5 Myths of Evergreen Philanthropy: Part 5
So, what’s “evergreen philanthropy”? It’s investors that keep on giving. And giving. And giving more.
“Does that really happen?” you say. Yes, it does. And yet, when asked how to make this a reality, nonprofit leaders usually offer a series of predictable myths. Creating the situation where a philanthropic investor will become “evergreen” isn’t all that hard—or unusual. It’s often counterintuitive, however.
Those myths? Here is the fifth of my top five:
Myth No. 5: It’s About Treating Everyone the Same
Just as many nonprofit organizations have one-size-fits-all fundraising appeals, they also tend to treat all their donors the same.
“What’s wrong with that?” you say. “Are they supposed to give the big guys special treatment?” Well, yes—and no.
An individual’s giving capacity—their financial ability is but one quality that varies from person to person. Two others—what I call “affinity” and “life situation”—are equally important as ability to give.
“Affinity” is the measure of alignment between the donor’s values and goals, and those of the organization they give to. Some donors are closer than others; closer because of their involvement, as to their service or relationship, and because of their “fit”—their personal goals.
“Life situation” is where they are in their own lives and how that intersects with their involvement in the organization to which they’re giving. Whether the donor is a college student, young professional, married with young children or coming into retirement will affect both their interests and their ability to give. Factor in life-changing events and personal tragedy and you see that what a donor is experiencing in his or her life has a meaningful and material impact on which organizations they support, at what level and for how long.
Principle 6 of "The Eight Principles" is Divide & Grow. It’s the principle of treating different people differently. Understanding and applying this principle is essential to growing the size of your fundraising program. Along with Principle 7 of The Eight Principles, Renew & Refresh, these truths form the foundation for creating sustainability to your fundraising efforts.
The organizations that understand and use this understanding as they work with their supporters are also the ones who build the strongest, longest lasting relationships with their supporters.
They’re the ones who’ve discovered the true magic of evergreen philanthropy.
With these myths, a common theme emerges: Fundraising isn’t about systems or techniques. Philanthropy isn’t about money, it’s about people. First and last.
To your fundraising success!
Larry believes in the power of relationships and the power of philanthropy to create a better place and transform lives.
Larry is the founder of The Eight Principles. His mission is to give nonprofits and philanthropists alike the opportunity to achieve their shared visions. With more than 25 years of experience in charitable fundraising and philanthropy, Larry knows that financial sustainability and scalability is possible for any nonprofit organization or charitable cause and is dependent on neither size nor resources but instead with the commitment to create a shared vision.
Larry is the author of the award-wining book, "The Eight Principles of Sustainable Fundraising." He is the Association of Fundraising Professionals' 2010 Outstanding Development Executive and has ranked in the Top 15 Fundraising Consultants in the United States by the Wall Street Business Network.
Larry is the creator of the revolutionary online fundraising training platform, The Oracle League.
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