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Fundraising rosetta stone

Fundraising Rosetta Stone

Are you onto a new job? What happened to your old job? Your old nonprofit is going to get a lot of money because you were there, but you can’t take the credit for it!

Ever wish you could leave something, a stone tablet in the desert, just something to say, “I WAS HERE?”

A friend of mine worked at a nonprofit for about six months and she said that every other week someone would die and leave them a huge bequest and most of the time these people were not in the database!

Why do you think that is?

There’s gold in your database, and then there’s gold OUTSIDE of your database. It’s called the people who left.

Most of the time,

No, I’ll rephrase that, every single time someone leaves you a legacy gift, it’s because of the hard-working development people who came before you, who helped this donor feel connected with your cause.

And now they’re gone.

They may have gotten fired.

Or moved on to a new job because there were no advancement prospects in this one,

Or maybe they’re dead.

No matter where they are, they did not leave behind a list of potential major donors, old fundraising plans, who they had been cultivating, nothing!

And so now you, jumping into this new job, are getting these bequests.

Maybe you raised $100,000 more this year than they raised last year, but most of it was bequests!

And you feel like, “I can’t take credit for this!” Right, you can’t!

However, you might as well take credit for these legacy gifts.

Because that person may have been there 20 years ago, but they sure aren’t going to care about who takes the credit now.

And who KNOWS who else was at your nonprofit before you? Sure, one, or two people back, they can remember, but then it’s ALL A BLUR.

There’s no organizational memory.

If you don’t want to be one of those faceless blurs, what can you do, to help people who come after you, or people around you, right now?

Whether you’re a nonprofit consultant starting a new consulting gig for a nonprofit or a new person starting at a fundraising job, it’s important to have a brain, and keep a spare around.

igor, frankenstein, brain

For those times when an extra brain is needed!

For example, when I started working for the Austin Civic Orchestra, they had a marketing person. Who got fired. So then, eventually, they hired another marketing person. Who got fired. So I started putting together a marketing process Google doc for them. And it did not suck. You should have seen it!

  • It had a list of upcoming concerts.
  • It had contact information of media people, when we contacted them, and their timelines
  • It had names and contact info for volunteers who could put out flyers for us
  • It had places that we should go flyer.
  • It had marketing meeting notes.
  • It had a list of classical music blogs and Austin music blogs
  • It had a list of influential Austin music tweeters.
  • It had outcomes of a survey of orchestra members, with who had agreed to be featured in our e-newsletter. And e-newsletter story ideas.
  • It had a list of passwords for different websites where we could post about our concerts, and get volunteers too.
  • It had volunteer job descriptions/emails to solicit volunteers.
  • It had a list of my research for potential concert sponsors, and who else they sponsored in town.
  • It had ideas of places we could look for excellent orchestra branding, and orchestra fundraising ideas.

It was a second brain. People saw it and said WOW! What a document!

And I said YES. We need an organizational memory. And this was it. I was basically doing the marketing person’s job for them. But I didn’t care, because we needed this document to be the brain. And now that I’m gone, they still have it.

So, learn from what I did. Does this give you ideas? Make an organizational memory for the processes that you do. That way, if you find a better gig, or move out of state, or you have to go to the hospital for some reason, there will be some way that someone else can carry on all of the hard work that you did.

Now, back to legacy gifts. Even if you’re not going to get the credit for them, it’s worthwhile to think about bequests, and help people think about leaving your nonprofit money in their will.

How do you solicit planned or legacy gifts?

SOFII has a whole showcase about legacy gifts! Yeah, you’re welcome.

What about you? How do you deal with no organizational memory?

Ever gotten a really big gift that you couldn’t take credit for? Show of hands?

If you’d like to read another post about planned giving, Christina Attard laid down the knowledge for us right here
Thank you Christina!