Hands, Heart, Silhouette, Setting Sun

How to Find Your Nonprofit’s Highest Likelihood Major Donors

Hands, Heart, Silhouette, Setting SunIn 5 Indicators for Identifying the Best Potential Donors, a guest post on the Bloomerang blog from Ryan Woroniecki of Donor Search, the key indicators someone might be inclined to support you with a major philanthropic gift are laid out.  These indicators are, in order:

  1. Previous giving to your nonprofit
  2. Giving to other nonprofits
  3. Participation as a foundation trustee
  4. Giving to federal election campaigns
  5. Real estate ownership

One thing is indubitably true: the more you know about people the better you’ll be able to assess, and work with, their likelihood to invest with you philanthropically.

Another thing is also true: not all these indicators are created equal. They’re listed in order of importance above but, for my money, numero uno is far and away the most significant.

We hold these truths to be self-evident

The people most likely to become major donors to your organization are already known to you. You don’t have to do research to find them, or find friends to introduce you or gate-keepers to let you in. You only have to do one simple thing.

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Skyrocketing

10 Strategies to Skyrocket Major Gift Fundraising

Skyrocketing“Begin at the beginning and go on till you come to the end; then stop.” So wrote Lewis Carroll in Alice in Wonderland.

It’s the same with major donor fundraising, except you don’t ever really stop.  You just start up again. You do follow a prescribed path, however.  And here’s what it looks like:

  1. Before
  2. Ground Floor
  3. Explore
  4. Back Door
  5. Adore
  6. Mentor
  7. Ask For
  8. Implore
  9. Rapport
  10. Report

If you do this correctly, it becomes a transformational process for the donor. They want to stay connected and engaged and invested.  Which is why you don’t stop.  You follow up with “Some More.”

But first…

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Giant gummy bear

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

Giant gummy bear escaping from smaller gummies

Bet you’ve got some giants hiding in your midst.

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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Major donor meeting, two women

Avoid these Key Obstacles to Successful Major Gift Asks

Major donor meeting, two womenIn Part 1 of this two-part series delving into the topic of major gift fundraising asks, we looked at a number of Proven Strategies to Take Charge of Major Donor Asks. Specifically, we covered (1) four elements of a successful visit and (2) four elements of a compelling offer. Feel free to refresh yourself before we move on.

Other Things You Need to Know about Asking

Now I want you to truly think about the offer from the recipient’s perspective.

As insiders, we often don’t stop to think about the outsider perspective. It’s just human nature to become so absorbed in a topic it starts to seem obvious. To us.

When crafting your compelling fundraising offer however, it’s important to stop and consider how it may be received. As noted in Part 1:

  1. If it’s too general or vague, it’s unlikely you’ll get the donor’s most passionate gift.
  2. If you offer something of little interest or relevance to the donor, they won’t give you their full attention.
  3. If the problem you describe is broad in scope, the idea of addressing it in any meaningful way may seem too daunting.

You can’t ask the donor to address your entire mission.

  • “Ending hunger” sounds awesome to you, but impossibly unrealistic to the donor.
  • “Curing cancer” sounds splendid to you, but too huge in scope to the donor.
  • “Eradicating poverty” sounds vital to you, but absolutely overwhelming to the donor.
  • “Becoming a world class symphony” sounds grand to you, but grandiose to the donor.
  • “Saving children” may be your priority today, but you also serve seniors and that’s what the donor most cares about.

2 Vital Things to Keep in Mind Going into Asks

When crafting and making a major gift fundraising ask, make sure you incorporate the following into your planning:

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Donor visit, two women

Proven Strategies to Take Charge of Major Donor Asks

Donor visit, two womenBefore asking, begin by assuring you and your donor are on the same page.

The major donor journey is generally a long one. It’s important to craft a blueprint for the process and take time, along the way, to assure the journey is sparking joy and bringing energy. If you’ve never asked for a major gift, it can seem scary. Even if you’ve asked in the past, the process can still seem daunting.  This article is designed to help take the worry out of asking for a major gift. How? By putting it in context and framing it as an opportunity, not a burden.

As long as you’re providing value to the donor, you’re in a good place. Value can take many forms.

  • An opportunity to feel noticed and special.
  • An opportunity to offer feedback.
  • An opportunity to share wisdom.
  • An opportunity to learn new things.
  • An opportunity to get behind-the-scene information.
  • An opportunity to meet someone new.
  • An opportunity to create connection.
  • An opportunity for a fun and friendly chat
  • An opportunity to find meaning and purpose.

Lead with the value you provide and the benefit they’ll gain if they meet with you. The value you offer at any point in time depends on the donor and where you are in the process of wooing. Provided you’re generally (1) clear, (2) compelling, (3) courageous and (4) careful, you’ll surely succeed.

Let’s dig a little deeper into each of these important components.

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Expert Secrets; 80-20 Rule

3 Nonprofit Secrets to Rock Major Gift Fundraising

Expert Secrets; 80-20 RuleThere’s a treasure trove of knowledge and research around major gift fundraising. What works well.  What doesn’t work at all.  What’s, at best, half-baked.

It’s not rocket science.  But there’s definitely art, and some science, involved.

The gestalt way of thinking about the three secrets boils down to simply being:

(1) SMART,

(2) SYSTEMATIC and

(3) PASSIONATE.

But, I’m pretty pragmatic. So I’d like to give you something more practical.

If I had to pick the top three practical secrets to success, they would be the following:

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journey over rope bridge

6 Steps to Fuel Your Major Gift Journey

journey over rope bridgeThe major gift journey is a synergistic one. You see, it’s both your journey and your donor’s journey.

If you want to follow along the most direct pathway to sustainable philanthropy, you’ll want to consider the two-fold nature of the expeditious endeavor known as major gift fundraising. Or, as I prefer to call it, passionate philanthropy.

First understand it’s not just about the money;  it’s every bit as much about the experience.

Strive to become your donor’s favorite philanthropic journey guide.

If you do your job as guide well, they’ll find meaning, purpose and happiness being engaged with you.

  • If you make the experience a joyful one, your fellow traveler will become your donor.
  • If you continue to make the experience joyful, they’ll continue to travel the road with you by renewing and upgrading their support.

Major gift fundraisers, essentially, are in the happiness delivery business.

That’s right! It’s both  (1) a business, and (2) a donor journey toward joy.  You’ve got to treat it like a business if you want to make money. That means clarifying goals, setting specific objectives, planning strategies and tactics, and holding yourself accountable. Otherwise you’re just occasionally taking folks along for a stroll, without being thoughtful about what’s in it for both of you. And if you haven’t concretized what the benefits are, it’s hard to deliver on them!

Let’s take a look at the 6 steps you must take to build and sustain a winning major gifts program.

Expeditious Steps to Fuel Your Pathway to Passionate Philanthropy

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Cryptocurrency coins

Deep Dive into Cryptocurrency for Nonprofits

Cryptocurrency coinsI’m sure you’ve wondered about this: Should we be accepting cryptocurrency?

You may not want to be thinking about this.

But now that there are actual payment processing platforms (e.g., The Giving Block; engiven; Crypto for Charity by Freewill and Charitable Solutions, LLC) and at least two nonprofits serving as cryptocurrency wallets (every.org and givewell) dedicated to helping you with this, the time has come. [You can compare some of the platforms and wallets here; new ones are springing up.]

Opportunity is knocking. Will you open the door?

Changes in Major Gift Demographics

Here are some of the trends:

  • Dollars being given are moving from middle class to wealthy donors (especially from Boomers to Millennials).
  • Fewer donors are giving larger impact gifts. There’s a lot of money out there[1], and if your charity is savvy enough to attract it, you’ll likely find your donor distribution shifting. The Pareto 80-20 Principle is more 85/15, 90/10 or even 95/5.
  • More comes from appreciated assets than cash (stocks, bonds, land and cryptocurrency).
  • The availability of crypto for giving has spurred new waves of younger people to consider philanthropy.

Profile of Donors Holding Cryptocurrency

Of course, there’s no way to know for sure which of your donors hold crypto.  But we do know some things.

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Fundraising Do's & Don'ts logo

Fundraising Do’s vs. Don’ts: Monthly Donor Appeal Strategy

Fundraising Do's & Don'ts logoHere comes my occasional “Do’s vs. Don’ts” feature, where I share with you something arriving in my mailbox that seems a good ‘teaching opportunity.’

Today we’re going to review a monthly donor campaign strategy.

It arrived as an email. There’s (1) a subject line, (2) the email itself, and (3) what happens if/when you click through and are transported to the donation landing page.

We’ll take a look at the various elements; then assess what works/doesn’t work.

I’ll ask you some questions.

  1. Would you open this email?
  2. If yes, why?
  3. If no, why?
  4. What looks good about the email?
  5. What looks not so good about the email?
  6. Would it inspire you to click through?
  7. If yes, why?
  8. If no, why not?
  9. Once you click through, would you be inspired to take action?
  10. If yes, why?
  11. If no, why not?

First, I’d like you to think about your answers and jot them down.

Second, I’ll tell you what I think.

Third, if you disagree with me please let me know in the comments below.

Really take the time to notice what you like and don’t like.

I promise you’ll learn a LOT more this way. We learn best by doing.

Seriously, I mean it.

Let’s begin at the beginning.

Subject Headline

Claire, here’s a simple way to do your part to repair the world.

This may help: Take three minutes and jot down your answers to the first three questions on a piece of paper or your screen. I want to know if what was in the subject headline would have caused you to open the email or hit ‘delete.’

Okay.  Ready to learn what I think thus far, and also see what else we’re working with?

Let’s begin!

Does this Email Say “Open Me?”

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Money on Table

How to Stop Leaving Money on the Table

Money on TableMoney left on the table is one of my pet peeves. It’s really beyond a peeve.

I can’t stand it when organizations could be serving more people, or doing so more effectively, but they don’t because they’re too smug (“what we’re doing now works just fine, and don’t try to tell me otherwise”) … self-reportedly “too stressed” … or simply not open to the idea of trying out some new strategies.

This “resting on one’s laurels” modus operandi leads to status quo organizations that fail to evolve to meet the moment. They get stuck in the past and, too often, begin to wither and die. Or they become what I call a “boutique charity” appealing to a niche group of insiders, content with the status quo.

That’s “nice,” but if you’re dedicated to solving pressing societal problems, meeting insistent human needs, and creating transformational personal and societal change, you’ll need to connect with donors on a more direct, visceral level.

How to Stop Leaving Money on Your Table

Your best donors have linkage, interest and ability (LIA). Begin with those already linked to you by virtue of having made a previous donation, been a loyal volunteer, served on your staff or board, or been a repeat purchase of services or products. In other words, they’re hiding in plain sight in your database.

Consider how you might learn more about these folks to better connect with them and make the best use of limited resources. You can do this in one of two ways:

  1. Donor Analytics: Find out how wealthy they are (ability)
  2. Supporter Connection Survey: Find out what they care about most (interest)

It’s funny, but too many nonprofits start with the former and often completely ignore the latter. It’s a way to go (and I confess I’ve been there), but is it the best way? I no longer think so – which is why I’m writing this article.

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