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Round Table Round Up: Board Recruitment and Onboarding

“My neighbor is a teacher so he likes kids, I could ask him to be on our board – I bet he would do it!”
How many times have we heard something like this when we want to expand our board?  All too often, a lack of processes and time leads to a board full of people who believe in the cause, but just aren’t the right fit for our organization.  Once they are on the board, we task them with all kinds of things that they don’t have the tools to accomplish, and then we’re upset that our goals go unmet.

Proper board development is an ongoing cycle that ensures we have the right board members, with the right tools to be successful.  There are four steps to be taken both while recruiting board members, and four steps to engaging them as competent and effective board members.

 

Board Recruitment

The first step to effective board recruitment is knowing what you need to complement your existing board and meet your organizational goals.  The Board Governance Committee, along with staff, should take time to identify how many new board members should be brought on, and what the profile of new prospects should look like.  Use an analysis tool that is specific and appropriate to your organization, and then share the desired profile with your board and staff.  Create a prospect list of ideas of people who have some of the qualities identified in the desired profile.

Once you have identified the needs, the next step is to cultivate the prospects.  You might invite them to an event or tour, or simply begin introducing them to the organization by sharing social media or newsletters.  Another cultivation step might be to invite them to serve on one of your committees so you can begin to know their volunteer style.

As you get to know your prospects, you then need to recruit their service.  Those who have shown interest during the cultivation phase can now be recruited to join the board.  The recruitment stage is when you can share your expectation policy and ask them to complete an application form.

Once you have completed the “get to know you phase,” it’s time to formally nominate them to the board.  It is important that the board has ample time to review their profile, and best practice is to bring all new members on at one time throughout the year – preferably prior to the start of each fiscal year.

 

Onboarding

This second half of board development is essential not just for your new board members, but to ensure that all of your board is continually being provided with the right tools and information to be effective in their work.  As one of my favorite board members once told me: “Staff are in it up to their eyeballs and beyond, but the board is only involved at ankle level. You have to educate and repeat.”

Educating your board means not only sharing program information and important dates, but also sharing industry trends, peer organization metrics, and newsworthy milestones for the constituency you are serving.  Education is not just about your organization, but about how your organization fits in your community and your industry.

Beyond simple education is deliberate training in areas that board members have identified as necessary to do their job.  Board gatherings should include regular training that includes tools for doing the work they are being tasked to accomplish.  Staff can help arrange and guide the training, but the board should be engaged in identifying which training opportunities would be most helpful to them.

Evaluation is another key component of board development.  If we haven’t taken the time to execute regular evaluation of the board, we have no actual data to measure board engagement or effectiveness.  There are many tools available for board self-evaluation, and when members have the opportunity to think about their performance as it relates to the roles and responsibilities of nonprofit board members, we can gather the information we need to improve.

The best part about deliberate processes for Board Recruitment and Onboarding is enjoying your success!  As you reach the end of your fiscal year, take time to recognize your outgoing board members by celebrating the organization’s achievements during their service, and encourage their continued engagement with your organization once they have completed their service.

 

While it may take time and resources to set up, deliberate board recruitment and onboarding that are executed following inclusive processes on a regular timeline will set up your organization for long-term success. And, just as importantly, it leads to engaged and fulfilled volunteers who become lifelong advocates for your work.

Round Table Round Up: Finance & Development Reporting

Overview of Financial Reporting

All organizations have some kind of financial report that is shared with the Board of Directors and hopefully with the leadership of the organization.  Making sure these reports are useful, comprehensive, and readable can be a challenge. It is important to create templates for various reports, get feedback on those templates, implement the use of them, and then regularly review their effectiveness.

Reports for Leadership

Every organization should be using a budget, and each department director or manager should be working with finance to develop that budget. On a monthly basis, finance should be providing leadership with a budget vs actual comparison for the month and year-to-date.  These reports often look like financial statements.  The reports should also be easy for program staff to understand. Relate it to non-dollar items they’re familiar with in their program. Your program served 65 families last month, which is the equivalent of $2,500, for example.  Also, include detail whenever it is helpful for the person reviewing the reports.

Reports for Finance Committee and Board of Directors

Your board might gloss over at detailed finance reports.  In this case, it’s often helpful to provide them with visual dashboard-style reports. Dashboards give a more visual snapshot and overall picture of the financial numbers.  Several finance tools, like QuickBooks, can produce reports that offer pie charts and graphs, rather than an account listing. They key is relating your dashboard reports to financial statements for easy correlation.

Communication Between Development and Program Managers

It is helpful for development and program managers to communicate needs of their program, what funding may be required and how it will be funding (private donors vs. grants). It’s also helpful for program managers to know what grants are being submitted by the development team and how it may affect their programs and spending.  Also, program staff and development staff should be mindful of what is covered under an awarded grant. You don’t want to fund a program with grants and realize later that you’ve covered 125% of the program staff salary with the grant, instead of the program itself.

Reconciliation of Finance and Development Reports

Reconciliation can be an easy monthly task, or extremely difficult. Here are a few items to watch out for in gift recording to help make sure development and finance are reporting the same thing:

  • Date received vs. Deposit date
  • Pledges and pledge payments – especially event pledges – they’re often going into donor software, but finance isn’t booking until payment is received
  • Recurring gifts – be mindful of a needed process for any received through an event
  • End of year – donation date should be date envelope is postmarked
  • Credit card transactions – timing and actual processing
  • Gift coding in database vs. finance software – adding custom fields for the accounting codes in your donation is sometimes helpful in the reconciliation process

Make sure as a development office, you have a monthly process in place to reconcile numbers.  If a lot of issues start appearing regularly in reconciliation, finance might be able to enter more detail into their transaction (donor last name, for example) to help avoid further problems.

Overview of Development Reporting

It is important for the Board and organizational leadership to regularly see a development report that includes more than just the total dollars raised.  Some examples of additional data points are number of new donors, performance of a specific appeal, number of planned giving commitments, etc. Development reports provide an opportunity to connect your board to the whole development program and where they can have impact.

Development Score Card

Share a score card of some sort with your board on a monthly basis. This helps the board see number that focus on your donors, not just the dollars being raised. Include details on your individual donors. How many are new? How many new donors gave over $1,000? How many donors are not individuals? What is your donor retention rate? How do all of those numbers compare to last year at this time?  Show a summary of a few appeals that are relevant that month for the board to see.

 Development Projections

The projections are closely related to your development budget. You’re showing actual vs. projected for specific line items in your fundraising activities – events, appeals, grants, etc. If you’re showing an increase of 10% or more from one year to the next, be ready to explain how you anticipate that growth to happen.

Appeal/Event Analysis

 This analysis contains in-depth detail of your appeal or event. It should show your goal, how many were solicited/received an invite, total amount received, average gift, number of donors, and response rate.  It should also give detail for each “segment”. If it’s a mailed appeal, break it down by each letter sent, include email campaign response data also. If it’s an event, show each line of revenue – sponsorship, tickets, donations at the event, and live auction, for example.  You should also include the expenses for the event or mailing with an overall cost per piece mailed, or per person for an event.

Round Table Round Up: Year-End Appeal

Devoting time to your year-end appeal seems a difficult task when faced with an upcoming fall event season. However, with 30% of annual giving happening in the month of December and increased online giving (up 12% in 2017*), devoting time to your year-end appeal is a necessity, specifically segmenting and telling your story. Planning ahead will help if you have a clear timeline with tasks. And some small steps taken now will ensure greater success later.

Start now on finding that story. Work with program staff or ask someone to write their own story. Maybe this is an update on a client served; a client whose story was showcased recently at an event or in a donor newsletter. Keep in mind that while donors want to know the story, they also need metrics. Over the next couple of months, think of clever ways to incorporate metrics into that letter and ensure the story gains empathy, not sympathy.

Now that a story is underway, it’s time to tackle – and segment – the list. Utilize board and other committee volunteers to help identify who they know on the list (or specific segments of the list) so they can handwrite personal notes on those letters later. This is what takes time and forward planning.

Over the next couple of months, you will fine tune those segments and make sure you are speaking to the donor in meaningful ways. How? Well, segmenting isn’t a one size fits all. Once you’ve pulled your data, determine which groups need which language and how you are going to reach them. Major donors, monthly donors, volunteers, regular donors, non-donors – they are all different to you and must be asked differently.

Major Donors are often the trickiest segment and the one that we usually say “forget it – no time!” Truth is: you HAVE to spend time here. It’s likely that not all major donors are giving at year-end. Perhaps they choose to give in August, or March. Honor that by still sending them a letter with a handwritten note thanking them for their annual gift and telling them you wanted to share the story they had a role in. Don’t ask them for anything specific here. For major donors who DO give at year-end, make a plan for how you will appeal to them.

This same approach could be used for your monthly donors as well. Let them know you know them by writing that handwritten, personal note thanking them for being a monthly donor.

Segmenting data and writing personal notes is time intensive. We get it. That’s why your year-end appeal planning should start in August.

*2017 Blackbaud Giving Report

The Power of Events: Michigan Sports Academies Foundation

With a busy spring event season behind us, we congratulate all our clients who held events in the last few months. No matter the size or scope, you undoubtedly connected with people and raised needed funds for your organization. Each year you spend many hours preparing, reworking, and building special events that bring your donors closer to the mission.

When the Michigan Sports Academies Foundation (MSAF) came to Kennari Consulting for help, we were excited to get involved. As a new Foundation, this was an opportunity to introduce the community and donors to the important work being done. For Kennari, it was an opportunity to build a new event around best practices, ensuring success for the first year, and success long into the future.

MSAF was created to provide financial resources that facilitate participation in youth sports to families who otherwise could not afford to do so. Critically important to the event was sharing the impact youth sports have on individuals, and why this Foundation is worthy of their financial support.

Attendees had an opportunity to engage with the “tailgate” theme through games during the cocktail hour and the food that was provided. It’s not every day that fundraising events are held in a basketball gym and include corn hole and fowling, but for this event, it was the perfect fit! A highlight of the program was hearing from former Michigan Volleyball Academy player, Abby Cole and her fiancé, Austin Hatch. Abby and Austin met at the University of Michigan, where Abby played volleyball and Austin played basketball. Though not a West Michigan native, Austin shared his powerful story of overcoming the adversity of losing his family in two separate plane crashes, and how youth sports played a significant role in his life.

Guests had an enjoyable evening, sponsors were proud to stand behind the work being done, and people left the room feeling inspired. Most importantly, the community was shown the mission of MSAF and had an opportunity to financially support it. Plans are already underway for 2019!

“Kennari Consulting is the key to sanity! In our first venture into event planning and getting started as a Foundation, they were critical to our ongoing success. Their staff is responsive, accessible and professional.” ~Rena Schwartz, MSAF

For more information about Michigan Sports Academies, visit michigansportsacademies.com.

Giving USA 2018

The Giving USA Foundation has conducted its annual survey determining sources of donations in the USA for more than 50 years. Below are a few of this year’s findings. For more information or to order a copy of the full report, visit givingusa.org.

Overview
Since the initial survey in 1954, only three years have seen a decline in total annual giving (1987, 2008 and 2009). In 2017, total annual giving rose 5.2% to more than $400 billion with 79% of gifts coming from individuals, 5% from corporations and 16% from foundations. Overall online giving grew 23% compared with 15% in 2016 and monthly renewal giving saw an increase of 40%. Giving from all three sources increased, and Family Foundations was the sub-sector that saw the largest increase in giving at 15.5% growth. Religion was the sector with the most donations – about 31% of the total. Education came second with 14% and Human Services third with 12%. Giving to the arts was the second-fastest growing subsector with an 8.7% increase over the previous year. To be successful, nonprofit organizations need to calibrate their efforts to seek gifts primarily from individuals as they still are the largest and most stable source of charitable gifts for nonprofit organizations.

Gifts by Individuals
Fewer American households are donating to charity, though the numbers held steady among certain groups such as wealthier and older Americans. However, the gifts coming in are larger, making the total amount raised increase in recent years. The report reinforced the importance of paying attention to mid-level donors, suggesting that organizations that spend time nurturing donor relationships of mid-level donors will see the rewards of sustainable donation revenue. Charitable giving by bequest is estimated to have increased 2.3% in 2017. Intentional strategies should be developed to encourage not only major donors, but annual donors to consider bequests.

Gifts by Foundations
Grantmaking by foundations increased 6% from 2016. Giving grew by all three types of foundations including independent (4.9%), operating (6.2%), and community (11%). The political environment is shaping funding considerations; 80% of foundation leaders agree that philanthropy will be more important to society than ever.

Gifts by Corporations
Charitable giving by corporations increased an estimated 8% (including cash, grants, in-kind contributions, and gifts made by corporate foundations). The report found that corporate giving spiked in disaster relief and that 63% of U.S. citizens look to companies to take the lead on such issues.

This summary is just a brief glimpse at the extensive data Giving USA delivers each year. Please visit givingusa.org to learn more.

Giving USA: The Annual Report on Philanthropy for the Year 2017 (2018). Chicago: Giving USA Foundation

Round Table Round Up: Overview of Campaign Leadership & Volunteers

We all know that Capital Campaigns are a lot of work! You will need some support. Successful Campaigns rely on great leadership and volunteers to extend the reach into your current and prospective donor lists. Getting the right people in the right position will help move your Campaign towards its goal in an efficient manner. How do you find the right people? Each organization has a unique garden of donors. Your volunteers are also unique. It’s important to recognize their differences and how to best place them on your team. Knowing this will add to your “gardening tool kit” and help move your fundraising along.

Who are the players?

Campaign leadership and volunteers consist of a range of roles. Making sure you find the right people for each role will be immensely helpful. Connectors and Sales type people make the best fundraising volunteers, so consider this while determining who to recruit for your Chairs and Cabinet.

Honorary Chairs or Committee are the big names in the community, or in the culture of the organization, who operate in a high level and are capable of a significant amount of leadership in the campaign. Expect them to make a gift, but not to be active fundraisers. Their influence is a Maven, or someone whose passion, knowledge, and expertise is their gift to your campaign.

Campaign Chairs are your “face of the campaign” and should be able to help you with high level asks, campaign strategy, and be available for regular meetings. Engaged and connected Chairs are key to really keeping things moving forward. Look for those whose networks will be inclined to your project.

Cabinet Members are those who will help extend your ability to make face to face asks. These are volunteers who are connected to your current and prospective donor list at the mid-range gift size. Remember what your capacity is and what you’re willing to manage. Each member should average of 5 – 10 asks. They should also be able to make a personal gift.

Endorsement Council Members are those who are supportive of the project but are unable to help raise money. They help answer the question “is a good idea?” These people may have a conflict of interests and may or may not donate, but have experience or relation to the project.

Diversity – how does diversity come into play? Look at what it means to your organization. Funders are wanting to see more diversity and equity in the key volunteers for projects as well as in the organization itself.

 

Recruiting

Determine who should be identified to which role. Have a job description and be upfront. Tell them what you expect from them. Busy volunteers who are connected, deserve to know what they are committing to (e.g. be there once a month, ask x amount of times).

 

Training & Supporting

One of the main reasons volunteers are reluctant to make asks is because they feel like they might not be able to answer questions.  Give them all the tools for success. Provide a binder with all the information on the campaign – campaign materials, pledge cards, brochure – and distribute any videos that will be used to share the story with their donor prospects. Having all the materials helps give them confidence. Review any new strategies and bring them in to discuss new prospects that emerge. (Face-to-face giving is ten times higher than receiving information in the mail.) Review the prospect list with them to find those who they are comfortable with working with. Just as one on one asks are most effective, working one on one with your Campaign Volunteers is also the best way to customize and strategize the asks they will be making.

Determine the communication point person from your staff so volunteers will know who they should expect to hear from and to whom they should direct their questions. Communicate with your Campaign Volunteers regularly to keep them in the loop on progress and any relevant developments. Share successes with the group so they will be inspired.

Together, with your enthusiastic, engaged, and well-trained cadre of Campaign Volunteers, the success of your Campaign will result in lasting relationships as well as a new building, additional programming, or an endowment.

 

Round Table Round Up: Making the Ask

Your major donors are an important part of your organization’s success. Making a Major Gift ask is the culmination of thoughtful planning and strategic actions. You will have the most success if you have worked through the entire process of building and implementing a Major Gifts process. It’s important to connect your Major Gifts program to the organization’s strategic vision, to set goals within your development plan and commit to the discipline of building relationships with major donors. Your garden of donors will respond favorably if you have built and made use of the appropriate toolkit for staff and volunteers.

Tools to Help with the Major Gift Process
Each organization has its own unique garden of donors, with individual preferences for how they want to be connected to your mission. The Major Gift process will help you give them the individual attention they deserve. Striving to customize a cultivation path for each donor is the key to success. Putting in place a leveled giving program, building a committee of connected volunteers, and creating a menu of cultivation activities is worthy of investing your time. Once you have the right people on the committee, you must provide them with the tools they need to be effective volunteers. One of the best motivators is having a goal; share your Major Gifts needs with the committee and have them help set a goal.

Getting the Appointment
It can take 12-18 months to cultivate a donor to the level where they are ready for a Major Gift ask. Use your volunteers to help make connections and learn about donors’ preferences in communication style and frequency. Make sure you are reaching out to them with multiple customized “touches” throughout the year. This includes newsletters, phone calls, invitations to events, handwritten notes, and personal meetings. Make them feel like insiders by sharing important news directly with them before it goes out to the rest of your donor base. Use all the tools available to build the relationship, so when you ask for the appointment, they will be receptive.

Preparing for the Meeting
Careful planning for the ask itself is very important. Be sure the materials have accurate name and address information and that you have enough copies, so no one has to share. Confirm the appointment with all who will be attending the meeting. Review your plan for the meeting flow and prepare your “ask partner” if you have one, with all relevant information about the donor. Determine who will make the ask based on the relationship and comfort of you and your volunteer or staff partner. The amount should be well planned, based on the goal and cultivation steps. If you don’t know the amount, you aren’t ready to make the ask. Practice your part so you will feel comfortable and smooth in your delivery.

And Now for the Ask
The time has come and you’re in the meeting with your donor. All your planning and preparation have positioned you for the best possible results. Start with some questions to get the donor talking. Listen to them carefully for cues about their interests and concerns. If they have questions that you cannot answer, it’s fine to say: “I don’t know the answer to that right now, but I will get back to you” (you just created another touch point and built trust through being transparent). Once you determine the moment is right, make the ask as a direct request for the agreed upon amount. Know that you’re giving them an opportunity to support something they care about, so don’t be apologetic. Then wait for them to respond. Train yourself to be okay in the silence while they’re considering your request. It’s very important to not “talk them out” of the gift by filling the silence with chatter or remarks such as “if that’s too much, whatever you give is fine.” While you have spent months preparing for this meeting, they have not and may be mentally reviewing other commitments, whether they should check in with their accountant, or discuss it with a spouse. Once you have their answer, be appreciative of their time and let them know you will be following up in the agreed upon manner. Follow up with a thank you note regardless of the results.

By following these Best Practices of careful relationship building and planning, your Major Gifts asks will net positive results and help support your organization’s mission.

Round Table Round Up: Major Gifts Toolbox

How do you set up a major gifts program? What do you need in your “garden shed” to help cultivate it? You need tools, sunlight, plants, food, etc. When you recognize that gardening is hard work, (but it can be fun!) you will see that your major donor garden will flourish when you have all the right tools in place.
Your major donors are an important part of your organization’s success. We’re looking at those who make donations – not sponsorships or other transactional revenue – at the level you have determined constitutes a major gift.

Tools to Help with the Major Gift Process
The Donor Development Committee Process takes time to get up and running. It could be 3 – 6 months or sometimes more. Your planning and perseverance will pay off with good results. The purpose of the Committee is to help with donor engagement. This means sharing their donor intelligence. What do they know about your donors that will help you treat them like the individuals they are? Who on the list has more capacity to give? And who are they willing to help you with?
Other work of the Committee is to personally invite people to cultivation or engagement activities that have been identified as appropriate for that specific donor. When volunteers invite donors, the peer-to-peer response can be stronger than a simple invitation from the organization. Helping with personalized thank yous is also a responsibility of the Committee.

Recruiting the Committee
Getting the right people on the Donor Development Committee is vital to its success. Committee members are both donors (flowers in the garden) and also gardeners who help with cultivation. Loving your organization is not enough. You want those who are able and willing to help make connections and to interact with donors. A good Committee has a couple of Board members and some non-Board members as well – probably enthusiastic donors who are connected to existing donors or can help you expand your network. Because the cultivation process can take 12-18 months, it’s helpful to have your volunteers commit to at least a year with the Committee.

Now what?
Once you have the right people on the Committee, you must provide them with the tools they need to be effective volunteers. One of the best motivators is having a goal. Share with them your major gifts needs and have them help set a goal.

Major Giving Levels
Establishing major giving levels that show the impact of donations is very important for your organization and for the Committee members. Look at what a gift at $1,000 and other major gift levels can do for you. If you don’t already have this in place, the Committee can help with ideas, and it helps them to have buy in. Then develop a print piece to share. Once you have the levels and the print piece, determine how to launch the program. This could be at a luncheon or gala, in a target appeal, or at its own major donor event. This is a tool to be integrated into all places where you could be showing the need for impact giving at higher levels.

Cultivation Activities
Recognize that, like different kinds of flowers in your garden, donors will respond to different kinds of engagement opportunities. The Committee can help develop your menu of activities. The more personalized they are, the more effective they are likely to be. Some donors will enjoy group or social activities, while others will need more of a one-on-one approach. Here again, your volunteers can be very helpful in determining what kind of engagement will be needed for the donors they know.

Tend the Garden
Your garden of major donors will thrive when you give special care to them. Recognize them with unique thank yous. Engage them by putting them on committees or on your board. Be sure that they are on the list for hearing first when something new or exciting happens. Reinforce your brand with them at every opportunity. Make use of the tools and your Committee to extend your reach and build the relationships that will continue cultivating major gifts.

Round Table Round Up: Overview of a Successful Major Gifts Program

When I moved into my current home, one of the first things that inspired me daily was the amazing work that went into the flower gardens in the front and back yards.  Neighbors told me that the previous owner would come outside each day with her glass of iced tea and carefully tend to the many bushes, plants and flowers with such technique and care.  As a result, I enjoyed walking outside for the next few months, excited to see what new flowers were blooming.  As another result, because I have no gardening instincts, or time to develop them, the beautiful gardens are no longer blooming and I now spend my time hoping the previous owner does not drive through the neighborhood!

The problem was that I used just one strategy for my entire garden – same amount of water, weeding, and shade, or I didn’t pay attention to it at all. The same story can be told in terms of major gift donors and the amount of care and time you take with them within your own organization.  Major gift cultivation is just like growing your own garden.  Just as donors become engaged with your organization through different channels, their needs are different in terms of stewardship and cultivation.  This means that while some donors want to attend a group tour or event, others may prefer a one on one meeting, or engaging with your constituents directly. Everyone is different, and each donor prospect is going to respond differently to a different level of engagement with your organization. In order to build and maintain a robust major gifts program, organizations must keep a “garden” mentality, using care and deliberate action to get results.

What is a Major Gift?

Major Gifts are defined by three things:  the amount, the process that garners the gift, and the source.  A major gift for one organization might be $250, for another it may be $10,000.  The particular dollar amount is the highest level at which you have a critical mass.  This is also the level of donor that is manageable for you to cultivate on an individual basis.   These donors may be individuals, foundations, or corporations – any gift that is part of this highest critical mass should be considered a major donor.    This group of donors is your base for your major gift program, or your organization’s “donor garden.”

Role of Major Gifts within the Annual Fund

A successful major gifts program plays a critical role in your organization’s strategic plan success and mission advancement.  As the strategic plan provides the vision and mission and details the initiatives that move that mission forward, a robust major gifts program can provide the funds to resource those initiatives.  And, your major donors not only want to know you have a strategic plan, but they also want to help you reach your goals.  But, you have to share your vision and future plans with them in order for them to see how their dollars can help.  All of your donors are interested in your success, a major donor is interested in how you are going to get there.

Your plans for growing your major gifts should include a strategy to share your vision and goals with donor prospects regularly, without making an ask, so that when it comes time for them to renew or increase, they know what your needs are, and they can respond.

Not all of your donors have the capacity to become major donors, but your job as the “master gardener” is to give them the opportunity to get to their own highest level of giving. This means that as you are able to bring prospects in through a strategic point of entry such as an event or tour, you are taking the time to determine what the next step should be to give that person an opportunity to learn more about your organization.

Developing Cultivation Plans

 One of the most common issues we hear from our clients is that they can’t seem to connect with a major donor prospect after inviting them to different events.  While it might seem like this donor is simply not interested in your organization, another explanation is that you just haven’t found the right cultivation step for them.  As you look at your cultivation options, consider which types of donors might like to attend which activities. Someone who would be thrilled to have lunch with the CEO or Artistic Director, would not be as interested in attending a large group event or house party.  This is why each major gift prospect should be considered individually, so they can be brought to their highest cultivated gift for the organization.

A great way to better understand your donor prospect, and begin to cultivate them in a way that elicits the response you are looking for, is to engage with a volunteer that knows the prospect.  A good connection can tell you whether what part of your organization is probably the most interesting to them, and how they might like to learn more.  Another way to determine the right path is simply by listening to the donor when you are talking with them.  Do they seem uninterested in your idea or are they simply too busy?  Have you asked them how they got interested in your organization in the first place?  Many donors are happy to tell you what interests them, and you can use this information as you consider the right pathway.  However, if you only try to reach them by mailed invitations, you don’t have an opportunity to learn more about them.

Planning and Tracking Cultivation Paths using Moves Management

As your development team considers its “donor garden,” and how to care for the donors in it, you should create an action plan for the next three steps that you plan to take with that donor.  One step may be to engage a volunteer, another may be to invite them to a speaker series you are holding, and another may be to personally share a recent “win” for the organization.  As these three steps are mapped out, a staff member should be identified as the person who will ensure the identified pathway is taken.  In addition to the cultivation plan, there should be an intended target ask amount.  This ask might happen two months after the first step is taken, and it might happen a year later, but there should be an ask plan that matches the dollars you have identified in your development plan.

Your cultivation path should be a fluid, dynamic document.  A missed first step can derail the rest of the plan, and your action plan should reflect that shift.  Additionally, your plan doesn’t end when you receive the gift.  Once the gift is received, you should be planning the next steps to steward the gift, and show the donor how your organization is a good investment.

Every organization wants to know how to move the needle on the issue that their mission addresses.  I often have people as me how they can make a significant improvement on their fundraising results – how can they go from good to great?  The answer is always a robust major giving program.  A deliberate plan to bring individual donors closer to your organization is the best way toward real mission advancement.

Tax Law Changes and the Impact on Charitable Giving

With changes no longer on the horizon but here now, how does the new tax law impact your organization and your donors?Staff at Kennari have been receiving and reviewing several webinars, documents and information about the changes that have come. We wanted to share a couple notable pieces with you.

The Sharpe Group recently facilitated a webinar detailing the recent tax law changes and potential impact on charitable giving. Additionally the Sharpe Group provides a White Paper detailing the changes. We hope you find this information helpful. As always, if you have detailed questions please consult your tax advisor.

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