Linda Solomon: You started Harvey McKinnon Associates in 1989 and are best known for raising big money for groups like Amnesty International, Unicef and OxFam.
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In the best of times, many nonprofits struggle with donor acquisition, retention, and, worst of all, lapsed donors.
For three decades, Harvey McKinnon has been one of Canada’s premier charitable fundraisers. The Vancouver author, documentary filmmaker, and motivational speaker has helped generate hundreds of millions of dollars for many nonprofit groups ranging from Amnesty International to the Marmot Recovery Foundation to UNICEF.
One would expect that McKinnon would be familiar with all aspects of philanthropy. But after he and a friend, Vancouver business consultant and long-time volunteer Azim Jamal, decided to cowrite a book on the subject, he was surprised to learn of new ways of giving back to the community.
“I have always been interested in why people give and how they give,” McKinnon told the Georgia Straight in a phone interview. “I decided to do a lot of research about five years ago, and realized to some extent that my definition of giving was fairly narrow. I was just thinking of time and money.”
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As every fundraiser in Canada knows, it’s getting harder and harder to bring in the bucks their organizations need to fulfill their missions and provide the programs Canadians need. The only way out of the conundrum is to develop long-term relationships with donors, i.e. promote their giving every month rather than once a year or as the spirit moves them (or you ask, again and again).
This message was brought to the Alberta Fundraising Conference by Harvey McKinnon, President of Harvey McKinnon Associates.
Bombarding his audience with “sevens”, McKinnon offers seven reasons to act, seven myths, seven essential components, and seven ways to recruit monthly donors.
Charities should focus on monthly giving, he says, because it increases their income, forms the foundation of better relationships, retains donors longer, provides predictable revenue streams, costs less, draws in increasing income, and is convenient.
Seven myths non-applicable
The “seven myths” which stop charities from exploring this vehicle, he says, are: “we tested it and it didn’t work; it won’t work with our donor base; it’s too much work; it’s a small amount of money; we don’t know how to do it; our donors are too old; our donors aren’t committed enough.”
The program won’t be successful, the speaker says, without the seven essential components:
Twenty-five years consulting nonprofits on how to raise money, and I’m still amazed – or, rather, flabbergasted – at how little attention some organizations pay to nurturing donor loyalty. Long-term relationships are crucial to any fundraising program.
The one-off gift is always welcome, of course, but it will not help much to achieve your mandate. It’s the second, third and fourth (and 40th) gifts that do that.
The gifts that come from the same supporters several times a year, year after year. The gifts from donors who remain loyal to your cause.
As I’ve often said, to make donors loyal to you, you must first become loyal to them. They will reward you because they know you care about them – and they know you care about them because of the way you treat them.
Where the money is
The best fundraising programs – whether staffed by one person or a hundred – all take great care to nurture this kind of lasting relationship. They know, of course – and you should, too – that donor loyalty is where the money is.
I was reading a business publication a short while ago and came upon an article about a chef who knew a thing or two about customer loyalty. His ideas were so good that now, whenever I give a fundraising seminar, I always mention this chef when I get to the part on building donor loyalty.
Monthly giving is a great way to raise more money from your donor base and guarantee a minimum level of income each month. This helps with monthly overhead and cash flow.
We believe the areas for the greatest fundraising growth today are: major donors, planned giving, and monthly giving.
An increasing number of charities have tested monthly pledge programs and proven them effective. If the nature of your organization fits the monthly pledge program concept (and most can) there are at least seven great reasons to act immediately: