Friday, May 27, 2011

Feed your donors first to instill giving

Tip #4: How to raise money for your nonprofit in 2011
Have you heard the saying, “The more you give, the more you get?” When reaching out to expand the number of donors who give to your organization, “feed” them first. I’ll touch on three ways to do this.
The first is through information they can digest. Present the need in a compelling manner. Many nonprofits do this with an appeal letter. Consider year-round efforts through a quarterly e-newsletter or print newsletter to keep your donors informed of the need and how their contribution will help the cause.  Bulletins or updates can be done online when there’s a deadline looming – typically to boost donations at year-end or before the start of a major program.
A second way to “get more” from donors is to host an informational session at the point of interest (where the donor funds will do the most good). Whether it’s the opening of a new hospital, a new park for under-served kids, or the wing of an art museum, invite prospective donors and longtime supporters to the actual location. You may need to erect a tent – but that adds to the festive atmosphere.
Painting a picture of “before” and “after” cements the reasons for giving. If it’s before, have a rendering of the building or wing on a poster and handouts. More often than not, donors need to see the end result rather than trying to envision it when they consider making a major gift.
The informational session can be packaged as a presentation, tour or seminar. Make a video of the event and post it on your website for those who couldn’t attend. Use the video as a reference for new donors.
The third point is to feed your donors. Refreshments make the “ask” more palatable at an informational session.  It’s a time-honored tradition to take wealthy prospects out to lunch or dinner and discuss your cause. Widen the net and include more mid-range donors and new prospects at informational events. They may be just the ones you need to increase planned giving and special gifts to your nonprofit.
By feeding your donor base regularly, your organization is fostering larger gifts and loyal supporters. Please share your experiences and other ways to feed donors.