One of the many false beliefs that Richard and I hear all the time from non-profit leaders is that if they could just hire the right frontline fundraiser, the organization would be successful in all their one-to-one donor relationships.
The truth of the matter is that’s a false hope.
Effective and successful mid, major, and planned giving programs take an enormous amount of support, beyond just one great fundraiser. Yet, many non-profit leaders and managers don’t want to hear about it because that would mean creating an infrastructure that takes more resources. And, if you are just focused on the money now, you may think the short-term investment is too high a barrier to overcome… even if in the long-term it will pay much higher dividends.
If you are a leader or manager, Richard and I urge you to reexamine your thinking by understanding that mid, major, and planned giving programs are a long game. It’s about building relationships that create trust with donors. That takes time. And, to build those relationships, your entire organization has to be geared to cultivate, steward, and serve your donors… and not just leave it in the hands of one individual.
So, I want to put together a list for you for what you are going to need to really have a successful mid, major, and planned giving program that will, over the years, produce the highest net revenue to help grow your programs.
Well-Paid Frontline Fundraisers
We see too many organizations who want great fundraisers, but the salary they offer them is below market rate. You get what you pay for.
Don’t hire a good fundraiser to do paperwork, spend hours in your database, and sit in meetings. Good fundraisers should be communicating with donors and developing relationships. Providing administrative support for every 2 to 3 frontline fundraisers will help them focus on what they do best.
Offer and Impact Development Officer
Someone at your organization needs to oversee working with program and finance to put donor offers together to help your fundraisers solicit their donors properly. Your fundraisers are trying to figure out your donor’s passions and interests so they can match that up with all the programs and projects your organization does to change the world. If they don’t have solid offers at different “price points,” they will be less effective. The Offer Development Officer would also work with program to develop effective communication on the impact of the program for fundraisers to report back to the donor.
Database Management and IT Support
So many frontline fundraisers are tearing their hair out because their organization does not have a donor database that is friendly toward one-to-one fundraising. This makes it terribly difficult for the fundraiser to do their work efficiently and effectively. And do you really want your fundraisers spending time on computer network problems? Absolutely not. Have your fundraisers focused on donors.
Without support of the CEO or Executive Director, you will limit the effectiveness of your frontline fundraiser. High net-worth donors want to connect to the leadership of the organization. Yet, many non-profit leaders don’t want anything to do with fundraising. I don’t care how good your fundraiser is. If the leader doesn’t engage with donors, you won’t get those six and seven figure gifts that you so desperately want. This ties directly into supporting a culture of philanthropy at your organization. Without leadership embracing that core concept, where the organization recognizes and supports the important role your donors have with your mission, you leave your fundraisers trying to get upstream in a canoe without a paddle.
Yes, a great frontline fundraiser means your your mid, major, and planned giving programs are more likely to succeed. But without the proper support around that fundraiser, you will never fully realize your fundraising potential.
It’s not about one person; it takes a village.