It’s December! What’s on your nonprofit’s holiday wish list?
How about a gift that keeps on giving…
An endowment is to a nonprofit as an IRA is to a senior citizen. People spend decades saving for a comfortable retirement. An endowment is your goose that lays golden eggs. It can ensure your nonprofit’s future by engaging your most loyal donors.
BUT! Endowments aren’t for everyone. If you’re an established nonprofit with earned revenue and a strong donor base, it can be the perfect wish list item. If you’re a start-up nonprofit without a database… not so much.
Your endowment secures your nonprofit’s future. Donors can fund it in the form of cash, appreciated stock, IRA rollovers, bequests, etc. (There are lots of ways to give to an endowment fund – check out my recent webinar for more examples!) The proceeds of these funds provide operating funds in perpetuity – a gift that gives year after year.
Want to find the donors who will make your endowment wishes come true? Here are two tips you can use NOW:
SIMPLICITY IS YOUR BEST PATH FORWARD. ACT. BRAVE THIS NEW WORLD. CLARIFY YOUR MESSAGE.
“Val, do you think online giving will ever take off?”
“I don’t know, Lawrence, did the telephone catch on?”
Decades ago, I was chatting with a foundation president and, I’ll admit, being a bit of a wise guy. My point was that fundraising is constantly changing. If you don’t evolve along with your donors, they’ll leave you behind.
The threat of nonprofit extinction is serious. By the end of 2021, 10-30% of nonprofits will merge or close, according to experts cited in the Washington Post and Deloitte. We don’t know if this crisis is like a blizzard that will pass or the onset of an Ice Age.
Amidst 2020’s chaotic uncertainty, simplicity is your best path forward.
Consider the ABCs of nonprofit survival that have already worked in 2020:
The sooner you ask donors, the more they can give. Philanthropic capacity and responsiveness tend to decline as a crisis wears on https://ejewishphilanthropy.com/what-happens-to-charitable-giving-when-the-economy-falters/
People are getting swamped with C-19 communications. Your open rates may be down 20% to 30% and require more frequent contact to reach your donors. Their patience may be limited, so keep your message simple. Don’t mess around. Get to the point. Urgency matters. If you can’t answer the questions, Why give to you? Why now? others can.
Retention. If you represent a nonprofit that’s not on the frontline fight against COVID-19, such as arts, cultural and environmental causes, donor retention is particularly important. Keep the donors you have. Thank them, engage them and then ask for their support.
Take-away: Board Members who LinkIn with staff and each other can raise $ without even asking.
“Who do you know?”
Most of us don’t know who we know. Not really. How would you know that your neighbor’s brother works for the Ford Foundation? Or that your tennis partner’s wife handles sponsorship for Wawa? We can’t introduce our nonprofits to connections we don’t know we have.
Take Away: Personal, sensory experience of your mission spurs authentic storytelling
Despite good intentions, the Zoo’s corporate fundraising committee wasn’t making much progress. The committee met monthly, but hadn’t gotten many gifts. A class I had taken in animal handling gave me an idea. At our next meeting, I greeted the committee as usual; I distributed agendas, and excused myself… to return draped in a five-foot long python named Lulu.