Fundraisers today are working harder than ever for fewer donations. In fact, despite a robust economy, charitable donations were down almost 2% last year. What gives? Is fundraising getting harder? Are donors becoming more selective? Or, like many other industries run over by the tech revolution, is fundraising getting left in the dust?
In 2017, I co-founded Wisely with the express objective of helping nonprofits to grow and scale their fundraising efforts. Having worked in the nonprofit tech space, I saw first-hand how archaic tools and ineffective processes were crippling organizational efforts to raise more money. A recent report found that in 2018, barely half of all gift officers were able to raise more than $500,000 and that in terms of relationship management, two-thirds of top prospects were not assigned. Two. Thirds.
From personal experience I know that nonprofit teams are passionate about what they do and driven to support their cause, meaning that lack of talent and effort are not to blame here. What is to blame is something I like to call the ‘nonprofit effectiveness gap’. While nonprofit teams are highly motivated and driven, they lack the tools to truly take their efforts to the next level – specifically, their Customer Relationship Management (CRM) systems and analytics just aren’t enough.
Another profession very similar to fundraising went through a similar struggle over the past decade and has come out on top, thanks to a little help from technology. The profession I’m referring to? Sales. Like it or not, sales and fundraising are two variants of the same process – finding prospects and convincing them to invest in your product or service.
In the late aughts, the CRM revolution really started to take hold, and salespeople struggled to “sell” through their CRMs as it was a tired and slow process. Never fear, technology to the rescue. Just as salespeople were about to throw in the towel, a new era of sales tools appeared, aptly referred to as ‘sales enablement’.
These sales enablement tools allowed salespeople to better manage their customer relationships and take sales strategies to the next level. As a result, sales enablement technology helped salespeople to grow their businesses dramatically over the past decade.
When founding Wisely, we asked ourselves, could the same technology not be used to revolutionize the way nonprofits fundraise? Of course, the answer was a resounding “Yes!”, and ever since Wisely has been focused on helping nonprofits to close the effectiveness gap through sales enablement.
In 2018, 70% of the $440 billion raised by nonprofits in North America came from individual donors, which is why developing and nurturing relationships with this key contribution group is so imperative (for a really good breakdown of trends in charitable giving, read through this excellent article by Nonprofit Quarterly). Leveraging the emerging science of artificial intelligence, Wisely focused on building a platform that would streamline the process of engaging with individual donors, making it more effective and easier to grow donations.
Why has sales enablement been able to succeed where other efforts failed? The short answer is that it helps fundraising teams to be more productive, amplifying their efforts and exponentially increasing donations. Given better tools, better processes, and better information, nonprofit employees are able to spend less time managing data and more time building relationships.
By providing your fundraising team with the right sales enablement tools, they can focus on what they do best and you can sit back and watch your donations soar!