Editor’s Note: I have the pleasure of hosting Dania Toscano Miwa for the first time in the IG Blog! Dania owns a consulting firm in the Twin Cities of Minnesota called Toscano Advisors. She has over ten years of experience working in the nonprofit sector. She is also the creator of Nonprofit Board Search, to encourage young professionals to find and serve on nonprofit boards of directors. And best of all, she was one of the top winners of the Twive and Receive fundraising competition! She’s amazing! Follow her!
1. Fundraising is about money.
No, in fact if you ask most donors, it’s not. Money is a means to an end. It’s really about the values your organization shares with the donor and their desire to see the organization’s mission fulfilled.
So tell stories, show success, be mission-driven, focus on the potential donor’s needs and values, and money will follow that flag.
2. It’s all about the Fundraiser.
There are fundraisers out there who boast about how much money they’ve raised. They’re the same types who use a lot of “I”s in communicating rather than “You”s. While any development person worth their salt will tell you building relationships with donors and stewardship matter. However, most donors give because they believe in the organization’s mission and feel needed by the organization. Long-term giving is not always determined by who you know, but by what the donor wishes to achieve.
3. Donors don’t want to hear from us.
Donor stewardship is one of the most critically overlooked pieces in fundraising today. The term donor stewardship can seem more complicated than it need be.
In the era of email and social media, quite a bit of contact can be made with donors, volunteers and other constituents without moves management software or a detailed ten-point plan. Sometimes a phone call to thank donors and to let them know about a special project, a successful event or an upcoming opportunity often opens up a dialogue and reengages them. The call can also reveal the donor contact preferences, with contact segmentation following. For example, some donors dislike phone calls but enjoy organizational updates via mail; others may wish to see an email newsletter or a printed one.
4. Only communicate with donors in the medium that they communicate with you.
There are some organizations that only contact donors online if the gift were made online. That is a mistake. Most people rarely stay only in one space or medium. It’s great to get an email confirming the receipt of a donor’s gift, but it’s even better to get, additionally, a personalized letter a week later, signed by a real human, thanking them. (This gets back to the stewardship ideas above.)
Moreover, if a donor gives online, that does not bar an organization from sending direct mail or calling the donor. Such extension of on-line gifts will actually result in higher levels of giving for most donors.
5. Organizations should only ask for money once a year.
NO! Always, always take opportunities to ask for money, time, in-kind, etc. on a number of occasions. Do not miss obvious and appropriate opportunities. We know, for example, that year-end solicitation of donors who have already given often increases overall donations by 10-20%.
Always ask respectfully, offering opportunity to participate in authentic support of organizations about which donors care. Soliciting donations is a very humanizing act and when done well should reinforce the relationship, not ever feel like donor arm-twisting.
Neurobiology tells us that a donation excites the pleasure sensors of the brain. Why only do so once a year? With monthly giving and sustaining programs, we shouldn’t thank people once a year, but open opportunities for communicating often, bearing in mind the contact preferences of the donors.