Where did you go?

 

A donor can leave you and never know it.

Ask a lapsed donor if his giving habits have changed, even over as long a span as the past two years, and he’ll tend to say no. Not only are these donors somewhat oblivious to our ministries, many of them are also not thinking a great deal about their own giving.

But ask a lapsed donor how recently he has given to a certain ministry, and he will probably give you a much more recent date than the record shows — typically it’s been twice as long as she recalls. He thinks of himself as far more loyal than he is!

(And a lapsed donor who thinks of himself as having given in the past six months typically feels just as much affinity for the ministry as an active donor does!)

In fact, over the course of our interviews, we found that donors regularly contradicted themselves when discussing their giving to ministries. They are generally not dialed in to this subject. Certainly a few donors are quite deliberate about their giving, and another small percentage are completely clueless — but the vast majority in the middle are simply too busy to focus on this issue, because of everything else going on in their lives. They are completely capable of failing to give to your ministry for years and honestly believe it’s only been a few months.

 

Like what you read and want to learn more? Check out some of our books.

Gifts of net worth

 

While some 10% of the people in America control 90% of the net worth, this modern-day phenomenon was foreshadowed by the 19th century economist Vilfredo Pareto, who figured out that 20% of the population controls 80% of the resources and wealth in any society — and furthermore, 20% of the efforts expended produce 80% of the results in most every endeavor.

Coincidence? Probably not. The Master Designer created the system this way.

If everyone were an entrepreneur or manager, how would business and the economy run?

Most people are in the 80%. They are doing good things. Their gifts of tithes and offerings take care of church expenses, salaries, and (one hopes) some mission work and care for the poor. This is a crucial role.

But the larger job of financing the spread of the Gospel beyond the walls of the church and community falls to those with special gifts and the ability to create cash flow and wealth.

Cash has never been enough to reach the world for Christ. If we are serious about reaching the world, it is time to look at gifts of net worth.

This is counter-cultural and inconsistent with the accumulation mindset; yet an individual can build a business, build an estate, and use net worth to accomplish personal, family, and ministry goals.

 

Like what you read and want to learn more? Check out some of our books.

Donor Advised Fund

 

A high-capacity donor can often sell a business or sell real estate with zero taxes so that there is money for him, money for his family, and money for your ministry but absolutely nothing for the tax man.

The Great Commission Foundation’s Donor Advised Fund, for example, is a tool that a donor can use to control his tax bracket — a tool that he can significantly fund in times of high profits, bonuses, a business sale, or some situation that forces his income up — or simply because he wants to have a more structured long-term giving program.

This allows the donor to get his deductions up front but make his distributions over time.

There are several tools and techniques that a donor can employ with a business or in creating new businesses.

Sometimes the donor can create a business or spin-off part of an existing business or investment so that the cash flow never comes through his tax stream but instead goes directly into his ministry giving account.

This can be accomplished by the use of a company foundation. The donor can have gifts made from his corporation to his giving account as well as from his personal income.

 

Like what you read and want to learn more? Check out some of our books.

Average, not largest

 

Particularly in dealing with donors who give smaller average gifts, a request for a specific size of gift, or even an array of gift options on the reply device, should generally be linked to the donor’s average gift amount rather than her largest gift amount — because these donors are particularly sensitive to the ministry’s assumption that one gift leads to another.

Standardization is necessary, of course, in order to process large numbers of contributions — but at the thank-you stage of the process, donors tend to “read” the systematization more distinctly.

“It’s tough to say they are doing a lot of thinking about me,” one typical donor said, “when they send out a fairly standard thank-you note.”

Any way to personalize communications more will serve to counteract this feeling.

 

Like what you read and want to learn more? Check out some of our books.

21 Sep 2017

The board…

The board

 

Making the board of directors more prominent can enhance credibility, too.

Include photos of the directors from time to time. Let them, and/or prominent businesspeople, make statements of appreciation about the high integrity and sound business practices of the organization.

Even more importantly, however, are photographs of donors and direct quotations from them, as they talk about the value of their investment in the ministry.

All of this should be included in whatever “welcome” materials are sent to individuals the first time they communicate with the organization, but attention to this kind of communication must also be ongoing, with these emphases rotated in newsletters and elsewhere on a frequent basis.

 

Like what you read and want to learn more? Check out some of our books.

Casual, detached

 

There is no question.

We in ministry are intense about our mission; our donors are casual.

We are deeply involved; they are relatively detached.

This is the inevitable chasm between leaders and followers. To speak to donors intelligently, we’ve got to remember that they are not thinking about our ministries nearly as much as we imagine or wish.

Donors have busy lives. We are speaking into the whirlwind of normal everyday life!

Can we succeed in this? Prompting seems to help.

When our interviewer offered a menu of ministries to choose from, active donors were able to identify the ministry they support at least 80%, and in most cases 90% or more, of the time. But it’s here that lapsed donors ominously begin to drop away.

If a donor has lapsed from giving to your ministry, it’s twice as likely that she won’t remember she gave to your ministry — even when somebody mentions your ministry’s name.

Quick-Stat:

Lapsed donors are twice as likely to have forgotten your ministry’s name.

 

Like what you read and want to learn more? Check out some of our books.


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