This post comes from the Gravyty Fundraising Academy, a series that examines how fundraisers adapt and strategize to evolve what's possible through philanthropy.
Your guide for the Gravyty Fundraising Academy is Director of Customer Success, Lisa Alvezi. Lisa has worked with countless fundraisers across Higher Education, Health Care, and Nonprofit organizations to transform fundraising. As a former frontline fundraiser herself, her goal is to help you see better results from your fundraising efforts.
Too many times, I've seen institutions focused on their capital campaign funding list versus what a donor wishes to support. Of course, as a fundraiser, you don't want to turn away a seven-figure gift for a project that fits your organization's mission because it isn't within the scope of your current capital campaign. But accepting this by default ignores donor intent and may place a premature ceiling on what a donor is willing to do for your organization.
Once you understand what motivates your donor, you can strategize with your internal development team about proposals that will meet both the donor's intent and your organization's needs. It's critical to use the donor cultivation stage to understand the motivation and develop the appropriate proposal(s) to present when it is time to make the ask.
How? The first step is to take a deep dive into their donor record.
- What programs have they supported financially in the past?
- Have they attended certain types of events?
- Is there a family legacy history with your organization? Are gifts made in memory or honor of someone else?
Once you have assembled those bits of information, it's time to have a discovery meeting with the donor about their specific interest in your organization.
- As a donor and as a person, what are your passions?
- Why are you passionate about this?
Rather than listing off your organization's needs, listen to their stories. It may feel unnatural, but trust me, there's a long game at play.
If you work in healthcare, perhaps your donor wishes to support the family vs. the patient experience. For example, they may want to fund a better waiting room experience or childcare for patients with children.
- At a school, the donor may wish to help students study abroad or attend professional conferences.
- In the arts and museum sectors, programs geared to children might be of interest vs. the new auditorium seats your organization wants.
- Now that you understand your donor's intent, I recommend having two to three proposals prepared to present to the donor that varies in the total dollar commitment. Expect some back and forth on the details and amount of a major gift proposal.
Donors give to what is near and dear to their hearts, not your institution's needs. Therefore, keep your donor's intent central in fundraising.
If you’d like to learn more about how artificial intelligence can empower your organization to have a culture of philanthropy, personally reach new donors, and inspire giving at scale, click the button below and let's connect.