Have Any of Your Donors Hit ‘for the Cycle’?
If you have ever played baseball, you would be familiar with the term “cycle.” The cycle is hitting for a single, double, triple and home run. These hits allow the hitter to end up at first base, second base, third base or home plate, respectively. A dream would be to bat four times in a game and hit for the cycle in that game.
In fundraising terms, fundraising professionals have a goal to secure a gift from a potential donor. Then, through a process of building relationships, deep dive into research and cultivation strategies, and seek various types of gift upgrades from the donor.
For me and, hopefully, you, your donor cycle would consist of the following moves matrix:
- Annual Gift—First Base
- Major Gift—Second Base
- Principal Gift—Third Base
- Planned Gift—Home Plate
Your goal, if possible, over time, is to seek an annual gift, major gift, principal gift and planned gift. Through capacity analysis profiling, you will need to determine if the prospect is capable of hitting for the cycle. Only a percentage of your portfolio will be able to accomplish this feat.
By determining a strategy for each prospect in your portfolio, you will determine where the ultimate possibility exists. In a recent blog by Jeff Jowdy, he points out that anyone in your portfolio is a planned gift prospect, which takes the donor to home plate. We also know every prospect can and should be an annual donor. The cycle question is: Can your prospect also be a major gift and principal gift prospect?
It is important to have a refresher on definitions presented as part of this theory.
- Annual Gifts. In Resources for Advancement, annual gifts represent the hope and aspiration that a prospect will become a donor and support charitable organizations every year. The challenge is for the donor to give annually and hopefully increase their gift level over time. These gifts typically come from discretionary income.
- Major Gifts. From the Institute of Fundraising, a major donor is an individual who makes a gift that has a significant impact on the work of a fundraising organization. Gifts are typically larger in scope than annual gifts and can be given over time rather than a one gift donation.
- Principal Gifts. According to the Compliance Company, charities commonly define principal gifts as being $1 million or more. Principal gifts are most often funded with appreciated assets and donors most often make them with the assistance of savvy giving experts. Studies show 98% of all wealthy Americans donate to charity, yet only 70% of their wealth is in cash.
- Planned Gifts. PlannedGiving.com notes that planned giving is also referred to as gift planning or legacy giving. It enables philanthropic individuals to make larger gifts to charitable organizations than they could make from ordinary income. Thus, by definition, a planned gift is any major gift, made in lifetime or at death as part of a donor’s overall financial and/or estate planning. These include gifts of equity, life insurance, real estate, personal property or cash.
It is important to realize that hitting the cycle with a donor will be extremely difficult without a sound moves management plan. The plan must include prospect research information and detailed timely strategic thinking. According to iWave.com, prospect research is the identification and analysis of prospective donors, such as individuals, to learn their propensity, affinity and capacity to give to your organization’s cause. One key to success in this search is to obtain hidden wealth indicators.
If you are interested in taking a percentage of your donor portfolio to the next level, consider adding several prospects in your portfolio that could possibly hit for this donor cycle. At a minimum, seek to secure annual gifts from your donors with a design to increase their gifts over time. As your personal donor integration matures and they learn and understand your organizational needs, seek multi-year major gifts focusing on specific priorities.
If you incorporate deep dive research, eventually seek principal gifts. These are transformational and must incorporate linkage, ability and inclination into the mix. I have been blessed to have secured this type of gift at several different institutions. This process will probably include a spouse, wealth advisor and key volunteer leader with direct personal linkage to the donor within your organization.
Have any of your donors hit for the cycle? Remember, as a fundraiser on the baseball field of giving, you are ultimately the pitcher on the baseball mound. Make sure you make the “correct pitches” that are focused so your donors can hit the ball hard for larger gifts. Get ready to suit up and play ball. If you are prepared and understand this concept, you may be surprised with the final score!
Duke has extensive experience as a nonprofit practitioner, author, lecturer and consultant. He has been a contributing author to NonProfit PRO for the last 11 years. He has been a long-standing member of the Association of Fundraising Professionals where he was previously named the AFP Indiana Chapter Fundraising Executive of the Year and has held the CFRE designation for many years.
He received his doctorate degree from West Virginia University with an emphasis in education administration, master's degree from Marshall University with an emphasis in public administration and a bachelor's degree from West Virginia University with an emphasis in marketing/management. He has also completed post graduate work at the University of Louisville.
He is currently executive director of development for The Salvation Army Indiana Division in Indianapolis, IN plus Adjunct Professor for Olivet Nazarene University. Contact Duke at firstname.lastname@example.org or 317-224-1029.