Treasure Map

Do You Want More Major Donors? Read This!

If you’re like most nonprofits, you probably wish you had more major donors.

Guess what?

You can have them!

Today we’re going to look at a great tool for building those important relationships with top prospects over time.

And we all know that is what will result in the big gift.

You know how important it is to put a plan in place to build relationships, right?

It’s super-de-duper important if you want to secure major gifts.

And there’s a name for the strategic process of building meaningful relationships with potential major gift donors.

I’m talking about “Moves Management.”

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Giant gummy bear

The Giant Mid-Level Fundraising Opportunity Your Nonprofit’s Missing

Nonprofits pay a lot of attention to donor acquisition. Then?

They largely ignore these donors, unless…

They become worthy of attention by virtue of being ‘major’ donors. Then?

Nonprofits pay a lot of attention to major donor relationship building.

But between new donor acquisition and major donor cultivation, solicitation and stewardship, what happens?

Usually not enough.

This is a BIG missed opportunity.

You’ve likely got great donor prospects hiding inside your own donor base, and you’re essentially treating them like, well, poop.

What if you were to begin to look at your mid-level donors as the transformational fundraising opportunity they are?

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FAQs in magnifying glass

How to Supercharge Your Nonprofit Major Gift Fundraising Strategy: 10 FAQs

FAQs in magnifying glassIf I had to tell you what you need to do to succeed with major gift fundraising in one short paragraph it would be this:

Identify prospects. Qualify them so you know they want to build a deeper relationship with you. Cultivate them. Visit with them. Listen to them. Ask them for something specific that resonates with their passions. Steward their gift. Communicate the impact of their gift, more than once, to cement the relationship and make them feel like the hero they are.

It’s definitely not rocket science. It’s just not something most of us are taught.  Ultimately, success depends on doing the right things the right way. Once you know what is required, success comes from good old hard work. Satisfying and rewarding work. It’s a type of work anyone can learn to do. [If you want to learn, please sign up for the upcoming Certification Course for Major Gift Fundraisers that begins January 25th. It may be the most important investment you make all year. Just one major gift will more than cover the cost].

Over my 39 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 some of my best words of wisdom, and also answer some of the questions folks tend to ask me frequently.

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!

Nonprofit Major Gift Fundraising Strategy: 10 FAQs

1. What is the board’s role in major gift fundraising?

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roaring lion

7 Things Nonprofit Major Gifts Programs Need to Succeed

Every nonprofit should have a major gifts program.

That’s where the lion’s share of the money is.

It’s a rare organization that has a mailing list large enough to raise a million dollars from a million different $1 donors. But most nonprofits do have major donor prospects hiding in plain sight.

It’s up to you to find them; then move them along a cultivation path that prepares them – and you – to make an ask that results in a win/win values-based exchange.

Let’s review 7 secrets that will guarantee your major gifts program is a success, whatever your size.

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Could Gifts of Stock Be Your Nonprofit’s Magic Genie?

Genie pexelsDoes your nonprofit promote stock gifts?  You should!

A groundbreaking study by Dr. Russell James J.D., Ph.D., CFP®, professor in the Department of Personal Financial Planning at Texas Tech University, found nonprofits that consistently received gifts of appreciated stocks grew their contributions six times faster than those receiving only cash.

This is HUGE.

If you learn to ask for gifts from appreciated assets you’ll get more generous gifts. The study shows:

  • Received only cash gifts = 11% growth.
  • Received any kind of non-cash gift = 50% growth. Included gifts of personal and real property and deferred gifts.
  • Received securities non-cash gifts = 66% growth. Massive difference from just this one strategy!

You Don’t Have to Get Fancy

The most productive strategy is simply to accept gifts of stock.

But it’s up to you to offer up this giving framework to your supporters.  Otherwise, they’re apt not to see this as an opportunity.

And speaking of ‘framing,’ this can establish a persuasive reference point for would-be donors. Researchers have found people don’t treat all their money as if they have one big pool of it.

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December 2020 calendar page

Last Minute Strategic Year-End Email Appeal Tips

December 2020 calendar pageYou are a philanthropy facilitator. Your job, if you choose to accept it, is to persuade people to act now, during the most giving time of the year.

Studies show nearly one-third of all charitable giving happens in December. While you absolutely should be using multiple fundraising channels to get best results, right now whatever you’ve got planned for offline is pretty much cooked. So your best bet for boosting year-end results is digital.

What do you have planned between now and December 31st?

Network for Good and True Sense Marketing found a third of all online giving occurs in December, and more than 20% of all online giving for the entire year occurs on the last two days of the calendar year. And, among digital strategies, email rules. According to M+R’s Benchmarks Study, email was responsible for 16% of all online revenue for nonprofits.

For at least the last decade, the last week of the year – and particularly the last day of the year– have been huge for online fundraising.

To boost your year-end fundraising success, you need to craft an email offer your donor can’t refuse.

How will you best convey your offer?

In a nutshell, you need three things for any fundraising offer:

  1. Problem you’re addressing — made real and relevant to the prospective donor.
  2. Solution you’re proposing to address the problem – with your donor’s help.
  3. Ask showing how the donor can help– the specific purpose and amount of the gift you’re requesting.

1. How to describe the problem.

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2 different frames

Use Behavioral Science to Positively Frame Year-End Philanthropy

Are you framing your ask as an “annual appeal” or as “we only ask once a year?”

It matters, because people will account for how much they spend on usual annual giving differently than how much they’ll spend for exceptional, one-time occurrences.

A growing body of research in psychology and behavioral economics shows how you frame your ask can have a big difference in your fundraising results. Much of this has to do with how people mentally account for consumer ‘purchases’  — including charitable giving.

Researchers have found people don’t treat their money, time, effort or other resources as if they have one big pool of it. Rather, people have separate mental accounts.

When we spend resources we keep track of each expenditure based on the mental account it came from.

This has significant fundraising implications, so it’s important to delve further into this mental accounting principle. Especially this year, when you can legitimately frame your work as a response to exceptional times.

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headstand kid

#GivingTuesday in Reverse: Do’s and Don’ts

headstand kidI’ve written in the past about why I like to turn the tables on #GivingTuesday by actually giving to your donors, rather than asking them to give again — yet one more time — during this busiest fundraising time of the year.

I’m not suggesting you not ask multiple times at the end of the year. You should. You must! However…

Your asks should flow together as a coordinated campaign.  And you should do whatever you can to really stand out in your donor’s inbox.

The problem with #GivingTuesday?

Everybody and their dog is asking on this particular day. 

There’s so much competition, you’re not likely to bring in many new donors.

For the most part, you’ll be preaching to the choir. The choir that already sings your song. That already loves you. That already gives to you.  At best you’ll be eeking out a small additional gift from them.  Or you may just secure their annual gift on this particular day; so… no net gain.  At worst you’ll tick them off by asking them to give, yet again, without showing them enough well-deserved gratitude.

There’s a time and a place for everything. 

And, as I often say, if you want gifts you must give them!   Which is why giving gratitude to donors is such a powerful thing to do.  Another way to understand the meaning of “Giving” Tuesday.

Sometimes Nonprofits Try Turning Things on Their Head But Don’t Quite Succeed

Today, I want to evaluate an example

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Street art: "Doing the right thing isn't always easy."

6 Strategies to Upgrade Nonprofit Donors Using Suggested Gifts

Street art: "Doing the right thing isn't always easy."I’m a fan of suggested ask amounts.

As you put the finishing touches on your year-end appeals, don’t make donors guess how much you need, or what you expect from them.

Clue people in. It’s the right thing to do.

If what you’re currently planning is some version of “please give whatever you can” or “please consider increasing your gift,” I encourage you to rethink your plan. Those phrases are vague.  And vague requests yield token gifts. Or no gifts at all.

The best requests for money are for a specific purpose and a specific amount.

As in “Dad, I need $250 to buy school books.” Or “Grandma, I need $5,000 to buy a used car.” Or see the philanthropic ask examples from Oxfam and Charity: water below:

Oxfam Donation Landing Page

Charity water ask string

When you don’t give folks anchor amounts to hang onto, they’re apt to put your appeal aside for some time when they’ve more time to think about it.

More often than not, that ‘some time’ never happens.

So give folks an anchor of some sort, unless you want folks to stop dead in their tracks trying to figure out the right amount.

  • No one wants to feel ungenerous by giving less than is considered helpful.

  • No one wants to be a ‘chump’ by giving more than you need, or more than others like them are giving.

  • While some donors upgrade their giving without being asked, most donors wait to be asked – or at least to be offered a darn good reason to give more.

Research tells us donors will give more, on average, when they’re prompted with specific amounts. They’ll give even more when offered a choice of giving levels (download Sustainers in Focus by Blackbaud).  But you have to do it the right way.

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Heart graffiti

How to Help Donors Give Astutely Before Year-End

I’ve written about some of the new charitable deduction opportunities included in the Coronavirus Aid, Relief, and Economic Security (CARES) Act signed on March 27, 2020 before. But a recent post shared by Greg Warner of Market Smart — Dr. Russell James’ tips to help donors give wisely before this year ends — plus a recent conversation with a financial advisor, reminded me it’s a very good time to share with you again.

You see, there are several things that will impact donor deductions – THIS YEAR ONLY. It’s good for you to be aware of these as a fundraiser, because making your supporters mindful of these opportunities may lead to them making more, and larger, gifts to your organization.

Of course, you’re not in the business of offering legal, tax or financial advice.  And it’s easier to tell yourself donors’ own advisors will likely tell them about these new provisions. And that “this isn’t really your responsibility.” Yet…

Not all of your donors have their own accountants or financial advisors.

And not all tax advisors are up to snuff, especially when it comes to charitable deductions. Do you want to risk not receiving generous gifts you could have otherwise received, just because you’re too lazy to share this useful information?

The Genuine Job of the Philanthropy Facilitator

Sorry about using that “L” word, but too many fundraisers (IMHO) don’t 100% understand their job as a philanthropy facilitator. Do you?

Your job is to do everything within your power to make giving easy, joyful and meaningful for your supporters. Everything. Doing everything means

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