities to go and take those annual fund donors and ask them for major gifts. Okay, so that's a long way of explaining how annual fund and major gifts work together. Your question was, is there a science to it? Yes, there is a science because when you apply the principles of. Ah, to that annual fund, you know, that require you know that? What does that look like? How often are you asking for? Guess how often are you communicating with your donors? What kind of language are you using? Um, how do you integrate? Ah. Your direct mail, your online gifts, your website, your phone. So all of that. There are some ways to do it properly and with maximum efficiency, effectiveness, and that's the science. And then the other kind of piece of the science, which leads into the art, is how do you move people from the annual fund side to the major gift side? Through some look at the science of who's the most likely to make those gifts, and then the art is how do you develop those relationships and ask them?

12:06.96 aggierobison So there we're talking about fundraising based on relationships, right? This is a lot. This is beyond bake sales, car washes, kind of one-off events to raise a few hundred dollars, selling items, selling cards. This is.

12:11.20 AROB Always, yeah.

12:21.74 aggierobison Long-term building relationships and moving people toward becoming major donors.

12:25.41 AROB That's correct, and so, you know, I encourage people whenever they're starting with a or they're getting into fundraising or they're just trying to kind of conceptualize funding, put yourself in the position of the donor, right? It's easy when you work for a nonprofit to put yourself in the position of the fundraiser because you need those funds. But think of yourself as the donor and what is it, are you, have you ever thought about what it would mean to make a large gift or become a um, a longtime kind of consistent sustainable donor to an organization? It's not generally either one of those. It's not generally um, a a sort of recognition or decision that you come to on your own. It's because something about that organization, something they are doing is prompting you to recognize a greater need, and so you become either a more consistent and frequent donor or you become a larger donor. Putting yourself in the position of the donor allows you to think of all, right? What would I want to see? What would I want to know about this organization to be a. Be a ah more consistent or a ah higher level donor, and then turn that around. That's what my donors want too. So that's what I need to be. That's what I should be telling and communicating them to them.

13:44.82 aggierobison Excellent. So, ah, talking about major gifts and annual fund here if if you're starting from absolute scratch. You need to build a fundraising program that can sound pretty intimidating. Who do I even go meet, right? There's, there's a lot of steps to kind of get there. If you're building a fundraising program like I said from the ground from 0, what are kind of the layers? Where do you start? and then what do you add on as you get each piece in place.

14:09.61 AROB Yeah, so there are four primary layers that you're going to look at when you think of building a development office from scratch, and these are not linear. I tell this to people all the time because um, you know, we can say this is where you always want to start, then all of a sudden. Um, you know, John Smith shows up on your step and says hey ah, father or hey Ren here's $100000 that I need to give you and then all of a sudden it you know, completely changes all of your plans, right? So yeah, and that is nice so these can operate kind of um.

14:37.31 aggierobison Love when that happens.

14:44.52 AROB Parallel to each other along the same lines or they can you could play these out linearly and you know one thing leads to another, but there are four kind of layers. So the first layer is vision and infrastructure. And what does this look like? It's really about. What are you doing as an organization? What problem are you solving in the world, and if you had more resources, what could you do more of to solve those problems? So that's kind of your vision. Um, and then the infrastructure piece of that is the systems and the processes. And it generally starts with you know, kind of your policies around fundraising, your procedures, your database. How are you tracking people? Um, all of that kind of kind of boring stuff. If you don't put that in place at some point, ideally earlier than rather than later then. Your fundraising program. You might get some gifts, and then you you don't really have ah ah the processes and the policies to fall back on. So layer one would be vision and infrastructure. What are you doing, why are you doing it, what problem are you solving, and if you had more resources, how could you solve it to a higher degree? So that's your storytelling piece and then the infrastructure is your processes, okay? So that's layer one. Layer two would be what are your? How are you communicating this vision to your donors? So a very easy simple exercise that I've told a lot of people that are just getting started in fundraising to do is.

16:14.91 AROB And that doesn't, they don't do anything is, do you have a newsletter, and if not, could you start the practice of writing a 2-page newsletter maybe 3 times a year, okay? So what does that do, number one? It puts you as the program guy or the program gal in a position of having to talk about what you're doing again, getting back to that vision. What are you doing? What problem? So what are you doing, and then what impact are you having in your in that particular area? While a newsletter might raise you some money, it's more about kind of shifting your mindset. If I have the responsibility of reporting on what we're doing and then inviting people to learn more and to give, then I have to be more mindful of what we're doing, how we're tracking it, how we're communicating it, and that just sort of changes your mentality about communications and what you're doing and why it's important. So, that's the second one is communications, that layer of telling your story and then telling it consistently. Annual fund, we talked about earlier. That's your direct mail, your online gifts, your monthly gifts, your to some extent your events, things like that are all annual fund where people are giving, you're seeing an impact through volume of gifts. Um, and you're sort of presenting, you're telling the story, and then they're responding. And then the major gifts is the people that are generally annual fund donors. They have a kind of a propensity and an inclination to give greater gifts.

17:47.98 AROB And so then you nurture those relationships, you cultivate those relationships in fundraising talk, and then you ask them for specific gifts for specific needs for their organization. So those are the 4 layers if you're just getting started figure out what's your story, start looking at databases, how are you gonna track this, what are your policies and procedures. And then start with simple things like a newsletter. A very simple newsletter and then put together a calendar for your annual fund and then identify a couple of people that you can go out and you can ask for gifts.

18:16.20 aggierobison And as you start doing those, sending out newsletters, sending appeals, doing annual fund activities like events, phoneathons. Whatever that might be, you start getting some people making first-time gifts and that tells you okay, some of these people are prospects for major gifts. That gives you your kind of first list of people to go.

18:23.75 AROB And.

18:33.56 aggierobison Meet face to face when you get to that major gift step.

18:34.60 AROB Yeah, absolutely my good friend of mine Kyle, he's been in fundraising for a long time as well and he uses the term spike up and what does he mean by that and he and this is you know, kind of a mature program but it doesn't have to, it applies to everything but you start looking at people that are that. That sort of spike in their giving in a way that you want to know why that spike is there. So what do I mean by that this might be somebody who um, Stephanie has always given $100 at the end of the year for three or four years and you know that about Stephanie. And then all of a sudden one year Stephanie writes you a check for $1000 well, that's a spike in her giving and so you think all right? What is it about Stephanie or what is it about the experience that she had that all of a sudden she's giving $1000 there's some kind of story there right? and so that is a spike ah and so that's an invitation in part for you to call Stephanie and you to say number 1 thank you, Stephanie! Thanks for your gift of $1000 that's really generous but then can I ask you always you consistently given but never at this level. What is it and you find out the story that ah you know, whatever the story is of Stephanie has. And then maybe that's an opportunity for Stephanie to want to learn more and give at a higher level and maybe not but that's a spike another type of spike up might be um, a first-time donor somebody's never given it to your organization and all of a sudden they they write you a check or go online and make a gift um, any kind of you know, sort of change in giving patterns is a spike.

20:04.60 AROB That allows you it presents an opportunity for you to learn more about that individual and why they're giving it at a different level.

20:11.80 aggierobison Got you? So as you think about all this this all kind of presumes. You have a list of people to communicate with to start, you know, inviting to your events and whatnot. What are you're doing um would you say that that building out list that database is what you should really focus on in the earliest days.

So yes, it's very important for a couple of different reasons. I don't think we've mentioned it yet, Ren, but we're trying to kind of lay the groundwork in this 30-minute episode, but we've got a whole digital course program called Boat Basic Online Advancement Training that.

Building a fundraising program.

You can sign up for. You can purchase it, and then you actually go through 12 different modules of how to build and start a fundraising program over a ten-week period. You do it in a cohort. You actually have been leading the cohorts so far, and so there's a lot more.


That you learn about in that program that we're going to talk about today. I couldn't remember if we talked about that already. You mentioned that, um, but the reason I bring it up now is because you're talking about the database. We have a whole module in the Boat program, module 3, I think it's pretty quick, pretty early on where we talk about the database. How to get started, how to grow your database, what kind of principles, practices should every nonprofit implement in database management. Um, and so there's a lot more there. But what I'll say now, your question is um, is that something that you should get started early on? Yes, and there's a couple of reasons for that. I was working with a client many years ago, and they, um, they were a campus ministry at a university, and so they had alumni, you know, going back many many years. Um, and when we first started working with them, you know, I think on my first meeting, I started talking about the database, and they're like, yeah, we don't have a database. And I said okay, well you know how do you, do you know who your alumni are? And, you know, so, or the development director we're talking, and then he goes and he asks the secretary, the parish secretary who had been there for you know 100 years, and she said, "Oh, are you talking about the boxes in the closet?" And he said, "Tell us more about these boxes." Well, they had been tracking. They'd been capturing alumni or student information for years on these little cards and the little cards all got filed into boxes that were then stored in the closet. And so once we figured that out, we're like.

That's amazing now we know who a lot more of our alumni are. But it took then months of data entry and, you know, a lot of those cards were out of date and the people weren't where they were anymore and so if they had kind of started years ago instead of when they got those cards putting them into a database that then. You know was stored online or was tracked or stored digitally then that they could have done a lot more with that than the car. The information sitting on cards in a box.

Exactly, there's like we can go really deep in databases and we did actually a number of episodes ago. You can look at that and when you, you think about growing your database or building that list. There's a couple of different types of organizations right? There's campus ministries schools parishes, I have kind of a fixed audience of people who were either involved there or have been involved there in the past and they're not likely to find a lot of supporters outside of that group and there's other organizations like maybe a national like teaching organization retreat organization where you don't necessarily have like alumni to kind of lean on as your supporters. Ah, for for those kind of interest-based organizations. There's kind of a whole different process of putting yourself out there and finding the people who are interested in the work you do and adding them to your database and we go. We do deep dive into that within the boat program in the Cohort. So I'll leave it there but it's ah it's definitely something to but spend some time on and focus on.

There's a, that just real quick story. There's a, um, a bakery here in town that sells oh gosh I'm gonna need to re-record this real quick. But what's the little dessert that. Kind of looks like a pancake. Um, you're a crepe. Okay, so, ah, real quick I got a story just to illustrate that there's a restaurant here in town. It's a bakery and they, they're kind of specialty is crepes right? and so every year at some point in the year I get a text or an email. Um. That says it's national crepe day come in and we've got a special on crepes and every year I go in and you know maybe I take a kid. Maybe I get one for my wife but I go in and I buy a crepe. Well the reason that I get that trigger from that bakery is because at some point we went there. They captured my information somehow. And then my name email and phone number is stored in their database right? and so every year when it's national crepe day. They send me a text and they send me an email and then I'm you know, reminded that? Oh yeah I do want to crate that sounds really good and then I go in there and then you know hopefully from their standpoint I become a more regular customer and all of this. But it. That's a very simple way of sort talking about ah ah, not a nonprofit but a business that at some point they captured my information they they use that information to communicate with me in this case all about national crepe day and then as a result i.

And building my relationship with this bakery over time by going in and getting crepes. So You know you think about and nonprofit and the opportunity you have to tell so much of so much more of a story about the work you're doing the impact you're making on the world and how they can get involved but that doesn't happen if you don't. Communicate that and you can't communicate that regularly if you don't have my information stored in a database somewhere. That's ah.

Love that and now I'm getting hungry as long as you're talking about where where to spend your time when you're starting out. Let's just take a second on. Are there kind of fundraising activities that you should avoid putting time into when you're just starting out in fundraising?

26:07.54 AROB Yeah, so as I said, Petrus works with many organizations, particularly nonprofits, to help teach fundraising. I've had numerous clients over the years, and inevitably, the question of two things in particular—events and grants—always comes up when I talk with a new client or volunteers, such as the board or the finance council. Someone always asks, "When's our event going to be?" or "How do we get more grants?" I can speak particularly to grants because at my previous job at Texan Foundation, I moved into a position where I was in charge of soliciting grants from foundations. I had a lot of success in that area, which might make one think that nonprofits should all go out and write grants because you can get a lot of money. However, you have to be in the right position, and it takes a long time to establish grants. To illustrate, my dad used to be the executive director of a foundation in Houston that only wrote grants to Catholic Organizations. At one point, I asked him, "How many grants do you guys make a year?" He said, "We give about $3-4 million annually, which goes to about 70-75 organizations a year." When I asked how many applications they receive, he said, "At least 700 every year." That's only a 10% success rate, and those 10% are organizations they've been supporting for a long time. It's really challenging in the world of foundations and grants to break into that. It takes time, multiple years, nurturing those relationships, and learning about the foundation and board members. So, I always tell people to start the process with grants but never put all your eggs in that basket because it takes time and can be disappointing. The other aspect is events. Publicly, everyone says, "Oh, that nonprofit had a great event. They raised a lot of money. They must be loaded." However, they often don't factor in the costs of running that event—the expenses for food, venue, and time required. Events can help grow your database, get your message out to new audiences, and raise some money. Still, a new nonprofit or one trying to build fundraising can use their time much more effectively and efficiently in writing letters, building relationships, and asking for money than they ever can with grants or events.

29:00.24 aggierobison You're talking about banquets, Galas, big annual events, specifically.

29:06.25 AROB Yes, exactly. Many nonprofits we work with have events going back 25 years. It's fun for the organization, and people come to expect it. Maybe it raises some money every year, and they're happy with that. So, I don't want to say to go out and kill your event right now. But set clear expectations for what that event is—the purpose should be to bring in new donors and communicate your message, not as much for raising money that night. If you're in a position without an event, don't start one immediately because you think it will raise all the money you need. There are more effective ways to spend your time.

00:27.60 aggierobison All right, let's transition here and talk about the staffing side of things. So, if you're tasked with starting a fundraising program, you might be the director of the nonprofit who then realizes they need to start fundraising.

00:36.91 AROB Great.

00:46.91 aggierobison Or maybe you're a staff member who is told, "All right, you're our campus minister, but you also need to start fundraising," or whatever the position might be. You're adding it on in addition to your other duties. Where do you even start with fundraising? How do you allocate the time? How much time do you need? Do you need to allocate when you get started to build a fundraising program?

01:05.68 AROB Okay, great, great questions. So, there are two ways to answer this. Number one, there's the ideal situation, which I'll talk about, and number two, there's the practical. Ah, we can't do ideals. So, let's do something. Okay, so the ideal situation is that you have somebody on your staff who is a paid staff member, who is paid to do 100% of their job in fundraising. So they spend their time working on the annual fund side, writing letters, updating the website, sending thank-you notes, planning out giving days, things like that. And then, managing the database, and then they also spend a good amount of their time on the major gifts side, which means nurturing relationships, making calls to donors, taking donors to coffee, inviting them for tours, asking for gifts. Okay, so um, and the reason why it's you get better results with a full-time staff member is because, A, it takes a lot of work, but B, it takes a lot of work and takes a lot of time, but B, we talked about the importance of relationships in fundraising, and it really is important to let your donors know you're committed to this work as the fundraiser. You're committed to the mission, and if they want to help in a greater way through their philanthropy, then they know who to call and who to contact, it's gonna be responsive and helpful. Okay, so that's ideal, a full-time staff member.

02:34.63 AROB And you know there's kind of... I don't know if you asked this or if you wanted this level of detail, Ren, but um, you know there's kind of different levels if you're just getting started. You know if you go out and you hire somebody who is young who is new in their career. Um, and you know you can. You're probably looking at spending, who has never done fundraising before, you're probably looking at spending somewhere between 40 and $50,000 in a salary. Maybe you have an incentive program in there and then benefits. But if you're hiring somebody with 3 to 5 years of experience who's done this before and now wants to work for your organization, you know the salary is going to look more um, kind of like 50 to $60,000 with a possible incentive program and benefits, and then you kind of go up from there. The more experience they have, the more seniority that they have, the more that they have been successful in fundraising before, the higher the salary. Okay, but like that just kind of gives you an idea. But I see a lot of nonprofits start with somebody who is, you know, got a little bit of work experience, who is eager to help, who has a passion and a desire for this ministry and, you know, especially if the organization is willing it to bring in a coach or a consulting group like Petrus and help that individual, help that team kind of get started, craft a program, and then do some training. I can... I've seen a lot of programs be really successful with that. Okay, so that's on the full-time staffing side. There are situations though that a nonprofit has to start fundraising and they don't have the resources to dedicate to a full-time staff member.

04:10.18 AROB And so in situations like that, it usually becomes kind of a team or a joint effort. Um, you identify somebody on the staff that has those kind of organizational and writing skills and let them focus on some of those annual fund pieces, and then you find somebody in the organization. Oftentimes it's the executive director who can't go and they can't make 20 appointments a month seeing donors but they can make 5 to 10, and so they're really good at the relationships at nurturing those contacts. And so they focus on the major gift side of things. It really is important for those to integrate through one position but oftentimes, you know, there's the practical side of we just don't have the resources to hire somebody. So what can we do? In most cases, you split the job. I have seen it work with volunteers, but it has... it's very unique and rare that it works because volunteers, you know, I've been a volunteer, a very committed and passionate volunteer to my kids' programs or, you know, things like that, and at some point my job gets crazy, family life gets crazy, and the first thing to go is gonna be my volunteer time, unfortunately, and so everybody is gonna get in that position, so having a volunteer...

05:15.50 aggierobison Right.

05:22.38 AROB ... who's really in charge of your fundraising can work. But there's a, there's a high level of risk there that it's going to fall apart at some point or their energy time is going to decrease and then also have... having somebody paid on your staff, there's just kind of a separate... different level of expectation and accountability.

05:40.68 aggierobison Great. So if you're hiring a first development staff member. What should you look for in that person?

05:47.34 AROB Yeah, so I mentioned a couple of things earlier. Number one, passion and desire to see the cause in your mission grow, right? If they don't care about your mission, they're not going to be a good fundraiser, so that's number 1. Number 2, so to passion. There's a phrase that we use in fundraising, and it's "hire for passion and train for skill", right? So the skills of fundraising can be taught, can be learned, especially if you send them through the boat program like we talked about or you bring in a coach or a consultant from Petrus to help train them, or you send them to a conference. We do our raise conference in the summer every year, this year in San Antonio in June, so there are ways that you can train for skill. But you have to start with a passion. So, but there's also kind of components of a person's personality and what makes them that. Is inherently going to make them better at all parts of fundraising or better at some parts of fundraising, so we talked about annual fund. Really, it takes some organization and then just the ability to tell a story and writing is really helpful in that area because you do a lot of writing. Thank you notes, newsletters, annual fund letters, things like that so organization and storytelling is important on the annual fund side. On the major gift side, it really is organization that is important there but it's more. That's where kind of the art of fundraising comes in. It's about how can you find somebody who is.

07:19.68 AROB Genuine, who operates with clear integrity, isn't a used car salesman type of approach to fundraising, but it really is, I care about empathy is important, I care about the donors, I care about the mission, the organization, and if I can match those two up, then we're going to have success. And so, you know, looking for somebody in fundraising, organization, passion for the cause, organizational skills, and then the ability to tell a story and then connect with individuals. Those are some of the kind of key points personality-wise and then you can train a lot of the skill.

07:58.70 aggierobison Excellent. Yeah, like we said, almost nobody goes to school for fundraising, right? Nobody got their undergrad degree in fundraising, which is why we built the boat program, Basic Online Advancement Training.

08:11.73 aggierobison To help train either new people who are just getting kind of oriented into a fundraising program or to help those who are starting a fundraising program for their organization from scratch and want to know how to build it up. And as we're speaking right now, registration for our next session of the boat open is open, right? So we do a cohort-based approach. And the next cohort starts the week of April 15th and so registration is open until April 12th, and yeah, I highly recommend you come join us and give you a chance to network with some other people who are also in the early stages of fundraising for their nonprofits and will kind of give you the roadmap, the blueprint for building out a fundraising program over the course of the ten weeks there you can exactly we've had about four dozen people go through the program over the last six months since we started the cer it, and I think it's been great. We've had lots of good success stories somebody was just telling me about he had been.

08:49.79 AROB And we've had a couple of cohorts go through this already, right? ran.

09:07.54 aggierobison Receiving some grants for her parish for her nonprofit and they asked her to come in and talk to their stewardship committee about receiving further grants, and she said she took some of the principles that we talked about and built and how to effectively storytell and talk about the vision and the mission and went in with the presentation there and talked about how. You know the parish were making that that nonprofit's mission happen by donating to them and she said that the next donation she got from them was two and a half times bigger than it had been in the past. So it's so fun to see those results from people as they're getting started building the programs and all you know all the possibility in the world as they go forward.

09:45.46 aggierobison Check out if you're interested. Again, registration for the next session closes April Twelfth, and modules start opening on April Fifteenth the next week. The cohort starts meeting in the week of April Twenty-second and meets every other week over the course of those ten weeks.

09:54.77 AROB Awesome.

10:03.85 AROB Yeah, I always tell people that, you know, we talked a little bit earlier in the episode about the science of fundraising and how, you know, there's the right way to do things in terms of frequency and the language that you're using. So we talk about a lot of that in the boat program. But you know, people ask me all the time.

10:20.87 AROB You've been in fundraising for 20 years. You know, is it a really hard job? I tell people all the time fundraising is simple but that doesn't make it easy. But the simple things, they're not always intuitive if you don't have that kind of background and experience in fundraising. And so that's what we try to do in the boat, right? It's simple lessons that we're teaching. It's not complicated stuff. And we're just trying to kind of direct people. If you're going to be fundraising, go through this program and it might shave a year off of your learning process because you know you're gonna learn all these things the hard way. But wouldn't you rather learn them quickly and in a fun environment that you can put this stuff into use a lot sooner? So you know the example that you talked about right there, right? Like that's a, you know, he could have gone and talked to that counsel ten more times before with the same message that he had been saying before, but that little tweak in how you communicate, how you make them the hero of the story, how you talk about the mission and the outcomes versus just what you're doing, that all of a sudden tick, they're giving up two and a half times immediately. You know, made a difference in their fundraising efforts, and those are the kind of simple, small changes that you can make when you learn the science of fundraising that can have a big difference.

11:48.50 aggierobison Exactly. Great. Any last thoughts on getting started with building a fundraising program here?

11:54.71 AROB You gotta have patience. Like we started this earlier. It's not you know, I've seen organizations have immediate success which is great. It's always happy to celebrate that, but to create real sustainability, to create a program that will last from Executive Director to Executive Director or fundraiser to fundraiser over the years, it really is about consistency, consistency, and um, doing the right things. And you know, you gotta have patience and let the process play out. We love talking about. We've got another podcast, the Holy Donors, and you know, one of the new seasons is Vince Lombardi, a great coach, you know, really took the Green Bay Packers and made them a dynasty back in the 60s, but he had one play that he did over and over and over again. It was a Green Bay sweep or the Packer sweep, excuse me, and he would, you know, he trained the players, know your position, play your position. Don't get fancy. Don't go out of line. We're gonna do this play until they stop us, and you know, he had 10 years of success there at Green Bay doing very simple things over and over again and doing them very well and you know, there's a lot of parallels, so that's fundraising, right? You learn the right way to do things, and you just, you do them consistently, and you will have success over time.

13:19.45 aggierobison Love it. Great. Well, as we wrap up, I just want to let everybody know, Andrew mentioned our conference RAISE24 is coming up in June and in celebration of Easter here, we have a promo going on, 10% off registration to raise, yeah, through this Friday and.

13:32.45 AROB Woo, right on.

13:36.77 aggierobison What is the date? Dang, I don't even know, yeah, the fifth. Okay, it's let me go back and start that over, sorry, April fifth. Okay, so how did I start that? Okay.

13:39.45 AROB The date of Friday or the date of the conference?

13:55.29 aggierobison Great. Well, Andrew mentioned earlier, we have our conference Raise 24 Petrus' conference, and it's coming up in June in San Antonio, Texas, where you can go hang out with those cowboys and the armadillos we talked about earlier. Yeah, and in celebration of Easter, we have a promo going on so you can get 10% off registration. Each person you register can get 10% off.

14:04.56 AROB Woo, ye ha.

14:15.28 aggierobison Use the promo code OCTAVE because it is the octave of Easter through this Friday, April fifth, and you know, it'll automatically take 10% off your registration. Come join us, come join dozens or hundreds of other Catholic fundraisers and to network and learn about the best practices in fundraising.

14:31.84 AROB Sounds great. I can't wait. I'll be there.

14:35.90 aggierobison Love it! And finally, if you want to get a little preview of the boat program, we're actually giving away the "Laying the Foundation" module for free right now. You can go grab that and check out what's all in there for free. Some of the video lessons, how they work, and all the different resources you can download along with each lesson. If you go to, you'll be able to access that for free. This is episode 140 of the Petrus Development Show, so will get you free access to that module of the boat program, and you can check it out and see if you like it.

15:08.63 AROB Great.

15:12.42 aggierobison Good, good. Well, if you have a question you would like Andrew to answer on one of the future episodes of the Petrus Development Show, you can email it to [email protected], and we may talk about it. So please send us your questions. Other than that, we'll catch up with you next time, Andrew.

15:28.62 AROB All right, sounds good. Thanks, Rhen. It's been a fun night.

15:32.25 aggierobison All right, God bless.


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