Harness the Power of 'P'
According to a recent Philanthropic Giving Index report released by The Center on Philanthropy at Indiana University, nonprofit organizations call the overall climate for fundraising the worst it's been since 1998. The London-based Resource Alliance and The Management Centre asked 100 leading fundraisers from around the world to provide tactics for charities to survive and thrive in the current economic climate. They commented that boards and management need to have realistic fundraising expectations; accept reduced short-term gains for long-term strength; and focus on regular giving, major gifts and bequest/legacy programs while dropping marginal activities. Most importantly, the fundraisers said to remind donors they are wanted, needed and appreciated.
We all know that the last half of 2008 in particular was a period of remarkable instability in economic markets. Because of a paradigm shift in donor thought and action, some traditional theories and practices have become obsolete. The forces of supply and demand, plus the weakness of the dollar and bad mortgage decisions, turned the stock market upside down. Many professionals began to take reality to heart, change traditional ways of doing business, and truly cherish the relationships and process of fundraising.
Giving USA cites 2008 charitable giving at $307.65 billion, a 2 percent drop in current dollars from 2007. The report also notes the 2008 figure is the first decline in current dollars since 1987 and only the second since reports were published in 1956. Adjusted for inflation, total giving was down 5.7 percent, the largest drop since Giving USA began tracking donations.
Based on historical trends, giving might not recover until 2012. That said, to enhance the probability of fundraising success, your program must be in order. I suggest you consider the power of "P" in pursuing profits.
The Children's Medical Center of Dayton undertook a capital campaign for the first time in its 40-year history in 2002 with a goal of $10 million. While the center had a traditionally strong annual-giving program, it wasn't used to addressing major and planned gifts during a capital campaign. The campaign closed on Dec. 31, 2007, with the successful attainment of $12.3 million. With an ongoing goal of $5.5 million in FY 09, which represented an increase of $1 million over FY 08, the annual/major gifts achieved 12 percent more than the goal, with one month to go in the fiscal year — all of this using the power of "P." Despite the volatile economy, the power of "P" also can work for you. If you are interested in truly pursuing profits, read on.
Step 1: Program
Begin with a thorough analysis of your fundraising program. You need to determine if your program is generating the revenues you need while minimizing expenses. A major shift could be in order as you evaluate how to properly organize your fundraising program. See if your program includes annual gifts, major gifts and planned gifts with a research component. Complete an audit to see if proper gift policies and procedures are in place for success.
Step 2: Priorities
You must align prospects with priorities. This will affect how you solicit using direct mail, special events, telephone or in person; who solicits; and when to solicit. You also need to determine if the solicitation will feature major priority elements of capital renovation and construction, equipment, education, research, endowment, programs, operations, charity care, seed monies for new initiatives, or other combinations of priorities. The more integrated the fundraising program, the greater the complexity of priorities and prospect integration. Creating a menu of priorities, with items of $1,000 to $1 million, is a must.
Step 3: Promotion
If you integrate annual, major and planned gifts, you need to establish a mix of activities based on target-market segmentation, time of year, utilization of staff and volunteers, plus the strategy you will employ. You must educate your staff, employees, and internal and external constituents. Understand that the total development of an integrated fundraising program may take several years. You must weigh short-term vs. long-term profits. Whenever possible, use whatever forms of communication you can to tell the story of how donor investments make a difference for the individuals you serve. Communicate through a general brochure, and create a newsletter, if funds allow. Use technological enhancements to your advantage. Promote a case for support.
Step 4: Planning
As you develop a fundraising plan, create an ongoing strategic plan. In just a few pages, clearly identify your mission, values, objectives, goals and tactics needed to complete the program. Be bold and specific with information regarding the amount to be generated, number of donors and number of gifts. Establish a sound multiyear fundraising strategy that you can continue on an annual basis. Have key stakeholders review, suggest and endorse "their" plans, as you need everyone's participation to succeed. Have a passion for the cause, and create a case for support that stands the test of time. List your top program priorities, and focus on completing these directives. Always critique results, and make changes where appropriate. Use and implement the plan. Most importantly, have it in writing.
Step 5: Prospects
The next "P" is for prospects — individuals, corporations, foundations, organizations and associations. Look to your current donors first in order of their cumulative gifts and by the number of years they have given. Make sure you personally get to know your major donors. Analyze the individual base by market segments such as parents, friends, patients, volunteers, alumni, physicians and staff, and by association — for example, hospital volunteers, board of trustees, women's auxiliaries, etc. Look to local corporations first, regional companies second and national companies third. Follow this pattern for foundations, associations and organizations. Align prospects based on restricted or unrestricted priorities. Look to internal "family" linkages first, before you look to less-engaged prospects. Charity begins with your internal family. Never forget to solicit your volunteers.
Step 6: Passion
You must determine whether you want to be captain of the Love Boat or the Titanic. You must be brave, honest, ethical and motivated, and show trust and passion like never before. When prospects see your eyes filled with excitement and possibility, they will invest and follow you. Show passion consistently, and be true to yourself. Have passion for what you are promoting.
Step 7: Patience
The development officer of today must be willing to take a current fundraising program, shape it like a piece of clay and create a new model. You must educate, communicate, facilitate and teach others about philanthropy. They need to be engaged, and leadership must give you time to achieve success. You will be frustrated a great deal of the time, but you must learn patience. The trick is to balance short- and long-term success. You need to consistently lobby for program credibility.
Step 8: Peers
Whether you are new to the fundraising profession or a 30-year-plus veteran, you always need information. The best way to obtain information on new trends and best practices is to develop a peer network. Many fundraising organizations have mentor programs. You need to determine what is right and comfortable for you. Constantly seek advice, counsel and guidance. Always remember that due to the nature of our profession, there are no wrong answers. By sharing information, one is better able to compare and contrast programs. It is also best to get involved in a variety of professional organizations where online networking and fast answers to questions exist. No idea is actually new — it's just new to you.
Step 9: Personality
The ninth "P" relates to your individual personality. To ask for time, talent and treasure from others, you must have a mission-driven heart. If your personal values move you to make a difference for others, promoting the institution ahead of yourself and making fundraising a noble career choice, you will joyfully generate positive financial results. Have empathy for others, and seek to promote philanthropy in society. Analyze yourself, and understand what personality traits are needed to succeed. You either have them, develop them or change careers — it's that simple.
Step 10: Process
Utilize the power of "P" by creating a process that blends the "P"s together. If marketing your program, follow product, price, promotion and place. When producing your fundraising program, instill passion while promoting procedures, plans and progression of prospects, priorities and process.
No two fundraising programs are alike, and you must interpret what works for you. We always will be asked to generate profits while minimizing expenses. Like an alphabet soup of letters, the sum of the "P"s must include a process that brings them all together. Seek to continually refine your processes.
For development officers in the new world of philanthropy, a very important "P" to acknowledge is "paradigm." According to the American Heritage Dictionary, the word denotes a set of assumptions, concepts, values and procedures that constitutes a way of viewing reality for the community that shares it. The fact that practitioners blend art and science, plus theory and practice, complicates paradigm shifts.
We must realize that business is not usual, and regardless of how compelling our case for support, economic factors are raining on our parade. With a recent $2 trillion loss in the stock market, gift prospects might delay or refuse to make assumed gifts to your institution. If we expect to generate greater fundraising revenues for our programs in the future, we must be prepared to know our prospects' (key gift decision makers') needs and desires more effectively, cultivate our donors more lovingly, and bring our case and priorities into sharper focus. Our profession, which is hard, just became harder.
The ultimate power of the letter "P" — to persuade prospects to profits — depends on your willingness to be flexible as the state of philanthropy begins to change. The most important "P" is people. Your positive relationships with people, internal and external to your fundraising program, will determine your future fundraising program's bottom line!
You can be successful despite the environment. Remember that "luck" is when preparation (note the "P") meets opportunity. FS
Duke Haddad, Ed.D., CFRE, is currently associate director of development, director of capital campaigns and director of corporate development for The Salvation Army Indiana Division in Indianapolis. He also serves as president of Duke Haddad and Associates LLC and is a freelance instructor for Nonprofit Web Advisor.
He has been a contributing author to NonProfit PRO since 2008.
He received his doctorate degree from West Virginia University with an emphasis on education administration plus a dissertation on donor characteristics. He received a master’s degree from Marshall University with an emphasis on public administration plus a thesis on annual fund analysis. He secured a bachelor’s degree (cum laude) with an emphasis on marketing/management. He has done post graduate work at the University of Louisville.
Duke has received the Fundraising Executive of the Year Award, from the Association of Fundraising Professionals Indiana Chapter. He also was given the Outstanding West Virginian Award, Kentucky Colonel Award and Sagamore of the Wabash Award from the governors of West Virginia, Kentucky and Indiana, respectively, for his many career contributions in the field of philanthropy. He has maintained a Certified Fund Raising Executive (CFRE) designation for three decades.