Philanthropy Sucks, Pt 2: 5 ways Fundraisers can Grow Giving

Ok, ok, it doesn’t suck. As explained in the first post, it just hasn’t increased (as a % of GDP) despite all the developments in the nonprofit sector.  In response to the release of last week’s Growing Philanthropy Report, fundraisers are uniquely positioned to not only facilitate giving, but increase it. Here’s how.

1. Always put philanthropy first

Try it.  For two weeks, with every donor conversation you have, thank them for what they do for the entire community and the other causes/organizations they support, not just yours.  If someone shares they cannot support your organization’s efforts, make sure they understand that you appreciate all they DO do for the community.  Consider yourself on the team of ‘giving’, then representing your organization.  Don’t be the sleazy salesperson, or undercut the efforts of other organizations – put philanthropy first and it’ll come back to you ten-fold.

2. Use fundraising research & ask for more

For philanthropy to grow, our field needs to grow. The final theme of the research focuses on ‘improving the quality of fundraising training and development’.  Use research to back up your fundraising management decisions and inform your leadership and board that this research exists. Share it with your colleagues and use social media to promote awareness of it, inclusion in practices and ask for more.  My go-to spots for fundraising (w/ links to latest research) are below – what are yours? (share them in the comments)

3. Create & promote a monthly giving program

It’s odd. Monthly giving programs are the norm in the U.K. but they’re slow to develop here in the U.S. Some early research shared that Americans said monthly giving felt more like paying a bill – which took out the emotion of the gift.  I don’t think that means monthly giving wouldn’t work here. Instead, you’ve got to make sure that if you embark upon a monthly program, you have to communicate the impact regularly so donors ‘feel’ the emotion even though it’s being done through the emotionless vortex of direct debit.  Give it a shot.  The whole idea of an ‘annual fund’ baffles me anyways. Why take hundreds or thousands of people and encourage them to give one gift, only to do it all over again the following year?  Create stronger and longer relationships with a monthly program.

4. Volunteer for your program

Most program people don’t understand or value what you do. Don’t fight it, bridge the gap. Spend the time on their side of the aisle and it’ll work wonders for your development efforts. Volunteer for your cause. Build your own service stories to share and you’ll have strong relationships with all staff and you’ll need them to be successful.

5. Focus on retention over acquisition

I know it sounds crazy. Everyone always wants new donors, but as the report reminds us, “in annual giving we loose well over 50% of first-time donors the second year, then 30% each year after that. A 10% improvement in loyalty can yield a 200% increase in donor lifetime value of a donor database.”  Map out your stewardship and cultivation plans.  Make sure that you are loyal to those who are most loyal to you.  Create a ‘new donor experience’ that assures you won’t loose the 50% of new donors that everyone else does.

How will you, as a fundraiser, help grow giving? Let me know in the comments.

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