FTW Secrets to Raising More Money with Michael Strader : Successful Nonprofits

Episode 75

FTW Secrets to Raising More Money with Michael Strader

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Episode 75

FTW Secrets to Raising More Money with Michael Strader

Listen on  iTunes    Android     Stitcher    Libsyn

by GoldenburgGroup

Over 90% of top fundraisers rank high in “emotional intelligence.”

Today we speak with Michael Straeder about the OMG secrets to raising money. Michael has over three decades of fundraising experience – from the boy scouts, to schools, to a nature conservancy.
During this time, he has honed his fundraising skills and uncovered the OMG fundraising secrets that propel organizations to success.

*****Timestamped Highlights*****

(3:05) Michael introduces some secrets to fundraising
(4:57) The power of the pause
(6:00) How Crouch and associates evaluated top performers
(7:55) Becoming a top performer through self-awareness
(9:40) Reading for self-awareness and growth
(12:30) Facilitating accountability with 5×15 reports

If you don’t love what you do, don’t bring everybody else around you down. Instead find something you do love.

(15:30) Facilitating accountability with 6×6 reports
(18:14) Make your bed: a requirement for a top performer
(20:00) Loving what you do: a requirement for a top performer
(24:00) How to cut cultivation time in half
(26:30) 66-questions every fundraiser should know about their prospects
(30:34) Thanking, communicating, and personalization
(35:00) Michael shares his favorite toy


Website of Crouch and Associates: www.thecrouchway.com
The Daily Stoic: https://dailystoic.com/
Admiral William McRaven’s Make Your Bed: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=pxBQLFLei70
Simon Sinek’s Start with Why

Read the Transcript for Episode 75 Below or Click Here!

Learn the power of the pause.

Dolph Goldenburg: Welcome to the Successful Nonprofits™ Podcast. I’m your host Dolph Goldenburgwith a great conversation that will help your nonprofit thrive in a competitive environment. How long do some fundraisers seem to get all the gifts? How do they convert that $50 donor to $100,000 donor? Is it magic? Is it a secret formula? Today, we speak with Michael straighter about the OMG secrets to raising money. Michael has three decades of fundraising experience from the boy scouts to schools to a nature conservancy, and so obviously while these cross multiple different areas of the nonprofit sector, he has honed amazing skills in fundraising and has learned these OMG secrets. Let’s play JFK and welcome Michael Straeder to the podcast.

Hey, welcome to the podcast, Michael.

Michael Strader: Good morning. Hope you’re doing well today.

Dolph Goldenburg: Oh, it is a rainy, rainy day in Atlanta, and that was a two-glasses-of-wine trip back from New York on the plane last night. I’m having a great day. How about you?

Michael Strader: Uh, it’s been a great day so far and I’m probably guessing you’re glad you made it back. I think all the flights into New York kind of canceled this morning due to some bad weather coming in up there.

Dolph Goldenburg: Yeah, the travel angels look out for me. I can’t explain it. I can’t explain it.

Michael Strader: That’s good. I’m at the board. All your travel angel at some point soon.

Dolph Goldenburg: There you go. Let’s talk about these OMG secrets to fundraising. First of all, how did you discover them? Did some of the travel angels like follow you and say, “Hey look, there’s a tablet here with some great secrets.?”

Michael Strader: I was really glad to hear you say the beginning about there is no magic. There is no secret sauce or secret formula. It takes hard work. It takes hard work in fundraising. You wake up every day and think how the day’s going to be an easy day. Our team at Crouch and Associates with their leader, Bill Crouch have developed so much talent and experience the last 30 years of each of us bring to our team, we’ve kind of combined our resources and really help to help us to figure out what makes a top performer in the fundraising field. Bill has leadership as a college president for 22 years. My other colleagues across the country. We all come from so many diverse and different backgrounds, and we’ve all been through the ups and downs and highs and lows. We kind of assemble these things together as we started as a firm.

Dolph Goldenburg: What are some of these secrets?

Well, first of all, I want to say, you know, people going to ask, what is top performance, what makes a top performer? We have some research on a study that was done back in 2013 by the Human Capital Institute, and the study is called the Leadership and Emotional Intelligence. What we’re finding is that over 90 percent of top performers have what’s called Emotional Intelligence. What is emotional intelligence? There are only four things: self-perception, self-expression, interpersonal skills, decision making, and stress management. If you can accomplish those five things, then you can be a top performer. One of the neatest things that we’ve seen is Bill spent some time with the NASCAR pit crew a couple of years ago. Because he wanted to find out what makes this team clicked so well, and so he spent a day at the NASCAR Training Center with the pit crew leaders, and we had our presentation we had done before.

We had a short 17-second video that showed Jimmy Johnson’s crew come and his car coming in and his crew just be imperfect on that pitstop. Now fundraising and NASCAR pit stop or a little bit different, but it all boils down to the whole process working well together. So, Bill walked away, and he asked the pit crew leader, “If there’s one thing I can take back to fundraisers and nonprofit leaders about this and how to apply it to fundraising, what would it be? Without hesitation, the leader said, “It’s the power of the PAUSE.” Bill said, “Oh, what do you mean?” And he said, “When this car comes barreling in and it comes to a complete stop, you really have one chance to make it all click. So we teach that first guy who places that tool that rent up to that first lugnut that he has to pause this for a second to be sure the alignment is right because if his alignment is off, it throws the whole process for the entire team.

And so, we teach our crew to pause for one second there just to be sure things are lined up correctly. And so there was a really, you know, the analogy of a pit crew, again, NASCAR versus fundraising. I think about fundraisers in general and me and my career, how many times have we not paused? Have we made that phone call that we shot that email off as we were upset or just, you know, mad about something or it just happened to take a step back from memory to take a day. If you have to do that and then, you know, give your reaction there.

Dolph Goldenburg: The power of the pause on email is autofill. It’s not my friend, and there are countless number of times that I’ve accidentally emailed the wrong Bill or the wrong Bob.

Michael Strader: Exactly. What we did, we talked to several, what we think are top performers across the country, finding out what makes, what makes you a top leader, a top performer, including the NASCAR pit crew, the CEO, Ross Perot Industries for Europe, a senior VP of Toyota USA, the CEO of PGA America, some top gun pilots down in Pensacola, Florida, Blue Angel Pilots, and some about top performance from them and this other folks who we felt were tops in their fields; that’s how we, we think we figured out what, what top performers is all about, the secrets, you know, again, there are no secrets or whatever, but we think there are seven different things that make you a top performer. I can start out with those, and we can go into and we could ask questions.

The first one we think is self-awareness. We kind of touched base on it a little bit earlier, but you know, knowing yourself. One of my favorite tools that I have and we as a firm, we have a copy is the book the Daily Stoic and its meditations on wisdom, perseverance, and the art of living. And every day, there is a verse from the likes of Seneca, and I must say the word wrong, but it had [inaudible] Marcus Aurelius. These people from 2000 years ago had this divine wisdom of just knowing themselves. And so, you know, I read the book every day, and I pick it up what today’s quote is.

Dolph Goldenburg: We will make sure that we link the Daily Stoic and the show notes; if anyone wants to get it, they can figure out easily how to get it. How do you help fundraising professionals be more self-aware of that? Something maybe that they need to work on?

Don’t be afraid to ask for the first gift too soon.

Michael Strader: Well, that’s partly looking at their strengths and their weaknesses. One thing we have that as a firm we use is called a Profile XT Assessment and what that does, that profile XT assessment measures a person’s emotional strings in your emotional tendencies. It’s not a behavioral analysis is not a lot we have out. There is not one of those. This assessment it’s written and developed through major gift officers across the country who had closed a gift of a million dollars. With the company build work with, we get to develop his own profile just for fundraisers and so if you take the assessment, it’s comparing your results with top performing fundraisers across the country who have developed or getting a cash gift in the last couple of years or a million plus dollars. It’s telling you if you are resilient, aggressive enough, your adjustment, how do you react to things, etc. If you can understand what your emotional strings are, it’ll make you a better fundraiser and even a better spouse or partner or whatever the case may be.

Dolph Goldenburg: Once upon a time, I started a job and I needed the first week to call a major donor who had been upset with the organization, and it stopped giving about a year, 18 months before. I call the donor up, and as soon as I say my name and you know, I’m new with the organization, this tirade of, “I know what this is about, you want money, I’m never giving to you” Then click and hangs up the phone. The donor did not cuss but it was everything but cussing, and I actually remember it because I was making the call while I was in transit. I was on a train. I put my game face on. I smile and dial the person back, and I say, “I’m not sure how, but I think we got disconnected.”

The interesting thing is I’d say maybe 20 months or so later, you know, and, and the donor ended up reengaging at a lower level, but 20 months or so later, we got a mid-six-figure gift from this donor. Sometimes, you don’t take it personally. The person’s upset at the organization and my job is to help heal this wound between the organization and this person.

Michael Strader: Exactly. And lastly, one more thing that we think helps with the fundraisers was self-awareness. It’s just constant growth. One example is just to read. If you look at top CEOs across the country and how many books per year they’re reading, the numbers are phenomenal. I think we have to really always want to better ourselves in wanting to do learn different things. For me, you know, I try to read not just things about fundraising, just even fiction and nonfiction, just things that are out there. I never dreamed it three years ago, I’d be reading the Daily Stoic. How did I live without this kind of thing in my life? So, you know, always trying to grow and be in the better yourself every day.

Dolph Goldenburg: When you’re working with a fundraiser, what are some of the things that you suggest or ask them to do so that they learn and grow every day?

Michael Strader: Pick out a couple of books and here’s a couple of examples for you to maybe go read here is, you know, let’s talk about, you know, I want you to come in tomorrow and tell me what your biggest challenges are? I think a lot of times we look at a challenge and then if we fail, we can’t, we don’t learn from them. I try to talk the fundraisers and ask, “What are your challenges, have you failed, haven’t succeeded, and how can we make that better?” One of the couple of tools we use in our firm is some reporting structures that allows a fundraiser to think, “These are my top goals for this week, this is what I want to do, this is how I want to get there, this is what’s going to get in the way.” Then we sit down, “Okay, let’s look at last week you said you wanted to do this?

Did you accomplish those things?” Well, the answer is no. “Okay. What got in your way? What stopped you from getting these things done and how can I help navigate you through that?” It’s all about helping somebody navigate around their challenges. I’ve worked with major gift officers. They’re not quite there on the resiliency of the aggressive and that they make that phone call like you said, and you get the phone hung up on you or cussed out so to speak or whatever. Yet you can’t just not reengage again. You have to figure out, “Okay, that didn’t work. So what’s going to work the next time it’s going to be an email or who do I know that could get me to that person?” You can’t just take no for the first answer. I try to work through people just are challenges and failures and how to get around those kinds of things.

Dolph Goldenburg: I think part of what I hear you saying is that sometimes you also serve sort of as an accountability partner.

Michael Strader: We do that a lot with their firm where we do weekly phone calls with clients. They’ll send in the report, and that report is called a 5×15 report. They’ll send it in, I’ll read over it, make some notes on it and then we’ll talk about it once a week about what the next week looks like, what last week was like two. I think being the outside person, not their director, not their boss, not third VP of being an outsider looking in, they tend to be more apt to want to respond to us.

Dolph Goldenburg: See, and I am such a believer in accountability partners, even when it’s not a supervisor who’s going to control what you make next year or even whether or not you keep your job. There is something about knowing, okay, next Wednesday I’m going to have to meet with Michael and I’m going to have to report on what I’ve done, and I don’t want to. I don’t want to look sorry. One I met with Michael. Now you mentioned a name of a report, and I’m not familiar with the name. 5 by 15. What exactly is 5 by 15?

Michael Strader: The report that Crouch and Associates developed two years ago and what it is, there’s three parts to it. So, the first part is these are the three most important tasks I accomplished this week. The second part is these were the things that got in my way in the obstacles or challenges, and the third part is these are my focus areas for the three most important things next week that I want to do. That report is it’s due to your direct report or a supervisor every Friday by 5:15. It should take you five minutes to write it but take 15 minutes to read it. It should not be this, “Oh Gosh, I got to do this report again.” It should not be that. It should be what you done anyway, which are goals to do next week are going to be for the secret sauce is that as a supervisor you have to commit to over the weekend reading that report, taking 15 minutes to read it, making some notes for that person to see asking questions. Then if they had any challenges that they couldn’t overcome this past week, how can you help them overcome that so that next week they don’t have the same challenge?

The top CEOs are reading a phenomenal number of books each year.

Dolph Goldenburg: I love that, and I have to say I kept wondering as you were saying, okay, it’s the three most important things. The three obstacles. I kept hearing three, and I kept asking myself, “Where’s the 5 by 15 come in? I love the way that works: five minutes to do get it in, by 5:15, and it should take 15 minutes for your supervisor to review it and be able to respond.

Michael Strader: Exactly, and so in the feedback, the biggest key is the feedback that the supervisor gives back to you as a fundraiser or any kind of role.

Dolph Goldenburg: which again is kind of that accountability piece. If you know your supervisor is not reading it, you’re not going to spend your time and your energy really putting thought into it.

Michael Strader:  Right. Exactly. While we’re on some of our forms, I want to go ahead and discuss one more form that’s related to the 5×15 that we have found is really effective and that’s called a 6×6. We have all these numbers. The 6×6 works hand in hand with the 5×15 and what that is as a development officer of fundraise, you sit down, and you decide these are my top six tasks for the next six weeks. Then your supervisor or your boss signs off on it. This is what you’re going to focus on for the next six weeks. Then every week when you do your 5×15, things that you’re doing on the 5×15 should all come from your 6×6 so that if your supervisor Cesar report on a Friday, this is what, “Hey, you know you, you’ve listed four things here that are our six by six, what’s going on there?”

Then maybe need to refocus those six tasks you have.

Another important thing is if somebody walks into your office and says, “Hey Dolph, I need you to work on this website or work on this communications piece for me, it’s got to be done in two weeks.” Then you can say, “Okay, that’s great, but here’s my six tasks for the next six weeks. Which one do I take off?” That’s been a real effective tool. Again, that accountability… and it also alleviates the supervisor at the end of the year. Then you can almost not have to do the year-end review where you go over what they did and did not do0 you get it in front of you on a weekly basis without having asked for it every week.

Dolph Goldenburg: I love that, that is ingenious. I also kind of agree with you that you know, if you, you’re thinking of annual reviews as a way to help our staff get better – and all of us can get better, but we do so you know, that’s no harm, no foul – you know, to go back and look at those 5×15 and those six by sixes and really see where the trends are. This keeps being an obstacle for you. It was an obstacle for you 12 times this year. Let’s talk about how to remove that obstacle or how to help you learn how to work around it.

Michael Strader:  Exactly. We have to do it every week to our CEO Bill Crouch. He expects them in there from us. Everything that we teach, we as a firm do because we believe in it that much. It has made me such a better person, and it could be some weeks there are no obstacles, but maybe it’s the fact that I’m sitting here and it’s 80 degrees outside. I want to go outside and go for a run or take my dog for a walk or the weather’s so unless I want to go play golf today kind of thing. Those kinds of things, you have to be honest with yourself about what gets in your way to get the job done.

Dolph Goldenburg: I’d have to say this conversation has gone in some directions. I had not anticipated that it would, but I really love the information that you’ve shared so far. Thank you.

Michael Strader: Super. I’m going to say to make your bed, make your bed every day and we’re going to ask what in the world is that about? I don’t want to tell our audience, go to Youtube and search for Admiral William McRaven, who’s a navy seal, spoke to the University of Texas at Austin, 2014 commencement and watch his speech. It’s about making his bed every day and what it did for him.

Dolph Goldenburg: I have seen that video, and it is well worth watching.

Michael Strader: It’s about five minutes long and it’s wonderful and you know, he talks about as a navy seal, how hard it was going through and then about making his bed and what that does; it creates new habits. Again, you go back to the self-accountability. You create this daily habit of making your bed, and he tells the story well. If throughout the day, you don’t accomplish things you set out to do, when you go home at night to go to bed at least your bed is going to be made.

Dolph Goldenburg: One of the other things is whether it’s a physical list or our list in our mind when we check stuff off the list, we get a little dopamine hit that propels us forward. If your first thing to do is make the bed, you get up, you turn around and you make your bed, even if you do not have a paperless, when you check it off in your brain, you got your first dopamine hit of the day. Success number one, move forward to the next success.

Michael Strader: Exactly. No, I do it here at home, but I gotta be honest. When I travel, I’m in a hotel. It’s really hard to think about that, but I caught myself at times before leaving the hotel. I’m going to make the bed real quick.

Dolph Goldenburg: Let’s say you’re a better person than me because I will admit. I do try to tip housekeeping every day, and I travel a lot for work right before I leave, I try to slip three bucks or five bucks under the pillow with just a card that says thank you. That’s it because I’m like, “Okay, I’m out the door.” You’re a better person than me.

Michael Strader: Awesome.

Well, the third thing that we think it’s a secret of being a top performer is people have to love what they do. If you’re in a job where you’re miserable, and you hate it… especially if you work for a nonprofit or a school – if you hate the school or disliked the nonprofit, you’re not going to be successful. I think you loving what you do. It’s such a key component there. I’m going to mention someone else for an audience to tune in to. If you don’t know Simon Sinek, go to Youtube again and look up Simon Sinek’s “Why” Speech. He’s really taken the whole “why?” concept to the next level. For those who don’t understand the “why,” it’s about your calling. What is your calling and what is your ultimate purpose? Simon speaks very well about nine different why’s that make us who we are and those nine whys are: contribute to trust, to make sense, to make things better, to do the right thing, to maintain the status quo, to clarify, to simplify or mastery. Those are the nine.

Dolph Goldenburg: I have written blog posts about love, what you do or do something else. Part of what I do in my consulting practice, I also do some interim executive director engagements and sometimes I come into your organization and I can tell that one or two people are just miserable, you know, maybe the rest of the team is functioning great, but there are one or two people that you can just tell they don’t want to be there. They’re not happy, and it’s not uncommon after I’ve been there a little bit to take them aside and say, “Love what you do or do something else and if you need my help finding something you’re going to love doing, I will help you.” Life is too short, and we all spend too much emotional time and energy at work. Even when we’re not at work, we’re spending time at work to not love it.

Weekly Accountability Check-In:
-5 minutes to do
-Get it in by Friday at 5:15
-Your supervisor should need only 15-minutes to respond

Michael Strader: You’re so right. I’ve seen people who work for a nonprofit or if you look at turnover. Look at a turnover rate of nonprofit development directors in both in higher ED is 18 months or less. There’s a reason why. People aren’t just leaving for a better job or more salary. They’re also leaving because they are unhappy there. If you don’t love what you do don’t bring everybody else down around and go ahead and make the best move for everybody.

Dolph Goldenburg: There have been other people who will say to me, “This is just like my last three jobs or four jobs. I hated them all.” I’m like, “Okay, well you need to figure out why you hated each of your last three or four jobs. Find out if it’s the job or if it’s you.”

Michael Strader: Yup, exactly. Exactly.

Dolph Goldenburg: Michael, we need to take a quick break and when we come back, I’d like for us to shift gears. I know that Crouch and Associates has done some work helping fundraisers, cut cultivation time in half, and also really to kind of help fundraisers with strategy to be more effective. I’d love it if we could have a little bit of a conversation about those things as well.

The Successful Nonprofits™ Podcast is produced by the Goldenburg Group as part of our mission to provide board development, strategic planning, and interim leadership to help nonprofits thrive in a competitive environment.

Checkout our very active blog www.successfulnonprofits.com, which includes hundreds of on a variety of fundraising governance and management topics.

Let’s get back to this fantastic conversation with Michael Straeder.

Hey Michael, welcome back.

Michael Strader: Thanks again.

Dolph Goldenburg: When I was doing some research on the work you do and the work that crowd and associates does, I saw this one line that said cut cultivation time in half. I realized that if listeners could just do that, I mean they would get so much value out of today’s episode. How can we cut cultivation time?

Michael Strader: Well, thank you, and our listeners know that cultivation is all about relationships. It’s about how you as a fundraiser, how the donor or the prospect connects with you on the human side of things. I think a lot of times we tend to think, “Well, it’s going to, take me two years or 18 months to get to know this person,” because you know you’re going to do this cultivation visits or then how it ends up. We’ll take it takes time to do that. I don’t think there’s a secret sauce that says you can’t do those. You must do those, but there’s a couple of things that we have figured out that tends to work a little bit quicker. The first thing is we like to ask a donor this very simple question and it elicits responses you would not imagine, but it also starts conversations, and that question is, “Hey, what was your favorite childhood toy?”

It takes the person back to their childhood, or they’ve got to remember was it my bike? Was it a set of Star Wars toys that I had? What was my favorite toy? What that does is it lets you start asking questions to that donor. I hate to say the word donor every time, but I think to that person, to start getting to know them, it’s going to tell them a little bit that, “Hey, this person has asked me a very odd question that has nothing to do with fundraising.” It gives that connection. You’re already connected that personal one-on-one level where you’re going to start understanding them a little bit better.

If you’re really good as a fundraiser, and you found out that this person’s favorite toy was a certain board game or a matchbox car, a little trinket or whatever, then go to eBay, Amazon and find one of those and mail it to that person and say, “Hey, I understand this was your favorite toy. I want you to put this on your desk, and when you have a bad day or thinking thoughts you shouldn’t be thinking, look to this toy, think about your childhood, whatever like that.

Again, it’s going to start that whole dialogue with you and that donor. Getting to know each other. From that, we have this questionnaire that we’ve developed. It’s 66 questions that we take every fundraiser should know about their donors and those are questions related. It’s things that you’re going to learn from the donor in the cultivation process, but you know, just basic things like there is their spouse and kids names or anniversaries or where the kids go to college, where they go to church and things like, do they pray before a meal if they’re out in public somewhere, things that you as a fundraiser should learn about the person before you take him out to eat somewhere or do something.

Dolph Goldenburg: I did something very similar before meeting my in-laws for the first time. My husband and I, we’ve been together about 12 years, and I think I met my mother and father-in-law a year after my husband. My father in law’s a Baptist preacher, and they’re from a very, very, very small, small South Georgia town. I already knew that I had a little bit of an uphill to win them over. I gave this person who would later become my spouse, I gave him a fill-in-the-blank survey about his parents, and I memorized like 25 different facts about, you know, like what sport did his dad play in high school? What sport did his mom play in high school? His dad was in the Georgia National Guard, you know. So, I would get all of that right. It was the fundraising perspective where I’m like, okay, I need to walk in knowing some things about them so that if conversation gets really slow, I can bring up something that I know they’re going to want to talk about.

Michael Strader: I think we have to treat people like we want to be treated. You can’t just look at your donor as a cash cow or the end of your problems with whenever they have to really know that person. Cultivating that relationship, that’s the key to that thing. We think that the more you get to know somebody and understand that we’re also going to find out their “why.” Why are they given to you as opposed to somebody else? Why do they give to XYZ, and not ABC over here? Understanding it and knowing your donor, that’s the whole key to the cultivation for retake.

Dolph Goldenburg: So, what are some other ways that we can cut down on cultivation time?

Michael Strader: Don’t be afraid to ask. Don’t be afraid. Who says the magic formula is 12 months or 18 months? If you’ve done enough research on your prospect or your donor, and you think you know them well enough to know that they did not just make a multimillion gift to somebody else, do not pay it off this campaign. They’re done with this or one their kids are out of college. They about to retire, you know, understand that and don’t be afraid to make the proposal and make that ask as well, too. I think something we as a fundraising profession have really some really slack on is just thanking people throughout the whole year. When a donor gives you a gift, you know, we think there are eight powerful words that you can say over and over again.

Top Fundraisers:
-Love what they do
-Are self aware and reflective
-Have high emotional intelligence
-Make their bed every day

Thank you so much. I am really grateful or thank you so much. We’re really grateful. You know those words. Let donors know what their dollars do for you in using the words because of you. Because of you, we were able to do this, this, and this. For most donors, it’s about the impact; it’s about the impact or gifts from making. If you can figure out a way to cultivate this donor book, the for the gift comes in afterward with seven to eight touches throughout the year where you’re not just asking for money twice a year. I’ve talked to a college recently that has to the stewardship plan for another group, and I called a friend of mine in college, and she’s our stewardship director and I said, “Hey, what do you guys do for like for your online recurring gifts that come in every month? Do you send a standard, you know, paper thank you note, or is it just a, an email receipt?”

Well, it’s mostly an email receipt. Every month they get one saying thank you, but then like twice a year, they’ll send out a paper or hard copy impact statement saying, ‘because of your gifts, we’re doing these things now, “so at least twice a year they’re sending those donors, those kinds of things. Figure out what your donors want to hear from you. They don’t want an email. If you’ve done your research, you will know they’re going respond better to a text or phone call or an email kind of thing.

Dolph Goldenburg: So, I wanted to jump in real quick and also share when it comes to not waiting too long to make the ask, not Feeling like you’ve got to do all 12, you know, cultivation touches before you make the ask. I think so often donors will kind of drop hints and give us signs that they are ready to be asked, and we ignore them because we’re so focused on “I have eight more touches before I’m going to ask you!” So much of what you’re saying has really resonated with me. Normally, I don’t tell so many personal stories.

I know the very first $100,000 gift I ever got high, I was really focused on those steps, and I was on step three or step four, not on step eight where I supposed to make the ask.

And I had completely missed the fact that the donor had dropped hints to me that they’ve wanted to. This particular donor was in the finance world and was very successful in the finance world where people are remarkably direct. Somewhere around the third meeting, he looks at me, and he says, “So why don’t you just tell me how much you’re going to ask me for it?” It made my job a lot easier. Had I picked up on his heads and the prior meeting, we would’ve done a better job of cultivating hand as opposed to him kind of finally being like, “Okay, I’m tired of this dance.”

Michael Strader: Exactly. You asked me earlier about listening and understanding those subtleties, those subtle cues in there. Donors know why you’re taking them to lunch and meet for coffee or going for a glass of wine; they know why you’re doing it. It’s just a matter of you figuring out and understanding when the right time is.

Dolph Goldenburg: In my own life, there are some organizations that we are small time major donors to us.  In my own life, I have three rules. I never let a fundraiser, a banker or a lawyer take me to lunch. I always pick that checkup every single time.

Michael Strader: That’s a good way to be.

Dolph Goldenburg: Michael, thank you so much for joining us. We are almost out of time, but I also want to ask you the Off-the-Map question, and you actually gave me the Off-the-Map question to ask you with maybe without knowing that you gave it to me. I walked in here thinking that I was going to ask you about what it was like to be a fundraiser with a military academy and with a Quaker school in Greensboro, North Carolina. I am crumpling up that question, ripping it apart, shredding it whatever, because I have a much better Off-the-Map question that will allow our listeners to get to know you. For listeners that don’t know, Michael and I can see each other, and I have the widest grin on my face from doing this by Skype,. Michael, when you were a child, what was your favorite toy?

Michael Strader: I kind of knew that was coming. Oh my gosh.

I think the outdoors, if I can say the outdoors was a toy… because I grew up on a farm out in rural North Carolina outside of Burlington and grew up on a farm. My family raised tobacco, paid my way through college at UNC. This was back in the early eighties, but just being outdoors was great. I was very active as a boy scout. I joined boy scouts at age 12. Then I worked at summer camp for like six to eight weeks’ time. I was 15 all the way through college, and then I left college, went to work for the boy scouts full time and still maintain my summer camp being a camp director and things like that. One day, I actually counted up all the different number of weeks I had spent outside living in a tent in my whole life, and it was over two and a half years.

Dolph Goldenburg: And you weren’t in the army like, you know, somewhere in the field? Wow.

Michael Strader: Exactly. So yeah it was a long time, over a two-year period, so I think the outdoors and just being out there camping, hiking just really allowed me to be who I wanted to be. I learned so much, and even now as an adult, my favorite things to do… I’ve been to Glacier National Park twice and in Montana by myself just to go hiking and camping for about a week or 10 days. I think the outdoors was and still is my favorite toy. If you could say that.

Dolph Goldenburg: First of all, it’s hard for a fundraiser to buy the outdoor so that’s a tough one. There might be, but certainly some good BSA memorabilia from the decade in which you were in scouts. That would be a possibility for a fundraiser. I knew there was a reason that you and I were hitting it off. I was not a very successful scout. I was in cub scouts and boy scouts for a year or two, but my best friend as an adult was an eagle scout, and scout executive in Pennsylvania was his first job out of college data for, you know, five or 10 years, still in the nonprofit sector. I was like, and now I see why you and I are hitting it off cause because you’ve got that boy scouts of America personality that I hit it off with.

8 powerful words to say to your donor:
“Thank you so much,
we are really grateful”

Michael Strader: Well I appreciate it. It was a big part of my childhood growing up, and I owe them a lot and I’m not been active in the scales from for number of years. The program does good things for kids to really does. Bill and I did a speech a few weeks ago with the presentation, and the first thing Bill did was he got up and said, “Hi, I’m Bill Crouch, and I’m a former college president. I stood up, said “Hi, I’m Michael Straeder, and I’m an Eagle Scout. That top performer can be being an eagle scout not going to be easy, but maybe that’s where I started learning these days back, you know, years ago. Who knows?

Dolph Goldenburg: Michael, thank you so much for coming on the podcast. Any organization that needs assistance with fundraising, planning, helping staff strategize and get stronger and get better, should absolutely reach out to www.crouchandassociates.com. If you want to do that, dear listener, just go to their website where you can get contact information for Michael and everybody else at Crouch and Associates. You also can see videos of past presentations. If you got a lot out of today’s episode, this is just a snippet of what you’ll get from there. They have a video blog as well.

Hey Michael, thank you so much for joining us today.

Michael Strader: Thanks for having me and thanks for having Crouch and Associates. You’re doing work that hopefully nonprofit leaders across the country or tune into listening to, and not just for me and for everybody, but all the speakers you have on board, everybody brings different skills to the table, different experiences. I think you’re doing an amazing job connecting people like me to others across the country who either one or just starting out or they’ve been in for 10 or 15 years or 20-plus years, and they got us what’s new now kind of thing, but you know, thanks for all the hard work you’re doing. We at Crouch and Associates are just excited to be part of this and let it be on board.

Dolph Goldenburg: Thank you.

If you throw away your pen earlier today because it was leaking all over your shirt pocket, I have two recommendations. My first recommendation is to get a seventy-five-cent pocket protector and save yourself the expense of buying new shirts. Second, check out our show notes at www.successfulnonprofits.com to get all of Michael Straeder’s contact information. If you’re the kind of person who needs a pocket protector, then you’re also the kind of person that I can count on to rate and review the podcast. Just click the link from www.successfulnonprofits.com and start your million-star review of this podcast today. Now, if you aren’t the kind of person who needs a pocket protector, then friend me on social media because clearly, you’re the kind of person who likes social media, so check out my Facebook, Twitter, and LinkedIn pages, and guess what? The week that this episode airs, I will post a picture on all three of those social media of me using my fabulous pocket protector. So, you will see they were not just for 1976. Some of us still use them. That’s our show for this week. I hope you have gained some insight that will help your nonprofit thrive in a competitive environment.

(Disclaimer) I’m not an accountant or attorney, and neither I nor the Successful Nonprofits™ provide tax, legal or accounting advice. This material has been providing for informational purposes only and is not intended or should not be relied on for tax, legal or accounting advice. Always consult a qualified licensed professional about such matters.



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