Category

Database Management

Why Major Gifts? Why Now?

By | All Posts, Capacity Building, Commentary, Database Management, Donor Cultivation, Fundraising, Major Gift Solicitation, Prospect Research | No Comments

How many of us wish there were more hours in the day to focus on our major giving program and donors? Some of us may be one-man teams, but even those of us lucky enough to work in a fully-staffed, robust development office wish we had more time to reach out to more donors and have more meaningful conversations. Some of us don’t work on major gifts because there isn’t time and we don’t really see the need: “Why would I spend the time on major gifts if I’m getting by with annual gifts, grants, earned income, etc.?”

Good question. And below is arguably a good answer.

First, let’s reference GivingUSA: The Annual Report on Philanthropy published by The Giving USA Foundation, an arm of The Giving Institute. Of the approximately $390 Billion dollars given by Americans in 2016, 72% was given by individuals.  Add in the 8% giving through bequests (which are also given by individuals, technically) and the 7% from family foundations and the total is closer to 87% received from individuals.  That leaves only 13% given by foundations and corporations. Also, foundations are only legally required and mostly stick to a 5% mandatory distribution requirement.

Donor-Advised Funds and non-traditional giving methods allow for a myriad of possibilities and vehicles for individuals to use to invest in causes and programs about which they care deeply. It is also easier and a better use of staff resources (including time!) to cultivate and grow donors you already have, than to go out and identify new donors.  This is especially true when you look at the national statistics on donor retention. The 2017 Fundraising Effectiveness Survey Report found donor retention year-over-year averages 45%, meaning more than half of your new donors will not give a gift a second time.

A major giving program gives your donors a path to a deeper relationship with your mission and allows for greater impact through financial investment. With donor acquisition costs on the rise,  spending time examining your current donor base is a better use of time and results in a higher ROI. These individuals have already self-selected and said “yes” to you and your work at least once, but how well do you really “know” them? When was the last time your organization (or have your ever?) conducted a wealth screening? You may know who your top donors are, but do you know who are your most loyal?

To implement a major giving program, organizations should rely on the four pillars of a successful solicitation:

  1. You need a major giving case for support that clearly explains your mission and needs and expresses the impact major giving investments will have on your nonprofit.
  2. It’s imperative that we really “do our homework” and know our donors by understanding their past support, motivations to give and philanthropic goals. This is where the art and science of fundraising converge at the intersection of qualitative and quantitative knowledge.
  3. Utilizing this knowledge, we can develop personalized cultivation strategies, guided by best practices, to present the strongest solicitation possible.
  4. We need to steward our donors by identifying meaningful recognition and continuing communication.

By now, I hope you you’re thoroughly convinced individual donor prospects and major giving are elements you need in your resource development plan.  But do you still wonder if you have the time and resources to implement a major giving program your own organization?

Well, you can quit wondering.

JB+A is pleased to present a solution, in partnership with Softerware, Inc.: DonorPerfect Consulting Services Powered by Jeffrey Byrne + Associates is a 12-month, one-on-one phone and web-based consulting service that will help your organization institute major giving best practices and will offer advice crafted for each organization’s unique needs.  Expert coaching provided by us (JB+A) while utilizing DonorPerfect software and DonorSearch wealth screenings will help you identify and achieve your organization’s major giving fundraising goals.

Want to learn more?  Give me a call at 816-237-1999 or email me at KLord@FundraisingJBA.com.

Don’t Commit Fundraising Malpractice

By | All Posts, Campaign Planning + Management, Database Management, Donor Cultivation, Major Gift Solicitation, News You Can Use, Prospect Research, Technology | No Comments

Jeffery ByrneJeffrey D. Byrne, President + CEO

I truly believe it is “fundraising malpractice” when nonprofits do not do their “homework” about prospective donors.  Much more than learning about the estimated wealth and capacity of a prospect, research can reveal information about philanthropic giving history and involvement as well as natural partners and connections. Then add the “human touch” of the prospect review committee process, and the result is powerful quantitative and qualitative data to help inform strategy development for prospective donors.

I am a big proponent of using philanthropic and wealth screenings in campaign planning. They offer a valuable data, help you determine when/if more in-depth individualized research is necessary and provide information beneficial beyond the campaign, that can help with strategies for planned giving and annual fund.

Here’s my simple and universal process for utilizing philanthropic and wealth screenings to strengthen campaigns:

  1. Determine your “end use”
    You cannot simply import the results back into your database, never look at them again and expect magic to happen. Be disciplined in defining how you are going to use the results to empower your fundraising activities. Do you need help in determining target ask amounts? Do you need to know more about giving histories, to determine if prospects might have an affinity for your mission?  Do you need to better understand the prospects’ peer networks to help you develop appropriate ways to connect with them? Before you select a screening vendor and before you select the screening product(s) to purchase, carefully think through how you need to use the data.
  1. “Screen” your vendor and product options
    Wealth and philanthropic screenings are investments – of both time and money – that merit a careful selection process. There are several vendor options, so do your homework. What is their methodology? What are their deliverables? Is education/training included? Do they verify their results? How long will the screening process take? Can the data be easily imported/integrated into your database? Do they support that process?  Ask for references. Then call them. And don’t be penny-wise and pound-foolish.  Screenings are also opportunities to clean up your database. There are valuable services available that will assess and address the accuracy and completeness of the contact information in your records (such as address verification and email, phone and address appends.)
  1. Select records to screen
    It may not be cost effective – or necessary – to screen your whole database. The flip side is that you don’t know what you don’t know – screenings often uncover wealth you never knew you had in your database. Your consultant or screening vendor can and should help you select the records you want to run. And it is imperative to provide all the fields the screening vendor requires in their upload template.  (Garbage in typically means garbage out.)
  1. Interpret the results
    A lot of information comes back in a screening, so you’ll want to make sure you are able to understand it, digest it and use it the way you need. A good screening vendor will help you do just that – and will be accessible to you beyond a 30-minute webinar or 30-page guide. You not only need to be able to interpret the data yourself, but you’ll need to interpret it for other members of your organization – both staff and volunteers. You’ll also need to determine what is appropriate to share and how.
  1. Integrate the data results
    Again, this doesn’t mean just importing the results into your database. You have to make the data work for you. Integrating the screening results means synthesizing the information and incorporating it into your donor development efforts through the steps below.
  1. Prospect review committee
    A small and select group of volunteers and staff, the prospect review committee is a most effective – and personal – way to rate prospects, as a complement to screenings and in-depth research profiles. Composed of those “in the know” in your organization’s community, this highly-confidential group works early on in the campaign planning process to rank capacity and potential interest (not just for giving but for volunteering as well.) The committee works in sessions over several days or a couple of weeks, but the process is fast-paced and highly-facilitated (typically by staff or a consultant.) The end result is a prospect list that is “categorically” ranked/prioritized and supported by anecdotal information.
  1. In-depth research profiles
    Some prospects merit additional, in-depth research. These profiles contain expanded details about a prospect’s education, employer, professional career, family, hobbies/personal interests and civic/community activities. The information gathered should only be information that affects a person’s ability or inclination to give: relevant and publicly available. 
  1. Appraisals/Solicitation Amounts
    Determining appropriate ask amounts is a combination of several factors:  the capacity recommendations/target ask amounts provided in the screening results, the anecdotal and ranking information provided by the prospect committee review, the prospect’s relationship with your organization and last but certainly not least, good judgement.
  1. Strategies
    Now you’ve got a solid foundation for developing personalized and customized plans for prospect cultivation and solicitation.  A “good ask” is more than just an amount. Knowing through whom, how and when to approach a prospect makes for more effective relationship-building.  Strategy is about encouraging and empowering the prospect to become an important part of your organization’s mission.

The resources and methods for prospect research may feel endless, overwhelming and even cost prohibitive. But it does not have to be that way.  If you use research information appropriately, there can and should be a very valuable return on your investment.