Encourage Donors to Give More Through Layering

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by F. Duke Haddad

If you are fortunate enough to maintain a career in the resource development profession, you will experience layering of donors over time. This involves gaining knowledge of the concepts of annual giving, major giving, principal giving and planned giving. It also involves an understanding of how human relations plays a part in this complex process.

If you can build trust, plus expand a personal relationship with a donor while also having the knowledge of their gift capacity and areas of interest, a possible layering can occur. In my context of layering, it is securing a major gift or pledge in one area while asking them for a second gift or pledge in another or same area. You must steward the first gift well and time the second ask perfectly. This can be done with donors that have the means to make this happen.

In many cases, if you have a great relationship with a donor and the relationship is going well, why not consider a second ask? You need to understand the basic science behind the motivation to give to nonprofits. A Sumac article on this topic pointed out that giving is contagious and elevating. Many people feel happy when they give to help others. It is better to give than receive.

An old Chinese proverb says if you want happiness for a lifetime, help somebody. Science points out that donors will give more money to help a single victim than multiple victims, give more to someone they feel close to than a stranger, want what is best for their favorite cause, will give more if they can also suffer, and be in the right frame of mind to give.

In a Network for Good article, people act from the heart and not the head. Results from a survey of 3,000 donors from Network for Good indicated that donors are motivated when they are mission driven, trust your organization, see the impact of their gifts, feel they have a personal connection to your cause, want to be part of something important, caught the donor’s attention, and want tax benefits. It is also noted that donors will quit giving to your organization if they feel they do not know how your gift is being used.

An article by Independent School Management on the topic of the donor cycle confirms that the competition for philanthropic gifts and a donor’s reason for giving require a complex and multifaceted balance. Through a variety of interpretations, understanding the donor cycle helps move prospects and donors through stages and motivates them to increase their giving.

The donor stages include identify, engage, evaluate, solicit, recognize and steward. The donor cycle helps the solicitor build long-term relationships with motivated supporters. My contention is layering happens when the stewardship process is deep enough for a comfort zone to develop that arouses curiosity and involvement between the solicitor and donor. If you have such a relationship with the donor, the permission may exist to ask for the second gift while the first gift is still in the pledge payment state.

The Nonprofit Leadership Center helps reinforce the layering effect with donors by providing data that provides four timely insights to help you and your organizational mission move forward. Remember that humans are still wired to give and keep inviting them to give. You need to have a clear case for support and call to action centered on the donor. Emphasize the impact the donor can make with their gifts. Because donors want to solve immediate problems, highlight urgent needs and how they can help now. Developing relationships with donors must be a top priority so cultivate them. Strategically determine how best to communicate with your donors and understand them well enough to determine their likes and dislikes. Tell stories with impact, showcase how your organization really matters and promote donor investments that pays dividends through positive results.

Giving USA encourages nonprofit pros to utilize strategies to motivate donors to give and give more over time. These strategies include giving donors continuous appreciation that emphasizes gift impact and ask for involvement help plus financial help so the donor can truly see needs. Create a new and updated donor research profile to determine ways to give, areas to give, when gifts are made, and who influences the gift decision. Understand the donor’s reasons for giving. Study ways donors can get better engaged with your organization.

The Allegiance Group provides several steps you should focus on with respect to having existing donors increase their giving. These include prioritizing repeat donors; prioritizing engagement with major donors; building a dedicated sustainer program; personalizing outreach efforts; establishing a sense of urgency; showing supporters where donations go; asking for more support; sending thank you gifts; creating a major donor database, and hiring a major gifts officer. Having a focus and priority on major donors will increase revenue and build this very important segment of your donor base.

Ten evidence-based methods for encouraging people to give more to charity, according to a Greater Good Science Center article, include focus appeals on a single person; help people feel their emotions; tie giving to a sense of identity and purpose; ask people to pay later to discount the pain of immediate giving; describe the impact of the gift; make giving always feel good; make giving feel like a sacrifice; provoke givers to feel elevation; tailor giving appeals; and take advantage of contagious generosity.

A 2Moda blog provided modern philanthropy methods for encouraging people to donate more. These include encouraging new marketing methods and communicating organizational accomplishments. Connect donors to people using the right words and current events. Get people to volunteer and simplify the giving process. Ask for money later and make sure donors see the value add through their donations. They must always understand that with additional financial support, greater impactful results can be secured.

Your goal is to generate an ever-increasing continual flow of dollars from your portfolio. Inside this portfolio, you will have an array of unique prospects and donors. You need to determine through examination and history of involvement, what potential current donors are candidates for the layering process. As I am in a current capital campaign, I have identified several candidates that either made their first gift or are paying their campaign pledge. I intend to visit with these donors when the time is right and encourage them to make an additional gift through layering. You should consider doing the same!

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