More on All Donors as Major Donors

April 29, 2014

Wow! I was blown away with the incredible responses in the All Donors as Major Donors post. You had some incredible feedback and ideas, if you have not read the comments I recommend that you read it now. To be honest I thought that I was going to be laughed out of the room with that post. What surprised me the very most was that almost every comment that I received said, “I wish it could work that way.”

One major point was that treating all donors as major donors is not possible either logistically or cost-wise. I think that it is more a philosophy of cultivation issue not a logistics or cost issue. Start with the change in philosophy and if you have a capacity problem then it can be solved because people are giving more money so you can hire more people. I would start doing it incrementally first change the philosophy, then start hiring to meet the demand.  As we all know fundraising is all about relationships. One comment that surprised me was from Aubrey. It surprised me because it reminded me that our current “major” gifts systems don’t always work and she gave a tangible example how to cultivate a $25 donor as if they were a major donor. I wish that this idea was simple, uncomplicated, and easy to realize. But we know it is not.

Here are a few questions that were raised in comments that I am going to think about a little more next week:From Cal’s comment, “To be honest, I want so much to believe in this stuff, but I see the real world for what it is. I agree with your premise, but would ask what is REAL generosity?” Roger comments, “This article could imply that if the donor (regardless of wealth) is not giving a substantial percentage of his or her wealth to your nonprofit organization, there is an attitude problem.” J. Erik Potter takes a step back and “stops time” and asks the question, “Even if you could spend all that time with a $25 donor, would you? Or is the idea of unlimited time too far out there to even comprehend?”Allena reminds us not to forget the volunteers. How would/could they fit into this?


Micro vs. Macro

April 22, 2014

For the first time ever, Micro-enterprise in some instances can be more powerful than macro-enterprise. What does that mean? It means that a small organization that is serving a very specific need may be the best tool to address a problem. For example a large relief organization might be able to help 30 villages in Africa, but a small organization focused on helping one village may do a better job. A small nimble organization in that instance can understand the needs of the village and respond specifically too them. The large organization is trying to run programs that fit with all the villages.

What does that mean regarding fundraising? It means that with online giving and social networking you can be just as powerful as UNICEF, World Vision, or St. Jude’s. How you might say? Well first you need to make sure that you have a very specific mission. No organization can be all things to all people so make sure to know what your strengths are. From that point find different mediums where you can get your message out their in a compelling way to the masses. Start a blog or create a website for your non-profit. Use social networking tools and your existing donor base to launch you into the online community.


Turning it Over to the Donor

April 15, 2014

Did you know that your donors can give more than money? Of course you do—many organizations strongest advocates are their major and monthly donors. Giving results out of a desire to make a difference to impact something you care about. Perhaps your non-profit has a small staff (maybe just you) and only a handful of development people and that makes it really hard to get your message out.An organization called the Mission Increase Foundation is trying some revolutionary ways to get the message out. One of these ways is to use your donors as advocates and development officers. What if you provided your donors with the tools that they needed to tell the story of your non-profit to their friends? Instead of sending out direct mail you sent out packages of 10 greeting cards for your donors to write a story about why they care about the non-profit and pass them along to friends and neighbors. Or when sending out your next e-newsletter you challenged your readers to forward the email on to a couple other friends with a quick note on the top of their email talking about why they support the organization.

What I’m talking about is not a change in degree in fund raising. It’s not about doing more of something, or doing something more systematically. It’s about a change in kind. It’s a bold leap that’s awaiting anyone who’s awakening to the value of seeing fund raising as a powerful communal experience. Eric Foley

What do you think of this idea? Would it work in your non-profit? Why or why not? I think that one of the keys to making this work is to create ideas that fit with the mission of your non-profit. Maybe instead of sending a letter to forward on you send a magnet, postcard, or miniature coffee table book. Any other ideas?


Designing Your Event

April 8, 2014

You’ll be most successful if you’re always thinking of your main goal as you design your event. Are you trying to thank and recognize, educate and make a case for support or raise money? Again, clearly define your goal and design the event from there.

Let’s say you decide that your major donors should see the facility first hand and understand how their support made it possible. What are some creative ways to reach your audience? Individualized tours of the facility might an option because tours allow more personal interaction with staff and an in-depth look at the housing. Tours can be scheduled at the convenience of your major donors which is a plus when working with busy people. Additionally, you don’t have to rent a venue, order catering or set up chairs, tables or audio/visual equipment. However, you will likely want an opportunity to talk to specific donors and introduce key staff. In this scenario, the ideal solution might be an open house at the facility with tours starting every half hour.

But what if tours aren’t an option because of client confidentiality concerns? Maybe you will need to organize a reception that premiers a nicely done video of the facility and, ideally, a testimonial from someone your organization has helped. When designing your program, keep in mind that donors want to hear from the staff directly connected to the organization’s mission. Oftentimes, you are there to facilitate those conversations. Ask those in the organization that work directly with programs or clients to talk about what they see daily. Spend time working with program staff to help them understand a donor’s point of view and how best to talk about their work. Coaching your program staff on fundraising techniques can take a lot of time, but the dividends will be tremendous once you have allies in your organization.

Other event articles by Brenda:
Party for Party’s Sake


Ratios Versus Results

April 1, 2014

What does your non-profit stand for? How do you raise money? As donors ask more and more for outcomes and details about programs what sets your organization apart? What figures, stats and stories do you use to tell your story? Do you know if your programs are better than the programs of other organizations?

Too often many organizations focus to strongly on administrative rate to judge if a non-profit is a good steward. I’ve always had a really hard time with administrative rates because it can be such a relative number. The administrative rate is traditionally the percent of money that goes to fundraising and administration versus to service provision. It bothers me because many times getting a good administrative rate has nothing to do with good fundraising or good program development. I also find that it’s hard to separate what dollars are “service dollars” and what dollars are “administrative.” Administration and fundraising has a lot to do with service provision.

So what’s the answer? What do you think? Post a comment and share your thoughts. One answer is to set up measurable outcomes. Non-profits need to be able to clearly articulate what is happening with the money donors are giving. How are lives being changed and how is the organization continually improving? Are you the best at what you’re doing or is someone else? Make sure that you are setting up measurable outcomes to help you and your donors know you are doing a good job.

A few conversations on this topic that might interest you related to the topic of outcomes:
Give Well– a foundation that is breaking the mold regarding donor outcomes. They are pioneering some radical ideas on what organizations make the most difference for your dollar.
Tactical Philanthropy– Google Finance has started a listing of organizations and Tactical Philanthropy has been talking with them about what kinds of measurable outcomes to use to list non-profits.