Most nonprofits have a standard process in place for building a relationship with a new donor. It’s likely that your organization does too.
The flow is probably relatively standard: someone donates, they receive a thank you, they’re added to your email stream, they might receive an event invite, etc., etc.
However, many nonprofits are not as well-equipped to handle when they have a sudden surge of new donors. Whether you have a campaign go viral or there’s an event that causes a peak in interest in your cause, your nonprofit should be prepared to properly steward all new donors, even if they come in bulk.
For example, consider the current situations in Houston, Florida, Mississippi, Louisiana, Alabama, and the Caribbean. Four separate hurricanes have tragically taken many lives and destroyed entire regions and communities.
First, Harvey hit Houston and brought with it severe winds, rain, and flooding. Then, Hurricane Irma made its way through the Caribbean with record-breaking intensity. Everywhere Irma made landfall, from Barbuda to Haiti to Florida, felt the storm’s power and experienced immense devastation. Next, Hurricane Maria built steam as it moved along a course very similar to Irma. Maria hit Dominica and neighboring islands, and then absolutely pummeled Puerto Rico, ravaging the U.S. territory.
Most recently, Hurricane Nate hit regions in Central America, including Costa Rica, Honduras, and Nicaragua, and caused at least 28 deaths before moving north toward the Gulf Coast of the United States. Hurricane Nate has officially made landfall in the U.S., largely affecting Mississippi, Louisiana, and Alabama, causing flooding and mass power loss.
It is absolutely devastating. And many folks who have not historically been charitable donors are admirably stepping up to help the relief effort (learn more here).
As a result, many of the nonprofits serving those communities are experiencing a spike in donations and new donors. Those nonprofits now have an opportunity to bring great assistance to the areas affected by the hurricanes, and if they are strategic about how they steward their new donors, they’ll be able to continue providing vital services to the region for years to come.
Recovering from Harvey, Irma, Maria, and Nate is going to take years, and the nonprofits in the impacted cities need every donation possible to aid in their regions’ rehabilitation.
It’s a very real and very sad example of exactly why nonprofits need to be ready to make the most of their new influx of donors, with a proper plan.
To help you put that plan in place, we’ve compiled 3 effective strategies:
The success of your fundraising campaign relies on whether or not your nonprofit has put in the time to develop a comprehensive, data-driven fundraising strategy. With the right fundraising plan in place, the more likely you’ll be able to extend the right asks to reach likely donors and achieve your fundraising goals.The secret to an excellent fundraising strategy? Consider making the most of a gift range chart.
Commonly used during the feasibility study phase of capital campaigns, gift range charts are useful tools for fundraising campaigns of any size. With this simple tool, you’ll learn exactly what it will take to successfully reach your fundraising goals.
Even better? Your gift range chart can show your nonprofit where you need to improve in your fundraising strategy, whether or not your fundraising goal is too ambitious, and where to focus your fundraising strategy.
Before your campaign begins, you’ll be able determine the optimal size of your asks, the breakdown of your ideal prospects, and which donors you should be engaging.
In this post, we’ll help you get the most out of your gift range chart by discussing:
Are you ready to learn how to use gift range charts to bring your nonprofit’s fundraising strategy to the next level? Let’s get started!
1. Why you should use a gift range chart.
Without question, gift range charts should be a part of your fundraising strategy arsenal (if they aren’t already). Despite their deceptively simple design, gift range charts can tell you a lot about your fundraising strategy, especially if your nonprofit is looking to embark on a capital campaign.(Looking to sharpen your fundraising strategy? Consider working with a fundraising consulting firm to revamp the way your nonprofit raises money for your cause.)Specifically, gift range charts can let your nonprofit know:
This blog focuses on the world of prospect research and various related fundraising topics. To diversify our subject matter, we like to feature the work of our friends and colleagues in the community. Join me in welcoming Jennifer Filla, the CEO of the Prospect Research Institute and President of Aspire Research Group LLC. Please enjoy her post!
Avoid the Rabbit Hole! When to Stop Searching
How many times have you heard a prospect research professional tell a story about how she dug just a little deeper out of curiosity and found the key piece of information that her gift officer used to make a successful solicitation?
We all want to be the hero researcher who expertly identifies the right information. But the truth is that most of the profile research we do is pretty routine. And for many of us craving the excitement of a scintillating find, we spend far too much time unraveling threads of information that have no substantial benefit to our work.
How do we avoid falling down the rabbit hole?
First, we must recognize the rabbit hole! Only then can we make a rational decision about whether or not to fall down it.
No matter what type of profile you are working on, you should be answering a question or set of questions. Top questions are frequently:
Does this prospect have the capacity to make a major gift? In what range?
Does this prospect have philanthropic inclination? Does she make philanthropic gifts?
Is this prospect interested in the mission of our organization and the project(s) we need to fund
What is the prospect’s connection to our organization?
Here are five ways prospect research can help with donor solicitation.
Fill in the blanks.
Segment your asks.
Know how much to ask.
Determine other giving opportunities.
Find major gift donors and planned giving donors.
1. Fill in the blanks
It’s going to be tricky to ask for a donation if you don’t have a prospect’s phone number, email address, or home address.
Let’s say that Donna Donor submitted her email address at your last gala as part of a raffle that night. But an email appeal doesn’t seem to be the best way to ask Donna to give to your organization. She might have the potential to be a major gift donor and would need an in-person meeting if you really want to make an impression.
Besides, it’s a good idea to have accurate donor data anyway. When you send out invites to fundraisers, volunteer opportunities, or other events, you’ll want to make sure that you’re sending out those invitations to the right addresses.
Address a donor by their correct name.
Have the right address on the envelope.
Include relevant information that is appropriate for that particular donor (i.e., an acknowledgement of a previous donation)
=&4=&Use prospect research to fill in the blanks on your donor data when sending out those event invitations and when you go to make your donation appeals.
2. Segment your asks
Not every donor is going to respond in the same way to an email or a direct mail appeal.
Still others prefer more traditional methods, like sending checks by mail or giving in person.
Once you’ve filled in the blanks on your donor data, you’re in a better position to segment your supporters into different groups depending on their giving preference.If you notice that some of your donors regularly respond to the email appeals you send out, continue sending them those email appeals. You might notice, on the other hand, that some donors have never responded to an email appeal but donate every year when you send out your annual appeal in the mail.You’ll know that you can take them off your email appeal list and make sure they receive the annual appeal and other campaign information in the mail.
=&4=&Use prospect research to learn more about which communication channels donors prefer and segment your donation appeals accordingly.
3. Know how much to ask
Not every donor is going to give the same amount on a regular basis. Some may prefer donating $10 a month while others might be able to give $5,000 in one annual check.Knowing how much donors have given in the past to your organization, other organizations, and political campaigns can give you a pretty solid indication of how much to ask in your future appeals.And prospect research can give you all of that information!Donors are always going to have the final say when it comes to actually making a donation. But having information about their past giving patterns puts you in a great position to make suggested giving amounts that are appropriate.Additionally, knowing how much a supporter has given to your organization in the past allows you to thank them for that donation before making your appeal for another contribution. Being thankful is one of the most important facets of donor solicitation. Before asking for another donation, make sure that you’re saying thank you for those previous contributions!
Article written by Sarah Tedesco, Executive Vice President at DonorSearch.
Heraclitus said it best when he stated, “Change is the only constant.” Although it is not always welcome, the sooner we accept and embrace change, the better our lives are. That platitude, though easier to take in theory than practice, certainly applies to the way that organizations handle staff transitions.
Nonprofits and educational institutions, just like any other type of employer, have to deal with important staff members leaving and the ramifications of those exits.
Putting plans in place to handle and account for the transition of employees, especially senior staffers and leaders, is critical to the ongoing success of an organization. Staff turnover is inevitable. Transitional success is a matter of preparing for and adjusting to the change.
For a nonprofit, one of the most valuable roles within the organization is that of the prospect researcher. When it is time to transition to a new researcher, you’ll want to be ready to make the process as smooth as possible.
The best approach to handling a prospect researcher staff transition follows three steps.
These steps cover the entire cycle of the transition. Step one should occur before the prospect researcher leaves the position, step two will happen as the transition is occurring, and step three is to be performed once the turnover is complete.
Step 1: Implement Standards and Systems
This is a preemptive step. It is helpful in general and especially useful when your organization is experiencing change.
Standards and systems make a position transferable.
Prospect research is an extensive process.
On any given day, your current prospect researcher could be:
Putting together prospect profiles.
Ranking prospects according to giving affinity and capacity.
Determining the right ask amount for a certain donor.
Assisting the fundraisers with solicitation strategies.
This blog focuses on the world of prospect research and various related fundraising topics. Today, we’re happy to welcome a contribution from Amy Eisenstein, ACFRE, regarding the recent report, Mastering Major Gifts. Please enjoy!
Major Gift Study Shows Prospect Research Matters
Did you ever stop to ask yourself, “Does prospect research really matter? And, is it worth the cost?”
A new study of more than 660 small and mid-sized nonprofit organizations says YES!
Dr. Adrian Sargeant and Amy Eisenstein, ACFRE, set out to answer the question: Can small and mid-sized organizations (with budgets of $10 million or less) really raise major gifts? And if so, how?
Answers are revealed in the results of a new research project – click here to download the free report.
One of the key findings was the importance of your major gifts pipeline, and who is in it. To put it another way, having too many first time, prospective donors can be harmful (in the short term) to your bottom line.
New Donors Cost Money
To be more exact, for every additional new, prospective donor in a major gift pipeline, it was costing an organization, on average, $300.
In other words, new donor acquisition is an investment. And, if you’re going to be making the investment, you want to do so carefully and with the right prospects.
That’s where donor research comes in.
Cultivating Existing Donors Matters
The study also showed that every additional subsequent donor in a major gifts pipeline (i.e., working with your existing major gift donors) resulted in an additional $2,200 in major gifts.
The average prospect list for survey participants was around 20 people, so picking the right 20 is an important task. Prospect research will help you determine exactly which individuals belong in your pipeline at any given time.
Prospect research helps inform your decisions about who goes into your major gifts pipeline, which could mean the difference between securing major gifts or not.
We’d like to thank DonorSearch for being a valuable partner to the nonprofit sector in conducting this important research.
How have you used prospect research to fill your pipeline and secure major gifts? Let us know how.
If you’re interested in learning more about major gifts, we suggest that you read DonorSearch’s Guide to Major Gifts.Amy Eisenstein, ACFRE, has been a development professional and fundraising consultant for more than 15 years. Recognized as a leading expert in her field, she’s helped small and large nonprofits alike raise millions of dollars through major gift and capital campaigns, board development, annual fund campaigns, direct mail, and planned gift solicitations. Amy’s primary mission is to make nonprofit development simple. She helps you clear away the complexity and raise funds much more effectively.