Engagement opportunities for nonprofits often come at a big expense. Large scale events designed to raise money and reach many people such as galas or golf tournaments often cost so much that the ticket price barely helps the event turn a profit.
Smaller activities such as cultivation meetings with a gift officer are highly effective, but due to the time involved, most organizations cannot engage more than just their higher echelon of best prospects.
According to Melissa Bank Stepno, a senior consultant with Blackbaud’s Target Analytics in Cambridge. Mass., there are ways to create high impact engagement at a low cost. Some organizations have started experimenting with engagement opportunities that cost very little and have a big impact on the organization over time.
One example comes from the corporate model of holding shareholder or investor meetings. These corporate meetings are usually geared toward updates on financials, earnings, plans for future growth and development, and other very important, but often technical and dense topics.
While donors certainly are not shareholders of nonprofits, they are most definitely investors. Although most donors might not be interested in a deep-dive about an organization’s finances, they are most certainly interested in programs, accomplishments and plans on how the organization is going to further its mission.
Investor meetings can be an incredibly cheap and efficient way to reach out to a very large audience without too much cost (financial or staff time) to your organization. All you need is a toll-free conference line (and a web conference if you really want to get “fancy”) and a compelling speaker on a topic of relevance to your mission. The speaker could be your CEO or executive director providing a year of services in review, a staff member speaking specifically about one topic or program of interest, a development professional coaching your supporters on how they could advocate on your behalf, or even someone from outside of the organization who can speak knowledgably and with interest on a topic close your organization’s mission.
These meetings are not about “the ask,” and in fact shouldn’t even include a fundraising pitch. They should be designed to deepen your donor’s relationship with your organization, allowing them to feel like more of an insider, and pulling them closer with the sole goal of engagement.