1. How can we show donors we are a smart choice?
Accountability and impact are the two themes we heard from donors in 2010. Like never before, donors want to know that their dollars are actually making a difference and not simply going into a large pool of money.
Even institutions that previously relied upon the gifts of loyal donors are seeing increased scrutiny. Fortunately, services that rate the effectiveness of nonprofits have expanded their measurement criteria. For example, in 2010 Charity Navigator changed its ranking system to include accountability and transparency as well as effectiveness.
Here are three steps to improve your donors’ confidence:
1. Align your case for support with organizational priorities.
2. Work with your Finance Department/CFO/Accountant to articulate the difference philanthropy makes vs. other revenue sources.
3. Communicate the impact of your donors’ giving over and over again.
2. How do we attract the next generation of major donors?
First: Don’t make assumptions.
Based on our experience and research, you cannot assume:
- If mom and dad were donors to your organization, the children will continue the tradition.
- If he was a donor, she will give in his memory/honor.
- Younger donors want to be solicited and involved through social media and online channels only.
Second: Treat each donor and donor prospect as an individual. Find out their interests and engage them accordingly.
For example, you will build a stronger relationship with the “next generation” by acknowledging and involving all members of a donor’s family when a large gift is made. While not all family members may have been involved in the decision, a transformational gift will impact their family’s wealth now and in the future. Be sure to recognize this. Invite the entire family to any event designed to recognize the donor. Ask family members to join committees or other activities. Know their names, their relationship to the donor and introduce them correctly. I once watched the CEO of a large institution introduce a major donor’s niece as her daughter-in-law. The niece, a major donor prospect in her own right, was not pleased.
3. Many donors are still shying away from multi-year pledges. How can we conduct a successful capital campaign or major gift effort?
Capital campaigns and major gift efforts are succeeding when they:
- Provide a menu of opportunities for donors to give towards.
- Provide a variety of giving options such as:
- Multi-year pledge
- Gift now with commitment to be solicited again in a year or other agreed upon time frame
- Charitable lead trusts
- Gifts of appreciated assets
In 2010, along with FundraisingINFO.com, we helped Boys & Girls Clubs of America create a pilot major gift program for its local clubs. While the program’s full results cannot yet be determined, more than $11 million in new gifts have already been given. Many of this program’s principles can help any organization raise major gifts. They include:
- Acknowledgement that your organization requires significant philanthropic investment from individuals.
- You should have a major gift strategy, even if it is for only ONE prospective donor.
- Big gifts are made in response to big opportunities.
- A donor’s first gift is rarely their largest.
- A donor’s form of giving should not dictate their relationship or define their giving potential.
- Research is essential to understanding donors’ financial capabilities, philanthropic interests, and the most effective strategy for engagement.
- Leadership and volunteer-relationships must be leveraged to acquire major gifts.
- The best major gift proposals are written after multiple visits with the donor focusing on how to match your organization’s vision with the donor’s philanthropic interests and objectives.
- Donor recognition provides evidence of the impact of major gifts and raises the sights of other donors.
4. Should we have a social media strategy?
Yes, but it’s important to understand that a strategy for engaging in social media looks much different than a typical communications plan for other channels. In order to engage successfully in social media, your organization must understand the following:
- It is not a strategy in itself, but an integral part of an organization’s comprehensive strategy.
- It is not a specific group or audience of prospects.
- It is a platform of conversation that is very large, diverse, flexible, and constantly changing.
Today in philanthropy, we’re recognizing the need for a dedicated focus on developing our organization’s social media presence, but many nonprofits struggle to find and allocate the staff and resources needed. If that sounds like your organization, you’re not alone. Click here for a helpful presentation that can help you make strides in your social media strategy in just 30 minutes a day.
5. What do we need to know about text-to-give?
In a nutshell, remember that text-to-give is a method for processing a gift. It does not automatically create a prospect pool, a case for support, or a sense of urgency.
At a minimum, someone in your organization needs to have a confident understanding of the basics of text-to-give. When is it appropriate? How does it integrate into an overall strategy? If your organization is considering a new text-to-give option to integrate into your strategy, you may need to confer with trusted fundraising consultants for guidance.