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Nonprofits rely on contributions from individuals and organizations to reach their objectives. Even if a nonprofit accepts financial support from the government, it can encounter such issues as instability and inability to support large or long-lasting projects. Therefore, such organizations need to have a plan for not only acquiring new donors but also convincing them to return and encourage others to participate as well.
Nonprofit managers should acknowledge all mentioned above aspects when new designing donor cultivation strategies. For example, Doctors Without Borders (MSF) is a large international nonprofit association that presents a wide range of options to its potential patrons. Nevertheless, the organization can introduce new strategies to appeal to more donor groups that are capable of giving small one-time gifts and financial support for specific projects.
Doctors Without Borders is a nonprofit that was established in France in the 1970s. Currently, its offices are situated in various countries of the world, and it is active in all areas where urgent or regular medical help is required (“2016 US annual report,” 2016). The organization’s purpose is to provide medical care to people who have suffered from human-made or natural disasters. MSF’s volunteers provide medical assistance to whole populations and separate communities depending on the problem.
For example, MSF has missions in Central America, where its members help victims of the humanitarian crisis, and Iraq, where volunteers provide care to wounded protestors and civilians. MSF vows to help all people, regardless of their ethnicity, cultural heritage, or political and religious beliefs (“2016 US annual report,” 2016). The organization also contributes to medical research to improve its services and the overall state of healthcare.
Existing Donor Cultivation Strategies
At the present moment, MSF offers more than ten different options for people to help the nonprofit. For instance, individuals can make one-time donations exceeding US$500 or consider a monthly pledge starting from US$10 (“Explore donation options,” n.d.). Some options are suitable for corporations and business persons such as stock giving, donor-advised funds, foundation support, fundraiser organizing, and charitable distributions.
Finally, individuals can leave a legacy, commemorate a person or an event, or donate royalties from music, published works, and acting performances. The selection of options indicates that the organization has a thought-out plan for cultivating and retaining donors, recognizing that both individual and corporate contributors play an essential role in sustaining MSF’s financial stability. The history of this large international nonprofit shows that many people share MSF’s goals.
While it appears that MSF has created a framework, where every potential patron has a viable and appealing way of contributing, some new strategies can be developed to increase donor cultivation. First of all, the organization does not seem to give its donors an option to make small one-time offerings. The organization is large, and its services require major financial spendings. Nevertheless, small donations can play a crucial part in passing milestones and gathering enough resources to support arising projects (Faulkner, Romaniuk, & Stern, 2016). With the increasing need to answer to disasters and crises, MSF should consider all people as potential donors.
The idea that only persons with significant financial opportunities should engage in philanthropic activities is not supported by society anymore. Instead, public relationships with people from all communities and their collaborative support should become one of the sources of revenue through engagement with social media and open dialogue (Sisson, 2017). Another donor group consists of people who respond to and engage with specific programs – localization of donations can help people support communities in which they have a personal interest (Ryzhov, Han, & Bradić, 2015). In this case, social media and reporting can appeal to people who research news about specific communities. Through information dissemination and calls to action, these individuals may be urged to support specific missions.
The Effects of Donor Cultivation Strategies
Both implemented and proposed strategies should be targeted at improving donors’ trust and engagement. The use of social media and regular reporting may improve people’s feelings of being educated on the latest activities of the organization. Small one-time gifts do not imply the same level of commitment as monthly-pledges, giving people who want to contribute a more comfortable way of participating.
If a person does not have a stable income but wants to donate and help the organization, such an option may seem more valuable to them than a monthly or yearly subscription. Moreover, these patrons may promote the nonprofit to other members of the community, cultivating more contributors as a result (Carboni & Maxwell, 2015). Similarly, allowing donors to support a certain immediate cause may also show a commitment of the organization to providing people with the latest information about the world’s crises (Pressgrove & McKeever, 2016). These persons may want to ensure that their money goes towards the right project, and this strategy can increase loyalty and trust.
Donor cultivation is a crucial part of sustaining a nonprofit, especially if its objectives require significant financial support. MSF offers people many options to contribute including both individual and corporate stakeholders. Such new strategies as the ability to make small one-time donations and choose to help a particular project may attract people who wish to support the organization but do not have a stable income or are have a specific interest in one or more communities. To attract these groups, MSF should engage social media and ensure that people do not feel as though they need to give large amounts of money.
Carboni, J. L., & Maxwell, S. P. (2015). Effective social media engagement for nonprofits: What matters? Journal of Public and Nonprofit Affairs, 1(1), 18-28.
Explore donation options. (n.d.). Web.
Faulkner, M., Romaniuk, J., & Stern, P. (2016). New versus frequent donors: Exploring the behaviour of the most desirable donors. Australasian Marketing Journal (AMJ), 24(3), 198-204.
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Pressgrove, G. N., & McKeever, B. W. (2016). Nonprofit relationship management: Extending the organization-public relationship to loyalty and behaviors. Journal of Public Relations Research, 28(3-4), 193-211.
Ryzhov, I. O., Han, B., & Bradić, J. (2015). Cultivating disaster donors using data analytics. Management Science, 62(3), 849-866.
Sisson, D. C. (2017). Control mutuality, social media, and organization-public relationships: A study of local animal welfare organizations’ donors. Public Relations Review, 43(1), 179-189.
2016 US annual report. (2016). Web.