Friday, October 28, 2011

Proof: The Individual Donor Opportunity Door is Wide-open

Sally Part One

We were having drinks after the consulting conference. Sally asked what I did. (Not her real name, because even though this sounds like it is about Sally--it is not.)
“I help nonprofits earn sustainable income and with innovations.”
“You know,” Sally responded, “Teach for America does a really good job.” Sally went on to explain that before Teach for America, she and husband were forty-dollar givers.
“Forty dollar givers?” I asked, astounded and then quickly assuming that even though I understood what she met—I must not. Sally, as I had learned earlier in the day, is a successful consultant who worked for global name-brand clients. Earlier, she earned an MBA from Stanford and worked as a manager with for a large international consulting firm. Surely, Sally and her husband, who had to in my quick conservative estimate earned more than $100,000 per year, didn’t only give $40 a year at a time to a nonprofits?
Yes, she explained they did. In the past, when they were asked to write a check they wrote one for forty dollars. Now, with Teach for America, they were sponsoring a classroom for $5,000 a year. “It’s amazing, we get to touch all those lives and it only costs $5,000 and only about a 100 people a year do it.”
Sally represents one of thousands of people who are bright and earn a sizable income—and seek to make a difference. She represents someone who has never been asked and worse, never shown the path your nonprofit offers to making a difference.
Sally reminds us that the individual donor opportunity door is wide-open, as are the majority of the other six nonprofit income opportunity doors. This is why this story is not about Sally because it is about nonprofit leaders, like you, who are unsure about approaching the Sally’s you know. Are you neglecting to offer the Sally’s in your sphere of influence the opportunity to help you change lives? Are you assuming (like me) that educated people with means already understand philanthropy and are already doing their part? How might we reach, show and educate Sally about the opportunities she is missing?

Stay tuned for more about Sally. In my next piece, I will share how Teach For America helped Sally to become a $5,000 a year donor. -Karen Eber Davis

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