Everyone is wondering—rightly so—what the future holds for fundraising in general and large major gifts and bequests specifically. We can all agree the last two years of pandemic lockdown have upset the normal techniques and practices used in traditional planned giving: identifying prospects and building relationships with their high-net-worth donors.
The most critical issue nonprofits must consider today is to fully understand, anticipate and deal with conflict-of-interest problems, whether they arise from within your organization’s employees or your leadership. These days, issues can arise from social media, the news, a whistle blower or even government agencies like the IRS. Can you imagine the impact on your fundraising momentum if a news story is published about how an individual benefited due to a relationship with your nonprofit? Procedures must be in place to address strict adherence to well-founded conflict of-interest policies. This article includes suggestions that fundraising professionals need to consider and use to prepare an implementation plan in the near term—one to three years.
My first thought is that the use of technology to reach—and cultivate—donors will expand exponentially. But donor connections will not solely be made digitally; face-to-face meetings with older donors will still be critical. For those nonprofits that can afford them, a combination of printed communications with digital touches will continue to raise large major gifts and yield bequests from their older donors. Digital booklets, digital brochures, e-newsletters, mobile messaging, video storytelling and mission updates delivered to smartphones will enhance the number of donor touches made by printed materials.
Key takeaway: Printed media will continue to be important. Sharpe has a talented and experienced creative services team who can work closely with you to create branded, engaging materials that appeal to older donors.
Secondly, donor data management will take on the “super significance” that it deserves. The ability to know your donors is dependent on the comprehensiveness of the data you have acquired from your interactions with them. What you know about your donors is only as good as the completeness of your data.
Key takeaway: Sharpe Group has decades of expertise in Donor Data audits.
Thirdly, utilizing a basic donor analysis through Sharpe’s AI algorithms takes the “heavy lifting” out of knowing exactly which specific donors to target with custom communication plans and other outreach for significant gifts and bequests and prioritizing which donors to call.
Key takeaway: Sharpe consultants have named this feature Augmented Intelligence because that better describes the result.
Finally, the planned and major giving development staffs’ skill sets, experience and education credentials will significantly change. Our founder, Bob Sharpe Sr., says in his prophetic
book, Planned Giving Simplified, that “gift development staff will be relationship builders.” He goes on to say that “technical aspects of structuring a planned gift can be handled by a
single staff member with professional credentials.” Bob Sr. concludes with, “Call Sharpe.”
Key takeaway: As one of the pioneers of the planned and major giving profession, Sharpe knew that future performance metrics would continue to change from those used historically and that it was critical to rely on experts to train you, guide you and offer support.
This final point is perhaps the most significant. Sharpe Group has two new products—Hiring Made Easy and Workforce Assessment—to address the importance of having the right staff
on hand to position you to raise large gifts while wisely adding new staff to the team. Both of these tools are easy to use and implement. Finding the best candidate eliminates possible frustration, stress and interpersonal conflict within the team when integrating a new member.
I’m confident you also have thoughts about the future of fundraising based on your experiences. Let me hear from you. ■
Sharpe Group CEO