The Washington Post, along with many other newspapers across the country, continues to use November as its annual opportunity to explore philanthropy and giving in the community. In today’s Business Section I read a great article that profiled 11 leaders from various fields here in the Greater Washington, DC region. (Yes, I actually read the paper; I still get the print edition!) It asked each of the leaders some frank questions about their giving, such as how much did they give, had the focus of their philanthropy changed recently, how they set their priorities and how they gauged impact. It was very enlightening, both in the thoughtfulness of their responses, but also in the general similarity of their responses.
Many of them either had kept or actually increased their giving during the economy. Most were focused on “safety net” issues, but not all. Some did remind readers that arts and culture organizations need funding as well. Many emphasized the importance of giving locally, of helping those in their own home communities or the communities in which their employees/customers worked. And the importance of demonstrated impact continued to crop up as an important factor in their decision to support various organizations. These are all themes we hear repeated again and again, but it was encouraging to see such a diverse range of community leaders reinforce them in such a way.
So what’s the lesson here?
Nonprofits – are you paying attention? You want to know what’s motivating donors to give? Here it is right here! Go read this article.
Get into the habit of being in regular conversation with your donors, especially your major donors. Fundraisers should be able to link their ask to a donor’s passion. And the only way we’re going to know that is by listening. “Why do you feel so strongly about helping others in need?” “Why is it so important to you to help our local community stay vibrant and strong?” If you look at the questions posed in The Post article, you should have a general answer for each of those questions for each of your top-level donors. Imagine the tailored impact you could have, the truly meaningful conversations that could take place if you understood what was driving your donors!
Have a look. What lessons do you take away from this piece? Let us know what you think.
The Washington Post – On Giving 2011
It’s November. That means it’s the season for holiday giving guides and spotlights on philanthropy.
This month, the Community Foundation for the National Capital Region, in partnership with the United Way of the National Capital region and Razoo , hosted the very first Give to the Max for the Washington Area. It was a tremendous success, with more than 17,000 people participating, resulting in more than $2 million in contributions to hundreds of organizations. The event energized many nonprofits to get creative, especially in areas of social media. Among those, For the Love of Children (FLOC) raised nearly $87,000 in that single day, and Little Lights Urban Ministries made their mark by bringing in 729 donors through the event.
Late in October, the 2011-2012 edition of the Catalogue for Philanthropy was released. This compendium of nonprofits from throughout the Washington, DC area serving a wide range of constituencies provides interested donors a highly targeted mechanism through which they can participate in thoughtful philanthropy. Other publications such as the Charity Choices DC-Area Guide, and the Post 200 spotlight on charities and associations on November 7th, all bring the needs and accomplishments of the nonprofit sector to the attention of the general public.
These are just a few of the many lists and publications that are out now to help donors make wise decisions. The BBB Wise Giving Alliance has released its fall/holiday 2011 “Wise Giving” guide, which is focused on social media. Charity Navigator, which has come out with a revised system of rating nonprofits, has also released its annual Holiday Giving Guide.
Is your nonprofit using these portals and guides as ways to learn about donor behavior? Are you using these sites to promote your nonprofit’s work?
Take time to find out how your nonprofit can benefit from promoting thoughtful philanthropy.
The 2010-11 Catalogue for Philanthropy was released late last year. Published by the Harman Family Foundation in cooperation with a number of local partners and volunteers, it’s a specialized resource for nonprofits and donors here in the DC area. It highlights the work of more than 300 small community-based nonprofits AND provides donors an opportunity to undertake high-impact giving right in their own back yard. Since 2003, the Catalogue has helped to raise more than $12 million to featured nonprofits here in the area.
For more information, visit www.cfp-dc.org