All Hands On Deck: Becoming A Fundraiser Overnight
CASE District I wishes to thank Gravyty for their generous commitment as our 2020-2021 gold sponsor of the CASE District I Conference Wi-Fi. Gravyty has been a CASE DI sponsor for two years.
Nonprofit, higher education and health care organizations are all facing similar challenges when it comes to layoffs, furloughs, and hiring freezes. Amid today’s underlying budget constraints many are taking a strategic approach when it comes to human resources: redeployment.
Rather than making job cuts, some organizations are finding ways to assign their people to new roles. Over the last month, I’ve seen this happen a number of times, as folks have been reassigned to revenue-generating roles in advancement and development shops—typically when there were previous vacancies in these positions. As a result, becoming a fundraiser overnight is an emerging trend in fundraising.
In today’s all hands on deck environment, it’s critically important that we help our new colleagues inspire giving quickly and efficiently. If your organization has any overnight fundraisers -- or you are new to the position yourself, here’s how you can maximize impact.
Don't Be Afraid to Ask
The fear of making an ask to a donor or prospect is a top hurdle to progress. It’s important to realize that they not only expect you to reach out, they appreciate hearing from you. Your donors and prospects care about the work your organization is doing and don’t mind when they’re asked for a gift, as long as the ask is reasonable. If you’re new to fundraising or new to a donor, work with your manager or team to ensure your ask makes sense for each donor or prospect and reach out.
Show the Impact of Gifts
If you are dealing with a current donor, tell them about the impact that their last gift made on the organization and your mission. Remind them about that mission and provide an update on what your organization is up to, especially in this economy. If your prospect has never given before, start by explaining what a gift would mean—where it would be applied and who it would help.
It’s also helpful to let your prospect know about any inside information that you can share. Do you know when a research report will be published, have a re-open date in mind, know about an upcoming virtual event?
For example, I recently heard from a theatre company that I supported in the past. They let me know that since they aren’t holding shows right now, they’re streaming shows directly to previous audiences and asking for an honor system gift of $10 per person on the couch watching. Funds raised are going to paying bills and ensuring that a season can open once it’s safe to re-open. You can bet that I tuned in and gave.
Starting with Thanks is Always a Great Option
Fundraising isn’t just about asking for gifts. It’s about stewarding donors. I love generating positive momentum by thanking donors for their previous giving. Take a look at the past two-to-three months worth of giving. Reach out and thank those donors for recent gifts—even if a formal thank you was already sent.
Donors appreciate when you pay attention to them after a gift was given and it gives the fundraiser an opportunity to listen and hear why giving was important to them in these challenging times. Listen —learn from their motivations and apply it to your solicitation outreach.
For those who are new to fundraising, or perhaps new to an entirely new portfolio of donors that they’re now taking on due to staffing shortages, technology is a solution. For example, Gravyty’s fundraiser enablement tools powered by Artificial Intelligence (AI), not only prescribe who to reach out to and when, but also self-write the First Draft of outreach to those donors and prospects.
With AI and Gravyty, individual fundraisers who are new to portfolios have shown that they can personally appeal to more than 200 donors and prospects in just over a month’s time. In today’s world, this type of efficiency can be the difference between delivering on a mission and protecting the very core of your organization.
About the author(s)
Lisa Alvezi is director of customer success for Gravyty, the nonprofit sector's AI fundraiser enablement leader. Lisa has worked with countless organizations across higher education, healthcare and hospitals, and nonprofit organizations to transform the way fundraising works through the revolutionary nature of artificial intelligence. Prior to Gravyty, Lisa was a fundraiser for Babson College as director of alumni relations.