We hear a lot about Big Data and how it has transformed the way we live, from deciding which ads we see to finding cures that may save our lives. There’s no doubt about its power to influence and inform.
When you think of capital campaigns, you probably focus on major gifts. After all, those are what will propel you to your goal. It would be quite unusual to receive a major campaign gift online. However, online fundraising in your capital campaign can be an effective way to acquire and retain new donors.
I have been a volunteer on at least eight capital campaigns over the past 25 years. On some I was a working co-chair; on several I was an “honorary” co-chair; on some I was part of the campaign cabinet. I have been to countless cocktail receptions, dinners, briefings. I have squired many a prospect around on site visits. I have participated in myriad meetings with potential and actual donors. I have vetted hundreds of names on prospect lists.
Most of these campaigns were successful in reaching their goal. One was not. Some were lots of fun. Some were frustrating. All came with the rewards of helping secure major gifts for an important cause, being part of a hard-working team, and, perhaps most rewarding, watching other donors light up at the idea of making a major commitment to something they love.
Capital campaigns typically follow the 80/20 rule: 80% of the money comes from the top 20% of the donors. This means that the key to success for your capital campaign is securing those major gifts that fill in the top tiers in your gift range chart. These major gift donors are those who believe in your cause and your ability to make a difference, have the capacity to make a large gift, and have a connection to someone within your organization.
Fundraising with major donors is largely achieved through personal relationships and conversations between the donor, a volunteer, and the leadership team. Below are some helpful steps to securing large donations through capital campaign fundraising.
The end of the year is fast approaching and, as I’m sure you’re aware, nearly a third of all annual giving happens in December and 12% of all giving happens in the last 3 days of the year, so this is an important time for any nonprofit organization.
You’re probably in the middle of planning your year end giving push. Perhaps you’ve already designed and printed your direct mail piece and are starting to segment your donor list. Every donor on your list is valuable, but during this time of year, it’s important to pay special attention to three segments of donors: major donors, your board, and other special friends.
The other morning, while driving to work and listening to the radio, I found myself yelling at an NPR reporter. Not a very productive way to express my opinion, I admit. The reporter was interviewing a Red Cross spokesman on the topic of overhead expenses for the nonprofit organization, asking about the percentage of each Red Cross donation that goes directly to provide services to disaster victims. NPR’s reporter pushed the representative to admit that they spend more than 10% on overhead, presenting this claim as if it was a moral outrage.