10 Reasons Why Most Major-Gift Programs Suck — Nos. 6 & 7
If he had dug a little harder he would have found news articles on how this couple funded other programs in the community for children and that both of them were on the board of two other children’s nonprofits.
I know what you’re thinking, “Well goodness, this is so obvious, you’d have to be a total idiot to make this mistake.”
Well, you’re right on both thoughts. However, this story is all too common in our business. In fact, I’ve seen it repeated over and over. Just plug in a different type of nonprofit and major-gift officer and the story is basically the same … over and over and over and over …
I don’t want you or your nonprofit to ever make this mistake. Here are some practical ways you can understand your donors’ passions.
- Read everything you can about your donors. Google and other search engines are so good you will FIND them. I want you to know what boards they are on, what businesses they are in, awards they have received, what their kids do, their spouses, etc.
- Use a wealth indicator service such as WealthEngine or Blackbaud. It will give you good information about donors' net worth, businesses and giving histories. (Although this is helpful, not all information from these services is 100 percent accurate.) So, only use this as ONE way to know your donors.
- Use Google Alerts and TweetBeep to get real-time information on your donors.
- Drive around in their neighborhoods. Now, I’m not talking about stalking, but you need to understand where your donors live, shop, do their business. One way to understand your donors is to put on their shoes.
- Do a complete review of each donor’s giving history. NOT just amount, but to what programs, projects and services you provide. All of these are obvious clues.
- Ask them. That’s right. Set up a breakfast or lunch meeting with the sole purpose of finding out what they are most passionate about. Personally, these meetings are some of the best I’ve ever had with donors and allowed me to understand and get to know them in a very personal way. (Make sure when lunch is over you record everything in your donor database.)
- Survey your caseload. I like to put together a survey that goes out to all caseload donors asking them what they like most about XX nonprofit, what types of nonprofits they support, etc. This is just another opportunity to get good feedback from your donors and will continue to give you good information for future funding opportunities.
What are some other ideas you have?
If you like baseball, tennis, golf, Gregorian chant, jazz, rock, good wine and deep conversation, then you’ll like to hang out with Jeff.
If you are passionate about fundraising, Jeff will inspire you to be a true “broker of love” for your donors, helping you bring together a donor’s desire to change the world and the world’s greatest needs. Jeff believes that if nonprofits truly want to grow and obtain more net revenue for their mission, it will come through creating, building and successfully managing major-gift programs. The Connections blog will give you inspiration and practical advice to help you succeed. Jeff has more than 25 years of nonprofit fundraising experience and is senior partner of the Veritus Group.