While in the good old days the MT and board members brought in the big money, knew all of their major donors and took care of their needs, nowadays major donors are mostly the responsibility of a fundraiser. And often this job is just one of the things he or she is taking care of. Fundraisers are struggling between the ‘bulk’, and the personal attention one special donor needs and definitely deserves.
But this is slowly changing: more and more NGO’s start to expand their fundraising team with dedicated fundraisers, solely focusing on the needs of major donors and legacy plegders, increasing the group of (potential) major donors. Some of the biggest NGO’s in Holland even have a whole team responsible for gifts from major donors, sometimes with the help of a prospect researcher. Major donor working-groups are being born, master classes are being followed, books are being read, agencies specialized in major gift fundraising are founded. Fundraisers transform into ‘Relationship manager’, or ‘Special gift advisor’, strategic plans on increasing major gift income are written. But, when all this hard work is done, at the end it comes back to the one thing it all started with: getting your leaders involved in your major donor fundraising. Why? Because, no matter how dedicated and trustworthy the fundraiser may be, at the end (or should I say, at the beginning of your major gift cycle) your best prospects want to talk to your board members, your directors, your ambassadors. (more…)
(Klik hier voor de Nederlandse versie)
A number of fundraising headlines have proclaimed the donor pyramid to be dead. And working in America, I hadn’t heard too much about it since my early days in fundraising (way back in the ’90s!) except an occasional chuckle and a “that old thing!” retort at its mention. It used to be that in America, where major gifts represent a large share of fundraising income, the pyramid could illustrate which 20% of donors contribute 80% of giving income.
But even before my time as a fundraising professional, the pyramid had already come to be seen as a very simplistic measure of success. So naturally, I too thought it was dead until I moved to the Netherlands, where it’s alive and kicking (and screaming). In fact the donor pyramid is not just alive here in the Netherlands – it is beloved.
Why exactly? Is it that the pyramid is actually so useful or is it that there are no good alternatives?
(Click here for the English version)
De donateurpiramide is in een groot aantal artikelen over fondsenwerving al vaak dood verklaard. Als fondsenwerver in de VS, heb ik er al vanaf de jaren negentig weinig meer over gehoord. Vroeger was het zo dat in Amerika -waar major gifts een groot deel van het totale fondsenwervingsinkomen uitmaken- de piramide een instrument was om te laten zien welke 20% van je donateurs 80% van je totale inkomsten vertegenwoordigt.
Maar al voor mijn werkzame tijd als fondsenwerver, werd de piramide beschouwt als een simplificatie van de werkelijkheid. Voor mij was de donateurpiramide dan ook morsdood. Totdat ik naar Nederland verhuisde waar de piramide ‘alive and kicking’ bleek. En niet alleen dát, maar hij is ook nog eens erg geliefd!
Waarom eigenlijk? Komt het omdat de piramide echt nuttig is of zijn er misschien geen goede alternatieven?
My mantra when communicating with major donors: phone first. Phone first. Ph f. (Soothing, isn’t it?)
Email and letters don’t allow for the bilateral conversations our donors and prospects deserve for their generosity. The best “touches” by phone aren’t end-games of trivial information or data collection, either. The goal of every call you make should be to begin, advance or deepen a new or long-term relationship between your prospect/donor, you the fundraiser, and your organization.
The secondary goal of every phone call is to move beyond the business at hand – the hook – to get your donor/prospect to articulate what they need from you to further engage with your organization. The language and approach can be the same for loyal donors and discovery prospects: “I welcome the opportunity to update you on where we stand today, and our goals for the year.”
Hey, did you hear the one about the donor who wanted his money back? In January Robert Burton, a longtime supporter of the University of Connecticut’s athletics program asked the school to return his $3 million gift. From all appearances, Burton’s disagreement with the school is profound, personal and insurmountable.
He plans to cease all support to the University. Burton wants the family’s name removed from the “Burton Family Football Complex”, he won’t renew his luxury suite at the football field ($50,000/year), he won’t purchase an advertisement in the football program ($8,000/year), and he will cease funding a summer coaching clinic to the tune of $20K per year. Finally, he requested the funds from his two endowed scholarships transferred from athletics to the business school.
Certainly this is a problem that brewed for some time. Can any amount of customer service on the part of UCONN fix the relationship between it and the Burton family? It seems unlikely. It’s not unheard of that donor relationships sour to the point that a donor requests the return of his gift, but this level of acrimony is uncommon. Occasionally someone other than the donor requests a return of funds.
Years ago when I stepped on the tee box to play my first round of golf, I assumed success. My swing, short game and putting were decent after months of practice at the driving range. But that day my game never took off to even be able to fall apart. I knew the rules and had reliable shots – all the necessarytransactions to the game. I did not, however, know the etiquette of golf: the social behaviours that enhance the experience and sport, and expose a novice like I was then. I talked. A lot. I constantly walked in front of others’ lines on the green, and my club must still be at the bottom of that pond. Of course I was never invited out by that group again. In recreational golf, technique is necessary as a point of entry but is not enough.Values-based behaviour is as important to succeeding at the game as having a consistent fairway shot. (more…)