The Sanford Institute of Philanthropy, part of the Sanford Education Center at National University, is dedicated to Cause Leadership through the combined efforts of fundraising, board development and community engagement through better communication and management.

“Our goal is to help fundraisers develop their full potential and tap into the generosity of the communities they serve,” Dan McGinley, director of the Sanford Institute of Philanthropy, said
“As they become more effective, they can raise more money to make a difference for more people. And that helps everyone.”

The Sanford Institute of Philanthropy at National University offers graduate and certificate programs, and hosts a series of seminars at the Sanford Education Center.

 Here are Top 5 Fundraising Tips from the Sanford Institute of Philanthropy:

1. Condense Your Message

The “elevator pitch” isn’t just a buzzword. It’s a crucial concept that forces fundraisers to focus and streamline their pitches so they can present them in a matter of minutes.

“You’re more confident when you know exactly what to say,” McGinley said. “Briefly state what your organization does, what’s unique about your organization and why the donor should make a donation.”

Kelly, executive-in-residence and former CEO of the San Diego Foundation, says the institute’s classes focus on not just the message but the presentation too. Students participate in role-play exercises, allowing them to try out their new skills as they develop them.

“We help them make the best impression possible,” Kelly said.

2. Engage in Intelligent Prospecting

Once you have a message, it’s time to find potential donors. But not everyone has the same propensity toward giving, so it’s important to be selective.

“Should you go after somebody who’s never given away a nickel in their lives?” Kelly asks. “Think about whether the organization will succeed if you spend your time trying to convert someone who’s not a philanthropist.”

Once you identify a pool of potential donors, use data analysis to focus on the ones who will be most receptive to your message, he says. Parents of younger children or people who work with kids will be most receptive to children’s charities, for example, while cancer charities will find the most interest among people who have been personally touched by the disease.

3. Understand Your ‘Social Style’

Are you a driven person with a short attention span or more casual and laid-back? Do you want to pore over all the numbers or are you more likely to trust your gut? This is your “social style,” and it’s key to successful communications with donors and potential donors.

“You need to understand who you are,” Kelly explains. In his case, he’s learned that while his personality often meshes with high-energy people like CEOs, he may need to bring along a more mild-mannered colleague to make a connection with a donor who’s less intense.

4. Ask Questions and Listen

Many traditional approaches to fundraising emphasize spending 40 percent of the time on “closing the deal.” McGinley says this is the wrong approach.

“We have a different relationship model that’s designed to discover the donor’s needs and connect them to the cause,” he says. “We want to spend 40 percent of our time building trust and rapport. Probe and ask questions, do a lot of listening and identify what they’re looking for as a donor.”

5. Nurture the Donor Connection

“There’s a certain amount of expectation that donors have once they’ve given a gift,” McGinley says. “It’s alarming how many people don’t realize that.”

As fundraisers create relationships with donors, it’s vital to develop was to keep them engaged and let them know about progress that’s being made, he says. “The goal is to be accountable to the donor. If you’re successful and have done a good job of stewardship, you may find the donor will add to the gift.”

This will lead to a great result, he says: “You will get more money and help more people.”

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