This morning I was on LinkedIn and a friend of mine, who works for a nonprofit in the Twin Cities area where I live, used the term “Game-Changer”, and that he wanted to be one of these game-changers for his organization. Now this term is not officially in the Webster Dictionary, or at least I couldn’t find it as an official word when I Googled the expression, but Wiktionary defines game-changing as critical and having the potential to alter the overall outcome. Investopedia defines a game changer as a person who is a visionary, or several other longer definitions, but I gravitated to this one: “A game changer changes the way that something is done, thought about or made.”
So how can we become a game-changer at our organization given the current state of the economy, where we may be finding that our constituents don’t have the resources to donate at the level they have been giving to us as they have so generously in the previous years? How do we find some new prospects that may be capable and likely to give our nonprofit a gift from the vast array of names and addresses in our database? How can we improve how we are communicating with and engaging our prospects and donors? There is no one answer on any of this, but here are a few ideas that your organization may not be considering right now, but should be looking at to help breathe new life into your prospect and donor pool:
- Do some internal or external modeling/data mining to identify those pockets of prospects who have been giving consistently to your organization, especially in the most recent 3-5 years. An external modeling service should enhance your data collection with external variables that may also point towards some new prospects that look like those who are already donating to your organization.
- Conduct a prospect screening to identify the potential wealth, philanthropic interests, professional relationships, and other affiliations that could shed some further light on them as potential prospects.
- Once you have identified and segmented out a top list of potential donors, hold peer review sessions with your top donors, board members, volunteers, and other committee members to see what other prospects they might know.
- After conducting all the necessary modeling, screening, and peer review steps mentioned above, look at the middle of your pyramid to see who may potentially upgrade to become a major donor now or in the future.
- Have a very active social media presence in Facebook, Twitter, YouTube, and LinkedIn, so that you have an inexpensive but very effective way to reach out to your constituents.
- If you haven’t done this already, having a professional come in and help you with developing a strategic plan to help you with all on-line tools at your disposal, including your usage of social media, with your website presence, your viral fundraising, and your e-communications (email and e-newsletter).
- Be diligent in stewarding all your donors, so if you have an annual fund donor who gives via your website, via social media, or some other on-line method, be sure to contact them on-line with a thank you. Chances are that is the method they will see and take the time to read. If they donate via the mail, then acknowledge them with a thank you letter. In other words, steward your donors in the manner in which they are engaging with your organization.
- Create metrics so that you can measure your nonprofit’s success with all the ideas mentioned above.
These are just some of many ideas that if given 110%, might make a measurable difference at your organization. No strategic plan, modeling, screening, etc. will make any difference unless you have the means and motive to act upon the game-changing ideas mentioned above or that you have come up with on your own, so make sure you are ready to follow-through. It could make the difference between raising just enough money to stay afloat or exceeding everyone’s expectations.
*Carol Belair is a consultant for Target Analytics. You may reach her at firstname.lastname@example.org.