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If you raise $1 per person from one million people, you’ll have $1 million. If one million people give $10, you’ll have $10 million. That’s true – but what will it take to make that happen? Online giving in response to emergencies or political campaigns catch fire because they are fueled by massive publicity. Some of that publicity is unpaid wall-to-wall news coverage. Other forms of publicity are viral social media campaigns, massive direct mail campaigns, nationally televised fundraising specials and more. Unless you have technology, messaging, and access to nonstop media coverage your chances of raising big money through very small gifts are very limited. That’s the bad news.

Here’s the good news. You can focus on securing a much smaller number of gifts. The difference is that you will be asking for much larger sums of money. Established and well-funded organizations and institutions focus their fundraising in this way. We believe that emerging and developing organizations can do the same. This focus is referred to as “major gifts fundraising.” It can save your nonprofit both time and resources, something that is so important when you don’t have the time and resources you need to focus on both fundraising and programming/advocacy. Engaging in major gift fundraising means you and your board have to focus on pursuing decision makers who can not only provide funding, and who can do so within a relatively short time. Ideally, they will give “unrestricted” gifts and grants – funding that you can use to advance what you believe are the most important aspects of your work.How well do you know your donor base?

You may be thinking “but we don’t know these people.” Maybe you do. Maybe you don’t. Maybe someone you know has relationships with the people who can help you. You’ll have to figure out “who knows who.” Here are five suggestions foryour CEO, board chair, and senior development staff.

  1. Engage your board. Ask them who they know, and who their friends/family/colleagues know.
  2. Reach out to current donors and major supporters. Make personal contact. Let them know what you are trying to achieve. Ask if they can assist with funding or with an introduction to someone who can.
  3. Talk with community stakeholders. Visit with volunteer leaders, city council members, state representatives, social and civic leaders, faith congregations and organizations. Ask if there are people they can introduce you to.
  4. Engage social media Influencers. In addition to the influencers mentioned above, talk with social media influencers, especially those within your community. Ask if they can promote your cause amongst their followers.
  5. Host a series of VIP events to make the case and introduce your organization and its fundraising priorities. These can be hosted by board members, donors, or friends of your organization. Make the events short and fun and focus on meeting a few select people who could change the trajectory of your organization.

Bottom line: Keep it simple – build a short list of influencers and prospects. Focus on those who can open doors, provide funding, and introduce you to those who could serve as advisors. Ultimately will you need a well-orchestrated mix of communication and fundraising methods that engage multiple audiences who give a wide range of gifts throughout the year. But you have to start somewhere. We suggest starting at the top.

Copyright 2023 – Mel and Pearl Shaw of Saad&Shaw – Comprehensive Fund Development Services. Let us help you plan for 2023! Video and phone conferencing services are always available. Call us at (901) 522-8727.

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