Taking on the World’s Biggest Problems

Undersea Coral

Seven Strategies to Drive Giving to the Environment and Animal Welfare Sector

In its 2015 edition of the “Philanthropy 400,” The Chronicle of Philanthropy reported giving to Environment and Animal Welfare was up 12.2 percent year over year. Certainly good news for the sector, but it is not clear if the sharp increase for a single year will continue. What are the strategies that could help sustain growth in giving across a broad base of donors?

A significant challenge, even for the most successful organizations in the sector, is the scale of the problems they seek to solve. How much money will it take to save the world’s oceans, reverse climate change, save a species? These are the million-dollar questions – or to be honest, billion dollar questions.

Recently colleagues at Marts & Lundy who consult with clients in the environment and animal welfare sector gathered to discuss what we are seeing in our work. There were common themes, and we found ourselves returning to the seven key strategies that, if in place, were yielding stronger and sustainable fundraising programs.

Keep these top-of-mind when you are planning, and investing in, your fundraising program.

  1. Be knowledgeable about your membership’s philanthropic capacity. Wealth screening is a powerful research tool.
  2. Build a legacy gifts program to bolster unrestricted giving for the future.
  3. Build a traditional major gifts program to generate restricted giving, for research and science programs, in particular.
  4. Cultivate and steward your donors both at the top but also the “middle donor” pool – invest in gift officers to tend to them.
  5. Focus on “issues-oriented” approaches that then allow you to identify, cultivate and engage a small group of top philanthropists whose priorities align with yours.
  6. Be strategic about board composition and board engagement. (You can read our latest report on board giving here and view a recording of a web seminar on board engagement here.)
  7. Actively engage with and move members from advocate giving to leadership giving, which requires investing resources in more than a direct mail and social media campaign. Organize leadership annual giving societies to engage and reward them.

Perhaps the best way to evaluate your fundraising program is to start with this question: Do we value our donors as life-long partners whose philanthropy is far more than a financial transaction? Beginning with this basic tenet is the cornerstone of a healthy fundraising program and drives the investment and energy necessary to grow charitable giving in a sector that touches every community in the world.