Donor Solicitation

donor relations Feb 23, 2021

Solicitation strategies are part of every stage of your development program. The most important word in your development plan is—diversify. You need to include all types of fundraising from a variety of constituencies in your plan.

In your plan you should include raising money from:

  • Corporations and businesses (typically about 5 percent of philanthropic giving comes from corporations, but they also supply sponsorship dollars, gifts-in-kind, and volunteers so don’t forget them.)
  • Foundations (typically account for about 15 percent of all philanthropic dollars but can be critical for those organizations that have not yet built a base of individual donors.)
  • Individuals (Give about 80 percent of philanthropic dollars and give in a variety of ways.)
  • Organizations such as service and professional groups, churches and faith-based groups (their donations to other nonprofits have not been measured to our knowledge but can be very important for some groups.
  • Non-philanthropic giving such as fees for service (tuition, admission fees, reimbursements, etc.) and for-profit enterprises (gift shops and the like)

There are various ways to obtain gifts from these sources including:

  • face-to-face solicitation
  • telephone solicitation
  • direct mail
  • email
  • social media
  • events
  • grant proposals

Your development plan should include a variety, if not all, of these methods. A diverse number of funding sources is the best insulation from disaster when one method fails.

Donor Stewardship

The last, but most certainly not the least, step in fundraising is stewardship. This means first, that all your fundraising is done in a legal and ethical manner.  For organizations in their infancy this may mean studying IRS regulations, state and local laws relating to fundraising and making sure you’re adhering to all laws that govern the way we raise and account for donated money. And there are numerous sources of ethical standards to be aware of as well. (see for the Code of Ethics and Standards of Professional Practice.)

Stewardship also includes acknowledging and recognizing donors for their gifts. Acknowledgement can be done by sending thank you letters promptly(required by IRS rulings); calling donors to thank them when you receive the gift; having board, clients or volunteers conduct a thank-a-thon; or inviting major donors to see in action a program they funded. Recognition can be done through your newsletter, annual report, website; placing an ad in a newspaper listing donors (all of this assumes donors have given permission to list their names); naming a building, a part of a building, or a program after the donor when appropriate to do so.

If you don’t have a stewardship program in place, this should be part of your development plan.

So now that you have a better idea of what should be in your plan, remember that it is about more than the dollars. It’s about building infrastructure, doing research, building relationships, and keeping donors once you have them.

To learn more about development plans and what should be included, take my course, Create a Development Plan That Works. Sign up here

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