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The Signatry Blog
Conversations from our thought leaders

Ministry

Key insights into a major donor plan

3 weeks ago By Kristin Hammett

Ministries have been entrusted with a calling to serve their communities and God’s Kingdom and challenged to fund that work effectively. Major donors, entrusted with God’s resources, are a crucial strategy for any non-profit development effort. All donors play an essential role in ministry support, but nearly 90% of donations come from approximately 10% of donors. Thus, creating a major donor plan is crucial to the success and sustainability of your organization. Do you have a major donor plan? If so, does it include all the key components? Here are a few tips to get started or to evaluate your current efforts. Identify potential major givers. Determining who believes in your mission and who has the capacity to give is a crucial first step. You’ve heard me say before that ministry development is the connection point of God’s work to His resources. Begin your major donor efforts by looking for those with the capacity to give and evaluate their alignment with your mission. A good starting point is to leverage your leadership team and board members. You board may be well connected to individuals who are willing and capable of becoming a major donor. These individuals may include business owners, entrepreneurs, real estate developers, corporate executives, as well as many others. Generous people and potential major donors are all around us. Understand their needs Once you’ve decided who your potential major givers are, learn about them. Get to know their story. What causes do they care about it? If they’ve already given to your cause, why do they give? Listen well. This will set the stage for a conversation that will speak to their interests and how they relate to your needs. Provide a personalized approach Cultivating major donors is a relational investment. Face to face meetings are preferred to phone calls, emails, or letters. In-person meetings show you care and are willing to invest in relationships. This helps you understand what programs a potential giver may align with best and gain insight into what they care about most. Creating a communication strategy that extends past the initial gift will continue to earn their trust and loyalty in the future. Create a clear call to action Don’t forget the ask. Often if an individual is willing to meet, they are prepared to take the next step of giving, but only when there is a clear call to action. When you create a call to action, be very clear where the gift is going. For example, you can say, “Would you being willing to give a gift of X amount of dollars to help us with _____?” You can fill in the blank with the project your organization’s needs. Give a detailed follow-up. Plan how you will personally thank your donor after the gift is received. Once a donor has given an initial gift, follow up by sharing the impact of their contribution. This personalized approach will prove to encourage a long-standing relationship that benefits you and your major donors. Cultivating major donors is a significant endeavor. Remember this is a process; don’t get discouraged. Stay in contact with prospective donors. Perhaps this isn’t the right time for them, but a year later maybe. Remember, this is about relationships, and those take time to build, foster and grow.

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Ministry

Purposeful Events—Move from Transaction to Transformation

2 months ago By Kristin Hammett

Events are powerful in building relationships, awareness, and loyalty with your donors. Whether it is a banquet, retreat, golf tournament, or an auction –– events can be a great tool to dramatically grow your support.   Plan. An effective event has a strategic purpose, measurable objectives, and a clear outline of the steps needed to achieve your goals. When determining your purpose, it is essential to define your objectives. Are you hosting a fundraising event? If so, how much money do you want to raise? Having a clear understanding of your goals positions your organization to select the best steps to effectively meet them.    Engage. The key to a successful event is personal engagement which leads to transformation. Real change happens when your audience begins to move beyond the transaction of giving and focus on the broader experience. Emphasizing the heart and mindset of possible change, and not just money will impact their hearts and partnership is likely to follow. By inviting guests to join in the mission and play an active role in problem-solving, they will see themselves as a part of the story – one where they can be the hero.  Review. It is no secret that events require a lot of work. After it is over, you will most likely want to stop thinking about it altogether! But, this is when the real developmental work begins. Measuring your ROI (return on investment) is imperative for planning future events. The data you gather will offer deeper insight into your event expenditure and better understand how it impacts your bottom line.   Follow Up. Saying thank you to your volunteers, donors, and sponsors goes a long way. Continuing to engage your donors into the problem they are helping solve rather than a merely transactional receipt, will benefit both your organization and those who support it. And don’t stop with a thank you letter. Call them, engage them, meet for coffee. Get to know your donors! An event is just the beginning of what can be a great donor/ministry relationship! 

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Ministry

Making Donors the Hero of Your Story

4 months ago By Kristin Hammett

We all see things from our own perspective. Donors do too. They see through their own lens of experience and perspective. To communicate effectively, strive to meet your donors where they are and provide answers to the questions, they may not realize they are asking. Donors often ask themselves “How does this impact me?” “What’s in this for me?” “What if this were me?” Providing answers to these questions will connect your donors to your mission. Below are a few important questions to begin thinking along these lines. How do donors help your organization succeed? What difference does their support make? What is the impact of their donation? Who are the donors helping? There are many heroes in your organization already: volunteers, board members, clients who make a brave choice, employees, etc. However, your donor-facing communication isn’t the time to sing their praises. Consider how your communication makes your donor feel. Do they feel empowered? Do they feel angry about the injustice that is happening? Do they feel they can help? Communication with your donors should be focused on them. Make the donor the hero of your story and the impact will be powerful. The key is to minimize your organization and center your communication on the donor and the client. You can accomplish this by making small changes in your language. For example, Will you help feed the hungry in our community this week? or Because of you, we were able to feed the hungry in our community. (St. Jude Children’s Research Hospital is a great example of this with their “because of you” campaign) Invite donors to participate in your efforts, don’t guilt them. It is important to avoid the implication that your donor should do something, but rather focus on the idea that they can do something. Fundraising is about waking up an army of heroes to join you in your mission. It’s about inviting people in by letting them believe in their own power. By simplifying your message, you invite the donor to be the hero. You offer them an invitation to take action and join your cause.  

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