Every few years, a study is done. What is your worst fear….Americans are asked? Death, naturally. But, that ranks third. Second. Public speaking. The number one fear…. fundraising. Since so many people fear fundraising, it is understandable that many Board members and staff members are resistant to it.
Part of that fear comes from a lack of knowledge and a lack of experience.
Jane Ratzlaff of the Glacier National Park Conservancy, speaking from her 30+ years of fundraising experience, led the attendees of our recent Brown Bag workshop through the science behind fundraising. Her experience has been in both sizable development offices with large fundraising staff and in a small nonprofit organization where she was the single staff member. In each position she has held, she worked to build a fund development program that would outlive her, other staff and Board members. She could do this because of her knowledge of the fundraising discipline.
After quick comments on the necessity of annual gifts and planned gifts, she then focused on major giving and the relationship building vital to receiving a major gift. First, she shared where a major gift comes from. One study of major gifts of $25,000 and above showed that 75% of donors gave SMALL for their first gift to the nonprofit; that is, $250 or less. In fact, the major gift was simply the last of a long string of smaller gifts. 83% of donors who gave $25,000 or above spent the first five years of their relationship to the nonprofit giving small gifts. Major gifts come from donors who come to an organization as annual givers.
Next, Ratzlaff outlined the process and spent time digging into each step: identification, research, strategy, information, cultivation and involvement, preparation, asking, follow-up and stewardship. Along each of the steps, she emphasized the necessity in determining the donor’s desire to give the organization, creating more opportunities for the donor to be more engaged in the organization’s work and learning and honoring what the donor cares about. Each step – along with all of this information – must be documented in a donor database system. This way, the relationship to the organization can be maintained with the donor even as staff and Board members come and go.
Finally, Ratzlaff ended the presentation with encouragement. One key piece of encouragement she gave was: Be Proud! Fundraising is letting donors who care about the work be involved. For that, we should be proud.
If you would like a copy of the PowerPoint presentation, please email us.