This post comes from the Gravyty Fundraising Academy, a new 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.
Throughout the COVID-19 crisis, Gravyty has been surveying the fundraising community to help others understand these difficult times and identify insights that can be used to take immediate action. One of the most significant pieces of data we’ve found is that 85 percent of fundraisers believe they can influence the generosity of donors to make up for revenue gaps created by the crisis.
This does not surprise me. By nature, fundraisers are resilient and determined and in my work, I’m continually moved by their stories of success -- often driven by creativity and a desire to win, and do it with compassion. We all know fundraisers like this -- many of us give them the unofficial title of “Gifted Gift Officer” and joke that they seem to have an extra sense. I know from my experience as a fundraiser, the gifted gift officers who I looked up to always inspired me to be the very best I could be.
Creating Gifted Gift Officers
In uncertain times like these, the statistic I shared above proves that we (as fundraisers) have the mentality to influence giving to make up for the revenue gaps that our organizations are currently seeing. The next step is how. How do we each become gifted gift officers?
Let’s look at the traits of the gifted gift officer. It all seems to boil down to the fact that they know what’s going on with each of the donors they manage, know a positive next step to take with donors and prospects, and somehow manage to do more.
Becoming a gifted gift officer is not as difficult as you may fear. In fact, our survey findings suggest that 85 percent of all fundraisers out there have the first part down -- believing they can make a difference as they advocate for their organizations and missions.
Spreading The Gifted Gift Officer Culture
By not taking the job lightly, gifted gift officers clear a hurdle of resiliency that helps them put the mission first, even amid difficult times. Desire and determination make a huge difference in the relationships gift officers are able to build and the asks they are able to make. If you are a leader looking to spread a culture of gifted gift officers throughout your organization, you might consider asking your gifted gift officer to hold office hours with other fundraisers to address challenges in their current work -- or to have a weekly Q&A session with the team.
One gifted gift officer that comes to mind for me is John A. Farkas, Jr. of WVIA Public Media. When I first met John, he was a team of one, hired to revive WVIA’s major and planned giving programs. Knowing him, he’s certainly one of the 85% of fundraisers who believe they can make a difference and influence revenue through philanthropy. In fact, he manages a primary portfolio of 199 donors and spent about a year qualifying another 476 unassigned prospects. He reached each of these combined 675 donors and prospects with multiple personalized touchpoints throughout the year, essentially acting as a team of more than three.
Turn On The Super Powers
What’s unique about John is efficiency. Not only is he managing personalized touchpoints with an enormous amount of donors, but he’s also increasing giving from current donors and inspiring giving from previously unengaged prospects. John has the advantage of fundraiser enablement, powered by AI, to turn his natural gifted gift officer tendencies into a superpower.
With AI as a backbone and the drive to inspire WVIA’s supporters and members, John has the capacity to manage relationships in transformative ways. And it’s all because he’s tapping into the triggers that motivate him -- building relationships, connecting those relationships with the mission of WVIA Public Media, and staying on top of his game so he can make a difference for an organization that he cares deeply about. (READ MORE ABOUT JOHN AND WVIA PUBLIC MEDIA HERE).
Focus on the Believers
So, as you work to navigate these difficult times, focus on the believers within your organization. Fundraisers are an incredibly driven group who believe they can influence the generosity of donors -- even as we face an uncertain economy and a health crisis.
One empowered fundraiser can become a gifted gift officer, and that’s a culture that can quickly spread throughout an organization. When gifted gift officers are supported, the activities they can maintain, and the results they produce is almost unimaginable.
If you’d like to talk with me or the Gravyty team about how we’re helping customers stay nimble during this difficult time with fundraiser enablement, powered by artificial intelligence, click the button below to get in contact. We’re happy to show you how the right mix of strategy with the art and science of fundraising can elevate your efforts.