Did you know that your donors can give more than money? Of course you do—many organizations strongest advocates are their major and monthly donors. Giving results out of a desire to make a difference to impact something you care about. Perhaps your non-profit has a small staff (maybe just you) and only a handful of development people and that makes it really hard to get your message out.An organization called the Mission Increase Foundation is trying some revolutionary ways to get the message out. One of these ways is to use your donors as advocates and development officers. What if you provided your donors with the tools that they needed to tell the story of your non-profit to their friends? Instead of sending out direct mail you sent out packages of 10 greeting cards for your donors to write a story about why they care about the non-profit and pass them along to friends and neighbors. Or when sending out your next e-newsletter you challenged your readers to forward the email on to a couple other friends with a quick note on the top of their email talking about why they support the organization.
What I’m talking about is not a change in degree in fund raising. It’s not about doing more of something, or doing something more systematically. It’s about a change in kind. It’s a bold leap that’s awaiting anyone who’s awakening to the value of seeing fund raising as a powerful communal experience. Eric Foley
What do you think of this idea? Would it work in your non-profit? Why or why not? I think that one of the keys to making this work is to create ideas that fit with the mission of your non-profit. Maybe instead of sending a letter to forward on you send a magnet, postcard, or miniature coffee table book. Any other ideas?
You’ll be most successful if you’re always thinking of your main goal as you design your event. Are you trying to thank and recognize, educate and make a case for support or raise money? Again, clearly define your goal and design the event from there.
Let’s say you decide that your major donors should see the facility first hand and understand how their support made it possible. What are some creative ways to reach your audience? Individualized tours of the facility might an option because tours allow more personal interaction with staff and an in-depth look at the housing. Tours can be scheduled at the convenience of your major donors which is a plus when working with busy people. Additionally, you don’t have to rent a venue, order catering or set up chairs, tables or audio/visual equipment. However, you will likely want an opportunity to talk to specific donors and introduce key staff. In this scenario, the ideal solution might be an open house at the facility with tours starting every half hour.
But what if tours aren’t an option because of client confidentiality concerns? Maybe you will need to organize a reception that premiers a nicely done video of the facility and, ideally, a testimonial from someone your organization has helped. When designing your program, keep in mind that donors want to hear from the staff directly connected to the organization’s mission. Oftentimes, you are there to facilitate those conversations. Ask those in the organization that work directly with programs or clients to talk about what they see daily. Spend time working with program staff to help them understand a donor’s point of view and how best to talk about their work. Coaching your program staff on fundraising techniques can take a lot of time, but the dividends will be tremendous once you have allies in your organization.
Other event articles by Brenda:
Party for Party’s Sake