Engaging Philanthropists and Opening New Channels and Sources of Growth Capitalback

It’s marketing 101: Emphasize the benefits to the consumers, not the benefit you gain by selling to them.

So, too, with philanthropists and high-net-worth individuals, according to panelists addressing Engaging Philanthropists and Opening New Channels and Sources of Growth Capital at the 2011 Social Impact Exchange’s Conference On Scaling Impact.

To unlock the flood gate of money that is available through these individuals, focus on the giver, not on the nonprofit’s agenda, said Glen Macdonald, president of the Wealth & Giving Forum. The interaction is not about the nonprofit. When someone is giving money it is personal, he said. The conversation has to begin with them. Change the language, focus on the donor.

Like the other panelists, Macdonald works with high-wealth individuals to help them define how they want to give and to identify nonprofits that might be suitable recipients. Several key points came out of the discussion:

  • High-net-worth-individuals are time challenged. Focus on the issues that are of interest to them; don’t bother them with anything else.
  • Major donors are partners and collaborators, not just money-machines. They often want to engage with the community in which the nonprofit operates and to give of their skills and talent.
  • While evidence of impact is important – people want to know that their donations make a difference – start by communicating the stories of the people you help.
  • Speak from the heart.

Most important is the idea that because philanthropy involves so many issues – altruism, doing what’s right, and tax benefits – the services of wealth managers and philanthropic networks are being used more.

These entities exist to support the giver. The unspoken corollary to this trend is that nonprofits must learn to work with wealth managers, to communicate their stories to those who are guiding philanthropists in their search for the right focus and formula for their giving.