Looking for Donors? It's Inside Out
Have a fundraising challenge that you want to crack? Do you want to be strategic with your efforts and get results? Weary of doing the same old, same old and hoping for different outcomes?
Email me with your particular problem, and I'll give you 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!!
Last week, I received an email from the executive director of a small faith-based organization that serves inner-city children in an after-school tutoring program. The folks at this nonprofit do good work, and they're getting outstanding outcomes with the students they tutor.
The challenge that Brenda faces is one that is all too familiar to small organizations like hers. She feels that she's "fishing out of the same holes" for donors as every other humanitarian organization in her relatively small community. How can she grow her donor base and — at the same time — scale her fundraising revenue?
Like many organizations, Brenda feels that hers has asked everyone it knows. Its current efforts consist of presentations at group meetings at the churches of the founding denomination and letters to identified names. The last mailing netted only a 1 percent response rate.
The board chair, being one of the original founders, is squarely in Brenda's corner. As you would expect, there are a handful of stalwarts that keep the revenue flowing through their personal generosity.
After a few further inquiries, I offered Brenda a place to begin to acquire new donors and to move more of her current donors to investor status.
Although most of the board members make some sort of gifts each year, there is no formal annual board campaign. There is no unifying drive around which board members take ownership, thereby coming together as a team. Giving through events is conflated with direct mission-based giving. There is no firm accountability between board members.
I recommended the board begin to conduct a peer solicitation of itself annually. Doing so would both raise the commitment levels of individual board members and raise board giving to a higher level. What's more, there's the real possibility that at least some members of the board will move from being merely donors to become investors — those supporters who are emotionally committed to the ongoing success of the organization.
To execute such a program in a situation where there is no history of such will require Brenda to enlist the support of the board chair. With a board of 12 people, one other advocate will need to be enlisted to the team. Brenda knew the right person to ask right away. Together, the team can determine thoughtful asking amounts for each board member and decide which board members each team member will visit. The whole process should take a month or less.
The outcome? If they stay the course and follow good practice, the board will emerge a more unified more highly committed group that is ready to tackle the "inside out" challenge of Principle 5 of The Eight PrinciplesTM, "Work From the Inside OutTM." Begin with those who are closest to your organization by both relationship and reason to give.
Notice that I'm not saying to begin with those who have the greatest capacity to give. Sure, having ability is important. The Pareto rule will apply. That happens on its own. By focusing inside out by relationship and affinity, the strongest network is built, which will naturally encompass those with both large and small giving ability. The strongest, most stable expansion of the donor base will be the result.
My thanks to Brenda for reaching out and sharing her situation.
Let me hear from you concerning your particular situation and the difficulties you face in developing sustainable revenue streams. Email me (info@TheEightPrinciples.com), and I'll give you a quick response with a practical solution. 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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