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Our Prospect List Grew 120% Thanks to This Menu

Board members as fundraisers


This past week, after a series of warm, genuine, and guided meetings, one of my clients hit the “save” button on more than 120 new prospect names for an upcoming project! Considering we started fresh, our growth was 120%!

Eight weeks ago, I was told, “We’ve never raised money,” and “Who (sic) would we ask?” Yet, here we are today with 120 living, viable prospects across an array of sectors – individuals, family foundations, and locally owned business prospects.

What Happened?

Over and over during the past two years of consulting with non-profit organizations, I have met people who want to raise money, but they need the mission packaged into something to sell!

So, how did Miracle Strategies help transform a group of loyal board members into excited fundraisers?

I believe the answer is simple: When board members are provided with something to sell, a package of options, they go to work!

Before You Start…

I will show you how to package your non-profit “products” so your board can easily and simply connect your cause to friends, business associates, and family.

But, first, three caveats (or you won’t read the rest):

1. Your sales document is iterative. Don’t print too many drafts because you will be making many changes as you prioritize, clarify, and “price” to meet the capacity of your prospects.

2. Don’t try to reconcile each line of your menu to each line item in QuickBooks. (Take a deep breath…you’re already doing this with unrestricted funds raised through special events.)

Your menu opportunities equally consider cost, “perceived value,” community impact, and donor visibility.

To ask for gifts based on actual cost could be overwhelming to your donor prospects. (Read about the $90 salad dressing in Harvard Business Review.)

Consider this: A spot during the Super Bowl is valued at hundreds times more than an ad at 3 am during a rerun of The Adams Family. Both, however, are simply television ads.

3. Public foundations and corporations are not prospects for this strategy. This works best with family foundations and individuals who want to support your nonprofit mission but are overwhelmed by its nuances and numerous programs and services.

So, how can you create your own non-profit menu?

Five Steps to Build Your Non-Profit Menu

Step 1: Identify the funding gap in your organization which only philanthropy can fill. To do this, take your total budget, subtract out all earned revenue; federal, state, and county grants; United Way funding; and all other revenue which is not donated.

At this point, some of my clients also subtract gross event revenue as well.

Now, you have a clear picture of how much money our generous, American community will be asked to donate to your mission.

Step 2: Break down areas where philanthropic support is needed into two or three categories. I suggest Programs/Services and Building/Capital Improvements at the very least.

Highlight to your board and leadership team that you don’t need to build a building in order to run a campaign.

Step 3: Use Excel to create four columns with these headings: Naming Opportunity, Total Gift Over 3 Years (or 4, or 5), Gift Per Year, and Number Available.

Example: Afterschool tutorial program, which meets one time per week

Your total cost here may include the teacher’s salary, some portion of the operating overhead, transportation, and supplies. Let’s say this totals $75,000 per year. Divided by 52, that’s almost $1,500 per week.

Your Excel columns will look like this:
Naming Opportunity                  5-Year Gift    Per-Year       No. Available
Afterschool reading program     $10,000         $2,000           52

How does this work in real life? Let’s say I commit to give you $10,000 over five years.

During one of the 52 weeks, your teacher may announce, “Today’s session is provided by our underwriter, Phoenicia Miracle.” I will be recognized in your giving categories, and I will be stewarded regarding the outcomes of this program.

And, someday, when my ship comes in, I’ll double my gift because you’ve stewarded me so I understand that many more children need this service!

This strategy allows donors (like me) to reach hundreds of children over that five-year period with one Ask!

What about the “extra” funding? This funding may support overhead or a salary increase for (likely) underpaid teachers or a capital reserve for the AC so classes aren’t cancelled if the system breaks in June… and on and on. Be transparent about this!

Step 4: Be patient and get feedback from everyone, both internally and on your board.

Take time to explain. Board members want to help, want to give, and want to understand. This process has no room for a defensive conversation.

Step 5: Avoid Restricted Funds because not all fundable areas are equally “sexy.”

Here’s a true story: I once raised money for an organization which struggled to feed the elderly while growing programs to feed children, yet our research showed that our local seniors’ needs were equally as great as those of our children. Unrestricted funding would have allowed us to support the infrastructure which fed both groups!

Does this Work for All Non-Profit Sectors?

It was in this inequity as well as in my sponsorship work for a performing arts organization where this campaign-based fundraising plan began to crystalize for me. I learned even more as we put this concept to work at the children’s hospital, where we built a comprehensive campaign to fund programs while fundraising for the building itself.

And, then, last week, I participated, hands on, in meeting after meeting where our draft menu of ways to give – a campaign which hasn’t even been named – transitioned self-declared “non-fundraisers” into energetic, thoughtful and aspirational volunteers!

If you’re intrigued, let’s talk. A short-term fundraising consulting to build a non-building campaign for your organization (4 months or so) may be the right next step.

Contact me at PMiracle@MiracleStrategies.com. Together with your program staff and board, we can transform your scattered needs into a menu to make McDonald’s envious!

Want a professional perspective on your project? Contact Phoenicia.

Watch a sample of her work here!

Discover more simple, experience-based fundraising tips, by Clicking Here.

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