Do You Really Know Your Donors?
I’ve been thinking lately about being on the other side of the cultivation and ask.
As a (minor) major gift prospect for my alma maters, and some other organizations, I experience what it feels like to be the donor. After so many years of asking, it sometimes feels weird to be asked.
Reflecting on fundraising communications I have received, both in person and electronically, makes me wonder about a few issues:
- Are we—in the roles of major gift cultivators and solicitors—up to date on our prospective donors' basic demographics?
- Have we looked over public posts the person has made concerning interests and accomplishments? (Not to necessarily reference them, but to be aware of in selecting topics, for example.)
- Do we know what the person has done for the organization in the past—volunteering, donating, soliciting, cultivating, etc.?
- How sensitive are we about what time of day works best for older donors?
- Do we regularly update and respect the preferred contact information of our donors?
- How aware are we of life issues that may affect gift timing or amounts?
- Do we relate our case to the concerns of the donor and ideally the donor’s family?
- Are we brief, to the point, and respectful of the donor’s time?
- Do we follow up promptly and check back later as appropriate whatever the outcome of the call?
If I had my career to do over again, I’d pay even more attention to these concerns.
Want to learn more?
The Alliance for Strong Families and Communities’ Organizational Advancement Resource Solutions (OARS) Alliance Peer Exchange Group is hosting a free webinar (approved for CFRE credit). The webinar Mapping the Business Model to Increase Fund Development will be held Thursday, June 23, 2016 at 1 p.m. CT. View full details and register online.
The interactive webinar will be presented by Steven D. Zimmerman, principal of Spectrum Nonprofit Services, and Dan Magnuson, CEO of Alliance member Lad Lake in Dousman, Wisconsin.
Take advantage of the Alliance's OARS offerings:
- One-on-one speed consulting with the group's advisory members
- Webinars, teleconferences, or workshops
- Fund development training manual
- Email discussion group for getting your questions answered
About the Author
Len Iaquinta is president of Excellence in Communications in Kenosha, Wis. He is a member of the Resource Organizational Advancement Resource Solutions Committee.
He is known for the breadth of his skill set and his depth of experience in nonprofit fundraising. Throughout his fund development career, he has raised millions of dollars in major gifts, grants, and annual fund donations. He has created successful fundraising programs at public and private institutions from New York City to Milwaukee and Chicago.
Iaquinta earned his bachelor's and master's degrees in journalism from Northwestern University (Medill School) and Columbia University in the City of New York (Pulitzer School), respectively.