Here's Why Your Major Donor Is About to Give You the Boot
Ever wonder why two organizations with the same mission and passion—both possessing teams of equally amazing and dedicated individuals, both sources of goodness in the world—can differ so vastly in the amount of financial support they receive?
Last week, I heard about a major benefactor of a nonprofit who called up the director and exclaimed, “If you guys can raise $100,000 in the next two weeks, I’ll match it dollar for dollar!”
I have to admit, at first glance, I was quite upset. Seriously, who does this guy think he is? Where does he get the gall, the gumption, the chutzpah to put this organization under so much pressure to launch a matching campaign without any preparation? And it dawned on me—we are reaching a whole new era when it comes to what major donors are expecting from nonprofits.
Major benefactors are expecting more than they ever have before. They know, in our age of information and technology, just how capable nonprofits are of giving them what they really want. And, if we really break it down, there are three things that today’s mega-givers want—and are going to get—whether it’s from you or from another organization.
1. Tremendous Financial Value
Your mega donors are savvy businesspeople. They’ve managed foundations and corporations, and they are accustomed to a return on their investments. So, whether they are speculating in real estate with five times the return or at a startup tech company with 200 times the return, they constantly seek a certain level of financial expansion as a result.
What does this mean for you?
As a nonprofit, you must demonstrate in a concrete, practical manner how their gifts are being leveraged for maximum growth. Budget wisely. Conduct online matching campaigns. Invest in growing your organization and your cause by advancing your resources, technology and leadership. Your mega-donors need to know you are building upon their investments to create a snowball effect for the entire organization.
2. Widespread Social Impact
When today's major benefactors look at your organization, they need to know how their investments are furthering the essence of your cause.
Let me give you an example. I send my kids to a Chassidic Montessori school (yes, it’s a real thing) in Brooklyn, New York. The school has all the benefits of a local nonprofit. And one of the reasons it has been so attractive to donors, besides the great education, is that it has developed a unique methodology and philosophy to go along with leadership that regularly consults with other schools beyond the community. It impacts the entire spectrum of Jewish education.
And so, you must ask yourself, “Am I spreading ideas and laying the groundwork for social goodness that will extend beyond the walls of my organization?” If not, you must expand your vision—or perhaps simply deepen your own personal appreciation—of what it is you are really accomplishing. Only then can you successfully amplify your message by creating a solid marketing plan and exercising an active presence across your social media platforms. I'm not advocating for you to be the next Pencils of Promise or charity: water, but I am suggesting that you start learning from these visionaries, and apply their philosophies to your local gig.
The greater the impact, the greater the investment you will receive.
3. Dynamic Interdependency
“I want to be your only donor!” Said no one ever.
Major benefactors hate dependency. As a colleague of mine always says, “They hate dependency so much, they don’t even want their own children to be dependent on them.” The first thing they ask when you approach them to join your team of philanthropists is, "Who else is involved?" What other forms of support do you employ to your advantage? And how are you getting the community involved?
If you are dependent solely on a single major donor, get ready to break out the breath mints, because you’re kissing that relationship goodbye. But, if you show your major benefactors a plan for success, which incorporates a community of donors and actualizes different channels for financial stability, then they will realize your organization is a solid investment. Today, more than ever, there are myriad ways to get countless people involved in your cause.
As fundraisers, we need to ask ourselves why certain organizations receive more support than others. It is not because those with greater financial endowments are bigger or better established. It is because those organizations are providing their supporters with these three ingredients for a happy and healthy partnership.
Step up, or don’t be surprised if and when your mega-donor gives you the boot. But, if you’re lucky, he or she might just challenge you to raise $100,000 in two weeks. And, if you get that call, you should probably tell your donor that you need a month.
Your donors are surrounded by other nonprofits who take their investments and go out of their comfort zones to create social media storms that rally the world to their causes, and in turn, shape the world around them. They give their supporters a fabulous return on their investment.
And your supporters’ investment in you is their belief that you can do the same.
Moshe Hecht, winner of the 2017 NonProfit PRO Technology Professional of the Year, is a philanthropy futurist, public speaker and chief innovation officer of Charidy, a crowdfunding platform and consulting company that has helped 3,000 organizations raise over $700 million.
Moshe's passion lies at the intersection of technology and charitable giving. When Moshe is not at the office, he is writing music and enjoying downtime with his wife and three redheaded children.