Look on the Inside – Part Three of a Four Part Series

If you could look into the fundraising crystal ball for 2019, what would you discover? I asked several experts in the nonprofit fundraising field and collected a goldmine of wisdom to share with you. Response was so overwhelming that I organized the content into four parts: The EssentialsBreaking Old HabitsLook on the Inside, and Making It Personal.

Part Three of this series turns to trends and tips for internal operations and processes that can impact the success of your 2019 fundraising.

  • Use technology to nurture monthly giving. Claire Axelrad, of Clairification, says, “Stop ignoring the technology revolution. It's changed the way people communicate and the way they conduct financial transactions. So... what's the most important online strategy to consider adding to your toolbox in 2019? How about using technology to nurture monthly giving? We know monthly donors renew at a rate of 90%, vs. 46% for all donors. It almost seems fundraising malpractice not to have a robust monthly giving program given this data! Just be sure to also build a “Donor Love & Loyalty” plan so you connect regularly with these donors who are giving regularly. The foundation of all sustainable fundraising is a value-for-value exchange.”
  • Make recurring giving your foundation. Tim Kachuriak, president of NextAfter, also believes in focusing on monthly giving. “Recurring giving remains a significant opportunity for many organizations and should be a focus for 2019,” he says. “As response rates continue to decline, and costs to acquire new donors are on the rise, the value of securing donors that give on a regular, automated basis cannot be matched. However, as we found in our 2018 Nonprofit Recurring Giving Benchmark Study, most organizations still have far to go to make their recurring program the foundation of their annual fund.”
  • Divide up fundraising responsibilities to conquer them. Greg Warner of MarketSmart points out that fundraisers (especially major and legacy gift officers) have been asked to do too much. “Nonprofits that are separating the tasks of identifying, qualifying, and engaging prospects by assigning different staff to each task are experiencing exceptional results. In this arrangement, a Lead Outreach Associate (not a Gift Officer) first engages the identified prospects to qualify them and invite them into a deeper relationship. Then they arrange highly qualified meetings for the Gift Officers. This division of labor is exponentially more effective. Plus it improves employee satisfaction since ‘getting the right people in the right seats on the bus’ is essential for overall organizational health.”
  • Devote time and energy to major gifts. Claire Axelrad believes nonprofits should invest more in major individual fundraising. She says, “Eighty percent of all giving comes from individuals. And major gifts are by far the most cost-effective form of fundraising. Organizations of all sizes can do this! Take a course, read a book, or just do some online research if you don’t know where to begin. It’s not rocket science. Raising $1 million from a handful of major donor-investors (who you’ll be able to steward and keep loyal over time) is simply easier – and more sensible -- than trying to raise $1 from a million supporters.”

The trends and tips contributed by fundraising experts in this series are not complicated. They take persistence and dedication. Dig out your fundraising plan, or if you don’t have one, develop one and put it in writing. And most importantly — stick to the plan. In the words of Eleanor Roosevelt, “It takes as much energy to wish as it does to plan.”

Next up, Part Four: Making It Personal

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I discovered something special in writing this series of articles. There is a wonderful kindred spirit alive and well within the fundraising and marketing community. We are blessed to be a part of a world where even competitors can collaborate and do good for the sake of doing good. My heartfelt thanks to Tom AhernClaire AxelradLuAnne BellAnne BoyleLauren BrownsteinVanessa ChaseAmy EisensteinEva JannottaSimone JoyauxTim KachuriakAndrea KihlstedtLaura PasternakBrian SooySteven Shattuck and Greg Warner.