Celebrating major donor success

Categories: Community Engagement.

We hope you find this series of articles thought provoking and inspiring, and that you feel encouraged to enter your own innovative projects or nominate any deserved individuals for this year’s awards. (This year’s awards are open until 19 August)

In this article Angela Sherjan, communications coordinator at Hospice in the Weald, talks about winning the award for Innovation in Income Generation for its Major Investor initiative.

Hospice in the Weald was enormously proud to win the Help the Hospices and National Garden Scheme Award for Innovation in Income Generation for our new Major Investor initiative.

I’d like to share some of the background to the initiative, its success and how getting the award has helped. The award has given us a welcome boost and helped staff and volunteers to take pride in the work they all do in and for the community. It also helps raise awareness of the importance of end of life care.

Throughout our 30 year history, we have benefitted from the generous support of the people in our community. However, we have never managed to use a strategic, consistent approach to soliciting and managing major gifts – the Major Investor initiative was our answer to this omission.

In line with other charities we defined a major donation as a single donation of at least £10,000 or a donation of at least £5,000 with a pledge to repeat it the following year and possibly subsequent years.

Major Investor

Although we followed the ‘conventional’ method of designing a major donors initiative (identify, research, devise a pipeline, involve/cultivate, ask and recognition) the main difference in our approach was using the term ‘Major Investor’. This was a deliberate choice to emphasise that people who give to our charity are investing in its future, and that the benefits to our community are far-reaching and long lasting. 

We believe that our approach was a different and innovative way of engaging with potential major givers in a way that enabled them to be part of a worthwhile local cause – ensuring quality of care for our patients and being a catalyst for change, growth and innovation.

It also enhanced our hospice’s overall relationship fundraising strategy – a donor based approach to fundraising which brings fundraisers and donors closer together in what is essentially a joint venture. 

Investor Prospectus

In the same way that wealth management companies use an investor prospectus to demonstrate potential financial returns, we produced a prospectus to demonstrate to potential investors the social returns of their investment in the charity.

The prospectus explained how we saw the role of Major Investor, illustrated the benefits to our patients, carers and families and provided facts and figures in relation to the cost of providing many of our services.

In line with our aim of building and developing a special relationship with our major donors over time, we decided to concentrate on acquiring unrestricted donations wherever possible, so we deliberately did not have a selection of projects to offer potential Major Investors.

Some people may feel that we took a risk in the way we approached the issue of managing and developing this particular income stream, but it has been extremely successful so far in a number of different ways.

Financially we have exceeded our first year’s target, but just as importantly we have re-engaged the interest of a large number of existing donors who have expressed an interest in becoming Major Investors.

We have also introduced further peer-to-peer training, which has resulted in both the recruitment of volunteer introducers as well as strengthening the hospice’s relationship with its trustees in an extremely positive way. 

In terms of our community we have been able to establish larger ‘friends’ groups – those wonderful local volunteer groups who do so much to further the income and support for our charity and which has in turn increased our fundraising database.

We put a lot of work into this project – in terms of research and planning as well as communication and collaboration. We’re confident that our Major Investor income stream will continue to evolve and enable our hospice’s philosophy of care to reach local patients at home, visiting, or residing in the hospice.

Would you like to enter this year’s Help the Hospices and National Gardens Scheme Awards?

The award categories this year are:

  • Innovation in Clinical Practice
  • Innovation in Income Generation
  • Innovation in Volunteering
  • Lifetime Achievement
  • Volunteer of the Year.

Award winners will receive a glassware award, a free place at this year’s Hospice Care Conference (21-23 October in Bournemouth), and PR opportunities to publicise their success with support from Help the Hospices media team. Winning will also give them an opportunity to instil pride and morale in staff, volunteers, supporters and the wider community. This year’s awards ceremony is being held at the Hospice Care Conference. Enter before 19 August 2013.

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