Storms can sink a ship. Captains who successfully navigate storms at sea are both proactive and adaptive to avoid disaster. In the same way, successful non-profits have modified their fundraising messaging and communication channels in response to the rogue wave of COVID-19 to achieve amazing results. Many non-profits have taken the additional proactive step to evaluate strengths and examine vulnerabilities of their fundraising portfolio.

As fall approaches give some attention to proactive steps that will strengthen the sustainability of your organization and minimize the impact of the vulnerabilities. In a storm, the ballast in a ship helps create extra weight and prevent the ship from capsizing or sinking. In a non-profit, the ballast is not just the quantity of donors, but the quality of your midlevel and major donor plan. These weighty donors are the top 20% who give 80% to your cause. Now is the time to consider how you value these VIPs. It is EQUALLY crucial that you position your organization to transition smaller annual donors to greater ownership of your organization’s vision and mission.

5 strategies to help shift ballast to your hull and transition more donors to mid-level and Major giving.
1. Identify what gift amount constitutes a mid-level and major donor. Not all organizations are created equal. Look at your database and make a pyramid so you can see a range of what the top 20% are giving.
2. When you identify this group of VIP donors. Analyze their giving history, average age & geographic information. For example, on average how long did they give before they moved into the mid-level or major donor giving level. This information will allow you to look at the smaller annual donors and find those donors who fit those categories and are closest to those milestones. The same logic would apply to mid-level donors transitioning to major donors. Segment this list and use better, higher end communication tools to target these prospective donors.
3. Survey these prospects and ask them to identify how they would like to hear from your organization and what their primary interests are within the context of your vision and mission.
4. Identify higher end asks in your budget and invite them to give to these programs or initiatives. If you have done a good job building trust by informing them of how their dollars are making a difference and thanking them, then the transition is an emotionally gratifying next step.
5. Employ better gift ask tables to ensure that donors are being encouraged to upgrade their gifts.

Anchors Away! Let’s set a course for deeper waters and new horizons!