Donors Love Stats that Either Highlight Need or Show Impact.

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For the first time in 50 years, individual giving is less than 70% of total giving. I didn’t want to start the newsletter with bad news, but because we are fundraisers, this information is important to us. There are a ton of webinars discussing the Giving USA 2019 Report. There are also several articles discussing the stats and what has increased/decreased, etc. I want to focus on just one aspect of the report: Individual Giving.

I have nonprofit peers who question the validity of the report. Some fundraisers don’t see the value in analyzing it. The reason for most of my fundraising success is that I study people AND trends. Well-researched statistics matter.

Giving USA 2019 Report Infographic
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The Giving USA Report is very detailed, so I rely on infographics. Infographics are good for consuming a lot of information in a short amount of time. This especially helps if you are a visual person. Let me show you how I use giving statistics to my advantage. The first thing I look at is the increase in charitable dollars. Right away, I see that the environment/animal initiatives saw an increase. That is not surprising to me, seeing that this has been the trend over the last few years. What was surprising is the increase in giving to international organizations: 9.6%. This is how I look for trends and what sectors are suffering. I TAKE THIS INFORMATION AND USE IT IN MY ASK MEETINGS. YOU CAN TOO!

Donors love stats that either highlight need or impact.

Use statistics to show how your cause if suffering. For example, here is a script: “In the latest Giving USA Report, it showed a decrease in giving to foundations. Because of this knowledge, my team and I have diversified our funding portfolio and are looking to build relationships with local donors. This works for us because we understand it connects our donors to our cause.”


Use everything you have to close the deal.

Don’t forget about my Prospect Research 101 Class, starting in September. This is one example of how I will teach you how to connect, cultivate and close! Register here.


​ 40 hours to complete a grant application? Is it worth it?

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MacArthur Foundation is accepting applications for its 100&Change competition. The grand prize is $100 million, with smaller prizes totaling $15 million dollars. Every year I receive emails from clients and peers asking if they should go for it. Hey, I'm an optimist, so I love the enthusiasm. If you ever thought about going after large grants, this newsletter is just for you. We will use MacArthur’s grant as an example.

1. MacArthur Foundation refers to this funding opportunity as a competition. Every time you submit a grant application, you are in a competition. The number one way to submit a competitive proposal is to make sure the funder's values and interests match your organization’s mission and vision.

2. Applicants who applied for the 100&Change grant reported it took 40+ hours to complete the grant application. I will emphasize the "+". Make sure you have the time to devote to an intense and sometimes frustrating process.

3. MacArthur encourages nonprofits with 2 or more representatives to apply. When you're tackling a project of this magnitude, you need a team.

What about local grants?

MacArthur is a grand example, but what about local grants? The same strategies apply. Submitting the grant proposal may not be as time-consuming, but check and recheck your proposal before submission. In my Grants 101 workshop, I always stress asking yourself this one question:

Does the proposed program match the goals, objectives, and priorities of the funder?

Goals: Projects generally should have only one goal. Your goal may include one of these terms: to decrease, to deliver, to develop, to establish, to improve, to increase, to produce, or to provide.
Objectives: Objectives are the specific means of measuring and achieving a goal.
Priorities: What are the funder's priorities? What are their initiatives?

Thanks for joining me on the last webinar: Prospect Research 101. I reviewed the seven steps that outline my prospect research process. If you missed it, sign up for our class: Prospect Research 101, starting September 10, 2019!

For Fundraisers: Q&A

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Question: Bridgett asks, “How do I ask current donors (who have given faithfully over the years) about raising money for unrestricted needs?”
Answer: I noticed in the question that the donor will not accept a visit. At this point, all you have to rely on is phone or email communication. I would take this a step further. Ease into the conversation. You can do this two ways: invite them to your event, or see which events and fundraisers they are attending around town. This method has worked for me. When they ask you what is new, TELL THEM. Faithful donors are more apt to listen. Since they won't accept a visit, easing them into the conversation works much better.

Question: Lisa asks, “How do I get the first meeting with a prospect?”
Answer: I recently did a webinar for Bloomerang discussing how to get a seat at the table. Do your due diligence. Do your research on the prospect. It's interesting that it takes so much prep to get a seat at the table that the meeting itself is sometimes the easiest part. Prospect research involves getting to know your prospect, their affiliations, giving history, connections with your current board members, etc. After that, you can invite them to your latest fundraiser or event, or on an organized tour. I usually don't prefer cold calling or cold emailing. The relationship must be built, not rushed. The goal is long term donors.

Question: Rose asks, “How do I develop the conversation with a potential donor?”
Answer: This all goes back to easing the donor into the conversation. Unless you have some sort of connection or were referred by a board member, for example, the conversation cannot consist only of making the ask. The conversation can start with an email to which you have attached your latest newsletter. (If you do not regularly send a newsletter, please consider doing so. It is a powerful tool and gives the donor a snapshot of your organization. You can send the letter twice per month, or once a month, but just be consistent.) Always give the potential donor more than they expect. Does your research reveal that they are an alumnus of a university that one of your board members attended? Do they have a history of giving to causes related to your mission? Be sure to mention the connection in your conversation. This is the type of small talk you want to have.

Question: Jaye asks, "I am almost 6 months in as the Director of Development for my nonprofit. We just had our biggest fundraising event a couple of weeks ago and one of the donors in my portfolio gave $10,000. He is going to meet with me for the first time on Thursday. My supervisor is pushing me to talk about making another ask at this first meeting but I think that educating this donor is of upmost importance at this stage. Is there a nice compromise to talk about an ask and also educating my donor on our first meeting? Answer: You are right to educate the donor on your programs, initiatives and services. If I were in your position, I would not make another Ask. If it is mandatory, I would ask the donor if they would consider being a recurring donor in the future. You're still asking, which fulfills the directive from your boss, and your not pressuring your donor to give again.

Do you have a question? Submit your question to Your question and first name (or an alias at your request) will be posted on the blog.

LinkedIn "Contact Interests" Feature

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I recently conducted a webinar for Bloomerang called the Assertive Ask. One of the tips I shared was an underutlized tool called "Contact Interests". You can find this on the LinkedIn platform. By using this tool, you can connect with people who are interested in becoming a board member of volunteering at an organization. Click on the picture and check out the tutorial: LinkedIn "Contact Interests" Tutorial.