In addition to having great donor systems [data base, name acquisition procedures, etc.], an organization must have an excellent and balanced approach to bringing in donations through 4 key streams:
Mail – Many faith based ministries send out 5-6 direct mail appeals to a donor list per year. The ministry is mindful of building the donor base with qualified names. The process of getting out a mail appeal includes: Theme identification, writing, graphic layout, printing, addressing, mailing, and tracking. The approach of mailing multiple appeals per year is often replaced by conducting an annual campaign, which seeks to ask just once per year. Because the organization has only one opportunity to secure a gift, the annual campaign approach involves more robust communication and follow-up. Skill set needed includes the following profiles: Creative writing skills, time management, detail oriented, can recruit a team, creativity and assertiveness in name acquisition.
Nurture – Donor Nurture involves relationship building between ministry leaders and strategic donors. Donor nurture seeks to bring value to the donor through involvement, acknowledgment, appreciation, trust building, and exposure to the ministry. Often, donor nurture is the most important development initiative for faith based non-profit ministries. Some key assumptions:
• Ministry leaders see donors as partners in the ministry.
• Ministry leaders are committed to building relationships with strategic donors.
• Donor nurture should be a regular scheduled task for key leaders within the ministry.
Anyone who represents the ministry must embody the mission of the ministry and have the ability to speak to high capacity donors. People give to mission and relationships; therefore, we must strengthen our communication of the mission and the depth of our relationships with potential generous donors. Ministries initially work through the board networks of friends, relatives, professional associates, neighbors, and churches.
Events – Gathering a crowd in order to share the mission and cultivate synergy is an important part of ministry development. Events often produce revenue, but mainly provide networking, exposure, and the foundation for partnership. Event keys:
a. Not just about revenue
b. Good for exposure
c. Should be repeatable, then annual
d. Do 1-2 high quality events
Grants – Foundations seek “letters of inquiry” and proposals from ministries that are a match with the mission and core values of the foundation. The percentage of approved grants is 4% or 1 out of 25; therefore, ministries need to have a long term approach that involves completing good research, investigating relational connections, nurturing networks, and excellent proposals.
Initial Development plan steps should include:
• Establish a start-up budget
• Match the budget with fund raising goals for each of the 4 categories above
• Raise initial lead gifts to launch the organization with both staff and marketing materials. Initial financial commitments also provide confidence and an incentive to potential donors.