On Saturday, I attended the funeral of my father’s aunt — Ruth Merriman — in Crystal Lake, IL. She lived a long and amazing life and her family will miss her dearly. While sitting through the service listening to her children and grandchildren eulogize her, I couldn’t help marvel at the things I didn’t know about my distant relative. For example . . .
- Aunt Ruth was the first female to be voted the president of a School Board in the State of Illinois
- She was a Girl Scout volunteer earlier in life
- In her retirement, she loved her volunteer work at Good Shepard Hospital in Barrington, IL
Aunt Ruth was the picture of philanthropy, and I only kinda/sorta knew that. How embarrassing!
As I came to this conclusion, it dawned on me that many non-profit organizations are in the same boat with their donors.
Donors are part of your organizational family, but oftentimes they are like distant relatives who you don’t know very well. I wonder how many times a non-profit organization found out that someone was “into their mission” only after the donor had passed away?
Of course, the only solution to this problem is to get out of your office and visit with your donors.
- Invite your donors to coffee or lunch
- Ask them to attend your events
- If they stop donating to you, re-engage them and visit
A good friend of mine did exactly this when he accepted the position of President & CEO of a non-profit organization.
He first started looking for people who had once been loyal supporters but for whatever reason stopped donating. Then he found mutual friends (e.g. board members, former board members, volunteers, donors, etc) and asked them to assist with a re-introduction. On a go-forward basis he simply engaged in relationship building.
While relationship building varies with different donors, it involved nursing home visits, cigars, and field trips to visit the organization’s facilities in the case I just referenced.
If this sounds simple, I assure you that it is. BUT resource development doesn’t have to be complicated.
Sometimes you find great people. Other times you uncover amazing stories. Once in a while, you rediscover a passionate donor who adds you to their estate plan for $500,000, which is exactly what happened in the case of my friend.
What are you doing to engage your donors and bring them into the inner circle of your non-profit family?
In other news . . .
Speaking of maturing donors and relationship building, I am reminded of BREAKING NEWS that was recently announced.
Did you hear that Congress passed and President Obama signed legislation into law extending the IRA Charitable Rollover retroactive to the beginning of 2014? This legislation allows individuals over age 70½ to directly transfer up to $100,000 per year from an IRA account to one or more charities.
Of course, the catch is that is retroactive to January 1, 2014 and only covers contributions through December 31, 2014.
If you want a better/clearer explanation, check-out Tony Martignetti’s vlog on this subject.
Happy Holidays . . . and here’s to your health!
Founder & President, The Healthy Non-Profit LLC