Editor's Note: Working Lunch
Over blush iced tea and mushroom risotto, I recently had the pleasure of discussing fundraising with a handful of nonprofit professionals. The occasion was MKTG Services’ Garden Party luncheon at the lovely Nora’s restaurant in D.C., and I had been given carte blanche to talk about anything I wanted. I took the opportunity to share the general impressions that I’ve formulated in the year that I’ve been the editor of FundRaising Success.
My lunch mates included Stacey Girt and Kerry Fischette of MKTG, Jim McGee of Target America, and representatives from the World Wildlife Fund, American Association of University Women, The Wilson’s Quarterly, The Smithsonian, American Scholar and WETA radio. I might have called them my “audience,” but the presentation turned into a lively discussion where, deferring to these masters of the craft, I learned more than I taught. And it was with great glee that I realized the insights shared by the group supported my own observations, which I’ve culled from conversations with development personnel from myriad nonprofits.
- Everyone is plugging into e-philanthropy — ramping up Web sites; using e-mail for acquisitions, upgrades and renewals; accepting donations online; sending out electronic newsletters, etc.
- But at the same time, they’re embracing the basics: Are donors being thanked in a polite and timely way? Is someone there to answer the phone when a potential donor has a question? Are we sending out too many “asks”?
- Segments of the donor base embrace new technologies at different paces, so integration is key. Organizations must incorporate many venues into their development programs: a balance of direct mail and online strategies, telefundraising systems, DRTV, etc.
- Nonprofits are fine-tuning their brand and cracking down on how it’s presented. From something as big as an organization’s mission statement to nitty-gritty details such as the images, fonts and colors in its logo, the message has to remain the same, whether it’s being transmitted via letterhead, e-mail, a newsletter or a billboard.
- Organizations are encouraging departments within the development office to work together to move donors seamlessly up the giving pyramid, lovingly and attentively guiding them from gift level to gift level and affording them an overall more personalized experience.
All in all, it was a wonderful day filled with the kind of camaraderie that is the signature trait of the fundraising sector. You’re all very open and eager to share successful ideas with one another — and with me. It’s a splendid quality, one that sets you apart and at the same time binds you together.