Renee Herrell's Blog

The Nonprofit Guru Is In

Getting ‘in’ with the In-crowd: Upgrading Members to Donors August 1, 2014

Filed under: membership,Uncategorized — reneeherrell @ 9:00 am


the breakfast club

I recently became a member of the Los Angeles County Museum of Art. Not because I live in Los Angeles or because I plan to frequent the Museum on a regular basis. However, I did want to access something special at the Museum that only members can access. My membership gave me entrance to a sold out art exhibition that I really wanted to see. I also received a discount on my ticket (and 3 friends’ tickets) to the exhibition.

For many individuals, their first involvement with your nonprofit organization is through a purchased membership. Individuals buy memberships to organizations because it gives them access. I think this concept goes back to our time in high school and stems from our desire to be part of the cool kids club. We have a natural inclination to be part of the “in-crowd”.

Here I am with the ‘in-crowd’ at LACMA:


A sample of membership benefits could include:

  • Membership Benefits
  • Unlimited access to the organization (museum, zoo)
  • Guest passes
  • Discount in the organization’s gift shop, bookstore, restaurant
  • Free or discounted tickets to the organization’s events
  • Sneak peek to new exhibitions or program
  • Member-only events and activities
  • Subscription to organization’s newsletter

With the knowledge of access in mind, you can offer higher level memberships that allows the individual to gain more access or special VIP access to your organization. Case in point, I recently upgraded my Museum of Contemporary Art San Diego membership from the basic level to the Avant Garde level because it gave me access to special art tours and shows. Yes, I wanted to be part of that cool kids club too.

As fundraisers, our next step in the donor cultivation process it to engage our members as donors. This is a tricky transition because a membership is a  “pay to play” relationship. A membership constitutes a transactional relationship because the individual receives something tangible for the money they give the organization. A donation request is one where there is no tangible exchange. How can you successfully do this?

I was pondering the answer to this question when I received a letter from LACMA in the mail asking me to take my membership one step further and become a donor.  This line really intrigued me:

LACMA Annual Appeal Letter Quote 2

This letter tells me that as a member, LACMA is my museum. My “in-crowd”. The letter asks me to make a donation to make the Museum more accessible to others. Those individuals who can not afford access to the “in-crowd” but have much to gain from being a member. Oh, LACMA, you are one smart cookie because you know this girl wants to be ‘in’ the in-crowd and have others join her. Well played!

If you want to read the letter in its entirety, check out the LACMA Annual Appeal Letter.


Top 10 Fundraising Tips to Double your Money (and that you can implement right away!) July 2, 2014

Filed under: Uncategorized — reneeherrell @ 7:58 am

collective sun


Please join me for a one-hour webinar hosted by Collective Sun on Wednesday, July 9th at noon to learn about my Top 10 Fundraising Tips! In this fun and interactive webinar, you will learn how to:

1. Fundraise smarter, not harder

2. Get your happy hour on to raise money

3.  Use post-its to make donating as easy as 1-2-3

4. Many more fun, easy fundraising ideas that you can implement right away


Webinar Details

Topic: Top 10 Fundraising Tips!

Speaker: Renee Herrell, M.A., CFRE

Date: Wednesday, July 9, 2014 at noon

Cost: FREE


Questions: Ian Campbell at


Giving USA 2014 Report Released! July 1, 2014

Filed under: Uncategorized — reneeherrell @ 9:00 am


2013 contributions by source

According to Giving USA 2014 Report:

  • A total of $335.17 billion was donated to nonprofits in the United States in 2013 –  almost a $19 billion increase from 2012. This is also a good sign of the recovery and getting closer to the $344 billion raised in 2007 before the economy crashed.
  • The largest component of charitable contributions is Individual Giving with an estimated $241.32 billion, or 72% of the total, in 2013.
  • As a fundraiser, we need to take note that individuals will always be our best and biggest source for donations. This information should encourage us to start or continue building relationships with the individuals in your organization.
  • Not surprisingly, corporations have the lowest contribution overall – just 5%. Unlike individuals, corporations give to nonprofits to receive marketing benefits – both in visibility and positive exposure to the community.


2013 contributions by recipient organization

According to Giving USA 2014 Report:

  1. As it has been the case for 59 years, Religion received the largest share, with almost one-third (31%) of the total – a drop of 1% from the previous year.
  2. Education received the second-highest share, at 16% of the total, an increase of 3% from 2012.
  3. Human Services organizations include those responding to the economic crisis with emergency care and supplies is the third top recipient organization this year at 12%.
  4. Gifts to grantmaking private, community, and operating foundations are estimated to be the fourthhighest ranking recipient category, with 11%  of all charitable giving – up 1% from the previous year.
  5. Health Organizations received an estimated 10% of giving; up 1% from 2012.
  6. Public-Society stayed the same as the previous year with 7%.
  7. Arts organizations have ranked in 7th place for well over a decade at 5% of all charitable giving.
  8. International Affairs organizations rose this year to 4%.
  9. Environment/Animals were at 3%.



Director of Development Compensation June 2, 2014

Filed under: In the development office,Nonprofit Careers — reneeherrell @ 9:30 am

The Association of Fundraising Professionals released their Compensation and Benefits Study 2013.

According to the report, fundraisers make a:

  • Median salary of $71,100
  • Mean (average) salary of $82,028

Top 25 percent of fundraisers earn more than $97,000

Bottom 25 percent earn $53,000 or less

The good news is that average salaries for fundraisers increased in the U.S. and Canada in 2012!

  • 66% of respondents to the study reported salary increases of up to 10 percent
  • 27% reported no change in salary
  • Less than 10 percent reported a decrease

Although the nonprofit sector seems to be a female dominated field, it turns out that it is men who are making 25% more than women.

  • The average salary of male fundraisers is reported to be $102,710
  • Females are paid an average of $76,126

There is a strong correlation between years of experience and compensation.

  • Fundraisers with less than 10 years of experience reported average salaries of $53,000-$73,835
  • Those with 10-14 years of experience reported average salaries of $84,550 
  • Those with 30 or more years of experience averaged $121,678

The possession of a certification credential correlates positively with salary.  In the United States sample, CFREs reported average salaries nearly $22,000 higher than the average for respondents with no certification.


Encore: San Diego Opera’s Drama Saga May 22, 2014

Filed under: Huffington Post,Nonprofit Phenomenons — reneeherrell @ 8:47 am

Screen Shot 2014-05-21 at 8.19.18 AM


Check out my most recent Huffington Post blog about the continuing drama at the San Diego Opera. Spoiler alert! It has a happy ending. :)


Join me for a FREE Lunch Seminar about How to Pursue Major Donors May 12, 2014

Filed under: Dating Your Donors,Major Gifts — reneeherrell @ 9:00 am

Screen Shot 2014-05-11 at 3.46.28 PM     Topic: Dating Your Donors: The Courtship of Cultivation Learn:

  •  Identify donors: “Your Type”, set ups, online dating and yentas
  • Cultivate donors: “Woo” donors
  • Solicit donors: “Pop the question”
  • Steward donors: Nurture the relationship to “happily ever after”

Speaker: Renee Herrell, M.A., CFRE  RCH Consulting Renee Herrell brings her abundant positive energy and over a dozen years of nonprofit experience to customize a strategy for each client.  She utilizes her hands-on personalized approach to create success for nonprofit organizations in achieving their goals in fundraising, strategic planning and board development. Ms. Herrell currently serves as a Board member for the Association of Fundraising Professionals San Diego Chapter and fundraising chair for Opportunity International’s Young Ambassadors of Opportunity. Recently, she served on the University of San Diego Alumni Council for the School of Leadership and as Women Give San Diego’s Communications Team co-chair.  As an instructor at University of California, San Diego Extension and the University of San Diego, Ms. Herrell teaches fundraising and strategic planning and regularly speaks at conferences.  Her fundraising articles are regularly published in the Association of Fundraising Professionals’ publication, Advancing Philanthropy. REGISTER HERE:


Mother’s Day Appeal May 1, 2014

Filed under: Direct Mail — reneeherrell @ 9:30 am

When I was consulting at Alzheimer’s Association, we partnered with one of our key volunteers and donors to create a Mother’s Day Appeal. This was a beautiful way to pay tribute to her mother who has Alzheimer’s but also to reach out to other daughters and family members who have a mother (or father, aunt, uncle, brother, sister) who is suffering from this horrible disease. Check out the beautifully written letter below by Jennifer Frazee Rodi about her mother:


Alzheimer Mother's Day Appeal

Dear Friends and Family,

My Mom has Alzheimer’s. She is in the late stages now. Over the past few years we have helplessly watched her disappear into a world we are no longer a part of. For any of you who have experienced Alzheimer’s or related dementia, you know what I am talking about. She is gone. Not physically, but mentally. I am My Mother’s Daughter and to those of you who have a loved one battling this disease, my story will be all too familiar to you.

She is an amazing woman, who without memories of her own has given us the random gift of our memories of her. I wish I could have a conversation with her now to tell her how much I love and miss her. I wish she could see all of her grandkids growing up. I wish she could relish in all of the accomplishments so many have achieved due to her help, guidance and love. Lastly, I simply wish I could have her back.

Mom lived life to the fullest and those who knew her were richer for it. Her creativity and love for nature was unsurpassed. She found solace walking the shores of her favorite beaches collecting rocks, sea glass, shells and driftwood….and then turning them into beautiful creations.

She has given so much of herself to others over the years. The important “things” we all need to survive in this crazy world: her time and energy, humor and laughter, a huge heart, compassion and empathy, a sense of security, constructive criticism when we needed it and most importantly, unconditional and unwavering love. With all she has given us, I like to think that she still knows that she is deeply loved by everyone she has touched.

This Mother’s Day, I ask you to honor my Mom Leslie and others who have given selflessly, and allow us to give back. We’ve enclosed a donation card and ask that you lend your support to help fight this disease.

Thank-You So Much,

Jennifer Frazee Rodi



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