Why did I start FOCUSED?
The simple truth is that we don’t need another direct-response fundraising agency. After spending 15 years working with or for some of the largest fundraising agencies and nonprofits in the world, I’ve come to dislike the term “full-service”. This doesn’t mean that these larger agencies are not servicing their clients, but it does mean that if you are a jack of all trades you are a master of none.
If you are still with me, read on.
This story began back in 2011 when I was asked to join the board of Bread of Life Mission in Seattle, Washington. The mission was in sound shape financially but wasn’t growing. Traditional fundraising and direct mail response rates were declining while costs were increasing. The leadership team knew they needed to do something different or the supporter base would slowly decline. In the fall of 2014, we decided to make a key organizational shift. Rather than waiting until the situation was dire, they approached me about becoming their primary fundraising council. Our vision was aligned in what we wanted to achieve and how we wanted to do it. The plan wasn’t to change the segmentation strategy or make changes to the control package for acquisition. It was much simpler than that.
We decided to invest in relationships.
When you invest in relationships, you move from transactional to personal, from donors to raving fans. Donors give to you once or twice, while raving fans give to you for years and tell their friends, coworkers, churches, knitting groups, and cycling clubs.
That's great, you say, but how do you find these people?
The truth is that you probably have them already on your donor file, you just haven’t invited them to the party. To transform someone from a donor to a raving fan takes more than sending them fundraising letters, emails, and the occasional newsletter. It takes personal phone calls, handwritten thank-you notes, emails sent from real people with real email addresses, and good old-fashioned respect and honesty.
It’s hands on, it’s hard work, and it’s extremely rewarding.
It’s also very hard to do for most large fundraising agencies. Raving fans are not created out of syndicated marketing plans, and require a more hands-on approach. It also requires you to align every part of your organization towards your goals. It takes time, listening, and lots of human interaction to make that happen.
Here is a little bit about the process we go through when working with new clients. I’d love to talk with you more about it if you are interested.
About the Founder:
Brian has over 17 years of experience in nonprofit fundraising working for agencies such as Russ Reid, TrueSense, and DDB Seattle. He has also spent 5 years on the “client side” of the fence working for World Vision, one of the 20 largest charities in the United States. His experience ranges from traditional direct response to digital and social media marketing, video production, and content marketing. Brian has spoken at the DMA Nonprofit Conference in New York. In his spare time, he loves to cycle and competes in various road, cyclocross, and mountain biking events in the Pacific Northwest.