Turning Giving USA Into 'Giving to My Organization'
Each year, I look forward to the release of the annual Giving USA report. It's both interesting to read the giving trends and comforting to see that many of the same rules still apply, even in our quickly changing world.
But does it really have any meaning for the fundraiser working alone or with only a few other colleagues, trying to invest time and money to make the most difference for your mission? Or even the fundraiser in a large shop, concerned about a specific niche of fundraising? All of us barely have time to get everything done that is on our daily task lists, let alone worry about the other 1.08 million nonprofits in the United States.
Don't despair. Following are four key principles from Giving USA and how we can apply this information to make our fundraising better for the remainder of 2012.
Principle No. 1: People
That's it? Yes, the secret is "people." Each year, Giving USA looks at who gives. And every year — 2011 was no exception — individuals give the vast majority of dollars. If you add individual giving, bequests (which are gifts from individuals who have passed on) and family foundation giving (again, these are individuals, simply using another vehicle to give), men and women give approximately 88 percent of all contributions.
Not sure where to focus your efforts? Focus on people. Talk to people. Write letters and e-mails to people. Visit people. Stop worrying about this giant corporation or that anonymous foundation you can't penetrate. Start building relationships with people. Your income will grow when you focus your work on the segment of the donor base that gives the majority of the money nonprofits receive.
Principle No. 2: Be patient
Yes, we all want patience — and we want it now. But the reality is that growth in giving has been rather modest the last two years. According to Giving USA's presenter at a webinar earlier this week, "Philanthropy tends to react to the market a little more modestly."
Pamela Barden is an independent fundraising consultant focused on direct response. You can read more of her fundraising columns here.