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Fundraising v Fundcatching – Five Suggestions


There is a difference, you know? Although there are nonprofit organizations and professional fundraisers who measure their success by how much they raise not by how they raised it.

Let’s change semantics here – how about proactive v reactive fundraising. Many nonprofit organizations are very fortunate to have a regular stream of donations, large and small, sent to them.

Donor acquisition campaigns via direct mail and online giving provide a stream of new, one time donations and work fairly well for charities with a good brand. But even those result in 1-2% return rate against a high cost.  The cost gets higher for these campaigns when nonprofits try to “convert” these donors into monthly (regular) donors or repeat donors. Results are mixed at best and require more money and human resources.

Major giving also has a fundcatching, reactive aspect to it. We all know stories of the until that moment, an unknown donor calls to make a significant, unexpected gift – anonymously or not. Those gifts can make, break or exceed any fundraising forecast. A reminder – it is reactive fundraising. We can’t count on the generosity of someone we don’t know to reach our fundraising goals. And I won’t talk about bequests here.

There are also many major gift donors who renew their gift annually – without any prompting. Yes, this too is fortunate fundcatching. What difference would it make if even 10-30% of those donors were proactively approached and ASKED to INCREASE their annual gift? What difference would that make to fundraising goals and ultimate the ability of a nonprofit organization to deliver on its’ mission? That would be fundraising.

So what does a proactive, fundraising strategy look like? Here are my suggestions:

  1. Serious, consistent, accountable, major gift portfolio management
    • Using a CRM program tracking moves management as the science it is
    • Meetings with donors to understand their values and interests – this is the art of fundraising
  2. Review of individual fundraising goals and organization budgets regularly
    • Regular 1×1 with fundraising staff to review the above, empower success and provide support as needed/requested
    • Fundraising team meetings to review above
  3. Donor centric engagement – based on the donors interests within the priorities of the organization
    • It’s not what you’re selling, it’s what I’m buying.
    • Engaging non-fundraisers (program, clinicians, leadership) who are “spending” philanthropic investments
  4. Regular and ongoing prospecting and research
    • This is an investment of time, money and human resources whose value cannot be underestimated to a proactive fundraising strategy
  5. A board who is leading by giving and asking others to join them
    • Set those expectations during recruitment and it will pay off immediately and over time

As always, thanks for reading and subscribing. Your thoughts are always welcome.

Cheers
Barbara

12/12/2017 at 20:08 Leave a comment

Pearl Harbor – 1941 to 2018


So today, on December 7, I remember this infamous day in history. Until December 7, 1941, the US would not enter the war in Europe or the Pacific – for a variety of incorrect information and reasons. The surprise attack on Pearl Harbor changed the course of World War II – for people in Europe, Asia and the United States. While Hawai’i, Japan and Europe may have seemed far, far away from Ohio at the time, we later learned the impact was much closer to home.

Continue Reading 07/12/2017 at 16:51 Leave a comment

Failure is an Option


To some extent online fundraising has “trained” donors on how we will treat them – whether the donor likes it or not. Donors quickly learned to opt out and screamed foul when they received multiple email solicitations in succession. Or donors return direct mail unopened (at least we know they received it – the rest of the 99% went in the trash or had bad addresses.)

Continue Reading 05/12/2017 at 20:30 Leave a comment

Since January 20 2017


Karma can bite you back. May I suggest Calm in the City – a worldwide effort to bring peace back as part of UN International Peace Day – 21 September wherever you are. 

Let me recap since January 20:

Continue Reading 12/09/2017 at 21:24 Leave a comment

Good v Bad Philanthropy


I say good on any donor who is putting their charitable dollars and voice where they think they can make a difference to the community and in their heart.  They are champions for the vulnerable. If some voices are louder and bank accounts larger than others – welcome to the democracy of philanthropy. Someone needs to take a stand. You may agree or disagree – in the end it is the donor’s time, talent and treasure – they can and do give where, how and when they choose. As fundraisers, it is our role to work with them to pave a pathway that connects their passions to making a difference. 

Continue Reading 21/07/2017 at 10:53 Leave a comment

Philanthropic Research


Sure, these days there are certificate programs as well as undergraduate and graduate programs in nonprofit management and philanthropy. I’m old (veteran, experienced what have you). When I began my career in philanthropy, I learned on the job.

This week I realized how my university work in Political Science and History with a minor in Sociology helped get me where I am today – along with a Mom who supported and believed in me and a network of fundraising professionals who held their hand out and pulled me up.

Currently, I am building fundraising portfolios from scratch. This includes reviewing current and lapsed donors. Talking about prospects suggested by leaders and those who seem a potential fit based on news items.

Photo credit: Maura Hernandez

Do they fit in a portfolio? Well that’s where my university experience doing research, writing and intuition comes to play. My majors and minors required a lot of research from primary and secondary sources. I had to write, review and think about the subject to determine if my thesis was proved or I needed more explanation. I am old – all this research was done without the Internet or a computer for that matter. I loved this work – the smell of the library, looking for resources in the card file and finding actual books on the shelves.

This love of research carries over to my work in philanthropy. I am curious – not a stalker. My work at university taught me to keep asking questions. Look for more information. Refine and narrow the details to hone my argument.

This is the same work I deploy when building a portfolio.

  • What tells me this person might have philanthropic interest (let alone capacity)?
  • Are their values aligned with the mission?
  • What experiences did or are they having that fit with the work?

So many more questions.

The research is but a first step. And one that does not take a long time. At some point I decide they should be in the portfolio and then determine what my outreach will be (moves management) so I can learn more from them as the best of primary sources.

There is nothing better than a face to face conversation about the donor’s experience, passion, interests and stories. And the beginning of a relationship where I can serve as a catalyst for their philanthropy. I want to help them turn their passions for mission into a philanthropic investment that has impact and provides them with a wonderful sense of belonging, accomplishment and pride.

It all began at university – unbeknownst to me and many decades later – I know why I was meant to hone my research skills.

Stay tuned on how and why writing all those political science and history papers contributed to my fundraising skills.

19/07/2017 at 22:42 Leave a comment

Guy Raz – Best Interviews Ever


I’ll admit my addiction to podcasts but this Guy Raz dude – I can’t get enough of his NPR Ted Radio Hour and How I Built This. I highly recommend both. What are you listening to?

Continue Reading 25/05/2017 at 10:15 Leave a comment

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