nowisthetime 2015-Mar02

If there were ever a time either to start or to reinvest in a major gift program, that time is now. A recent report by U.S. Trust and The Lilly School of Philanthropy at Indiana University on High Net Worth Philanthropy tell us that EVERY non-profit should be focusing on creating strategies for individual major donors.

I urge you to read this report. Here are some of the highlights:

  1. $335 billion was donated in 2013. Of that, 72% came from individuals
  2. $18.5 billion was donated by private foundations (read individuals), which is half of all foundation giving.
  3. The wealthiest 1.5% gave 52% of the total revenue from individuals.
  4. On average, the typical American household gives $1,500 a year to charity. High Net Worth (HNW) individuals give on average $68,580. (HNW individuals are defined as people making more than $200,000 per year, with a net worth of $1,000,000 or more.)
  5. 60-75% of all philanthropy comes from just 3% of the U.S. population.
  6. There are over 4 million people who are labeled HNW individuals.
  7. Over 98% of HNW individuals give to charity.
  8. Between 2011-2013, giving from these individuals went up by over 28%!

There are plenty of more statistics, and they all lead to one conclusion:

INVEST in your major donor program!

You may have a board or a CEO who is reluctant to invest in creating, building and managing a major gift program. This report basically makes any organization that doesn’t invest look foolish.

Fortunately, my business partner Richard Perry had the foresight to know that non-profits are going to need help with major gifts – and that most organizations were doing it wrong. They were not disciplined, they were not focused, and they didn’t look at data to drive decisions. This is why he started Veritus Group, and why I joined him almost six years ago.

This is why we have seen such explosive growth with our company. Non-profits who “get it” are starting to invest in major gifts, or they realize they haven’t been doing it right and need to turn it around… but there are far too many organizations out there who are “missing the boat” and will be potentially losing millions of dollars because they don’t understand that forming relationships with donors actually inspires donors to invest in their mission.

So after the study gives you all this data that basically says there is a ton of money out there with HNW individuals, they laid out what every non-profit should be doing. Here are the three conclusions that the report ended with:

  1. Develop a Mega-Gift strategy. The study says, “the quest for mega gifts from individuals is increasingly defining the success of fundraising programs and campaigns. Engaging high net worth prospects with a very personalized strategy that targets ‘big ideas’ will be critical in yielding the highest philanthropic returns.”
  2. Focus on Individual Fundraising. “Wealthy donors are intentional about their giving; many are guided by a strategy and desire to see the impact of their support.”
  3. Engage Volunteers. “High net worth households not only volunteer at a high rate, but this volunteerism results in higher giving levels to the organizations they support. Volunteers should be among the first group of prospects surveyed by an organization for major gift potential.”

This report is imploring non-profits to get their major gift shop in order!

Look, everyone is looking for some kind of “game-changing” strategy. I will tell you, it’s not direct-response mail, print or e-mail. It’s not a great social media strategy, either. All those things are necessary, of course; but if you really want a game changer in your organization, look to those donors of high net worth on your file, and start developing a plan to create relationships with them.

This is the game-changer… and they are already your donors! Get on fire for them!

Jeff

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