Acquire Donors With a Tailwind
A dependable revenue stream that grows—ah, paradise!
Have a fundraising challenge you want to crack? Weary of doing the same old, same old yet hoping for different outcomes? Do you want the over-the-top results that come from superior strategy?
Email me with your particular problem and I’ll arrange a quick consultation offering you a practical solution you can implement. I may even use your situation to share with my readers. Names are changed, of course!
I had the opportunity to speak with the marketing director of a federated health-related charity in Australia last week. Claire reached out to me to ask about jumpstarting donor acquisition in her organization.
I’m still a little in awe of speaking with someone 12,000 miles away and 18 hours advanced in time.
Claire told me of recent changes in her national organization. A number of individual local chapters—all with the same mission and charge—were recently combined in a federated arrangement under a national umbrella. We have several federations here in the States. The American Red Cross immediately comes to mind.
What was top-of-mind for Claire was the very small donor base and resultant donor fatigue that the individual chapters—and now national organization—are experiencing.
How to acquire new donors in the new governance structure? I first told Claire that the donor acquisition need predates the national structure.
Second, I drew her attention to three of The Eight Principles™. Principle 1 is Donors are the Drivers®. Donors drive philanthropy through their visions and values. Any fundraiser that consciously or unconsciously disregards this is headed for a fall. Period.
Once you internalize that donors are truly in the driver’s seat, Principle 7 Renew & Refresh™ comes to the fore. For philanthropic revenue to be sustainable and scale, we must renew our current investors at the highest possible rate (always less than 100 percent, but certainly much higher than the current, overall abysmal rate of 40 percent) and we must refresh our body of supporters by acquiring new ones.
This is the challenge that Claire is facing. Claire's organization has a natural appeal and case to make, but it’s an “open” nonprofit. That simply means that there isn’t a built-in constituency, such as an alumni or membership base, from which to draw.
It does have a powerful case, however. There are many individuals who by their own or closely-related experience would support it.
The solution for Claire’s acquisition challenge isn’t actually in the acquisition process itself.
It’s in Principle 8 of The Eight Principles™: Invest, Integrate & Evaluate™. The central issue for Claire is one of integration. Now that the organization is federated, there is a critical need to coordinate the fundraising efforts of not only the individual chapters but also with the efforts of the national nonprofit.
Donors are focused on the cause—the need. They couldn’t care less about the niceties of organization, governance and fundraising turf. Unfortunately, that’s where a lot of well-meaning nonprofits spend their time.
Claire’s nonprofit is well suited to coordinate fundraising outreach. There is one governing board, but each chapter retains an advisory board focused on local affairs. What’s needed is, first and foremost, an atmosphere of trust between national and chapter. A negotiated, clear revenue sharing agreement is next.
Finally, all outreach efforts must be coordinated from the donors’ point of view. This is the hardest part—remembering it’s about donors, not our (however worthy) cause.
Can you acquire donors without integrating appeals? Certainly. What you also get is a steady headwind. People fundraising willy-nilly looks like chaos to donors. Yikes!
I asked Claire to keep me in the loop. I’m looking forward to hearing good news!
In these articles, I regularly make reference to one or more of The Eight Principles™. Send me a request, and I’ll send you a one-page thumbnail description of them. You can also read the book, The Eight Principles of Sustainable Fundraising. Check it out here.
Let me hear from you. Please share your situation and the challenges you face in developing sustainable revenue streams. Email me and I’ll arrange a brief consult providing you with practical guidance. I’ll choose some of these thorny obstacles to share, along with my insights, in upcoming columns.
Success is waiting. Go out and achieve it.
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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