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United Ways seek new fundraising approach

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Building interpersonal relationships with donors and heightening their excitement about giving are some of the most effective ways to grow gifts, says a study by the United Way of America Resident Fellows Program.

Nonprofits seeking to boost donations also should get their board actively involved in the process and should allow donors flexibility to choose how donations are spent, says the study, “Transformational Giving: More than Meets the Eye.”

Other proven methods are investing in top-down leadership and communicating to donors the impact of their gifts, the study says.

Part of an effort by United Way to expand beyond annual workplace campaigns, the study asked 21 development officers their advice on boosting donations.

United Ways are at a distinct disadvantage in the new environment of giving because more donors are forgoing payroll deductions to donate online, says the study.

It also says United Way cannot tell donors where their gifts are going, and faces the public perception that it has “plenty of money.”

Respondents to the surveys encouraged nonprofits to speak to donors’ passions and interests, evaluate the board’s success and demonstrate measurable impact.

They also advised United Ways to focus on relationship-building, promote planned giving and address donor needs and concerns.

The United Way of America Resident Fellows Program is an initiative that gives outstanding United Way employees a chance to enhance their leadership skills.

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