Colin Hennigar, Associate Director, SickKids Foundation
How do you engage a group of young professional major gift donors? Listen to them.
Fundraisers are frequently challenged to grow their pipeline to secure major gifts, often with the expectation of a donation to be confirmed over a year or two. But what happens when you invest in laying the seeds of philanthropy in the next generation? Results.
When we asked what is important for young professionals who make a donation, over and above purchasing an event ticket, we directly heard that they want a tangible impact, exclusivity, and networking opportunities. Solicitations for unrestricted funds don’t often appeal to this group – they want to know how their donation will make an impact. They want to meet the experts who will use their donation. They also want to be part of something bigger than themselves. They want to look around the room and see like-minded philanthropists who are all at the same stage in life and have rallied together to make a difference. They want to share their involvement with their peers and get them engaged as well. We see this in donors who come together to build a house or school or participate in a team fundraising event, but now we’re starting to see it in major gifts programs.
What we’re doing at SickKids Foundation is challenging young professionals to think big – to make an investment through a program that will see them surrounded by their peers, that will give them access to the organization’s leadership, and that will allow them to make a collective impact. The result of listening to this demographic is SickKids Innovators which saw 20 individuals invest $100,000 in an underfunded priority of the hospital last year.
Access to the hospital’s leadership and exclusive experiences isn’t free. In terms of stewarding this group of young professional donors, we do have to bend the rules or adapt the conventional donor matrix to develop meaningful events and opportunities. What we have to keep in mind is that we listen to what will engage this group. As they progress in their careers, with the philanthropic seeds planted, their involvement can expand to additional gifts through cause marketing campaigns or third party events enhancing their commitment to the organization.
Today, fundraisers need to adapt our traditional ways of engaging donors, especially as we work with groups of like-minded philanthropists, such as young professionals. What we need to do is listen, create, engage and then wait patiently for the results, if not today, then definitely tomorrow.
Colin Hennigar is an Associate Director on the Major Gifts Team at SickKids Foundation. Prior to joining SickKids Foundation in 2010, Colin held a number of roles at the Royal Ontario Museum Governors Office. Colin graduated from the University of Toronto with a Double Major in Fine Art History and Classical Civilizations and a Master’s Degree in Museum Studies. He will be speaking at Fundraising Day 2014 on May 28th in Toronto. You can follow Colin on Twitter @travellercolin
Robert C. Osborne, Jr., Principal, The Osborne Group, Inc.
If you go to any crowdfunding platform and search past the featured projects on the home page you’ll see that many, if not most of these projects are well behind in their goals. Sometimes it is because the project
isn’t a very compelling one, sometimes it is because the media associated with project isn’t very well done, and sometimes it’s because the rewards aren’t well thought out. But I would argue that in almost all cases the real underlying reason for lack of success is a lack of planning.
Here are some tips for successful crowdfunding:
If you build it they will NOT come – If you simply throw up a crowd funding project on IndieGoGo or some other crowdfunding website and hope that people will stumble across it and give, you are in for disappointment. This pretty much never happens. You need to drive people to your project and this takes a little thought and planning.
Think through your media – Having good pictures and video for your crowdfunding campaign is critical. Take the time to think through what your messages are. Remember that you want to talk about future impact. What will be different in the world tomorrow because I gave money to your project today? Read more »
Emma Lewzey, CFRE, Senior Major Gifts Officer, St. Michael’s Hospital Foundation
If you work in a small or mid-size shop, there is a clear path to stability and sustainability for your organization. You need to focus on the right donors: individual donors. Now, don’t get me wrong – corporate gifts, special events, and foundation grants can all play an important role in a balanced and diversified fundraising program.
The reality is that individual donors give the vast majority of philanthropic gifts – here in Canada, the latest available stats show that 71% of donations come from individuals, followed by foundations at 16%, and corporations at 11%. If you are like most small to mid-size organizations you and/or your team are probably spread pretty thin – you’re wearing multiple hats, and have a diverse range of responsibilities in your portfolio. And chances are, you’re not spending 71% of your fundraising time and resources focusing on individuals. Read more »
Alan Clayton, Director, Clayton Burnett Ltd.
If it doesn’t, I’m leaving.
Human emotions are complicated and infinite in their variety and combinations. I was asked recently by a journalist ‘Does guilt have a place in fundraising?’ I asked her, ‘please define guilt.’ When she failed to do so, I politely declined the interview. Of course guilt has a place in fundraising as does every emotion that anyone is capable of experiencing and transmitting.
‘Guilt’ is only a hair’s breadth away from ‘pity,’ which in itself is only a razor’s width away from ‘compassion.’ Only a judgmental fool would try and define the difference and preach to us which of our emotions is acceptable and which is not. What I feel as guilt, you may feel as compassion and someone else may feel as religious duty. We are all right.
For fundraising to succeed, and for donors to have the experience of it they deserve, a gamut of emotions is involved. The donor journey is a repeating loop of:
• ‘Reward’ emotion.
• ‘Need’ emotion.
• (rational pause to check out the facts.)
The power of the need emotion is the cause of much controversy, of course. It’s a debate we should have widely in our sector. I look forward to it. Read more »
Judith Nichols, Ph.D., CFRE
Author, Consultant, New Directions in Philanthropy
Looking for new donors? Trying to hold on to the donors you have? Understanding who’s in your donor pool – or who should be – is the first step to growing a larger, more loyal group of supporters.
Fundraisers are beginning to recognize the need to market differently to audiences with different backgrounds using demographics and psychographics to uncover similarities and differences among potential donors:
– Demographics: Demographics are sets of characteristics about people that relate to their behavior as consumers. Age, sex, race, marital status, education and income are used most frequently.
– Psychographics: These are measures of attitudes, values or lifestyles. They are the entire constellation of a person’s attitudes, beliefs, opinions, hopes, fears, prejudices, needs, desires and aspirations that, taken together, govern how he/she behaves. This, in turn, finds holistic expression in a lifestyle. Read more »
Ann Rosenfield, MBA, CFRE
Executive Director, The WoodGreen Foundation
Pssst! Small shop fundraisers. Want to hear a secret? While you and I can list 101 disadvantages to being in a small shop, there are HUGE and I do mean HUGE advantages to being small.
So disadvantage reason #96 is I have to run all my own tax receipts and stuff the envelopes personally. But that is also a HUGE advantage for several reasons. Thanks to the relatively small volume of gifts:
- I can actually hand sign all of the tax receipts
- I know the name of pretty much every single donor to my organization
- I easily affix live postage stamps to all tax receipts Read more »
Jennifer Auten, Resource Development Communications Amnesty International
I’m the first to admit that fundraising often doesn’t make sense to me. As a professed perfectionist with a Communications background, I tend to get excited about slick-looking, brief creative. In other words, it’s a good thing I’m not responsible for our Direct Mail program.
Fundraising laughs in the face of our assumptions. Here we are in this so-called paperless digital age, attached to smart phones that we rarely use as phones, and yet, where do we find our new donors? On the street, at their doors, in their mailboxes and (gasp!) on the phone. Read more »
President and CEO, e=mc2 events
As the need for fundraising occurs with greater frequency, so too does the need for unique fundraising strategies. We have gained an appreciation that – when it comes to fundraising, we need to be doing more than just asking people to reach into their pockets. Guests are attending event after event and they need to understand the difference from one to the next.
We’ve identified the three ‘e’s’ of fundraising to help generate the maximum revenues and impact. None of the “e”s are new concepts, but we have noticed that when we can find ways to combine them all at the same time, the impact is significant.
- Emote – When we can create an emotional connection to the organization, guests are substantially more likely to want to contribute. It is important to understand the audience and draw on their emotions – by testimonials, impactful stories, visuals of successes of the organization, etc. It is important to think about what might resonate with each audience member and why. Read more »
KAREN OSBORNE, President, The Osborne Group
You’re really busy. You’re making final calls, visits and appeals as you try to bring in as many end-of-the-year gifts as possible. Of course, you sent out holiday cards. There are often office parties to go to as well. Whew. I know it’s a lot but I have one more “must do” to add to your list.
Provide meaningful, personal, WOW stewardship to donors, volunteers and internal partners.
Stewardship is more than well wishes. It’s more than thank you. It is sharing the impact of ALL of the gifts of time, talent, treasure, and introductions your peers, volunteers and donors provided. It is connecting them directly to the mission in personal ways. And for those special people who gave so much of themselves, it is making them say, “Wow, I truly feel appreciated and valued above and beyond anything I expected.”
- Take a colleague out for coffee to let her know how much she contributed to the year’s outstanding results even though she is not a direct fundraiser.
- Give your CEO and chair of the board a list of donors to call to say, “Thank you again for (fill in specifics and tie it to outcomes and impact).”
- Interview a beneficiary and film it using your smartphone. Email it to a donor with a note that says, “You helped make this happen. Thank you again for all you do for the people we serve.”
Make a list of all of the “personal capital” (human, intellectual, expertise, networks and financial) a volunteer contributed down one side of a piece of paper, and then the difference that was made as a result on the other side. Drop by or call and share the wonderful list.
Remember to make your stewardship:
~ Meaningful to the donor, colleague or volunteer
~ And focused on IMPACT
Everyone feels good when they know that (a) they made and difference and (b) someone noticed.
Karen is the President of The Osborne Group, Inc., an international management and training consultancy focused on NGO capacity building; all aspects of fund development including campaign planning and implementation; opinion research including donor satisfaction surveys and feasibility studies; and organizational management including board development and strategic planning. Follow Karen on Twitter @kareneosborne. Visit www.theosbornegroup.com for free podcasts, blog posts, webinars, videos and tools.
Chief Mind, Ahern Communications Ink.
Elevator Speech? Ride to Nowhere. It’s the wrong answer to a great question.
You know the premise. You’re on an elevator with someone else. And in the course of a short ride, you explain your nonprofit’s work so well that you convince your listener to embrace your cause.
To steal a line from Aaron Sorkin, “What could possibly go wrong?”
Well, for one thing, the conceit suggests an attentive audience. I.e., the other person shuts up and listens. Read more »