Dear Vu, I found your recently penned article titled “Why nonprofit staff should not be asked to donate to the organizations they work for” thought-proving and see it touched a nerve, engendering a lot of commentary, pro and con. I found the article and the commentary stimulating, hence this open letter. I respectfully disagree with…Details
Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr. spoke of standing up for what’s right, even when it isn’t convenient. There is so much happening in the world around us today, and at such an unprecedented, rapid pace, it’s sometimes challenging to make sense of it all. And, in particular, our place in it all. How will we face the world of 2019 and beyond? What challenges will we take on, and how? What can we do as individuals, as groups, as organizations, and as a community to adapt, stay positive and make a beneficial impact on the world within and around us — ourselves, our families, our friends, our neighbors and strangers. What can we do, especially, to protect and defend and care for the most vulnerable among us? What can we do that is not just transactional, but transformational?
“The time is always right to do what is right.” ~ Martin Luther King Jr.
I have a dream for 2019 – and beyond. I have a dream this is the year your organization will move beyond defining yourself by what you’re not (nonprofit) and will begin to define yourself by what you are (social benefit). I have a dream this is the year your people will move from an attitude of taking and hitting people up (aka “fundraising”) to a mindset of giving and lifting people up (aka “philanthropy”). I have a dream this is the year your staff and volunteers will move from enacting transactions to enabling transformation.
I have a dream you will push yourself and your organization this year. You will take the bull by the horns, adapt to the digital revolution and open yourself to the possibilities change brings. You will give up on the static donor pyramid, ladder and funnel theory of engagement and put your donor at the center of a new, active engagement model that reflects the myriad ways people connect with organizations and causes today. You will find donors where they are.
I have a dream you will learn who your best influencers and advocates are and you will embrace them. You will recognize you are no longer your best messenger. You will understand many forces beyond you influence your donor’s decision to invest with you, and you will expand your thinking and operations from a one-dimensional to a multi-dimensional model. You will allow your constituents to engage with you at multiple points of entry, and to move freely between these points during the life cycle of their engagement.
I have a dream you will think big, because thinking small will not get you where you need to go.Details
I couldn’t possibly write this any better than the inimitable Jerry Panas (as told to his partner of many years, Jerry Linzy), so I’m not even going to try. Please read the entire, brief and to-the-point article: listening with your whole body.
It covers five important ‘rules’ to guide you in all human interactions. Don’t forget them when it comes to meetings with major donor prospects:
- Face people directly.
- Maintain positive eye contact.
- Use open gestures.
- Use your head.
- Activate your smile power.
Now, let me add a few things from my experience, plus some actionable tips.Details
I’m ighted to announce… I’m taking on a new role as FUNDRAISING COACH for Bloomerang! You may be aware I’ve been providing advice and guidance to their blog and webinar series for the past 18 months. Now I’m assuming a formal, expanded role — and couldn’t be ighted to have this opportunity to…Details
If I had to tell you what you need to do to succeed with major gift fundraising in one sentence it would be this:
Identify major donor prospects… qualify them so you know they want to build a deeper relationship with you… cultivate them… visit with them… listen to them… reflect back to them what you heard… ask them for something specific that resonates with their passions… steward their gift and communicate in an ongoing way to make them feel like the hero they are!
Whew – that was a mouthful!
A shorter way to say this is: Meet with donors. Listen to donors. Ask donors.
See — it’s simple!
It’s definitely not rocket science. It’s just good old hard work. Satisfying and rewarding work. And it’s a type of work anyone can learn to do. [If you want to learn, please sign up for the next Certification Course for Major Gifts Fundraisers e-course . It may be the most important investment you make all year. Just one major gift will more than cover the cost].
Over my 37 years in fundraising, 30 of them working in the trenches as a director of development for organizations with budgets ranging from $1 – $40 million, I have asked for a lot of major gifts. I know what works, and what doesn’t work. Today I want to give you:
(1) some of my best words of wisdom, and also
(2) answers to some of the questions folks frequently ask me .
I hope these tips will help you tweak your mindset and invigorate your systems so you can be more successful fundraising in the coming year!Details
How Do Major Donors Think About Philanthropy?
To a large extent, they think about it the same way as anyone else. They just have more money.
It’s good to remember that major donors are, first and foremost, just people.
And like all human beings, they are on a continual quest for meaning. It’s the existential search to be all that one can be. To feel self-actualized.
And you can help them!
In fact, this is your job. This is part and parcel of your organization’s mission.
You (as executive management, development staff or board member) are a facilitator of philanthropy. Your organization exists, in part, to facilitate your donor’s quest for meaning and teach the joy of giving. To do this effectively, you must be attuned to your donors. And, since the wealthy have the ability to make a larger impact when it comes to furthering your mission, you especially must be attuned to these folks.
In the past I’ve looked at five major donor philanthropic triggers. You need to know about these things, because if you can key into any of them you’ll have a strong basis for pursuing a major gift from the prospect whom you’re approaching:
- They feel economically secure.
- They are in a reflective phase of life.
- They’ve demonstrated a desire to build a closer connection with your cause and community.
- They are looking for meaning and a sense of purpose.
- They are seeking to identify themselves as the person they want to see reflected in the mirror.
Today I’d like to review six more things you should be on the lookout for; then I’ll suggest four strategies to help you enter into your prospective donors’ worlds so you can make a win/win match – one that will help your major donors simultaneously help your cause and themselves.
Coincidentally, I found a back issue of Lifestyles Magazine from 2008 (yes, I’m a bit of a hoarder) and was struck by some of what the publication had to say—a veritable peek inside the minds of major donors. There’s a clue right in the way Lifestyles (now out of publication) describes their mission (highlights are mine):Details