How organized is your development shop? More importantly, are you donor-focused?
How Does Your Organization Compare?
Last week I facilitated a process improvement meeting for development department directors at a local hospital foundation. Each department at the hospital foundation (annual fund, major gifts, stewardship, planned giving) operates independently, practically without regard for what the other departments are doing with donors.
At this foundation, there is no “pipeline” or streamlined system in place to move donors up from annual fund to major gifts to planned giving. Likewise, there is no formal division of prospects or prospect management system. So they were right in thinking they needed some help with their processes.
Another concern is that they constantly focus on prospective donors who are in the hospital at the moment. And while it’s admirable to be visiting current patients, they’re not focusing on former patients who have already turned into loyal donors. By constantly focusing on current patients, their donors go through something of a revolving door.
Don’t get me wrong, this hospital foundation is raising a lot of money. But, just think of how much more they could be raising if they had some simple systems in place.
Simple Fundraising Systems to Organize Your Development Shop
Remember, fundraising is about relationship building.
If you’re constantly chasing new donors, how can you possibly be building relationships with existing donors?
So whether you’re a one-person development shop or have separate departments for each development function in your development office, remain focused on your donors and create fundraising systems.
1. Know who your top donors are and treat them like VIP’s.
Keep a list of your biggest and longest (most loyal) donors above your desk. If you know the 80/20 rule, this small list of top donors are probably giving you 80% of your gifts. Give them a proportional amount of your time and attention. It will be time well spent, rather than focusing the majority of your time on smaller or newer donors (as so many of us do).
2. Have a system in place to move donors up.
In other words, you’ll want a system of asking for increasingly larger gifts. Assign your largest and most loyal donors to a specific staff person who is responsible for building a relationship and moving that donor along.
For example, the executive director should be assigned 10-30 individuals to cultivate throughout the year. They should be meeting in person periodically during the year and communicating via phone and email intermittently as well. The relationship should focus on ways to get the donor more involved and committed to the organization.
3. Create a stewardship program.
Thank people multiple times and in multiple ways. Larger and loyal donors should receive more personalized thank you calls, notes, etc. Each donor over a certain level ($1,00 or more, for example) should receive a personal note on their thank you letter. They should also receive a phone call from the executive director or board member.
How well is your development shop organized? What are you doing to be more donor-focused? Share your comments below.