By Julie Simmons, SVP Spring 2014 Community Outreach Intern, with Ann Goldman and Leslie Allen of Front Range Source
On May 22, SVP Boulder County hosted a BOARDS WITH BRAINS education session on the topic of fundraising for board members, led by Leslie Allen and Ann Goldman of Front Range Source. BOARDS WITH BRAINS is SVP’s board governance professional development series, focused on leadership best practices for Boulder County’s nonprofit staff and volunteers. This session helped make fundraising accessible by asking board members to asses their existing skills, and fundraise within their own comfort zone.
Ann began the conversation by talking about where the majority of funds come from for most nonprofits. There is a tendency to want to focus on corporations and foundations, but of the roughly $316 billion donated each year to nonprofits, only about 14% comes from foundations and 4% from corporations. In contrast, 74% is from individual donors, demonstrating why learning how to approach individuals for donations matters for board members.
Ann asked the attendees to consider why they give their time and money to the organizations they serve, noting donors have those same motivations for giving. She suggested when approaching an individual about donating, find out why they give, and help that potential donor understand why your organization serves his or her giving needs.
Studies suggest there are several “types” of donors for every organization. If you can find out what kind of giver a potential donor is, you have the opportunity to tailor your conversation to target that donor’s approach to giving. For example, casual donor gives when the occasion arises. Grateful givers give to organizations that have helped them in the past. Local givers want to benefit their community. Faith-based givers give as part of their religious affiliation. Givers with personal-ties to the organization give because it is well-regarded as part of their social or professional circle.
Leslie and Ann also introduced the group to the “Donor Pyramid” and the “Cycle of Donor Relations”. A classic graphic used to illustrate fundraising, the ”Donor Pyramid” illustrates how donors often come into organizations at a lower level, and then evolve into major donors. The “Cycle of Donor Relations” illustrates how fundraisers work to build relationships through cultivation, solicitation, and stewardship (for more specifics, click here). Board members can work at any and all parts of the donor relations cycle. Donors love to hear from a Board member!
Anyone can be a good fundraiser by using the skills and social networks they already have. This Fundraising Menu offers some ideas about how you can fundraise in ways that are fun and meaningful, rather than intimidating. Inviting friends to your organization’s events, serving as a donor testimonial, and writing thank-you’s to existing donors are just a few of the ideas Leslie and Ann discussed at the workshop.
One final takeaway is to keep connected with your donors…and keep asking! Ask your donors how they prefer to receive communications from the organization; whether through email, letters, or phone calls. Research suggests that donors want to hear from their favorite organizations just like they would from any friend.
Get started by thinking of a prospective donor (doesn’t have to be a large one), and ask yourself three questions; what’s her motivation, what’s our message, and how should we communicate with her? Once you’ve thought through these questions, you’re ready to start fundraising in a way that is comfortable for you and effective for your organization!
And don’t forget to brush up on your own story. You can use this worksheet to develop your own unique and authentic pitch. For more resources, tools, and information on fundraising for nonprofits, visit the Front Range Source Toolbox.