Monday, April 28, 2014

Growing Philanthropy

As mentioned in my March 20th blog post, back in June of 2011, fundraising experts Adrian Sargeant and Jen Shang from the School of Philanthropy at Indiana University published a report presented by Blackbaud, entitled Growing Philanthropy in the United States. Their research had found that, despite increasingly sophisticated fundraising practice, the development of sophisticated planned giving vehicles, the appearance of the Internet, and the rise of new digital channels, giving as a percentage of average household disposable (after tax) income has been static at 2% for at least 40 years. This, despite the increased level of human need presented as a challenge to nonprofits.  The number of natural disasters has tripled since the 1960s, the number of armed conflicts almost doubling during this period, one in six Americans are challenged with hunger and one percent of Americans are homeless.

Sargeant and Shang’s findings were reviewed at the Blackbaud 2011 Nonprofit Executive Summit and the conclusion of the participants included the following needs within the industry:
  • Enhance the quality of the donor relationship
  • Develop public trust and confidence in the fundraising sector
  • Identify audiences, channels, and forms of giving, with strong potential for growth
  • Enhance the quality of fundraising training and development

For the next four posts I will share additional details of each of these findings. First, addressing the donor experience:

Enhance the quality of the donor relationship
  • Understand donors have their own philanthropic aspirations and goals and find new ways for them to express their own philanthropic identity
  •  Go beyond maximizing the donors gift to your organization and develop the philanthropy of your supporters
  • Allow donors to have greater control over their giving relationship
  • Enhance focus on retention of donors by building the loyalty of supporters, since a 10% increase in retention can result in a 200% improvement in lifetime value of a supporter
  • Breakdown organizational silos and encourage greater collaboration between teams
  • Reduce high turnover rates (30% per annum) in the fundraising profession, often caused by CEOs and Board members who value their own limited personal experience or “gut feel” more than they do the accumulated fundraising body of knowledge, so that meaningful relationships have time to develop
  • Educate stakeholders about the necessity of a longer term and integrated approach to fundraising

I know many of these issues have been the topics of industry webinars and conferences. But how much progress has been made over the past three years since Sargeant and team published their report? I dare say, not much. Certainly, the lingering effects of the recession have prevented many organizations from indulging in what they may feel is the luxury of donor relationship building. Tight budgets may have reduced opportunities to invest in any activities beyond bare-bones solicitation. Unfortunately, failing to make progress regarding the foregoing issues has a direct impact on current fundraising success and the next blog posting topic - Developing public trust and confidence in the fundraising sector. 

Until then…

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