Did you hear the story about the million-dollar gift from the father of a nonprofit’s vendor? Or, the staff member who turned a $7,000 gift into $70,000 by connecting a donor to the development team? Tales abound about development directors, staff members, boards, and others who successfully snag significant donations for beloved nonprofits.
What don’t we hear about?
The misses. Times when organizations lost large gifts.
How can you avoid losses? Engage everyone in developing resources. Allow no one to stay in the leadership circle, neither staff, board member, volunteer or donor who states, “Not me.” Get “all hands on deck.”
Three fundamentals exist in getting everyone engaged. Meet all three to avoid both windfall and modest donation loss:
1. Fit. Right size jobs to people’s skills. You don’t want your intern to negotiate a significant gift. However, the intern can introduce a potential donor to the development director.
2. Reward Efforts, not results. If you only reward success, you’ll never know what you missed and places where people need skill development. Praise, uplift, and celebrate actions. Affirm your board member’s effort even if the neighbor they invited didn’t attend the event.
3. Educate. Be a fundraising learning organization in subtle and overt ways. Break “scary” fundraising tasks into chunks. Repeat the fundamentals frequently.
For instance, review quarterly this scenario at your staff meetings, “It’s after hours. You’re alone working on a deadline. A call comes in from a possible donor. What do you say?”
Karen Eber Davis provides customized advising and coaching around nonprofit strategy and board development. People leaders hire her to bring clarity to sticky situations, break through barriers that seem insurmountable, and align people for better futures. She is the author of 7 Nonprofit Income Streams and Let's Raise Nonprofit Millions Together.
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