Do you have a favorite Olympic event? Swimming and gymnastics are just two of the many sports The Hodge Group has enjoyed watching ahead of Sunday’s Closing Ceremonies.
Many of these athletes trained from the age of four or five, devoting dozens of hours a week to make sure they were well prepared to win a gold medal. It’s inspiring and humbling, and it made us think about how much time a non-profit organization (NPO) must devote to “training” before embarking upon a community campaign if it is to be successful.
The five rings of the Olympics logo represent an unbreakable bond between the participating regions of the world (Oceania/Africa/Europe/Asia/Americas). Together, this contest is the ultimate feat of physical endurance because those rings are linked together. In order to create the best possible philanthropic response, The Hodge Group encourages NPOs to review the below five “rings” as a way to track their “training” and maximize their chances of success before embarking on any campaign:
Strategic Plan: As a first step before conducting a campaign, it is important to understand what your community expects of you, whether or not you’re meeting those expectations, and how additional value can be gained so that your organization and the community can grow in tandem. The Hodge Group offers a proprietary assessment model to learn those things for the sake of building the strongest philanthropic response possible to your strategic plan.
CRM (Customer Relationship Management): A good CRM tracks three kinds of metrics for your organization: engagement (has this individual donated in the past), relationship (how do you know this individual or company?), and administrative (contact information). If you do not have a database to track potential and existing donors, the administrative component of facilitating a community campaign will overwhelm you.
Board Participation: We have had clients lose out on six-figure grants before because they did not have 100% Board participation toward their community campaign. Major donors will also want to know why they should fund a project that the Board is not fully invested in. Before going out into the community to ask for money, it is vital that the Board has “bought in.”
Case for Support: Your campaign needs to develop a physical document that evokes an emotional response from all that good work. That is where a strong case for support comes in handy. This document is used to socialize the project within the community, and is an essential component of the next and final “ring.”
Feasibility Study: A feasibility study is a tool organizations use to assess the philanthropic capacity within their community for a specified purpose. Interviews are conducted with stakeholders to test a community’s appetite for the proposed purpose, and the study provides data that answers the questions, “Is this campaign feasible?” and “How do I best go about having a campaign?” That data can then be used to enhance your organization’s ability to obtain funding.
These five “rings” are all addressed in a white paper available on our website, “The Definitive Self-Assessment List to Review Before Starting a Campaign.” Our website is filled with other helpful white papers as you seek to grow your NPO. Check it out, and if you’d like The Hodge Group to stand with you as your fundraising partner please contact us at firstname.lastname@example.org.
Lessons from Queen’s Gambit
Like much of America, The Hodge Group’s team binged Queen’s Gambit when it came out on Netflix in October 2020. In fact, many of our teammates finished it in one weekend. We also identified one application to philanthropy: the under-appreciated value of having a solid middlegame strategy.
The middlegame of chess begins after players develop most of their major pieces and move their king to safety. At that time, a player needs to recalibrate their strategy so checkmate is inevitable. The more control they have of the board, particularly its center, the better positioned they are for success because they have more room to move. Philanthropically, we align this with a major giving campaign. The “opening” is securing the first 40 - 60% of funding. The king (lead gift) is secured, and the knights and castles (leadership donors) are engaged. Now, it’s time to keep up (or even step up) the momentum and get to a place where checkmate (100% gift goal) is guaranteed.
When THG counsels our clients through major gifts campaigns, we do so the same way as a chess game with a strong middlegame strategy. Often, just like in chess, the middlegame of a campaign is overlooked in favor of establishing a strong opening or holding back in the hopes of trying to guarantee an impressive closing. Recently, we counseled two of our clients through their respective middlegames while each are conducting eight-figure campaigns. Each client moved through their “opening” game effortlessly. So quickly, in fact, that if we hadn’t been watching the “full playing board” for them, the completion of a successful finish would have been threatened. Just like in chess, success with philanthropy can mean planning five steps ahead and understanding the potential response to each of those steps. So, while these campaigns each slowed a bit, by recalibrating their “playing boards” with strong middlegame strategies, they are both now reinvigorated and well on their way to inevitable success stories.
Whoever starts the middlegame with an advance in development and with the command of the center (of the board), has every reason to hope for ultimate success….Eugene A. Znosko-Borovsky.
In anticipation of planning five steps ahead, and understanding the potential response to each of those steps, when we are implementing a campaign for our clients (setting up the playing board), we counsel closely toward the following so we can make sure we have a command of the “center (of the board)” at the start of the middle game:
What is the relationship of the private, philanthropic response to the overall capital stack? In other words, over the course of the campaign, what are the other sources of revenue that may influence philanthropy?
How are the lead donors being stewarded? If possible, based upon their interest, engaging them in the continued momentum of giving and including them in subsequent cultivation and even solicitation is impactful (we have observed this twice in the past six months with the impact including the lead donor giving another gift).
Are the feasibility study participants involved in the campaign? Include all of them if possible. Even if they indicated they would not be available as a volunteer and/or donor, often we find once the momentum of a campaign reaches them, there is a shift.
Are the benchmarks of the campaign directly linked to strategic benchmarks of the organization or project? Being able to demonstrate immediate and continuous impact throughout the entire campaign is a significant way to maintain momentum.
How can commemoration and recognition continue to hold high status? Often, the commemorative opportunities are identified only at the beginning of a campaign and it’s difficult to hold high esteem as the campaign unfolds. By thinking outside the box and identifying creative ways to reestablish new opportunities, new interests arise.
Through our continued experience with clients and major giving campaigns, we continue to hone these into a stronger “middlegame” strategy. If you would like assistance as you plan yours, please contact us at email@example.com.
Personifying Your Organization as the Hero/Heroine in a Story of Recovery
Vice President Kim Horton, as part of Donor Search's "Masterminds" series, recently presented about how a non-profit can position itself toward successful, response messaging in our current environment. The presentation is built upon data our firm collected in 2020, when we spoke to almost 1,000 individuals about philanthropy and how it's been impacted by COVID-19, and is supplemented by information gathered from our national partners.
Thirty-five years of experience in philanthropy has taught me that the last ten weeks of the year is the most consequential time for the non-profit sector, as donors respond to increased needs for funding in their communities. Given our current environment, we want to make sure that this generosity continues regardless of whatever else is happening in the world this December.
I hope this finds you safe and healthy as we move into the second half of 2020. As you likely know, Giving USA recently released its numbers which showed that in 2019, Americans donated almost $450 billion to charity. Furthermore, in comparison to 2018, individual giving increased by 2.8%. As good as this news is, most in our industry are deeply curious and even concerned about the outlook for 2020. I am optimistic about this year, and am reaching out to share with you some data The Hodge Group has been tracking, as well as some anecdotal information from our clients.
Americans donated almost $450 billion to charities in 2019. Giving from individuals was up 2.8% compared to 2018. Through the data and our own experiences as practitioners with philanthropists, we are seeing that the American spirit of philanthropy is continuing to soar and thrive.
As we continue to monitor information regarding the not-for-profit sector, the most recent data from a Fidelity Charitable Survey backs multiple data points coming from Indiana’s School of Philanthropy and real-time information we’ve gathered from our clients and webinars across the not-for-profit sector over the last several weeks. Below are six key takeaways from this survey, but we encourage you to go directly to the report here.
The Hodge Group is a national leader in facilitating public-private partnerships. Through our work with dozens of libraries, we’ve seen how private philanthropy can unlock government funding and vice versa. In our experience, the most exciting library projects are successful with a good mix of both public and private support. It was heartening, then, to see this week’s election results in Ohio.
As we all continue to work from home amidst this new normal, we at The Hodge Group feel it's important to celebrate the great successes we're seeing around the country, and there are many. Despite all the bad news on TV, people are proving they are more hyper about philanthropy than ever before. We trademarked that term, Hyper-Philanthropy, because we believe the American spirit of generosity endures and thrives during even the darkest times, and we want to share some of our observations from the last month with you now.
As we settle into a new normal, The Hodge Group recognizes that nonprofits are facing enormous challenges in the current environment. Our team is monitoring best practices in the field, listening to webinars and reading blog posts. We’re also advising clients about a number of new opportunities presented in the current environment, including virtual tours and opportunities for “viral” video creation. Donor communications is no longer about reading the room, you have to be able to read the Zoom.
The Hodge Group recognizes the need to rely on best practice and steady leadership during tumultuous times. That is why we wish to share with you some lessons learned from our experience practicing philanthropic fundraising during two prior significant economic events (9/11 and the Great Recession).
The Hodge Group recognizes the urgency of the philanthropic sector to address the continued issues of income inequality and racism facing America. Philanthropy has always tried to ameliorate these issues, but in recent years the community has redoubled its efforts to address barriers of Inclusion, Diversity, Equity, and Access (IDEA).
A Capital Campaign is a dedicated effort by a nonprofit organization to raise money for a large capital expenditure (like buildings, property, or something physical that is going to last a long time). A capital campaign will have a specific dollar goal to be raised within a specific amount of time.
Hyper-Philanthropy begins with a good strategic plan
The Hodge Group leads organizations towards the strongest philanthropic response possible by tying that response directly to an organization’s strategic plan. Furthermore, we coordinate that plan with the strategic alignment of resources, messaging, and outreach, in order to customize our trademarked methodology of Hyper-Philanthropy™ for our clients.
Driving hyper-philanthropy through new technologies
Experts tell us that the face of philanthropy is changing rapidly. The Giving Institute’s data reveals that individual giving makes up less than 70% of our $400 billion industry for the first time ever, and online/mobile giving rates are up almost three times the rate of overall giving. Despite these changes, though, it’s crucial to remember that the fundamentals of this field remain constant.
Though the economy expanded at a rate of 2% in Q2 2019, there is emerging evidence that economic growth is slowing, causing many to brace for another recession. Considering that our non-profit industry makes up 2% of U.S. Gross Domestic Product, we need to pay attention.