5 actions in response to a positive philanthropic outlook

Good news has been a long time coming for the majority of small to mid-size nonprofits, including those with a faith base. So it’s no wonder that a report from Indiana University’s Lilly Family School of Philanthropy and consulting firm Marts & Lundy predicting almost 5 percent increases in charitable giving for both 2015 and 2016 has development folk dancing in the streets.

group_jumping_up_12574Prematurely, however, for most. Or so I predict.

Forgive me for being a party-pooper, but an overall increase in charitable giving doesn’t insure an equal share to all 1.5 million charitable organizations of record in the U.S. God may be even-handed in the distribution of sunshine and rain, warming and showering the just and unjust alike, but donors aren’t and don’t.

You are going to have to work for an increase, beginning with the following actions.


1. Dust off your organization’s case for support. Specifically, strike the words “in these tough economic times” from your narrative. Donors have had enough gloom and doom, of funding survival. They’re eager to invest in mission possibilities, so make that your story.

2. Get out of the office more. With your sunnier case statement in hand, it’s time to hit the road. If you need a challenge to get you moving, aim for 5 percent more visits than what you managed in 2014. Repeat the increase again in 2016.

3. Conclude at least one-fifth of donor visits by asking for a gift. This goal leaves plenty of room for careful, patient cultivation of a potential donor’s interest. But when meeting with long-time friends of your ministry, it’s a waste of your time and theirs to end a meeting without inviting their continued support.

4. Thank donors promptly and then thank them again. I suppose it is possible to overdo appreciation, but I’ve not seen it. For most donors, three or four thank-yous spread throughout the year is well within reason. If one of the bunch comes from a board member, so much the better.

5. Wrap your activity in prayer. Even in good times, a fundraiser’s work isn’t easy. Especially in smaller shops, there’s more to do than seems (in fact, is) humanly possible. It takes the divine wisdom that comes through prayer to differentiate the important from the urgent, the essential from the would-be-nice.

Your organization may not yet have felt the economic up-tick. However, if the Indiana University/Marts & Lundy report is correct in its predictions, better days are on the way. But don’t just sit back and wait for good times to come knocking.

Take the five actions outlined here and good things will happen. That’s more than a prediction. It’s a promise.

For more on actions for fundraising success, see:

7 requisites for doing fundraising well

Planning for fundraising success on the count of three

Punching up your fundraising program

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