Development + Fundraising
It's tough out there. We know how hard it can be to compete for donors' attention and contributions. The good news is you don't have to go it alone. We are here to help lighten the load and put you in a position to thrive.
Work with us to charting the course to a strong future.
Revenue Development + Donor Engagement
Donor engagement primarily refers to individual donors. This multifaceted revenue stream is a continuum ranging from lower-level, annual giving, to major and transformational gifts, to planned giving vehicles.
Annual giving typically focuses on the lower end of the gift pyramid. This is an excellent opportunity to introduce new donors to your organization and cultivate them to higher levels of giving over time. Portions of the process can be automated, though the volume nature of an annual giving program usually requires dedicated staff to administer it.
Principal and Major giving are at the other end of the continuum, much higher in the giving pyramid. Commitment, patience, and fortitude are required over a more extended period to cultivate, secure, and adequately steward large gifts. Hiring the right people or training your team sufficiently to succeed in this area is essential. Research; regular, individualized communication; high-level access; and a willingness to connect personally and authentically with prospective donors are a few characteristics, among many, of a successful major donor program.
Corporate Partnerships are different than corporate fundraising. Gone are the days companies write checks willy-nilly to check a CSR box. They are interested in results and impact, reasonable given their typical expectations for ROI. Investing in a corporate development strategy takes patience and skill. Together we will analyze your business, identify opportunities in this space, and develop a comprehensive plan to identify, research, and cultivate relationships for long-term support. Whether you have full-time, part-time, or contracted staff to pursue this revenue stream, the solutions are crafted accordingly. If you are already working in this space but need to enhance the effort, we work with your team to discover new efficiencies and engagement to scale the business.
Stewardship and Recognition are cornerstones of a successful development operation. However modest your donors may be about their giving and desire for recognition, recognizing their contribution(s) is objectively the most important part of the relationship. Recognition can be as private as a personal thank you call or note or as public as a website listing, annual report feature, or social media call-out. Development officers should listen closely throughout the relationship-building process to learn what is most important to the donor and to what degree they prefer to be recognized. Ongoing stewardship such as invitations to phone calls, board meetings, and events; high-level access to leadership and information; regular updates, mission stories, and impact reports via email or snail mail are effective methods to ensure the most significant probability of a returned gift. Effective and appropriate stewardship can be the difference between a one-time or episodic donation and a regular, dependable donor.
Planned Giving is a complex, time-intensive revenue stream that can profoundly impact an organization's durability and longevity. Often, the largest gift a donor could ever make is posthumous; for others, it may be a life income, stock, or life insurance gift. This topic makes many people uncomfortable, but estate planning is common, and it behooves an organization to have a seat at the table by offering these options to donors. The largest wealth transfer in history has begun—from boomers to their GenX and Millennial children and charities—and is anticipated to exceed $68 trillion over the next two decades. A variety of gift vehicles are available for organizations to consider, such as bequests on the simpler end of the spectrum, charitable life-income arrangements such as charitable gift annuities, remainder trusts, and lead trusts. We can help educate your team on the nuances of such programs, build a program, or advocate planned giving with your Board.
Many strategic plans require due diligence and research to build or execute. Likewise, stewardship programs and revenue initiatives often necessitate collecting data and input from a variety of stakeholder groups to inform or support the effort. Discovery is infinitely more productive and revealing when conducted by an independent third party. Board members, staff, program partners, and current and past donors can feel confident their comments are made in confidence, allowing their contributions to the process to be uninhibited. Open, honest, critical, and complimentary feedback is essential to forming a clear path toward improvement and execution.
Forecasting expenses is relatively straightforward. Perhaps the most opaque, subjective, intimidating processes organizational leaders undertake is forecasting revenue. While it is impossible to see into the future, it is helpful to have an objective guide to support you through the process. We assess historical revenue trends, organizational capacity, socioeconomic factors, expected revenue, and donor pipelines, among other elements, to reach an appropriate projection to assist in allocating resources and managing expectations appropriately.
Organizations often get trapped in their own vernacular. Internally, we may use acronyms liberally and discuss complex global development problems, local political or legislative measures, and various solutions using uncommon terminology. Inevitably, these words become part of our external messaging, risking clarity, and understandability to a broader audience. Clear, consistent, relatable messaging is vital for organizations to achieve. Voice, tone, and degrees of formality or informality should match the organization's desired image. Talking points should be rehearsed and universally understood by all staff and leaders but adaptable to their own voices and audiences. This is difficult but achievable.
Writing workshops may be an ideal way to coach your teams on consistency, tone, and voice. Messaging frameworks may be required to serve as a refreshed starting point for all communique, formal and informal. Like baking, communication is part science, part art. Crafting compelling fundraising appeals, individual donor correspondence, or the use of various communications vehicles—paper mailers, personal letters, eNewsletters, web copy, multimedia, etc.—are ingredients that should be calculated and precisely integrated with one another. Our communicators dissect the use of your organization's current language, assess its effectiveness, and suggest improvements.
Should your organization endeavor to undergo a campaign—capital, comprehensive, program-specific, or otherwise—the decision should be well-informed and viable. Feasibility studies SHOULD NOT determine campaign goals or validate a desire to engage in a campaign. Feasibility studies SHOULD assess the timing, marketability, achievability, preparedness, and sustainability of a campaign. Feasibility studies SHOULD NOT be a mechanism to sell campaign services. Feasibility studies SHOULD explore willingness to and identify potential candidates to assume leadership roles and responsibility for the campaign's duration.
Cooper Coleman does not typically facilitate campaigns; rather, we conduct independent assessments of an organization's ability to successfully launch, execute, and conclude a campaign. We offer recommendations for or against the endeavor based on our findings. Wherever necessary, we suggest operational improvements to achieve sufficient preparedness.