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The Veritus Way in Action: Interviews with Our Clients
September 20, 2022

What is it that makes The Veritus Way of fundraising so successful?

To tell you more about it, we’ve invited a couple of our clients to share about their experiences with the Veritus approach to fundraising.

Listen in to learn about how they approached integrating The Veritus Way into their work, the challenges they faced and how they overcame them, and what they would share with others who are working to implement a new approach to fundraising.

You may recognize some of your own challenges in their stories and successes.

Show Highlights: In this episode, you’ll hear first-hand experiences of…

  • How The Veritus Way stands out from other systems and structures
  • What was most challenging about adopting a new approach 
  • What was most impactful in these fundraisers’ success
  • Advice to others who are considering implementing a new system at their non-profit

Veritus Group is passionate about partnering with you and your organization throughout your fundraising journey. We believe that the key to transformative fundraising is a disciplined system and structure, trusted accountability, persistence, and a bit of fun. We specialize in mid-level fundraising, major gifts, and planned giving, helping our clients to develop compelling donor offers and to focus on strategic leadership and organizational development. You can learn more about how we can partner with you at www.VeritusGroup.com.

Additional Resources:

Read the Full Transcript of This Podcast Episode Here:

Jeff Schreifels  

If you’re looking for a shortcut in fundraising, we’ll be the first to tell you, there is no secret ingredient, no magic wand that guarantees your success. So, what is it that makes The Veritus Way so successful? To tell you more about it, we’ve invited a couple of our clients to share about their experiences with the Veritus approach to fundraising. You may recognize some of your own challenges in their stories, and successes.

Recorded  

Welcome to the Nothing But Major Gifts podcast from Veritus Group, featuring Richard Perry and Jeff Schreifels. Twice a month, we bring you the latest and best thinking about major gift fundraising so you can develop authentic relationships with your major donors. Here are your hosts, Richard and Jeff.

Jeff Schreifels  

Welcome to the podcast. today. I’m Jeff Schreifels. And Richard and I are really excited about today’s episode because we have some very special guests. Something we do regularly at Veritus is share celebrations from our clients and cheer on their great work. But we know it’s not easy, and they work really hard to stay on track with implementing our system and structure. So today, we wanted to invite some of our clients to join us for a conversation about how they approached integrating The Veritus Way into their work, the challenges they faced, and how they overcame them, and what they would share with others who are working to implement a new approach to fundraising.

Richard Perry  

Boy, you’re right, Jeff, this is really, really going to be a great conversation. Thank you, Ricky and Stephana, for being here. I mean, we we, we just love it that you spent the time to just spend some time with Jeff and myself to talk about these subjects. And we’d like to start by each of you sharing a little bit about yourselves with our audience.

Ricky Piedrahita  

Thank you, Richard. And Jeff, it’s a pleasure to be with you both and also sharing this platform with Stephana. My name is Ricky Piedrahita. I work for the Salvation Army, Canada and Bermuda territory. I am one of four divisional directors of development. And I have had the pleasure to work with various for 14 months now. So it’s been it’s been a thrill. Awesome.

Stephana Sneed  

Hi, everyone. It’s such an honor to be here with you guys. Thanks for having me here. My name is Stephana Sneed. I am a mid-level officer with IJM. I just celebrated my one year anniversary this past year. And so I’m hoping I can be helpful to all you out here who are on your fundraising and development endeavors.

Richard Perry  

IJM represents, that’s International Justice Mission. That is a great organization. Yeah.

Jeff Schreifels  

Awesome. Well, thank you for all being here. I want to start off the conversation by asking each of you just to share a bit of your background, and maybe one story about how the Veritus system and approach to fundraising has impacted your work directly.

Ricky Piedrahita  

I’ll go first. Sure, a story that I always like to share, Jeff is the reason why I work in the not for profit charitable sector. And it begins with my parents that emigrated from Colombia 50 plus years ago. And when my parents immigrated to Canada, the government, the country, and different NGOs, and tribal organizations helped my parents a lot. And so for me a way to give back and say thank you very much to this wonderful country that I was born in. And my kids have been born in here as well is to work for such a wonderful organization like the Salvation Army. And it’s an opportunity to help other immigrants that come to our country and that need assistance. And that’s just one share the story that I like to share. And I think there are others that work in the industry that, you know, the story resonates with them and the reasons why maybe they also work in the charitable and not for profit sector. And Veritus has really showed us at the Salvation Army these past years on how important it is to interact and focus on working with donors and building relationships with donors. It’s not just transactional. It’s building a deeper relationship with them.

Jeff Schreifels  

Very important. Yep. 

Jeff Schreifels  

Love that.

Stephana Sneed  

Yeah, similar to Ricky, I am born and raised in Seattle, Washington and my parents, my family, we were very involved in the community, our local community. And so I’ve always been raised in this idea of giving back to the community so I naturally fell into fundraising. And I’ve worked for a lot over the past five years, I’ve worked for a lot of non-profit organizations. And there’s all these ideas and ways to fundraise. But what really stuck to me with The Veritus Way was the permission-based fundraising, which invited the partners to be involved in the engagement. And so, you know, usually we’re just, you know, flying the plane while painting it in the non-profit world, but Veritus really provided a strategy, a way to, to kind of formulate the engagement process, which has really helped me. Yeah.

Jeff Schreifels  

Awesome. I’d love to ask you both. And I’ll start with you, Stephana. What was the system that you’ve been using before? And how was it different than The Veritus way?

Stephana Sneed  

Yeah, I would say some of the experiences I’ve had, or the ways I’ve been trained was relationship fundraising. And it centralizes the donor. But I didn’t find that it really challenged or allowed the donor to engage in the process. It was really donor-focused, which kind of distracts from the mission, or the work or the efforts that we’re doing. I’ve also experienced community-based fundraising, which is really about equity and things of that nature. So yeah, I have found that the permission-based is just a melting pot for all the best practices when you’re working with donors.

Jeff Schreifels  

That’s awesome. How about you, Ricky,

Stephana Sneed  

I would say, we didn’t have a system, Jeff. We weren’t using a system. The Salvation Army in Canada has a fantastic legacy giving program. And what happened was, is when we focus on one facet of fundraising, the other facets tend to not have much focus or structure. So what happens is when there isn’t a system, there lacks structure in one of your fundraising programs. And that’s what Veritus has taught us, since we have began this journey. Adopting The Veritus Way has helped us to implement the structure for our fundraising program. And so what happens when there’s structure for an MGO, that equals focus, and an MGO needs to focus on their caseload when it comes to qualifying donors. We had fundraisers focusing on major gifts, legacy gifts, some did some annual stuff, working on events, and it wasn’t working for us. And so in order for us to be successful in our major gift program, we had to implement the structure. And that’s what Veritus has taught us in these past 14 to 15 months that we’ve had this relationship and gone down this journey with Veritus and now we’re happy to call it the Salvation Army Way is making sure that our MGOs have the structure, which equals focus and which equals building those relationships with your donors. Yeah.

Jeff Schreifels  

Well, Ricky, what do you what were some of the challenges you face with the Veritus system and structure? And then how did you overcome it?

Ricky Piedrahita  

Some of the challenges, were implementing a tool like the Donor Engagement Plan? That, yes, teaching our fundraisers that look, each donor has a different strategic plan. Yep. And that was a foreign concept to our fundraisers. And so teaching them how to fundraise again, and giving them the permission to say, look, it’s okay to build a deeper relationship with your donors. Be curious, identify what their interests are, what are their communication preferences? And when we’re asking our fundraisers to do this, and this is a new strategic plan, they say, well, wait a second. Is that okay? Are we allowed to do that? Absolutely. Because it’s not supposed to be a transactional relationship. It’s supposed to be a deeper relationship with your donors. And that is something that challenged us definitely and to overcome it is giving them the permission to do that. Learning something, a tool like permission-based asking, being curious, find out what your daughter’s interests are, put the donor first.

Jeff Schreifels  

Yeah, Stephana, how about you? What were some of the challenges you had with the Veritus system?

Stephana Sneed  

Yeah, absolutely. I agree with Ricky. As a fundraiser, I think, trusting the process, and trusting the steps. I can recall a time where we were starting our first call campaign with International Justice Mission. And we had sent out the introductory letter. We followed up with the email, we were doing all the touch points that we were given. And I was hesitant to make those calls. Because I felt like I had done too many touch points, or is this really gonna work? And when I got a hold of this particular family, they had heard, and they had gotten all my touch points, my letter my voicemails, and they said, Oh, thank you for, you know, reaching out. Thank you for attempting to get ahold of us. We’re so sorry. It’s been so busy. Tell us, we’d like to learn more. And they ended up giving $25,000. 

Jeff Schreifels  

Wow. 

Stephana Sneed  

Yeah. Yeah. So really, that that was what solidified like, Okay, this does work. I can trust these steps and trust this process. 

Richard Perry  

You know, what’s so interesting about these comments, Jeff, from Ricky and Stephana on structure, because we’ve been saying all along structure is what’s needed, and it sounds like such a boring concept. Like, how could that possibly make a difference? You know?

Jeff Schreifels  

Yeah, yeah. It’s interesting. Stephana, you’re working specifically right now in the mid-level area. And with mid-level, there’s this whole introduction process that we have. So what was it like getting that started for you?

Stephana Sneed  

Yeah, so for IJM, they had never, we had never had a mid-level program. So Veritus was really helpful in getting a started and figuring out okay, what, what are the steps that we take? What are the touch points? So we started with an introduction series. I believe it’s about seven touch points. But it starts out with a letter introducing yourself, sharing that you’re going to reach out with a phone call, you then are asking to have either a phone conversation to learn, you know, their engagement preferences, do they like email, phone calls? And so it’s a really, it’s a discovery process. And then there’s personal touchpoints and engagement that we do by quarter. So yeah, it’s been really helpful. We’ve had an insane response rate. And then we also sent out a survey as one of our touch points. And those people that don’t like to communicate on the phone, they communicated through the survey. So we’ve gotten a lot of meaningful interactions using The Veritus Way.

Jeff Schreifels  

Yeah. So I mean, I’ve heard from our Client Experience Leader who works with all the folks on the mid-level team, that your engagement, the percentage of donors engaging you on the introductory process probably up farther than any other client. Yeah. So you’re doing something right.

Stephana Sneed  

Well yeah, we’re following the Veritus steps.

Richard Perry  

All right. So Ricky, here’s here’s a question for you because you have a leadership position in the Salvation Army, and you’re based there in Toronto. How has all of this helped you as a leader to grow and feel more confident in your role?

Ricky Piedrahita  

Well, the confident part is support from leadership, Richard. Having my direct report, my supervisor, having that individual, give me permission to be open-minded, allowed me and fellow colleagues to express our ideas, praise and feedback and trust. So having that, being able to share ideas, you know, she offers praise and feedback, express our ideas, that helps me be confident as a leader in my role. Now, for me to grow as a leader, someone really smart taught me this concept called management by objectives, which was popularized by Peter Drucker in his book, The Practice of Management. And the concept it’s a strategic management model that aims to improve organizational performance and specifically define objectives that are agreed upon by a manager employee. So I’ve been able to take this concept and apply it with the team members that report to me in Ontario. It’s been transformative. And having these specific objectives, and focusing on operational or individual tactical or team creating those objectives for those particular elements has been successful. So it’s helped me to become and to grow as a leader and feel more confident and knowing that the team members trust me is very helpful. So when you have that trust with your team members and the support from your supervisor, then when it comes to implementing a tool, like the Donor Engagement Plan, which is a strategic plan for your, for your donors, it’s very helpful when you introduce this new tool because they trust you. And that is a very, very helpful, it can become very, very powerful. So for me as a leader, having their trust, my bosses, my supervisor’s support, and applying different management concepts has been successful for me as a leader.

Richard Perry  

Cool, that’s really good. So I’m gonna switch directions here a little bit terms of time and talking about donors. And Stephana I want to start with you. How has your view of donors and fundraising changed as a result of this whole process?

Stephana Sneed  

I now view donors as partners. I recognize that their giving has shown me that they’re already invested. I’m not having to sell them or give them this, it’s no longer a transactional relationship where I feel like I did something wrong, or, you know, I did too much and so now they’re not going to give enough. And it’s, it’s that we are partners in this work. And we’re working together for the greater good of the cause. The permission-based asking, I keep going back to that, because I’ve really been able to hone in on the strength of preparing the donor, allowing them the preparation, the thought to say, you know, yeah, I will be reaching out because of this, what is this something that you’re would want to talk about? It really just opened up the relationship to breathe and to work like a partnership.

Richard Perry  

Now, this, just for all of you listening here, this permission-based asking is basically, all through the process, you’re asking permission to take the next step. And so that’s what Stephana is referring to. In terms of that, it’s really interesting. You said, you switched now to viewing donors as partners, and instead of just sources of cash, and that’s something that’s been so important to all of us at Veritus. So. So Ricky, what about you? Well, how’s your view of donors and fundraising changed?

Ricky Piedrahita  

I would say it’s providing, it’s ensuring that your donors are part of your organization’s philanthropic culture, Richard. If, in providing those donor offers, you know, following the permission-based asking tools and steps you’re doing, it’s a deeper relationship with your donors. And Veritus has taught us that is about relationship building, is about being curious. It’s more than just transactional. Like I’ve said before, it’s identifying what your donor’s interests are, and aligning those interests with what your organization has, and has to offer you, the donor. That’s what Veritus has taught us. And Veritus has given us the permission to do that, to say it’s okay. It takes time to build a very successful major gift program. And it starts with the donor. That’s the beauty of The Veritus Way. And that is something that we have seen at the Salvation Army in Canada, our relations with our donors have developed significantly, and our donors now are reaching out to fundraisers, to us fundraisers and saying, look, what programs do you have available, I’m really excited about this stuff. Which is, which is fantastic. I can say over a year ago, that never happened. So this The Veritus Way does help and it’s very, very transformative.

Richard Perry  

I think both of you would say that the whole Veritus approach is basically that movement from the donor being a source of cash to becoming a partner. Anything different or anything either one of you would add to that in terms of how the Veritus approach is different for you?

Ricky Piedrahita  

I would say for us in Canada, and I can speak for our team in the province that I’m responsible for is, it’s, we have structure. And structure is so important. I know I mentioned that and talked about structure earlier, but that’s what helped our fundraisers is have a specific plan and strategic plan for each donor because each donor is different. And that is something that we didn’t realize before. And so every donor is different and Veritus has taught us to have approach every relationship you have with your donor, it’s different. I would think my relationship with a friend of mine, I approach it differently than another person. So why don’t we take that and, and apply the same concepts and approach with our donors as well. And that’s what Veritus has taught us that it’s not a cookie cutter plan. Every plan is different for the donor.

Richard Perry  

Yep, that’s cool. How about you Stephana?

Stephana Sneed  

Yeah, I have to say that it, it has built a foundation for me to have solid footing. And so it builds up my confidence as a fundraiser. I’ve been able to grow into the unique talent that I have, that I bring to the table. It makes the donors more comfortable and the relationships to be more meaningful. Structure, I thrive with structure and but this is a great balance of, you know, like Ricky is talking about of the structure, but also, knowing that it’s, there’s going to be unique relationships with each individual partner. So yeah.

Richard Perry  

It actually allows the whole relationship with a donor to blossom more because of the structure. I mean, it actually creates more life. And I like the phrase that you used Stephana the way you said there was more breathing room? It’s just more open. Yeah.

Ricky Piedrahita  

And one thing, Richard, what happens is that when there’s structure, and when your fundraisers and your MGO has focus, your retention rate increases, your attrition rate decreases and your attrition value decreases as well. And that’s  those are terms that we’ve known as fundraisers. But again, Veritus talks to us and teaches us the importance of those that data and that information that if you have a structured plan, if you have a strategic plan for every single donor, and your MGOs are focused, your retention rate will increase, your attrition rate will decrease and your attrition value will decrease as well.

Jeff Schreifels  

Perfectly said, well, Ricky, I want to ask you this. And then, Stephana, I want you to chime in. But what do you think has helped you the most to be successful in implementing the strategy?

Ricky Piedrahita  

Oh, that’s a good question. I would say the support from Veritus, the support from the Client Experience Leaders, that’s been very helpful. Having their support, being able to talk to them about the the tools that Veritus offers, the different learnings, the education that Veritus offers us and fundraisers, that’s been very, very helpful for us to be successful in implementing a strategy for our donors. Having that support goes a long way, because this is a team effort. And in order to deliver a successful major gift program, and never having a major gift program, you have to have that support. And knowing that you have that support has been very, very helpful. And it’s been successful for us in Canada.

Jeff Schreifels  

Awesome. Stephana, how about you?

Stephana Sneed  

Yeah, I have to agree with Ricky. I’m chuckling because I’m thinking back to when we first started this process. And we would have our team meetings and all of us were freaking out. And we were all questioning whether we were good at this and our coach Diana Frazier, she is just, she’s amazing. Yeah, she really normalized our feelings, and encouraged us to continue trusting the process. And she would always remind us of effectiveness over efficiency, so she allowed us to take our time to really get down. But yeah, it’s been wonderful working with her for sure.

Jeff Schreifels  

Another thing, Richard, that I’ve seen in both of the organizations that Ricky and Stephano work with, their leadership from the top down, has embraced it. And that’s always a key part.

Richard Perry  

It is critical, isn’t it? Yeah. I mean, we’ve been in situations where that doesn’t happen and it’s like, goodness, it’s so depressing. All right, so now I mean, Jeff, and I have experienced this many times where people listening to us talking like this and they’re thinking of like, okay, well, maybe I should you know, I’m thinking about doing this work, you know, implementing this system and structure but I’m not sure. What would both of you, what would you say to anyone that’s thinking of doing this work, but they’re just not quite sure about it? What would you say to them?

Stephana Sneed  

I would say, you know, the uncertainty is probably just the fear. And that’s normal, I would say go with it. If you’re looking to strengthen and invest in the life of your organization, these are fundamental practices that will strengthen the entire life of your organization. You cannot, and I tell my partners this all the time, our partners, is that as cliche as it sounds, we can’t do this work without you. You are the lifeline to the mission. So absolutely go for it. It’s worth it.

Ricky Piedrahita  

I would say that if an organization wants to obtain long term relationships with their major gift donors, this is the way to go. There seems to be a bit of a misconception that major gift fundraising is very transactional. It’s not and speaking with some colleagues is that they think that legacy giving is very, you build long term relationships with legacy giving, and major gift donors, you’re asking for that, you know, that donation, that quick donation, but it’s not. Veritus teaches us that if you want your major gift program to flourish, if you want to be successful, and you want to develop those long term relationships, and hopefully have those transformational gifts from your major gift donors, this is the way to go. This is the program for you. And also it does take time, be patient. That’s my advice, if anyone’s listening, and they’re thinking about contacting Jeff or Richard or the team that we want to take go on this journey is be patient because it does take time to develop a major gift program. And if you take time and you’re patient, it will pay dividends. Trust me, it will. 

Richard Perry  

That’s great. Thank you.

Jeff Schreifels  

Well said. Well, Stephana and Ricky, thank you so much for joining us today. And for this really inspiring conversation. And I hope this has been helpful to you as you think about how to approach implementing a new system. And if you’d like to learn more about our system and structure and see how we might be able to partner with your organization, then the next best step is to complete our free donor file assessment. This is a tool that will help you get a baseline health of your fundraising program and give you a ton of other great information as well. It will also show you what kind of revenue impact implementing The Veritus Way could have for your organization. You can start that process by heading to our website and going to resources, then select Free Donor Assessment. So, again, Stephana and Ricky, thank you so much. 

Richard Perry  

Yeah, thank you.

Stephana Sneed  

Thank you guys.

Ricky Piedrahita  

Thank you very much.

Jeff Schreifels  

Good stuff. I really appreciate it. And thank you, and we’ll see you next time.

Recorded  

Thank you for joining us for the Nothing But Major Gifts podcast from Veritus Group. Richard and Jeff also write an ongoing blog that you can subscribe to for free at VeritusGroup.com. Please join us again next time.