What started as an effort to support a staple event, #GivingTuesday, resulted in a strategic initiative to launch “Theta Forever” by elevating the impact of major gifts to engage new donors. Volunteers who previously served Theta Foundation as trustees, staff and campaign volunteers, many who have cultivated relationships with donors from the last decade, were recruited to solicit major gifts.
As a result of this strategy, Theta Foundation was able to reconnect with hundreds of Theta’s most generous donors – both current and lapsed – and determine their interest in increasing their philanthropic support, over the course of only six weeks! The development work provided by volunteers enabled the Foundation director of advancement, the sole primary fundraiser on staff at the time, to rapidly invigorate Theta’s donor and prospective donor base in preparation for Theta’s Sesquicentennial in 2020.
When #GivingTuesday arrived, Theta Foundation had already surpassed its day-of goal with $181,586 secured in major gifts, including a $50K lead gift from an anonymous donor, the largest unrestricted (non-bequest) major gift in recent history. Though the fundraising goal was $100,000, Theta Foundation raised an impressive $274,815 in unrestricted revenue for the Theta Forever Fund on #GivingTuesday 2018, a 144% increase in funds raised the previous year. This campaign also resulted in a 192% increase in new donors, with 225 first time donors to Theta Foundation in only one day! Despite the incredible launch and the Theta Forever Fund’s continued success, it cost only 5 cents for Theta Foundation to raise a dollar as part of this initiative!
- Leverage major gifts: The exciting announcement that inspired the momentum approaching Theta’s Sesquicentennial would not have been possible without the major gifts strategy and outreach that became the infrastructure upon which the rest of the development strategy was built.
- Utilize momentum: Having found success with #GivingTuesday in previous years, Foundation staff identified the annual event as a key platform to launch the Theta Forever Fund.
- Be transparent about your organization’s needs: When the Theta Forever Fund launched, Theta’s greatest need was increased funding without restrictions, so the organization needed to change the giving culture toward a much-needed unrestricted revenue model for major donors. Once compelling needs were communicated, donors were thrilled to help!
- Inspire your donors: Donors solicited for major gifts for this purpose were honored to receive an invitation to participate in such a nostalgic initiative, each eager to share what “Theta Forever” means to them. When we are so wrapped up in “the ask,” we forget how meaningful, how personal and how deeply special that gift is to the donor generously making it – precisely what donors want us to know!
Additional information available on kappaalphatheta.org.
FFE recognized this program as the 2019 winner of the Best Major Gifts Effort.