Don’t Knock It Until You Try It—New Ways of Fundraising
One cool thing about being a consultant, coach and trainer who works with nonprofits around the U.S. on fundraising and governance is that I have the opportunity to interact with and learn from people at all types of nonprofits who have varying levels of experience and expertise. It is a position I appreciate, one in which I can both share my knowledge and learn from others.
Just in the last week, I reconnected with a friend at a technology company that provides an application that processes microdonations (keep an eye out for my next article on the power of microdonations and round-up donations). The previous week, I listened to a group of seasoned nonprofit experts discuss the importance of honoring the tried-and-true methods of fundraising, such as major gift campaigns.
Those are just two examples of fundraising methods that lie on the continuum from grassroots to major gifts. The good news is we don’t have to pick one or the other. I am an adamant proponent of “and” not “or.” Just as there is great value in diversification of funding streams (where the money comes from), it is similarly true that strategically employing more than one type of fundraising (how the money comes in) will strengthen a nonprofit’s position in the long term.
I can picture a few skeptics out there thinking, “We have a strong major gifts program. I’m not going to dilute that with some new social fundraising fad.” That makes sense, to a point. If you have a robust and successful major gifts program established, do everything you can to keep it thriving! Given that the lion’s share of individual giving comes from a very small percentage of high net worth donors, it makes sense to invest time and energy into major gifts.
Here’s where the “and” enters the picture. Every donor is different; they have different motivations for giving, volunteering and potentially staying loyal to an organization. They also have different likes, styles and preferred methods of communication. Given that major gifts are likely to come from less than 10% of a nonprofit’s family of donors, that leaves 90% (give or take) of the “family” outside of the inner circle that is the major gifts universe. Additionally, most people don’t start out as major donors. Many start smaller and work their way up; it is up to us to engage them where they are and to begin building relationships.
NPSource gives us a peek into the ways people give to charity in “The Ultimate List of Charitable Giving Statistics for 2018.” Here are just a few highlights that illustrate the various ways people are giving:
- 49% of both Baby Boomer donors and Gen X donors are enrolled in a monthly giving program. (Baby Boomers were born between 1944 and 1964. Gen Xers were born between 1965 and 1979.)
- 35% of Baby Boomer donors have given to a crowdfunding campaign.
- 59% of Gen Z donors are inspired to donate to charity by a message/image they saw on social media. (Gen Z = born between 1995 and 2015; approximately 74 million people in the U.S.)
- 84% of Millennials give to charity, donating an annual average of $481 across 3.3 organizations (Millennials were born between 1980 and 1994.)
More Than One Way to Fundraise
These numbers show that there are literally millions of Americans giving to charity who, as individuals, may not be considered major donors, but collectively, they form a tidal wave of support for missions including education, environment, social justice and equity, the arts, faith-based, LGBTQ+ and many more.
I think most development professionals would agree that ignoring such a charitable force would be foolish, right? Once we’re aware of this powerful pool of prospective donors, the next step is for us to meet them where they want to be and provide opportunities for them to give through a number of channels.
Text to give—why not? Some donor management systems even come with a text option built in. Social media fundraising for a well-defined need or project—yes please! Giving days such as Giving Tuesday—a definite yes. How about offering donors the option to associate their debit card with a charity they care about—then if they spend $11.50 on a purchase, the app will round the amount up to $12, with the additional $.50 going to the assigned nonprofit. Easy-peasy. The donor can, of course, set a maximum dollar amount threshold for each month, so they don’t go over their planned budget. It is like monthly giving with flair.
I’ve illustrated that there is more than one way to engage prospects and donors. The good news is we don’t have to choose one style. We can be masters of major gift fundraising and still make it possible for donors to give by clicking on an Instagram Story donation sticker.
We still need to outline fundraising activities and methods in a development plan, so there is a connecting thread that weaves through an organization’s fundraising efforts, strategically tying them together to achieve a common goal.
An open mind and willingness to adapt are necessary traits that will allow nonprofit executives, development staff and boards of directors to stay relevant and successfully raise funds to support the missions of their organizations, no matter how their donors want to give.
Tracy Vanderneck is president of Phil-Com, a Florida-based training and consulting company where she works with nonprofits on fundraising, board development and strategic planning. Tracy has more than 20 years of experience in fundraising, business development and sales. She holds a Master of Science in management with a concentration in nonprofit leadership and a graduate certificate in teaching and learning. She is a Certified Fund Raising Executive and an Association of Fundraising Professionals Master Trainer. Additionally, she designs and delivers online fundraising training classes and serves as a Network for Good Personal Fundraising Coach.