Tag Archives: School Fundraising

Development vs. Fundraising – What Are You Practicing?

Development in Progress SignAre you in development or fundraising? Do you know the difference? Well, it’s the difference between being the president of a Parent-Teachers Council and the president of the board of a nonprofit. PTCs, in general, are good fundraisers. In the current state of schools – they have to be good in order to offer anything beyond the bare minimum. My childrens’ school aims to raise $16,000 this year.

In contrast, the president of a nonprofit board should be good at fundraising and an expert in development. The fundraising will allow him/her to help out at the next silent auction or gala. But, the development expertise will ensure the organization will survive for years to come.

The Name On The Door Says Development For A Reason
All too often, organizations forget why the offices are labeled development. Everything that happens when you walk through that door should include creating, establishing and, yes, developing relationships. Then, and only then, will you have reliable support for staffing the next gala or raising $10 million dollars. Without these long-term relationships with a range of people involved in your organization, you will never be able to achieve your goals.

Do You Know Which Business You Are In?
In most organizations, there are a core group of people that raise their hands to volunteer – again and again. We all need those people. They staff the appreciation breakfasts and welcome people at open houses. Whether they donate large amounts or small amounts to the organization, they are incredibly valuable.

But, as it turns out, there are often a large number of people that need a personal invitation. Yes, it’s daunting to even think about – how could you possibly manage more one-on-one relationships with people other than major donors. Well, if you understand development, you don’t have to. Examine your core group and then, train them to begin developing relationships on your behalf. This can be done through encouraging everyone to bring 5 new friends, colleagues, relatives, etc., to a scheduled event or creating what we like to call a Gateway event, the first step in the form of a short breakfast or lunch that introduces a prospective donor to the mission and vision of your organization. There is no ask for money because, of course, this is development. We are interested in the giver and not the gift. And, it is the first step in what you hope will be a life-long relationship.

What does this all mean? Expand your core group and develop more relationships. Then, the fundraising will be the easy part of your job in development. Won’t that be nice?

Q. What goes into long-term cultivation of prospective donors over time, when the expected ‘pay-off’ may be far into the future?

A. Long-term cultivation is indeed the ideal path to enhanced relationships and, ultimately, larger donations.  And just as each donation may be independent of others yet part of a larger campaign, each cultivation should be tailored to the individual yet part of an overall strategy.

Look at each person, couple or family, and, then create the best, strategic engagement plan.

No matter how much you need or want money from that person, today, remember that long-term cultivation is not about asking for money now – it is about continuing to contact or touch the person in a variety of ways so you can ask with confidence down the line.

Touches serve quite a few purposes for the donor including: keeping the organization top of mind, building confidence in the leadership, staff and organization, remembering the connection that initiated the relationship, and knowing that they are important to the organization as something more than just a checkbook.

Is the person in a high tech industry and appreciates the efficiency of email?  Or does the person use a computer infrequently and might benefit more from a personal phone call?  Notice the way they contact you and your organization for clues.

What kind of events have they attended or expressed interest?  Is anything of that sort on the calendar?  It’s a perfect opportunity to make a reminder touch—email or phone call, as most appropriate.

Any contact, whether it is personal note on an invitation or an extra calendar delivered with a few items of particular interest circled makes the donor feel special and the organization stand out as one that cares about its donors.

Your Efficiency
For any organization to thrive, there must be many donors. But, it is unlikely that you can invent a unique method to connect to each donor.  Rather, create a template for inviting individuals to events by email, and personalize a few sentences for each prospect.  Sit down with a stack of names and interests as well as a calendar and spend an hour doing a high tech, high touch emailing to 30 major donors.

You know your organization best so you will have to figure out how to cover the range of touches for each type of prospect.

The Pay-Off
The ‘pay-off’ will result from a true understanding of motivations behind each individual’s philanthropy. It may not happen this month, but your continued study of the donor as well as your patience and continuity will reward you down the line.