This post was originally published in 2016.
At Spokes, we have been surprised – and impressed – by the number of nonprofit boards that have chosen to spend their summer completing strategic plans for their organizations. We know it’s not an easy choice to make when the sun is shining and the beach is only a few miles away. And, yet, we also know the vital role that strategic planning plays in the success and longevity of organizations. So, for all of you who have stepped up to the plate instead of into the sand, we commend you! Please find a refreshing drink with an umbrella and toast yourself as soon as possible!
In most of the strategic plans that Spokes’ consultants have helped create, there is a consistent theme of setting goals to increase revenues through major gifts. Even though evidence proves the value of major gift fundraising over event fundraising and other forms of development, lots of folks are terrified by it. It can be daunting to directly ask another person to make a significant gift to your organization. We understand and want to help you overcome your fears and successfully execute your strategic goals.
Kim Klein is a well-known and regarded fundraising expert who specializes in fundraising for smaller grassroots organizations, similar to most of Spokes’ members. In her two-part series published in the February 2016 issue of Nonprofit Quarterly, “Starting a Major Gifts Program,” Klein shares personal strategies for overcoming her own fear of asking folks for money. Her quick tips: remember that “feelings are not facts”. It may help to make a gift of your own so you stand “on firmer ground” when asking a donor to join you in making a gift.
Klein goes on to offer formulas and charts to guide you in determining how many gifts to seek and at what levels. Her experience tells her that, in healthy nonprofits:
- 10 percent of the donors give 60 percent of the income
- 20 percent of the donors give 20 percent of the income
- 70 percent of the donors give 20 percent of the income
In the second part of her series, Klein offers tips to help your nonprofit decide what types of benefits it will offer donors, what types of collateral/promotional materials to create to help solicit donors, and a few basic steps to take in cultivating and stewarding major gift donors – including sending a personal note with every mailing.
Read through Part I and Part II of the series for a quick “virtual” class in major gift solicitation. Use your strategic plan and ask donors to join you in reaching the goals you have set to better serve all those who rely on your nonprofit. If you don’t have a strategic plan, get in touch to learn about Spokes’ consulting services. This time next year, you’ll have lots of reasons for more tropical toasts!