. . . you are one of her charities”! These words, shared by Tom Ahern to a room of conference attendees, have stuck with me. They remind me of the mantra of Advancement Resources “It’s not about you!”
Seth Godin’s new book This is Marketing also invites us to focus on the donor (or client). While he is speaking about marketing, the principles apply to fundraising (Seth touches on fundraising in the book). Mr. Godin asks us to think about those donors for whom we are just one of the charities which they support. So what does Seth have to say?
“When you are market driven you think a lot about the hopes and dreams of your customers and their friends.” (p. 23) By the way the emphasis is added and I suggest substituting the word donor for customer.
Later on he says “People are waiting for you” and that:
“They are waiting for the connection that you will offer. The ability to see and be seen.
And they are waiting for the tension of the possible, the ability to make things better.” (p. 61).
I focus on the five I’s of fundraising: Identify, Inform, Involve, Invest, and Impact. For me, identifying prospective new donors or major or planned giving donors starts, as This is Marketing suggests, with thinking first about those prospective donors and donors. Have you asked yourself any of these questions?
- What might a donor who makes a first gift to our nonprofit want or need (besides another solicitation)?
- What is the change that a prospective major donor hopes to see as a result of her gift? (In this case I mean more than the wealth profile of the person. Rather, what is it about the work of the nonprofit we serve that might compel someone to choose it as one of the charities to which they are most generous?)
- What is it that prompts a person to give to our organization for 20 consecutive years and maybe leave a portion of their estate to ensure that change is ongoing?
For example, I recently wrote a post about Lybunts (people who gave last year but not this year). Have you considered contacting Lybunts via a short survey to ask what compelled them to give the first time and to determine what if anything might encourage them to give again?
Here’s a link to a slide presentation about surveys which I mentioned in that post. The presentation is from a DonorSearch Flash Class delivered by Steven Shattuck at Bloomerang. You will also find more information in my blog post Fundraisers Channeling Fred Rogers: Fundraisers as Educators. Spoiler alert: You will find that the focus is on educating yourself about donors v. educating them about your cause.
How are you coming to know your donors? Are you sending out surveys, if so what is your response rate and what are you learning? Better yet, are you calling donors and inviting them to meet over lunch or coffee just to say thank you and to learn why they have chosen to make your organization one of the charities which they support?
I hope you will share your responses here I would welcome hearing from you.
Sophie Penney is the President of i5 Fundraising and the Senior Program Coordinator and Lecturer for Penn State’s all online Certificate Programs in Fundraising.