Wednesday, March 17, 2010

Want More Donors? Create More Philanthropists

Most people think philanthropists are Capital P Philanthropists. Capital P Philanthropists include people born with last names like Carnegie, Rockefeller, Ford, Buffett and Gates. Most people associate philanthropy with people who give a series of large gifts. Since your donors don’t bear these last names or related assets, they do not consider themselves philanthropists. Consequently, they fail to see their personal commitment to lifetime giving and the philanthropic patterns in their lives.

A philanthropist is “someone who makes charitable donations intended to increase human well-being.” Therefore, the mother who drops off a can of food at your food bank to increase the well-being of another mother is a philanthropist. The student who donates community service hours for the betterment of his hometown is a philanthropist. So is the father who sends in an extra $10 for a scholarship so his child’s classmate can attend the field trip. Also on your list of philanthropists, include the woman who has made a habit out of giving to others, including designating your organization in her will. Without your help, she will never appreciate that she is a philanthropist. Finally, include yourself because you give to increase human welfare.

Start by calling your supporters philanthropists, especially those who give multiple gifts. Help people who give to your organization including time, talent and money-- to see their acts as lifetime habits instead isolated events. Help people to connect the dots in their lives. It will support their future giving--because giving reflects who they are.

One small way to help your philanthropists to see themselves as philanthropists is to thank them for their gifts. To get started and to refresh your expressions of gratitude, try any and all of the ideas found in 20 Ways to Say Thanks.

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