Last week, Giving USA shared its long-awaited report, Giving USA 2019: The Annual Report on Philanthropy for the Year of 2018. In this post, we not only share a synopsis of giving trends from the report, but as always, we provide actionable steps you can take to keep your organization’s fundraising on track.
- Solution #1: Monitor donors regularly
Whether through a database or another tool, know and monitor donor trends over time. Based on giving trends, pay special attention to the middle-income segment for changes. Offer bundling options, so households can donate every other year. Practice hyper-stewardship to keep them connected to your cause.
- Solution #2: Retention, Retention, Retention
The easiest donor to get is the one you already have. Develop a donor ladder that starts with your first engagement with donors at a gala or event and helps them become regular donors through experiences with your nonprofit (e.g., volunteering). Then, once they are regular donors, start working with them to increase their gifts. Gather board members and your advisory council members together for a “calling/note-writing party” to thank donors, ask for increased gifts and encourage lapsed donors to re-engage.
- Solution #3: Elevate messaging through storytelling based on best practices
Double-check your story. Is it resonating as it once did? We have always believed that nonprofits should lead with messages around their unique value proposition and find ways to stand out from the crowd. We recommend focusing more on the value you bring to the community and your clients than the value of tax deductions to donors. You may also want to go deeper and try messaging to each donor segment. Based on donor research we have done with clients, different messages work at different life stages as well as at different motivation and engagement levels. Check out our new e-learning course on Storytelling for fresh ideas to revamp your messages.
- Solution #4: Rethink your program portfolio
In making decisions about programs and grants, you need two approaches: 1) a proactive approach that allows you to intentionally raise money to support innovative programs and needs, and 2) a more reactive approach that allows you to be opportunistic and strategically pursue interests that are aligned with your mission. Taken together, this creates a grant decision-making system that helps you move away from feeling like you are chasing money and move toward building a purposeful process that ensures that your important programs flourish. Use tools like the Mission-Money Matrix to assess programs against fundraising potential to determine your “sweet spot” for your program portfolio. The Matrix brings clarity to this discussion and creates a proactive strategy to build a grant pipeline that supports your organization’s most important work and, ultimately, a more sustainable way of doing business.
- Solution #5: Rethink your fundraising schedule
Because there were fewer taxpayers itemizing, end-of-year annual appeals will be less compelling, except to those inspired to give during the holiday season. This gives nonprofits an ability to communicate with donors on a regular basis throughout the year, which we encourage. It also means that these appeals need to find new and better ways to create a sense of urgency and importance in the mind of the donor.