As a major donor, when I want to make a real difference – a significant difference – for an important cause, I look for something more than just “writing checks.” This doesn’t mean I don’t value the organizations for which I do write checks, but writing a check and hoping that good work will come from the donation only yields a small amount of return on investment.
If I’m going to spend time, money, and resources to help the cause, I want to make as big an impact as I can. So I look at organizations I am interested in helping and think, “How can I bring the most good to this group?”
When a medical research organization that holds fundraisers around the country came to my attention, I got to thinking…
Each year this organization holds a local bicycle fundraising ride. In addition to the entry fee, participants are required to raise a minimum of an additional $200. Because I have friends affected by the disease for which the cause was holding the bicycle fundraiser, I considered participating as a rider. I was ready to write a check for my entry fee, raise my $200 fundraising minimum (potentially more), and think about whether or not I would return as a participant the next year.
I believe one person can make a difference and I believe every rider who participates in these fundraising events and raises their $200 is beneficial.
But I thought – how can I be more involved? How can I do more?
Are your donors ready for something more? Are there projects or ideas that they could bring to your organization that could help you grow exponentially?
I decided to sponsor a team for the bicycle ride. My offer: for anyone who wanted to ride on our team, my company would subsidize their jersey cost, set-up an “after-ride” party with food, drinks and prizes, and coordinate practice rides for our teammates. I wanted to create an exciting experience where people could join together, share fundraising ideas, and become more connected to the event and the cause – all while having a great time.
This approach had an exponential impact. It created a stronger bond with the organization for me (I have now sponsored the team for 3 years) and our team continues to grow. As a team, we raised more than $12,000. That beats the $200 I would have raised on my own!
My early experiences where I volunteered and could see the noticeable difference really made an impact on me as a donor. Over the years I have found that I can make a more significant difference through my “hands on” experience than simply writing checks ever could.
How can you offer your major donors “something more” than just a check-writing experience? Can you encourage your supporters to be creative in supporting your cause? Make suggestions to get your donors’ creativity flowing?
Maybe there are programs your cause wants to implement, but doesn’t have the resources to carry out. Are there donors you could present these program ideas to who might be looking for something more? You may find it is a great fit for donors who are no longer interested in just writing the checks.
Flickr photo source: jakecaptive, kintzlejordan
Great post. Love the idea of taking the giving beyond the check. This inspiring story reminds me of the book, "Do More Than Give" by Crutchfield, Kania and Kramer. Talks about all the ways you can encourage donors to act beyond the transactional level: http://www.causeplanet.org/book_summaries/detail.php?id=71