Mid-sized and small organizations often say they want, no – they need – to raise more money. Any consultant worth her salt could probably find two or three lost opportunities. What Donations Are You Missing? Here are a few examples.
Most nonprofits understand the significance of researching a new donor to uncover giving history, gift size and areas of interest. From time to time, consideration may be given to a bulk screening, but do you use research to examine existing or potential, new donors?
Let’s face it, expanding your donor base is always attractive. What organization wouldn’t want to focus all their efforts here?
Always start by looking at existing donors. Prospect research will help you know who has potential to give a larger gift – much easier to achieve and less time consuming than finding a new donor. Even if some of these donors had been screened when they first donated, many of your donors may have not been reviewed in years. What has changed? Who has sold a company, inherited wealth or changed giving habits?
Another bonus is that your prospect research will cost you less with a higher rate of return since you will be looking into a pre-determined, finite set of names with philanthropic connections to the organization instead of casting a huge net and hoping for a few fish to find your bait attractive.
Potential donors left waiting
A board member introduces an older man to the E.D. with a whisper, “He is a potential volunteer with real deep pockets and a great network.” What are your next steps? If you can’t answer right away, you have probably missed quite a few opportunities—people lost by a lack of immediate engagement (good volunteers with money don’t stay unattached for long).
You need a plan in place that tells you what you should be doing to engage any new potential donor or volunteer. The name will then be handed to _________ (Development Staff, President of the Board, Nominations Committee Chair, Volunteer coordinator, or other relevant person). A call is to be placed within x number of days with an invitation to an ________(an upcoming event)_________.
A simple pre-established process will also make sure that the board member won’t feel like they are constantly hearing the whine about how many new donors the organization needs, while knowing full well that there was this huge, missed opportunity. And, it eliminates any procrastination that may occur because you don’t know if there really is any potential or not and you have too many things to do that week as it is. We have been there, but the best way to meet the requirement to raise more money is not to leave any potential on the table.
Overwork your board
Does your board have enough members or are you hesitant to ask the board to take on any new business (as they are already working over capacity)?
Your board is filled with the volunteers who care most about your organization. If you have a small, over-worked board, they really, really care about your organization – otherwise they would not be as involved as they are. But that is not sustainable – from either the staff or board perspective. Instead, work with the board to expand itself – not out of desperation but out of unseen promise that you would like to realize before the organization is overstrained.
Happy board members give more- willingly, and more often. Expand that pool and you are increasing your base for now and into the future.
Let us know if we can help you increase your capacity, establish donor plans or help you expand your board by contacting David A. Mersky