How Trustees Can Help Raise More Major Gifts
I received a call from a friend whom has always wanted to give back to his local community by trying to make a difference—he has been volunteering for a few charities in various capacities and has recently been elected as a trustee for one. This is what he said:
“As you are aware I have joined a local charity that I praise and hold high regards for, as they carry out great work in my local community. We don’t have major giving program. Do you think we should have one? And secondly, I don’t have an experience in fundraising, especially asking people for money. How should I get involved with fundraising?’’
And below was my response:
Don’t Miss Out on Major Giving
If you are local charity, don’t have a major giving program and assume that rich people wouldn’t donate to your charity, you are missing out big opportunity. Because there is strong evidence available which suggests that rich people love to support local causes. For many philanthropists, supporting the communities in which they reside and work or the communities from which they originate, forms the beginning of their philanthropic journey. In 2011, New Philanthropy Capital, in collaboration with Coutts & Co. published the report "Inspiring Local Philanthropy," which honed in on the subject of supporting local charities. Here is what one of the philanthropist said in the report:
‘’Local giving is important, because you can focus funds to have the greatest effect. Rather than being sector specific, we are able to focus on a geographic area, supporting a wide range of projects. If you compare giving locally with nationally or internationally, there is a completely different level of reward. I enjoy giving to a local charity. You feel much closer to it, and you’re more likely to see the result of a gift or indeed a gift in kind.’’
Find Other Ways to Support Your Major Gifts
Everyone understands that trustees are volunteers, so no one should expect them to be professional fundraisers. Major gifts fundraising is not only about asking for money, it’s about building relationships or facilitating those relationships to happen and making an awareness about your cause. Until you feel comfortable asking for money, you can find other ways to support your major gifts fundraising.
1. Make fundraising on top of your board’s agenda. Ask yourself: If a charity doesn’t raise money, will it still be able to do the great work that it does? Be clear from the outset that every trustee must understand and realize that fundraising is a job which needs to be done, and it’s a lifeline of your organization. If you don’t support fundraising in whatever capacity (time, money, skills, making a noise, networking, thanking donors, etc.) as a trustee, than why do you think that anyone else should be supporting your organization? I believe that the board should ensure fundraising is recognized as a priority and well understood across the organization, thus keep the fundraising agenda on top of your board meetings on a regular basis—not only when your organization needs money desperately, but as a matter of regular practice.
2. Inspire your fundraisers. Fundraisers always need inspiration, so keep them inspired by telling your personal story of why you do what you do or by reminding regularly why your organization exists in first place.
3. Help identify and cultivate donors. Try to connect your major gift fundraisers to people you know whom can be beneficial for your organization. You can also help your major gifts team to set up small non-asking cultivation events for your donors and prospects.
4. Major donor love to be thanked by trustees. I can tell you from my personal experience that we have transformed results at Orphans in Need, because our trustees have been forthcoming in helping us to thank our donors. Work closely with your major gifts team to thank your donors via emails, phone calls and personal notes, or whichever preferred way your donor has chosen to communicate with them.
5. Make good use of your personal social media. Raising an awareness of your cause is an important part of your fundraising. Start with listing the organization in your social media profiles. Making a noise online and sharing the successful stories of your organization’s projects is a great way of keeping your charity in the mind of your prospective donors. This will help you to generate lot of interest within your network and beyond. When people take an interest in your posts, it will help you to learn about your network that how engaged they are in your cause. The more you know about an individual, the better able you’ll be to engage them. You don’t know who knows who and when someone might decide to giving you a big gift.
6. Think of what else you can do. I remember on one occasion, I requested one of our trustees to negotiate a venue price for one of our major donor events. Utilizing his business skills, he got us 30 percent less than what we were quoted initially. So find out what you are good at and how you can raise or save more money for your charity.
Ikhlaq Hussain is a philanthropy and high-end events specialist, currently head of major gifts at Orphans In Need, trustee at Mind in Harrow, board member at Institute of Fundraising (South East and London), founder of Ment-Hour and regular blogger on the topic of fundraising.