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Could You Use More Money to Help More People in Need?

Could You Use More Money to Help More People in Need? 1080 1080 Jill Pioter
Ryan Carney, Chief Advancement Officer

Across the U.S., Conferences and Councils have seen a rising demand for our services. With housing and food costs at historic highs, this isn’t a surprise — not only are more people calling us for help, but the cost to provide aid is more costly than before. This column will be devoted to helping Conferences and Councils raise more money to help more people in need.

We feel the best place to begin is by encouraging the one fundraising activity that has the highest return on our time, money, and effort: Meeting with donors one on one. For many Conferences and Councils, this is an often talked about but neglected activity. We tend to favor grants, special events, and mailings in place of picking up the phone and calling our best donors.

A recent survey conducted by the consultant group AmPhil found (not surprisingly) that organizations who have the most donor visits raised the most money. Given that major donors can often have a 10 to 1 return on investment, organizations that prioritize meeting one on one with their best donors or prospects raise the most money.

If you’re wondering how to get started — or are afraid to pick up the phone — here are some tricks that have worked for me in the past.

Start by calling people simply to thank them for their recent gift. Relationships are a major piece of donor development, and not every conversation has to be an ask for money. It’s best that only 40% or so of your conversations end in an ask. Simply have a conversation where you’re asking questions to discover donors’ passions and motivations. You’ll be cultivating and nurturing a relationship and making their support of SVdP into something truly meaningful to them.

Call people who recently gave, or run a list of your top 10 donors. When you call, introduce yourself and thank them for their support. While you’ve got them on the phone, ask them why supporting St. Vincent de Paul is meaningful to them. Ask if there’s anything you can pray for. And finally, ask if they’d be open to meeting in person or over zoom so you could share in a more personal way how they’re giving this help the poor in your community. Those that say yes are great prospects and have given an indication that they want to have a one-to-one relationship.

Ryan Corry, Chief Philanthropy Officer for SVdP Phoenix, recently posted an article on LinkedIn about how sharing meaningful experiences with donors not only nurtures great relationships but also has a high rate of fulfillment. In other words, fewer people cancel when you’re doing something fun and meaningful together.

And finally, be curious! When we’re meeting a donor for the first time, the spotlight is on them. We’re asking questions and listening. A good rule of thumb is two ears to one mouth. In conversations, we wanting to uncover their motivation for supporting SVdP. Why they’re giving is meaningful — find out if they are giving because of their family history, their faith, their values. The motivator will be different for everyone. We also want to determine what they want to accomplish through their gift. Don’t immediately move towards asking for a gift. Instead, it’s our responsibility to ask questions to uncover a deeper meaning behind someone’s giving.

We’ll explore all these areas and more. But the bottom line takeaway is, to open the opportunity for further and deeper support, you’ll need to begin engaging, stay curious, and provide meaning back to our donors.

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