This article on philanthropic trends is the second part of a two-part series. Read part one here.
What the experts are saying
It’s not often that experts are in alignment, but when it comes to philanthropic trends, one thing is pretty clear – philanthropy is changing and will continue to evolve in the years to come. Ultimately, global factors like COVID-19, a war in Europe, and an increasing pace of natural catastrophes are creating reactive, “bouncy” giving trends as donors slingshot between giving towards the “next” crisis.
- Rafa Carrascosa, the Head of Philanthropy for UNHCR Switzerland
- Eugenia Epars, responsible for partnerships and philanthropy at UNICEF Switzerland
- Laurent Sauveur, the Executive Director of the Foundation for the ICRC
- Ben Morton-Wright, the founder of Global Philanthropic, an international consultancy business that advises HNWIs, corporates, and fundraising organizations.
This new landscape has shown the experts a few things. First, that people are ready to give. Second, successful organizations are the ones that go above and beyond when it comes to relationships. Connection is key. Ben Morton-Wright eloquently cuts to the point when he says, “I always say that the money is out there – you just need to connect with it and ask for it.”
Perfecting philanthropic prospecting
Prospecting is the process of finding and attracting potential donors to support a philanthropic cause. It’s a crucial step in fundraising, as it helps to identify the most suitable and interested donors for a foundation. However, prospecting is not a one-size-fits-all approach. It requires a strategic and personalized method that takes into account the donor’s motivations, preferences, and capacity to give.
“[Our major gifts manager] has a big objective of taking a unified [approach] with his existing and potential major donors in a way that he can see the propensity to give. He also knows that he wants to [have] personalized engagement with all the different donors… but you can still cultivate the relationship in a unified fashion.” – Gnana Thoppae, Salesforce (transcript edited for clarity)
One of the ways to perfect philanthropic prospecting is to use the “concentric circle approach”, which was explained by Laurent Sauveur, the Executive Director of the Foundation for the ICRC. This approach starts with a foundation’s existing network and expands to high-net-worth individuals by leveraging the organization’s connections. Sauveur uses tools like Wealth-X (a donor database resource), web pixels (data gathering software), and Salesforce (a CRM) to better understand potential donors’ philanthropic interests and connect with them on the things they are interested in.
“We were able to direct the conversation towards what we needed at the pharmacy. So for me, the concentric circle approach starts with your existing network. This is key, and then, of course, I think [you can use] a web pixel [and] databases to prospect [and] get information. We invested [that]…into Salesforce [and it’s now a part of our] foundation.” – Laurent Sauveur, Transcript edited for clarity Major donor programs.
Speaking of engagement, deeply engaging with potential donors is another key aspect of perfecting philanthropic prospecting. How? Connecting on a relational level. In practice, this means reaching out to them personally, inviting them to events or activities that showcase the impact of the foundation’s work, and checking in on their goals. For example, Eugenia Epars, responsible for partnerships and philanthropy at UNICEF Switzerland, shared that her team has successfully used virtual field trips to engage donors during the pandemic. This is where organizations can flex their creative muscles.
“[One of the] very successful tools that we put in place quite recently during the pandemic years are the virtual field trips. So instead of before taking maybe [someone] to Tanzania to see one project, now we are able to connect on [a] Zoom call. We are [also] able to connect many donors from many countries at the same time. It’s targeted to high-value donors… and they can see the UNICEF programs [and even] connect with the experts. [It’s a] great example of how we keep the engagements [and] the conversation going.” – Eugenia Epars
Co-creation and collaboration
Co-creation is a process of involving donors in the design and implementation of a philanthropic project. The primary benefit of co-creating is that it can allow an organization the opportunity to engage in a way other than financially (although finances can be a part of the process). Co-creation can also foster deeper engagement and loyalty, as well as attract new donors who are interested in participating in the project. Ultimately, people like to be included.
“I won’t go into too much detail, but briefly, the buzzword is cocreation, [or] wanting to build something together that leaves an impact.” – Eugenia Epars
One example of successful co-creation is the partnership between UNICEF and the Zurich Foundation, specifically in the mental health space. The two organizations co-created a program called the Global Coalition for Youth Mental Well-being, which looks to give mental health services to refugees fleeing from countries like Ukraine. Currently, over seven million people are being served and it’s been a fantastic way to drive further donations for UNICEF.
Still, co-creation isn’t a hands-off strategy. It requires a lot of effort, plus a mindset shift from both the foundation and the donor. Generally, fundraising organizations are often built for money and different structures can be hard to implement. Also, it can be tough to approach high-level individuals for something that’s not money. On top of all that, there needs to be a lot of existing trust in place and a clear layout of the roles that everyone will be playing to avoid conflict.
Co-creation depends on the context, the cause, and the donor, but enables larger ideas than a single organization could usually execute and, importantly, can act as a driver for further donations.
Engaging with donors through crisis
Given the changing and challenging landscape of philanthropy, it is important for philanthropic organizations and donors to adopt some best practices that can help them navigate the current situation and achieve greater impact and sustainability. The most valuable key for engaging with donors? Personal connections and valuable relationships.
Developing personal connections and relationships with donors
Connecting with donors is easy to do, but it does require intention. Ultimately a deep understanding of the donor’s interests, motivations, values, and goals, plus aligning them with the organization’s mission, vision, and impact, are essential. Even more, it also requires building trust and loyalty with the donor. While this is simple to understand, it takes a lot to effectively implement.
According to Ben Morton-Wright, developing personal connections and relationships with donors is essential for major gift fundraising. He said: “I always say that the money is out there – you just need to connect with it and ask for it.” He also suggested that organizations should have a dedicated person or team to manage major donor relationships and use CRM tools to track and analyze donor data and behavior.
Old solutions backed by new technology
The challenges and opportunities of the changing philanthropic landscape require new solutions, but also rely on traditional methods. One proven solution that remains relevant and effective is the use of relationship intelligence to supercharge fundraising strategies. Data and intelligence can help organizations identify, understand, and engage potential donors, all of which are required for the implementation of the strategies mentioned by the panelists.
Valentina Guerrini is the Senior Director, Head of Philanthropy Division for EMEA & APAC for Altrata. By combining the science of data with the art of relationship building, she is able to increase HNW transformational donations.