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Monday, July 11, 2011

Big Gifts for Small Shops

There's a myth that smaller nonprofit organizations have a harder time securing big gifts than larger organizations. In fact, any size nonprofit organization can be the beneficiary of significant philanthropic gifts, but when you have a smaller staff, you have to be extremely diligent about what you do to make these transformational gifts happen. Don't just wait for the contributions to drop in your lap! Here's what you can do:

Think BIG. Small organizations sometimes sell themselves short. We remind the organizations we work with, "you're small but mighty!" Transformational gifts only happen if you have a transformational idea. Come up with the big dream and sell it!

Determine what you can get donated in-kind. It's often easier to get physical items donated rather than cash. Be careful, however, to determine what quality you are willing to accept. Don't take something sub par just because it's available. Also, I'm not talking about a wish list in the newsletter--you actually have to ask for items just like you would ask for a cash gift.

Mine your files. Nonprofit organizations notoriously under-utilize the data they already have. Do you have a donor database? A vendor database? Even if it's just a list in the checkbook, you have a list of people who have an established relationship with your organization. If you look at the list, you might find some hidden gems. If you don't recognize the names on your list, ask around--your board, your other staff members, even the donor! Also, look for consistency of giving rather than just size of gift. People who have been giving to you consistently have established a certain level of loyalty; even if they don't have the capacity for a larger gift, they may know someone who does.

Start a planned giving program. Now. Today. It's easy--read Starting a Simple, No Hassle Planned Giving Program.

Start a monthly giving program. This is a hugely easy way to get people to up their investment in your organization. Think about it--it's a lot easier to do $100 a month than it is to give $1,200 in one lump sum. Even if you start low tech, like giving a donor 12 envelopes, it will bring in more consistent revenue throughout the year.

Ask, ask and ask again. It's a game of numbers--larger shops seem to have more success with major gifts because they are asking more! At least once a month, ask someone for "too much." Preferably, ask twice a month or more. You may discover what you thought was too big of a gift is actually quite do-able. As the old adage goes, you don't get what you don't ask for!

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