How do you attract the best donors to your nonprofit organization? The right donor can help an organization change the world. The wrong donor can cost you valuable time, resources, and reputation. Here’s why I’m qualified to share a key donor development system. I’ve spent the last 25 years working with senior leaders and entrepreneurs around the globe. I’ve interviewed over 16,000 leaders of businesses and nonprofits over this time. Of this number, over 8,000 are millionaires and at least 50 have a net worth in excess of $100,000,000. Several appear on the Forbes 400 list on a regular basis. I’d like to share my system in hopes of helping you find your next big donor.
I will share system that helps you successfully recruit the right donors to your organization. I have seen this system help turn organizations around and provide significant value to the development process.
The first step is to do your research. I’m always amazed at how little time is invested in better understanding the people my nonprofits are approaching. I might spend several hours researching a potential donor before I approach them. I don’t do this for every donor but on any gift request over $25,000 I do, and so should you. The more you do this the better you get at it. Today, my research tool of choice is Google. I tend to Google almost everyone I meet. It’s fascinating what you can learn from a simple Google search. I look at the first several entries but I then go several pages deep to uncover more about the leaders. I find several interesting facts on the later listings that might reveal more about who they are than their resumes or corporate bios. The later entries also provide me with more facts about who they know and what their hobbies and interests might be. I also try to uncover potential connections we share that might be able to warm up my call.
The second step is to learn more about how the person has acquired their current position. I look for clues to the person’s drives and ambition. I review their educational background or the lack of said background. I look to uncover articles the person may have written. I try to understand how they see the world. How much of their success comes from hard work and competitiveness? How is their industry set up and how long have they been in the field. During this phase I look to better understand the organizations they work for. I have discovered most leading organizations have a corporate culture and by unlocking this key I’m able to understand how this person works with others. If the person founded the business they work for it will provide me a significant understanding of what this person values and how they see the world. There are many great resources to help you build a better understanding of the people we are going to talk with. Few people have the ability to truly understand someone without spending time on researching who that person is and what they’ve accomplished.
Come back on Thursday to learn the last step in the process, approaching the potential big donor.
Tripp Braden is a Funding Strategist, working with nonprofits to increase their funding options and optimize their revenues by building on their strengths. He can be reached at email@example.com.
So how does a nonprofit deal with a changing economic environment? As you know, I spend my time meeting with many interesting people around the country talking about how to build and lead successful nonprofit organizations. With all of the ups and downs in the economy, I thought it might be helpful to bring in a person who understands these economic cycles and how it’s impacting your fundraising activities. I was lucky to find someone who had a strong background in investments while also understanding the environment we all work in. I met Eric Nager and after several in-depth discussions, discovered he had a passion for building winning teams, as well as having an understanding of what options are available to help you, the nonprofit leader better understand how to manage and leverage your fundraising opportunities. We felt that a good starting point would be a discussion of what’s happening in the current economic environment.
On Thursday this week he will present his first blog for Developing Serving Leaders. Please take time to review his biography before Thursday and read his blog. Let us know what you think. I know it will be worth your time.
Here’s a bit of Eric’s professional biography. Eric Nager is an Investment Advisor Representative with Southern Capital Services. He received his MBA from the University of South Alabama and a Masters in History from Harvard. Mr. Nager is a Lieutenant Colonel in the US Army Reserve and has been with Southern Capital for the past 12 years He’s author of Checklist for Checkmate: 15 Keys to Building a Successful Team. He can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org or at 251.626.1140
As we talked last week about how passionate you are about your nonprofit’s mission, vision, values, did you find yourself reenergized about your organization’s potential? If you are a leader in your organization, it’s very easy to share your story with others with similar interests and values. I find this may be the easiest piece for the serving leader to accomplish. We’ll talk in later blogs about how to share your story better. Discussions on marketing, public relations, and storytelling will be a large part of our postings here over the next several months.
One of the major success factors for your nonprofit is your people. In Jim Collin’s book, “Good to Great,” he spends significant time on your people. In his booklet, “Good to Great and the Social Sectors,” he calls them resources. I’ll share what I’ve uncovered over the years of working with successful organizations around the world. Some of my clients are social sector businesses and some are not. The greatest commonality I can find among all the great organizations is that they get that people part of process.
People provide you the greatest joy and the great challenge when it comes to building a breakthrough organization. Now, how do you get the right people doing the right things at the right time? This sounds simple, right? The first key element is to assess your current team. Look at what they currently do and in what they should be investing their time. During this process, you must understand what you want your people to do. They must be clear on what is expected of them, and how it fits into the overall success of the organization. Now the challenging part is they must not only have the capability to do what’s needed, but they must also become excellent at it. Nonprofits today are trying to leverage their resources to the greatest extent possible. In the case of nonprofits, this also includes volunteers, part time professional help, and partner organizations. All these people must clearly understand what is expected of them and how they are part of a larger organization. I’m often surprised how often these critical elements of your team are left out of major conversations. For many of us, they may be the only person our patrons and members interact with on a normal basis. I’m sure you’ve had the experience of having visitors onsite and the only person available to talk with them is one of your non-customer facing volunteers. There is an uncomfortable silence while the visitors wait for the help that never comes.
Having the people in the right place is critical to your organization’s success. It also means creating opportunities for people to use their own strengths and life experiences to make their time with your organization an enjoyable experience. We want our teams to love their work and we want them to be good at it. Clearly defined roles allow people to get good at what they do, incorporating their strengths into their role can help make them great. As leaders, we’re responsible for developing our team’s capabilities. We can create greater interest in working with nonprofits by providing ongoing training and mentoring for employees and volunteers. The time you invest in people will pay off in both better performance and in providing significant capabilities to your team.
I will share my thinking next week talking about hiring, developing, and retaining great team members. This is a critical element in helping to take your organization to the next level. I’ve interviewed over 16,000 senior leaders across the globe and have some great tips and ideas to make sure you make your next hire a great one. See you next week.
I know your nonprofit faces changes from every direction in this economic environment. Are you facing some of these challenges?
• Doing more with less money
• Decreasing donations for increasing needs
• Aging donor base
• Next generation stakeholders who want a different relationship with nonprofits
• Global competition for donations
• Uncertain tax legislation slowing or freezing corporate and large gift patrons
• Competing with large nonprofits with sophisticated and automated giving programs
• Increasing costs for developing and printing marketing and collateral materials to support your mission, vision, and values.
• Increasing noise and exposure to a wide variety of fundraising messages through social media and traditional marketing channels
All these factors have contributed to the decline of nonprofits. For many leaders, these environmental changes have accelerated the decline and ultimate death of their organizations. So how are you dealing with these fundraising challenges? One of our core principles is that fundraising is dead. We believe that you’ll need a plan for marketing and communications to continue to be successful.
With all these challenges, it’s no wonder you feel overwhelmed. I’ve discovered several key success factors that successful nonprofit organizations share. If you have these key elements in place it will make it easier to share your organization’s message. Without these elements, your message could get lost in the crowd. These elements come from Jim Collin’s book Good to Great and the Social Sectors.
If you’re not familiar with this monograph, you might want to grab a copy of it. For less than $10.00 at Amazon or Barnes and Noble online, you can get a great overview on how to apply the Good to Great lessons to your organization. I’ll be sharing several key concepts from the book in my next blog here at Developing Serving Leaders. I’ve used both the book and monograph Good to Great to help many of my more successful clients take their efforts to the next level. I’ve found if you don’t have a solid foundation in place, no level of marketing and communications strategy can help you build an outstanding organization.
In my experience, many organizations have several of the key elements in place but have been unsuccessful in getting the synergies they need to take their organizations to the next level. Counterintuitively the more elements they have in place the less likely they will become great organizations. So, come back and keeping reading my blog to learn the strategies you need to take your organization from Good to Great.