Starting a Giving Circle / Major Gift Society

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Does your organization have a giving circle? We recently started one with one of our clients and it’s been a lot of fun. In a few short months, we have raised nearly $200,000 and have about 170 members. Here’s how we started.

First, we identified the need — what project did the organization need to raise money for? It turned out a costly roof replacement was needed to protect a beloved facility that all members benefit from.

Then we created a name for this group. We brainstormed. We crossed off a lot of our entries, and finally arrived at a name that most agreed with.

Then, came the solicitation materials. We included the following items:

First was a personalized letter inviting recipients to join this “esteemed group of members.” Each letter was signed by the CEO of the organization and many contained a personalized note. The letter contained a request for a specific (minimum) dollar amount. There was also a personalized response form with the recipients’ name and contact information. It included a description of the benefits we were excited to offer members such as “member only” gatherings, periodic updates on how their contribution was being used, and special admission to an annual signature event put on by this nonprofit. Of course, a response envelope accompanied all of this, and a live US stamp was used instead of the indicia from the postage machine, for that final, personalized touch.

We called the recipients within a few days of them receiving the letter and asked them to please consider joining. Then, the responses started rolling in!

But we weren’t done yet.

Several other waves of solicitation letters were needed. This time, we included the names of the members who had already joined. Our prospects saw other community members whose names they recognized. This added even more legitimacy to the program.

Today, we are in our final solicitation phase for this project, and have nearly reached our goal. These memberships were created as one-year commitments. So what will we do when they have expired?

Solicit…..acknowledge…..share impact…..repeat.

Solicit…..acknowledge…..share impact…..repeat.

I have found that most people who care deeply about causes want to surround themselves with other like-minded people. So, by creating a giving circle (or giving group) you will bring people together for a common cause, without the expenses of a traditional fundraising event.

by: Michelle Jimenez, Senior Consultant HUB Philanthropic Solutions

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