Pressure from leadership to raise major gifts ASAP?
Inadequate staff resources?
Leaders who don’t understand the importance of building a pipeline of donors?
Programs, processes, and systems not in place to attract new donors and move them up the giving ladder?
Data that doesn’t identify future major gift prospects?
When all the buzz is about million dollar+ fundraising campaigns, it’s sometimes a stretch to drum up a whole lot of enthusiasm for $100, $500, or $1,000 to your annual fund.
I understand. With millions to raise, gifts like the above just don’t help very much. Besides, what are your chances that you’re going to get that same donor to give another gift in the same year. That’s a legitimate concern.
All that having been said, it’s my job to talk with our clients about building annual fund programs that grow year over year. And the way that’s done is by paying attention to the pipeline. What donors are ready, willing, and able to move up along the donor pyramid (or pipeline, if you prefer) to become mid-level and major donor supporters of your cause?
Remember the goal is to have a balanced program that identifies new prospects, qualifies their interests and capacity and encourages a smooth transition into major gifts. This is done every day…not just when desperation sets in.
At Rescigno’s, we understand the organizational challenges in trying to achieve these goals; not enough staff resources, lack of best practice programs, uncertainty as to how to measure success, lack of data requirements that allow you to use information effectively, lack of a system to communicate, not enough buy-in from your administration.
One of the best indicators of an organization’s health is a look at its pipeline. How’s yours doing?
Try cross-training annual giving, event and research staff by inviting them to your major gift meetings to learn and contribute to the discussion regarding prospect identification and qualification.
Put in place a system where new donors are wealth screened regularly and then passed on to qualification or major gift staff.
Develop a stewardship plan for new lower-level donors who have greater capacity potential.
The largest gift Rescigno’s has ever heard about from one of its clients was for $80 million. The individual’s first gift was through a direct mail appeal. I’ll bet if you looked back at your largest donors, I’m sure you’d find a very similar pattern.
I’m sure you have thoughts on this subject and I encourage you to add them here.