Posts Tagged ‘Reliable Fundraising in Unreliable Times’

Eight lessons for working with female prospects or donors

Women control 51 percent of the wealth in America according to a recent article in the New York Times.  Additionally, the percentage of women earning bachelors and master’s degrees is up to 56 percent. Consequently, it should come as no surprise that women now surpass men in business ownership.  So why do we still pitch the women like they’re men when it comes to philanthropy?

I was delighted to see an article titled Eight lessons for working with female prospects or donors and remind myself of some of the gems I should know about my own gender!  Two of the lessons struck a chord with me as to why we women are a little more involved when it comes to giving.

One: Women often work collaboratively and seek the opinions of others. Be sure to include and respect the opinions of those in your donor’s close network.

Two: A major gift is not just a transaction for women. It is an experience that requires time for reflection.

Both of these lessons tell the ED or the DOD in any organization that engaging women philanthropists is going to involve a more robust cultivation process. However, some of the most accomplished fundraising programs I’ve had the privilege of being part of embraced the female perspective and are wildly successful because they facilitated an environment where women could learn, reflect and give…in the company of other women.

Kim Klein, author of Reliable Fundraising in Unreliable Times further makes the profound point by efficiently saying, “Good fundraising focuses on the donor, not the donation.”  Perhaps the reason why some make the mistake of only asking men for a donation or treating women like men when they do ask is because they’re operating on an antiquated fundraising model.  I bet the ad execs at Nike don’t run print ads for men’s shoes in Oprah magazine.  Let’s get on board and think about the donor.  She would really appreciate it.

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Look to individuals–not foundations–for big money

According to our November Page to Practice, Reliable Fundraising in Unreliable Times, by Kim Klein, the majority of money given from the private sector comes from individuals (both living and through bequests). Only about 10 percent of all giving to nonprofits comes from foundations, and only about 5 percent is from corporations. Furthermore, of the money given by individuals, the majority of gifts come from households with incomes of less than $90,000 — which is 80 percent of U.S. households! Clearly, the myth that nonprofits need to go after wealthy donors or foundations and corporations for money doesn’t match reality.

Instead, Klein argues, this myth keeps many organizations from doing the work they need to do to get their funding from the most likely source: people in their communities. This is exactly what Obama did when running for president — and it is easy to see why his strategy worked. Sure, he had his big donors, like all presidential candidates have — but he also ran a strong grassroots fundraising campaign that solicited donations of $25, $10, or even $5 from lots of people. I know, because I was one of them!

According to Klein, the term “grassroots” is used to denote any kind of effort that derives most of its power and reason for being from a community and from common, ordinary people. Grassroots fundraising simply means that an organization uses a range of strategies to invite as many people as possible to give donations of widely varying amounts. A lot of people are involved in raising the money needed.

That’s what Obama did — and not only did he raise millions of dollars by reaching out to people via the Internet and door-to-door solicitations, but those same people then felt invested in this campaign. He started a movement. It seems so simple — if you feel the work you do should be supported by the people who most benefit from it, and you want to be as independent as possible about what you do and how you do it, then you will want to have your money come from as many people and places as possible.

Of course, grassroots fundraising doesn’t preclude organizations from receiving corporate or foundation support– but rather than spend the majority of your time writing grants and soliciting corporations, Klein suggests focusing your energies on the people who are most likely to give: the members of your community.

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