The Advice Booth: Making the Most of the Donor Cycle Through Value Proposition
How do I most effectively engage current and potential donors throughout the year? How do I ensure that all donors feel good about their gift?
One of the most important aspects of promoting an organization or day school is demonstrating the value proposition of your institution. In Jewish day schools specifically, this means a school should be able to convey the benefit of their school over others—unique programs the school offers, the success of students and alumni, and the importance of a Jewish education—to demonstrate the value of the institution. A value proposition should be conveyed in clear and concise language to avoid confusing points or making it too generic to apply to only one school.
In fundraising specifically, a good value proposition can be the key to your donor relationships and securing funds by directly tying it to each stage of the donor cycle. The basic structure of the cycle begins with identifying prospects and cultivating a relationship with them, followed by solicitation or securing a gift, and finally, stewardship of the donor from the time of their gift until the end of the fiscal year. Using a value proposition in each of these stages reminds the donor throughout the cycle why they are choosing to partner with a specific institution.
In cultivating relationships with prospective donors, it is important to convey clearly to the donor why their support is needed in order to secure a gift. By using a value proposition to lay this groundwork for the donor, they should walk away from early meetings and conversations with a clear understanding of what the needs of the institution are, and why it is the best place for them to direct their support. The value proposition should make them feel good about the potential partnership being built.
However, what’s less obvious is using the value proposition also while stewarding a donor. Stewardship is generally looked at as a thank you letter or phone call with a personal touchpoint, or maybe a trinket or gift. However, even after a gift is made, donors should be consistently reminded of the impact they have helped create through their gift, why they chose to make their gift to this specific school, and how that gift directly impacts students and programs. More specifically, if a donor funds a specific program, be in touch with the details of what was achieved with the help of their gift, and how the work would not have been done without their support.
Using a value proposition in all areas of the donor cycle enables a donor to really focus on the purpose of their partnership and giving. As solicitation, especially mass appeals, occur more and more via email blasts and website campaigns, articulating the value proposition is how you grab your audience’s attention and get them to the donate button. This is recommended across all platforms: email messaging, website language, personal conversations and campaign materials. Similarly, as thank you moments and stewardship are often done using generic emails or swag, concentrating on value proposition enables a refocus on why they supported your school and, perhaps most importantly, why they should come back and support again in the future.