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5 Ways to Wow Non-Profit Donors

With the giving season upon us, now is the best time for nonprofit organizations to refine their donor outreach strategies. In fact, most nonprofit organizations receive more than a quarter of their contributions between October and December, according to the Nonprofit Fundraising Survey (2011).

The timing could not be better for the day-long Nov. 17 seminar being held by the Sanford Institute of Philanthropy at National University.

This seminar is based on a portion of the recently released book “Cause Selling The Sanford Way,” inspired by the vision of T. Denny Sanford, one of America’s most generous donors, and written by Dr. David J. Lill and his daughter Jennifer Lill. Participants will have a chance to practice pitching their causes before a panel of seasoned experts from the nonprofit fundraising community.

All kinds of nonprofit organizations have pitched to Sanford throughout his life, and he wants to help nonprofits get better at convincing others to support their causes. He is the inspiration behind the book and the institute’s unique and comprehensive curriculum with an emphasis on fundraising and donor relationships.

This month’s seminar is based in part on the book, which all attendees will receive free of cost. Here are a few highlights:

1. Know Your Target

Before you even consider meeting with a potential donor, take time to learn about the person. Your understanding of their passions and interests will help you break the ice during the conversation, and this insight can help you assess their potential interest in financially or emotionally supporting your cause.

Do your homework. Explore shared connections and other resources to learn about their hobbies, past giving history and viewpoints. This information is great to have ahead of any initial exploratory conversation.

2. Strive for Passion, not Perfection

So many of us get anxious about making that “perfect” presentation, and we tend to clutter up our presentations with data and statistics. But the best presentations are not about numbers. They are about inspiring people to give.

This means pulling heartstrings and creating and cultivating that connection between you, the cause and the donor. As “Cause Selling The Sanford Way” explains, “prospects are looking to you as the expert, but such ‘expert’ status is best conveyed through passion, not in-depth knowledge of an organization’s inner workings. Belief in and excitement about what you are saying are far more important than perfection.”

3. Nail Your Meeting Objectives

Stay passionate about your cause, but don’t lose sight of your objectives. Successful fundraisers have specific objectives for each meeting with prospects and donors. Classify your objectives as both immediate and long-term.

For example, the most obvious objective might be asking for a gift, but you won’t reach that point in every meeting you have. Instead, create milestones for donor relationship building.

As noted in the book, “in many instances, the objective is to get to know your donors better and discover their needs so that you may prepare your presentation for later consideration.” This means creating incremental objectives at different stages of the larger pitch or presentation.

4. Call on Repeat Donors

Don’t ever take a loyal donor for granted, and avoid getting into the routine of “How much are you interested in giving this time?”

Instead, make sure you are offering them something new and interesting each time you meet. Tell them about new programs, projects, or initiatives.

The book puts it this way: “Help reignite their passion for the cause and remind them why they gave in the first place. Doing so has the added benefits of keeping donors engaged and avoiding the feeling that their generosity is being taken for granted.”

5. Convey with Conviction

[call_to_action color=”” button_text=”Learn More” button_url=”http://www.eventbrite.com/e/sanford-institute-of-philanthropy-november-seminar-tickets-19065201531″]Want to learn more? Buy “Cause Selling The Sanford Way” via Amazon.com or get a complementary copy by signing up for the Sanford Institute of Philanthropy’s latest seminar Nov. 17. [/call_to_action]

“Cause Selling The Sanford Way” emphasizes the need to prepare “units of conviction” to convey your organization’s goals in a way that speaks to a prospect’s stated aspirations, concerns, or issues.

Think of these as building blocks, carefully prepared “mini-presentations” that work together construct the information you want to present. A single unit of conviction consists of five elements, which work together to bring attention to a feature of your cause that you want to highlight.

The day-long Nov. 17 seminar takes place from 8:30 a.m. to 4 p.m. at the Sanford Education Center at National University.

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