Event Recap: Fundraising is an Art, not a Science

On April 30 we got to hear from Dani Robbins, the Director of NonProfit Administration Programs at John Carroll University, about what makes fundraising an art and not a science. 

Whether you're a veteran fundraiser or new to the field of development, there's always new lessons to be learned in the world of fundraising. Donors fuel the missions of our organizations, keeping the key publics of our organizations cared for. 

And, well, that takes work. Like any good thing, fundraising takes practice... but that practice might not make perfect. Fundraising can't be boiled down to an exact science, it's an art. 

According to our presentation from Danni Robbins, while fundraising is not a science, there are some facts we do know, like: 

  • 2017 saw record-breaking numbers in the charitable giving sector, with more than $410 billion given
  • 70% of the year's charitable giving came from individuals 
  • 16% of the year's charitable giving came from foundations
  • 5% of the year's charitable giving came from corporations - which is on par with the historical average given by corporations 

At times, it can feel like gut instinct to focus on larger-scale donor dollars, like corporations and corporate giving. But, the numbers show that individuals truly hold the key to success for fundraising professionals.

Why do individuals give? 

Even after an individual gives, though, Robbins stressed the importance of continued stewardship - showing respect and appreciation for the people who keep your organization's mission alive. 

While passion can fuel a donation, research shows that an organization not acknowledging a donation can account for more tahn 13% of donors of stop giving. 

“it’s much harder to get a donor than to keep a donor," said Robbins. 

Attendees learned about some of the most effective stewardship strategies - including impact and thank you stories. A popular strategy she used in a prior role at the YMCA clubs was having students and kids who were impacted by programming call donors to say thank you. Both the kids and the donors loved the interactions, Robbins said, and it left everyone smiling. 

But, each nonprofit needs to step back and think about stewardship (and fundraising!) strategically. That's where the art comes in! Your fundraising approach and stewardship methods need to stay true to your organization and your mission. There is a certain art that comes with crafting the perfect donor ask, just like there is a certain art to crafting the perfect thank you for that donor. 

Robbins coached us through the art of making an effective ask - teaching the attendees how to be clear and concise when making the "big ask" to a donor. 

We loved hosting this workshop in partnership with the Nonprofit Administration Program at John Carroll University!

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  • Erin Zaranec
    published this page in Workin' It 2019-05-04 20:10:57 -0400