High net worth individual fundraising guidance
Fundraisers call people who give large donations, Philanthropists, High Net Worth Individuals (HNWIs), and Major Donors.
The art is to build a relationship to the point where the individual wants to make a difference through a donation (or ‘gift’) significant enough that it reflects their personal commitment. These will be people who can give more than most, and who give to charities close to their hearts.
Is your organisation ready?
Such donors will expect inside knowledge of your organisation and plans, to have contact with CEO and Chair, and to make recommendations that might be challenging. They will want to know exactly how their gift is impacting. And it will take time to cultivate them; it can take three years to successfully engage them. Your organization needs to be prepared for this. The long-term advantage is that they can give valuable ongoing support. And you need systems in place to record all contacts, and to respond appropriately to different levels of donation.
Understand why donors give.
Understanding their motivations will help you in cultivating the relationship and responding appropriately.
It may be religious or altruistic motivation, a social conscience. They may have a personal association with the cause. They may want publicity, recognition or social connections. There may be business benefits to them.
Fundraisers talk of seven (or eight) steps in the research and cultivation process.
Identify potential donors (or ‘prospects’)
There may be donors in your database who give small sums but could give more. There may be ‘prospects’ in your networks and trustee contacts; they may live in your local area, or are known to have interest in the sector. Look at ‘rich lists’ and local media.
Research the people identified. Find out all you can: interests, hobbies, businesses. Is there anything that links them to your cause? There is public information, but also see if anyone knows them. The more you find, the better ways you will identify how to approach them. Approaching through a shared contact is ideal. And your approach to them must be relevant and interesting.
Have a plan
Develop a plan for each prospect (and for your ‘campaign’). Tailor it to their individual interests, and be prepared for it to take up to three years. And you need to be prepared that, out of four prospects, you will get only one donation at ‘ask’.
Engage the donor
Are there events they can be asked to: briefings, dinners, meetings, high profile exclusive events. Using your networks can be critical.
Cultivate the relationship
They are going to want to find out a lot about your work, and will expect to see it in person. Over time, take them on a journey so they can see exactly how you help change lives. They need to become passionate about your cause. This stage can take up to two years. Do not rush it. Do not pressurise them.
In some cases, if you can avoid an ‘ask’ for money, that can work best. Fundraisers have different views on this. It depends on your knowledge of the donor. You want their involvement and support, and you should know by now what they will be interested in, and what sum will be appropriate to them. Tell them about what their support can achieve, and expect their questions. Rehearse your pitch. Give them to time to consider and consult. They may want to talk with a Trustee or the CEO. They need to be confident their money will be spent well. This can take a while.
Thank the donor
Your systems must alert you the day a donation comes in. Thank them immediately, the same day, if you want the individual to donate again in the future. And your ‘thank you’ (from CEO or Chair as appropriate) must again inspire them about the cause, and respond to their reasons for giving.
Keep in touch
Update your prospects on progress (both those who have given and those who have not). What difference is their money making? And prepare opportunities for those who did not give to see other aspects of your work that they may be more interested in. Your information for them aims to develop their understanding, and therefore their commitment. Ensure they feel valued and part of your future plans.