Wednesday, May 7, 2014

Growing Philanthropy Part 3: Identifying New Audiences, Channels, and Forms of Giving with Strong Potential for Growth

Encourage the adoption of monthly giving. Monthly giving has so many benefits for charities and donors that I am always amazed at how few nonprofits promote this option. Per Sergeant and Shang, the lifetime value of supporters giving in this way is estimated to be 600 to 800 percent higher than "non-sustainer" donors. They note that younger donors prefer monthly giving because it is considered more convenient and environmentally friendly, requiring less renewal and reminder mailings. Donor retention is far higher for sustaining donors as well. It's a no brainer.

Improve the sector's engagement with young people. Promote giving at an early age and help develop a "giving habit". Utilize new digital media such as digital applications, virtual environments, gaming platforms, and social networking. Find ways to make it easy, affordable, and enticing to include them in the philanthropic process.

Encourage and promote best practices in social media. Traditional giving channels still significantly outperform online giving, and social media accounts for only just over 10 percent of that small portion. Nonetheless, social media has a huge potential to greatly increase a supporter's engagement, and engagement is the key to healthy giving. Social media also has the potential to build donor commitment, trust and loyalty. But it must be done well. This is a great opportunity for an astute nonprofit since so much social media based fundraising is done so poorly.

Encourage asset-based giving. 93 percent of American wealth is made up of stocks and non-cash assets such as real estate, business interests, and personal property. Charities are "missing the boat" if they are solely focused on chasing the 7 percent cash available. Provide easy means for donors to contribute asset-based resources.

Improve the quality of bequest fundraising. Although 80 percent of Americans will support the nonprofit sector during their lifetimes, only 8 percent will provide for charities in their estates. Sergeant and Shang believe part of the challenge is that charitable bequest solicitation has been relegated solely to the planned giving departments at nonprofits. They suggest that soliciting bequests should receive wider and broader communication and informational materials be accessible and employed by all staff.

Leveraging companies to promote philanthropy. Since many individuals spend most of their waking hours at work, provide opportunities in the workplace to educate employees about charity missions and outcomes. It must be more than simply a card table and brochures set up in a lobby. One nonprofit had launched a campaign to address obesity and set up a fajita bar at a local business to teach workers how to prepare healthy fare. They effectively hammered home their brand, their goals, and addressed latent objections such as proper dieting is no fun.

Although Sergeant and Shang's report included other recommendations, they concluded with this insightful statement, "Instead of viewing donors as a source of revenue and maximizing the value of that relationship, they (nonprofits) need to focus more on the individual and the articulation of that person's philanthropy. Only when we stop asking for money and instead ask for individuals to reflect on their own philanthropic identity will the needle truly be moved on giving."

Let's move the needle.

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