Contact Us

Lessons From Online Consumer Behavior: Interview with Chris Hanzeli

In this episode Andrew visits with Chris Hanzeli about two of his different roles in development and his masters research. Executive Director of Institutional Advancement for the Western Dominican Province, Chris Hanzeli has a Masters of Philanthropy and Development through St. Mary’s University in Winona, Minnesota. His masters research, entitled, Lessons from online consumer behavior: How non profit organizations can enhance trust-building strategies for online donors, explores how non-profits can utilize the example of online retailers to establish trust with potential online donors.

Show Notes:

Graduate of University of Washington in Seattle. Bachelors in Speech Communications. Didn’t know what development/fundraising was. After graduation, worked in politics, then in a start up company, but that wasn’t successful. Unemployed and his wife was expecting.  Dominicans called and asked if he wanted to be the development director at the campus ministry at UW. He had been through the campus ministry with the Dominicans there in Washington.

Fell in love with the work right away and found it to be his professional calling. Worked for the student center for 6 years. For past 6 years has been working for the western Dominican province. Up and down the west coast, as far east as Arizona/Nevada. Run parishes and campus ministries. Dominicans as an intellectual order, address spiritual poverty. Works with a lot of REALLY SMART Dominicans.
Raises money for the Dominicans who work mostly in catechesis and evangelization.
Primarily fundraise for formation in the Western Province – Graduate education plus room and board, etc: $52,000 per year per man in formation. $1.8 million annually. Plus raise money for retired and elderly friars and their long term care.
He believes Dominicans are some of the best to bring people back to Christ. Their donors see that and want more Dominicans.
8 years of formation for a man wishing to enter the Dominicans and be a priest. Or they can follow the religious brother track. When a brother takes their solemn vows, they commit themselves for life to the order.
Most friars go on to ordination, but not all do.
What is driving young men to the Dominican order over other vocations? (diocesan, etc) – Successfully communicate their mission, vision, and express what they stand for, unapologetically Catholic – inspires people to rally around that. People can sense greatness and a good example. He sees being a Catholic fundraiser as an honor to help connect people’s generosity with the vision and the work that needs to be done.
What convinced him that he was in the place he needed to be?: 1st moment: Sitting in his office 3 years into fundraising and the Holy Spirit brought a memory back to him: When he was working for the start up company, prayed that he would be successful and he promised that when he was rich he would donate millions of dollars back to the Church. After exploring this memory, realized he is contributing millions of dollars by raising the money. 2nd moment: Met with a donor who worked for Microsoft who said he was going to start declining pay raises because he was afraid of being the rich man trying to get into heaven. Chris counseled him, saying his financial contributions could help to build the kingdom.
First and foremost we care for our donors’ souls.
Research for his masters:
St.Mary’s University Winona, Minnesota.
2 or 3 year program, each summer go St. Mary’s for 2-3 weeks for intense work individually, in groups, and online
Chris’ capstone paper at the completion of the program in 2014 entitled:
Lessons from online consumer behavior: How non profit organizations can enhance trust-building strategies for online donors
How did he decide to focus on this? Always fascinated with the intersection of technology and our everyday lives. Had a tech background. Trust is key in relationships. Bedrock for if people decide to do something with you: volunteer, donate money, etc.  He was curious about what fundraisers could do to build trust online. Saw how retailers like amazon were building trust and getting people to buy from them online. Wanted to figure out how to create this trust for the purpose of online giving.
Trust can be broken down into 3 categories-  Competence, Integrity, and Benevolence.
People are trying to determine if you exhibit these traits in any situation.
Online, people have to already be predisposed to trust you. (Have heard of your organization already)
Have to believe you have nothing to gain by cheating/tricking them
Have to believe their website is safe/normal. (Does the website look modern? Does it respond well?)
They have to believe they are in a normal situation (Have not been tricked into coming to your website, not under duress, everything looks right)
Evaluation tool created for charities to help assess trust level of their website, Identify strengths and weaknesses: 14 different areas:
  • Does your website have privacy and security seals
  • Recommendation agent on your site?
  • Modern design. If your website is 3 year old or older you will have design issues = credibility issues.
  • Privacy statement
  • Statement that you follow industry best practices
  • Need to list a physical address and phone number – increases trust.
  • third party endorsements
  • site free of grammar and spelling errors
  • clear and conversational language
  • eye catching graphics and photos
  • responsive design
  • navigation clear and easy to read
  • high quality content
  • two way communication feature. Do you give user and opportunity for feedback?
First impression comes from your website. He saw this personally not only with online donations but with vocations to the Dominicans once they redid their website.
– 30% of people respond to direct mail online. Direct mail isn’t dead. Direct mail interacts with online giving. Need to use all channels
Additional Findings from his research:
Trust is far more complicated than he realized; multifaceted
Actualized in various different dimensions: Dispositional Trust (on the side of the consumer), Institutional Trust (related to internet/medium through which you cultivate the relationship), Interpersonal Trust (on the side of the vendor/organization)
Social Media presence affects an organization’s trust online (His research focuses mostly on website presence)
Recommended Books:
Lightning Round:
  1. raise money for who at what time?: The Church during the time of King David and help raise money for the building of the temple (King David – model for the modern capital campaign. great reminder that we’re just one in a long history in a piece of God’s plan. The glory is reserved for Him)
  2. Donor meeting with anyone living or dead: Peter Seila 13th century: The man who donated his home to St. Dominic to start his first priory in Toulouse, France
  3. Enough money?: Absolutely. Everything you need is out there.
  4. Go back in time and offer yourself one piece of advice: Get up earlier and pray more. Abandon yourself to God’s will and don’t try to rely on your own abilities. Don’t manage God out of the process
  5. 3 people who have most influenced you in your professional life: Hard to narrow it to 3, professionals at CCMA and Petrus, Mary Macuga, his good friend Uri, his father
To connect with Chris  or for more information about his research, email [email protected].
Andrew’s three takeaways:
  1. Honor to be a Catholic fundraiser. Positive way to live out your vocation
  2. Fundraisers have a role to play in educating donors
  3. Your website is your Director of First Impressions
Andrew’s Action Item:
  • Contact Chris, get the evaluation tool, and review it to make sure that website is building trust

Giving to religious causes vastly exceeds any other category in the nonprofit sector, but faith-based organizations often struggle the most with fundraising effectively. Join Andrew Robison, President of Petrus Development, as he explores this topic through honest and revealing conversations with church leaders, executive directors and development professionals from the nonprofit community.

Enjoy this article?

Sign up below to be notified each time we post a new article.
Don't worry, your information will not be shared.

We hate SPAM. We will never sell your information, for any reason.