The GuideStar Blog retired September 9, 2019. We invite you to visit its replacement, the Candid Blog. You’re also welcome to browse or search the GuideStar Blog archives. Onward!

GuideStar Blog

Major Gifts = NO Copying & Pasting ... Ever!

People often ask me how I define a major gift. To me, it’s a gift worth the time and money it takes to cultivate and solicit it.


Why a Donor Gives Dramatically More

Your organization occupies a box in a wealthy donor’s mind.  Let’s say it’s the five-thousand-dollar box.  How can you leap to the million-dollar box?


Fundraising Lessons from Freddie Mercury & Queen

Far reach from rockstar superstardom to fundraising glory? Not really! 

Watching Bohemian Rhapsody, I couldn’t help but notice a few standout truths and values from their rise to fame. They apply as much to hardworking fundraisers, dedicated to making the world a better place, as to anyone else reaching for success.


The Donor Pyramid and Marketing Funnel Have Changed

Fundraisers used to focus on the pyramid.

Bring small donors in at the bottom. Move ’em up, incrementally, to the top. What happened was the donors at the bottom didn’t get much attention, leading to a situation where today 79 percent of first-time donors flow right out of your base. In other words, the pyramid’s base is more like a river than a solid block of bricks. Not very strong. A pretty wobbly foundation on which to base the life of your nonprofit.


How Your Donors Can Help You

Some of the smartest things I do are accidents.

I was planning a trip to visit current and potential donors. I sent out the dates that I was available. Two of the people on the list—a current donor (we’ll call him Carl) and a potential donor (we’ll call him Phillip)—responded at the same time. They both said, “I can meet you at 10:00 on Thursday.”

Rather than re-negotiate the calendar with either of them, I asked each of them if they would be willing to meet together.


2019 Fundraising Trends—And How to Take Advantage of Them

I view January and February as a test run of sorts, before we really embark on a new year and new resolutions. This may feel especially true as we’re still figuring out what happened in 2018. Last year we saw lower year-end fundraising results. We saw a decline in the number of donors who give in the lower to middle end of the giving range. And whether those developments have anything to do with changes to the tax law remains a question.


8 Tips to Enhance Your Fundraising and Donor Relationships

All of a nonprofit’s actions are interconnected. If you do something to enhance your fundraising, that action is likely to affect another one of your strategies as well. Therefore, make sure you’re thinking through how one decision will affect each and every one of your strategies.


How Small and Medium Nonprofits Can Benefit from Using an Automated Dialer

Without actually meeting a supporter or donor, the closest you can possibly get to them is through a phone call. By calling them, you’re ensuring a personal touchpoint for communication, which is a great way to engage people in open-ended conversation.

In fact, several studies prove that phone calls are valuable retention tool for nonprofits:

  • Calling donors to thank them for their gift 24 hours after they’ve donated leads to an 39 percent increase in donations the next time you make a solicitation.

  • Calling donors to tell them how their contribution has positively impacted your campaigns and report your work without requesting additional money increases the amount they contribute the next time by about 41 percent.

But most small or medium-sized nonprofits still go about calling in an old-fashioned way: manually dialing numbers on their phones and using spreadsheets or actual paper to record responses. This is a hugely inefficient way of reaching out to supporters and an unnecessary waste of time. Cue phone banking through automated dialers, which optimizes the whole journey of using phone calls to connect with donors.


Show Me the Love: Creative Ways to Steward Your Donors

As development professionals, we often find ourselves laser-focused on closing gifts to reach our revenue goals. On average, gift officers spend more than three-quarters of their time identifying, cultivating, and soliciting new leads. While it is important to focus on actions that drive revenue, stewarding donors once the gift is secured helps maintain a strong and active donor pool.

It is important to show donors just how special, valued, and appreciated they are. Investing in stewardship techniques and developing strong relationships has been proven to lead to more frequent and larger gifts. In honor of Valentine’s Day, we wanted to share some ways to show your donors the love. From basic best practices to customized approaches, below are some tips to activate your donor base and maximize revenue through stewardship.


Retain More Online Donors with These 5 Fundraising Strategies

Online fundraising has become one of the most prominent trends in the nonprofit world. As Millennial and Gen Z donors make up a larger percentage of donors, nonprofits have found that they need to adjust their fundraising strategies to be more accommodating to this new audience.