Why Them and Not Us?
Has the institution been around for a generation or two; does it have some enduring traditions and a strong brand in the community? Do you have a reputation for strong financial management; do you have a large enough cash reserve to weather a financial downturn? Do you have the maturity to implement a new program effectively and deliver on its objectives? If I include you in my estate plan, will you be around when I die? Can your organization provide my family with recognition, leaving a legacy for my kids to remember (and replicate) and from which to learn the joys of philanthropy?
Mission clarity and timelessness
Your organization’s mission is key to nurturing relationships with donors. These are busy people and not as well versed with your mission as you; its complexities may be lost on them. When someone makes a large gift to an institution, he likes to be able to articulate to his family and colleagues what he’s supporting and why.
Therefore, your mission’s timelessness is important, and the simpler your mission is to grasp and describe the better. Timelessness means the need will always be there and that it’s emotionally understood and appreciated by the uninitiated. Food banks fight hunger. Children’s hospitals save children. Universities prepare our future leaders. Research organizations cure disease.
It’s common knowledge that today’s donors, large and small, want their donated dollars to be used efficiently and to result in direct, high-quality program services to support your organization’s mission. Communicating this will forge an emotional connection between your donors and your organization that will prevail when compared to other organizations that don’t. You need to show how gifts have resulted in furthering the mission, as well as the challenges you faced.
Make the donor your partner in successes and challenges through peer-level advisory committees and personal meetings. It’s your honesty with those challenges that can result in larger gifts. How many families have been fed? How many children went home in good health? How much closer are we to a cure?