Probably not, because I just made up that statistic. But my numbers are based on 35 years of working with and for fund raisers, so I’ll trust my hunch.
Unless you have endless money and can use it to “chum” the waters of unknown prospects with ads, literature, brochures, galas and other gatherings, you need to know that your best prospects are your current donors. Hardly news to you, I’m sure.
So here are 4 steps to help you raise big gifts for less cost.
- Select the right donors. Categorize your donors to know your best prospects. Possibilities include size, frequency or type of gifts. The key indicator is how long they have been a donor above all else. Size is the least important. Keep the number of donors you work with manageable. Maybe it’s 12 per year, or 25. It probably isn’t 100. The number changes each year as you move some off and add some new names.
- Know your donors’ agenda. Realize they may not know their own agenda. Your conversations are a key to helping them realize the available options. A lifetime plan, an estate plan. One focus or several. Tightly restricted or more flexible. All great conversations that help everybody involved.
- Make an internal plan. You can’t do this alone, so allocate your team resources to help with various parts. Volunteers can be great at talking with these donors, because you aren’t asking for money. You’re helping your current donors know more about your organization and their plans for future gifts.
- Be proactive. Regular personal contact with your key donors is essential. Can’t tell you how many times I’ve heard that a key donor set up a big gift with another charity … because they didn’t know you could do it!! Know what you have to offer, and be sure those donors also know.
Don’t let the live ones get away. You haven’t gotten their last gift unless you just ignore them.
For more nonprofit administration and management tips, as well as nonprofit funding and endowment development, subscribe to Endowment Development Institute's Newsletter here.