Increase Your Return on Investment

Dear Kim:

What fundraising strategy gives an organization the most ROI?*  The board is willing to raise money, but many of them are businesspeople and so they want the most efficient strategy.

~Bottom Line

*Editor’s note:  ROI stands for Return on Investment. 

Dear Bottom:

The literal answer to your question is legacy giving:  encouraging donors to include your organization in their estate plans.  Legacy giving costs about 7 cents for every dollar raised, and no other strategy really comes close to that.

The problem, as you may already be noticing, is that you can’t start with legacy giving or pursue it instead of all other strategies. People leave money to an organization in their will or estate plan that they have been involved with or known in their lifetime.  Many bequests are left by people who may have given $25 or $35 for many years, and never made big gifts.  You may not even know them personally, but obviously they know you and have been tracking your work for a while.

The most return on investment comes from building relationships with donors:  inviting people to join your organization, inviting those who have given to give again, and inviting a cross section of people with greater capacity who have given already to give more.  Legacy giving is introduced as part of what people can do to help and is generally introduced throughout the relationship process, in newsletters and other printed materials, and on the website, but rarely in person without an explicit invitation to have that conversation from the donor.

If your board members are serious about wanting to help, a major gifts campaign will be the most effective and efficient, and is a strategy where board involvement is critical.  You may want to bring them my article, “How to Raise $50,000 in Six Weeks” as an example of something you all could do relatively easily.

Good luck!

~Kim Klein