By Lisa Alvezi • May 21, 2021

    GRAVYTY FUNDRAISING ACADEMY: Stop Doing Your Homework Part 2

    GRAVYTY FUNDRAISING ACADEMYThis post comes from the Gravyty Fundraising Academy, a series that examines how fundraisers adapt and strategize to evolve what's possible through philanthropy.

    Gravyty Fundraising Academy: Lisa AlveziYour 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.


    Stop Doing Your Homework Part 2: Red Flags & More

    In last week's 
    Gravyty Fundraising Academy, I attempted to convince you to stop doing your homework. The point of that post was to know when it's time to stop doing your research and start reaching out to your donors. This week's academy post is all about wrapping up the homework checklist and getting beyond analysis paralysis.

    Here's what I look for regarding giving history, lifetime engagement, and red flags before reaching out.


    Giving History

    You'll want to look for the obvious stuff – last gift, most significant gift, lifetime giving, years of giving, outstanding pledges, and projects funded/supported. 

    However, it's worth digging a layer deeper to review a copy of the gift documentation. Why? Because here's what you can uncover:

    • If the gift is from a couple, you can see who signed the check or whose credit card was used. Knowing this gives you a hint into who needs to be involved in the giving conversations and who has to be present to make decisions.
    • If the gift comes from a trust account, that could indicate protecting an estate from inheritance taxes (currently, federal estate taxes kick in at $11.7 million). A quick check here might help you increase your ask amount.
    • If the gift comes directly from a donor's retirement account, you'll know exactly when to talk about estate planning and planned gifts. Also, this generally means that contributions aren't taxed, which can be another reason to consider increasing the gift. 

    Engagement with Your Organization

    Do they attend events? If so, what kind(s) – sports, performing arts, lifelong learning, black-tie galas?  

    Do they volunteer for specific interests? Whether helping with the community food pantry, being the usher at children's storytime, or doing some grunt work at the annual grounds clean-up – gratitude goes a long way. It's also worth asking if they could bring others in to help and get involved in the organization. 

    Red Flags

    Finally, before you reach out to a donor, you want to check for red flags. Here's my shortlist of red flags:

    • "Will not give" is noted in the donor database – unless I know better than the database, I leave these alone.
    • Donor is in federal prison – beyond being difficult to reach, they might have other things on their mind, and their assets may be frozen.
    • Warning on file due to health concern – if the donor has told you directly about the health concern, it's only human to reach out, but not for a solicitation. Be a human. But if you are only finding out about the health concern because of the database, consider how the donor would receive that message.

    That's it. That's the list. If you're stuck in analysis paralysis, combine the first part of this list with the second half and stop. You've done as much homework as you need to do. You are ready to reach out. Go for it.

    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.



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