Have you recently found yourself in charge of running or developing your organization’s annual fund campaign? Are you looking at ways to bolster your annual support? Do you ever wonder if your organization is pursuing the most effective path to securing annual gifts?
What’s the most effective way to raise money? Special events, direct mail, phone calls? The reality that many board members of nonprofit organizations often find difficult to confront is that face-to-face visits remain the most effective strategy for fundraising, far outpacing special events, direct mail and telephone calls. Personal visits for fundraising fall into three main categories: discovery, cultivation, and solicitation. My family and I enjoy visiting a South Texas museum and observing the enthusiasm and energy of younger visitors. On Saturday mornings, you’ll see many children lining up to participate in the museum’s Treasure Hunt. This popular activity for children and families sends participants scurrying through every part of the museum to find answers to questions related to the dazzling and informative displays. In addition to more knowledge about science and history, the finishers receive prizes. Discovery visits with donors interested in your organization resemble the Treasure Hunt, although the stakes are higher. The key to a donor Treasure Hunt is to search and uncover donors with values compatible with your mission and your organization. When donors make a gift to your organization, they are saying in a very tangible way that your mission reflects their values. As shared values between you and your donor increase, so also does giving. Why should you conduct discovery visits? Many organizations lack a clear understanding of the values of their donors—the information they have now doesn't give a clear picture of the donor’s philanthropic interests and how those interests might be fulfilled by the organization’s own values, vision, and strategic plans. Thus, discovery visits provide an enjoyable and highly productive way to identify a donor’s giving priorities and values and learn how the interests of both the donor and the organization can be realized. Discovery visits accomplish three objectives:
In recent years, the feverish pitch in the search for funds has created a dangerous behavior called “grant getting.” Finding monies through grants has led many a fund seeker to shortcut the proposal process by “cutting and pasting” words and phrases on a grant application without regard to where the information came from. The focus has been on getting the grant, and nothing else. This “grant getting” behavior will have to change, however, or the consequences could be severe.
It’s easy to waste a lot of money very quickly with direct mail. The cost of the “package” as well as postage costs can soon exceed the income and benefits of any program. Here are 14 questions that may help focus your direct mail and make the effort successful for you and your organization.
I know that fundraising is my vocation because I can never pass up an opportunity to contribute to an organization’s development efforts. Such was the case with a fledgling not-for-profit group to which I belong. They are a dedicated support group for families of children born with a certain birth defect. Their president is a devoted volunteer but, when it came time to raise money, she had the good sense to go looking for help.