For the past few days I’ve been in Baltimore at the PEJE (Partnership for Excellence in Jewish Education) Assembly . Called “Harnessing our Power” this three day conference has over 1,000 attendees—professionals and lay leaders (Board members to the rest of us) all learning a whole lot of stuff. I have never been to a conference more packed with sessions, information, knowledge and enthusiasm.
So with all this wealth of information, how tacky would it be to talk about my own session? Especially if I don’t tell you all how brilliant I was. I mean, any session that touches on financial sustainability is important for all of us, right? Ok, so my session Monday.
“Making Friends and Influencing Donors” was about just that—fundraising as a relationship. Something that takes time and nurturing. It requires patience but patience with a sense of urgency. After all, donors need to feel that they (and yes, their gifts) are needed.
Successful fundraising also requires that you raise money in a number of different ways (“A broad funding base” as my power point slide says); from a large and ever growing pool of prospects. Not just your usual suspects.
It takes a lot of cultivation, which can be a lot of work. But, hey, there is an upside. Once someone has made a gift, you continue to cultivate that person, but now we call it stewardship. The upside? That everything you do can—and often does—have multiple purposes.
You’ve all heard the famous quote that “Successful funding is the right person, asking the right prospect for the right amount for the right project at the right time in the right way.”
One right way was shared by Rachel Goldman, the Executive Director of the Westchester Day School in Mamaroneck, NY.
To cut to the chase, a donor made a challenge grant—dangling $100,000 if the school could raise an additional $100,000 in a very short period. And they did. Rather than ask current parents, they focused on graduated families and within that short period raised more than the needed $100K.
The next year, the donor again challenged the school. This time, they included their current families in the solicitations because those families had said they were upset that they hadn’t been asked for the first match! To quote Rachel, “Who knew?”
Matches are terrific ways to raise money. They energize the people doing the fundraising; the fundraise-ees (those you are asking to make a gift) love the idea that every dollar they give you is worth twice as much; and the donor gets to see how his or her gift made an immediate difference by helping you to fundraise more effectively as well as –later on—learning from you how the money made a difference to your organization.
Janet Levine is a consultant, trainer and writer who works with nonprofit and educational organizations, helping them to increase their fundraising capacity. Learn more at http://janetlevineconsulting.com