Last week, I spent three days at the Georgia Education Advancement Council conference at Brasstown Valley Resort. As always, it was a pleasure to see so many development professionals from across the state, but the highlight for me was co-presenting with Sue Chipman of SBC Nonprofit Consulting. Our session, Everything Old is New Again, may have seemed like an odd choice for a conference with the theme Higher Innovation: Are You Ready to Think Outside the Box? but someone had to warn the attendees about becoming too enamored with get-rich quick fundraising strategies!
In our attempts to make all our fundraising activities go viral, we are ignoring the fundamentals of sustainable fundraising that have not changed, even in the face of social media, crowd funding, and altruistic philanthropy:
- Your best prospects are your current donors. You should focus more time on stewardship and retention activities than on donor acquisition efforts like crowd funding.
- The vast majority of philanthropic dollars come from individuals, not corporations or foundations. We know institutional funders like to hear about impact, but if you want to leverage the power of the individual donor, you should be telling stories that highlight what donors make possible, not what your organization has accomplished.
- The majority of your donated dollars (80-90%) will come from a small percentage of your supporters (10-20%). Chasing millions of small gifts is neither efficient nor sustainable. Successful fundraising programs are based on a major gifts process of identifying and developing donors whose philanthropic goals can be met with supporting your organization.
Fundraising is not rocket science, but if you want to build a sustainable program, you do have to get out of your (computer) box and into the field where you can develop the types of relationships with donors that lead to real success. What are you going to do today to take steps to build a sustainable development program?