Why Them and Not Us?
Use your facilities
Making an organization’s case more tangible is challenging. One way to accomplish this is to have a facility to show off, to tour or to build that will advance the mission. Enabling a donor to “kick the tires” provides a sense of stability, legitimacy and longevity — vital feelings for a major donor when considering a pace-setting gift. If your organization isn’t facilities based, your programs have to take place somewhere. Take your donors there.
Your development program
Leadership at the organization’s highest level is the critical element for success for any organizational undertaking, and, increasingly, high-end fundraising leadership is staff driven. Development staff members are forming their own relationships with donors, becoming the institution’s face. The development office and officer are playing a more pivotal role in securing larger gifts. In order to identify, attract and maintain a relationship with donors, and move them upward in their generosity to your organization, your development operation must include likable staff and a commitment to excellence in preparation, research, cultivation, presentation, gift strategy, leadership involvement and donor stewardship.
These points guide you in addressing those aspects of your organization that need to change to move it into a higher league in the minds of your donors and leadership. Change will be incremental, and presents a “chicken or egg” dilemma. How do you attract the volunteer leadership you need to attract the volunteer leadership you need? How do you make that leap?
Consider a leadership-recruitment strategy using the notion of “marginal utility.” Meet with your current and prospective leaders and discuss the subject of this article: “Why Harvard and not us?” The discussion can migrate to the relatively larger effect a six- or seven-figure gift would have on your organization compared to a bigger institution. Potential leaders and high-dollar givers can see how their leadership will bring the same relatively higher value to your organization because it stands out and attracts followers.