Money tells a story.
Sandy has been giving $100 to your organization every year around the holidays for five years. This year, she gives the organization a $1,000 check to be used at the discretion of the organization. Why?
John gave a $2,500 gift in 2012 when his father, a long-time donor, passed away. Your organization sent him a thank you immediately following the gift and a few direct mail solicitations since that time, but John has not donated again. Why?
Stacey has attended nearly every one of your fundraising events since your charity began, but last year, she just sent a check for $100. This year, the organization didn’t receive a gift. Why?
Tim is on your mailing list because he participated in a collaborative volunteer event with you and another organization. While he lives within a block from your charity, he has never donated. Why?
With personal data becoming more readily available, donors are being solicited by local, national, and international organizations on a regular basis – vying for an immediate donation. How do you stand out?
1) Make sure your Executive Director or development person’s first job is building relationships.
One of the biggest challenges for any smaller nonprofit is giving a fundraiser and Executive Director the time to build relationships. In most small shops, a full-time employee often takes on multiple titles and wears ‘many hats.’ Are there some tasks you can offset to another position? If you can’t hire a full-time person, do you have some room in your budget to hire a contracted employee to help?
Here are some of the areas where an experienced contracted employee can make a big difference:
2) Keep a personal touch to your fundraising efforts.
While it’s easy to send an email campaign to 500 people, it’s not a personal connection. Every donor needs something different for you to remain one of their top charities. Not every donor wants a monthly phone call or an email each week, so it’s important to learn what they do want. If you’re not sure, you may want to start with a constituent survey and a phone call or email to follow-up.
Once you ask the right questions, you may learn:
Sandy has been giving $100 to your organization every year around the holidays for five years. This year, she gives the organization a $1,000 check to be used at the discretion of the organization. Why? This was the first year the organization started a giving club where $1,000 was the ‘founder’s circle’ level. Sandy was a childhood friend of your organization’s founder.
John gave a $2,500 gift in 2012 when his father, a long-time donor, passed away. Your organization sent him a thank you immediately following the gift and a few direct mail solicitations since that time, but John has not donated again. Why? John has been busy creating his own legacy and was recently nominated as an emerging leader in his city’s chamber. In his survey, he mentions that he is interested in a future board position.
Stacey has attended nearly every one of your fundraising events since your charity began, but last year, she just sent a check for $100. This year, the organization didn’t receive a gift. Why? In her survey, Stacey identifies that she has attended less than three fundraising events each year when previously she attended up to five. She identified her preferred engagement is through volunteer work at this time.
Tim is on your mailing list because he participated in a collaborative volunteer event with you and another organization. While he lives within a block from your charity, he has never donated. Why? He has never been asked! In his survey, he identifies that email is his preferred communication method, and he would be interested in further involvement.
Today is the day to invite the conversation, thank the donor, and encourage the new friend. If you're not sure where to start, consider taking this short survey, and I'd be happy to help!
Most nonprofits don’t like to spend money where they don’t have to, so hiring a contract employee can make the most sense. Grant writing is one way an organization can diversify revenue streams without spending a lot. Here are some simple questions to consider whether a contracted grant writer is the right fit for you:
1. Are you just starting your grants initiative?
2. Are you raising less than $500,000 through grant funding?
3. Are you looking for ways you can do more with less?
If you answered ‘yes’ to any of these questions, then a contracted grant writer may be a good fit for your organization. Why? Here are four good reasons:
1. Access to more resources: A proven contract grant writer often has more opportunities to build a good rapport with funders because they have worked with the funder on multiple projects. Where a full-time employee may only come into contact with a funder once or twice throughout the year, a good contract grant writer may be building that bridge several times throughout the year.
2. Fewer logistical challenges: Hiring a new employee means finding space for that employee to work and providing that person with a desk, computer, and office supplies needed to get the job done. Organizations that most need grant writers are often faced with the logistical challenges of finding more room for programming. Contracted grant writers most typically come with their own computers, office space, and office supplies.
3. Better use of time and resources: Consider your Monday morning routine catching up with coworkers after the weekend and that slow trip to the coffee maker before a leisurely walk back to your desk…multiple times a day. Sure, you’re adding to that friendly office culture, but are you meeting your daily goals? While some employers prefer to have a grant writer on site to answer questions, most salaried employees spend some % of their work hours focused on…not work. One of the benefits of a contracted grant writer is that they can often be paid by the hour and work to help you get the most out of that time in or outside of the office.
4. More room in your budget to serve those in need: According to PayScale, the average grant writer salary is $47,902. For a smaller organization that may not want to worry about the extra burden of a salary and benefits, a contracted grant writer may be ideal. Many organizations find they can contract with a grant writer at less than half the cost of a full-time employee. An experienced grant writing professional may charge anywhere from $40 to $100 per hour, which can be exercised to fit most annual budgets with the benefit of an experienced professional on your side.
While there is not just one ‘right answer’ for helping your organization build capacity, many organizations are faced with the reality that they must do more with less resources. The 2018 report from the Midwest Center for Nonprofit Leadership found that while the nonprofit sector in Kansas City is on par with most similar-sized metropolitan areas, the total income and assets available in the region is ranked lowest. Across the country, individual giving is facing similar trends with a 3.4% decrease in 2018. On the flip side, foundation and corporate giving went up! So organizations that cultivate both individuals AND foundations might find their annual fund grew or remained the same while organizations that did not solicit grants might have struggled to keep up. As a whole, nonprofits must plan to diversify their fundraising strategies in a changing market, and hiring a contracted grant writer is one smart way to ensure you’re organization is prepared for the future.