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The seven 'I's of fundraising building from the basics.

Every nonprofit organization is blessed with its own unique constituency base. In developing a giving program, long term care facilities typically evaluate the philanthropic capacity of: facility residents and their families; current and past board members; volunteers; local referral partners such as churches, synagogues and other community organizations; denominational sponsors (if related to a faith-based structure); vendors; community residents, etc.

The critical question is always, "Based upon our mission, services and benefits, who should be interested in our success?"

Since philanthropy can make the critical difference in a long term care organization's success, creating a framework that allows cultivation of those who are perceived as potential donors is essential.

Philanthropy is a values-based enterprise. In 2003, according to Giving USA, the annual report on the size and nature of the nation's philanthropic giving, more than $240 billion was given to charitable institutions in this country. Of this amount, 8.7 percent was designated to healthcare.

Yet, giving in 2003 represented a modest increase over 2002 of only 2.8 percent. Therefore, in this competitive environment, developing a strong case for support, or a philanthropic value proposition, is the first step. The second step may be developing a strategy to allow individuals to become more involved.

Creating a framework for involvement and self-selection is a responsibility of the organization. Successful management of donor prospects evolves along the following developmental process, referred to as the "Seven 'l's of Fundraising:"

Identify: Based upon mission, services and benefits, who should be interested in the organization? Further, do the prospects have a history of giving that would reflect what is important to the organization? What are the points of contact with those individuals? How strong are the current relationships? What is the perceived gift potential? Are there points of access, etc.?

Invite: Prospects should be invited to take some action in support of the organization. The honor of being asked to be involved is another step in the cultivation process.

Inform: The prospects should be fully informed of the organization's distinctiveness, place in the community, history of success, and funding needs. This takes place through repeated personal contact with the organization's staff, board members, and other volunteers, as well as through informative special events and publications such as mailings, newsletters, and fact sheets.

Interest: Once informed, prospects should be helped to decide that the organization is important to them. When prospects begin to react to the information they have received--asking questions, making comments, offering suggestions--it is clear that they are ready to be further involved.

Involve: By attending a meeting, placing telephone calls, giving input on the organization's programs, co-hosting a social gathering, joining a committee, agreeing to help solicit, etc., potential donors signal that they are personally committed to the organization's success.

Invest: After prospects are clearly committed to the organization, then they should be asked to financially invest in it. If prospects have really passed through all the phases, then they will participate financially to the limit of their individual capacity and interest, lf a prospect is rushed through the process, the gift is bound to be smaller than it might have been.

Every prospect can be categorized by their current progress through the Seven 'I's. By doing so, the organization has a better idea of the next cultivation step to be performed. The philanthropic value proposition should be put forth after effective involvement has taken place.

Inspire: Once prospects become invested in the organization, we hope they will be inspired to engage others in the same process.

Long term care facilities are uniquely positioned to relate to a broad base of constituents. That miracle major gift donor may just be waiting for compelling motivation to step forward. Jimmie R. Alford, CFRE, is founder and chair of The Alford Group Inc., Evanston, III., a national consulting firm to the nonprofit sector. He may be reached at or (800) 291-8913 ext. 141. The firm's Web site is
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Title Annotation:Front Page
Author:Alford, Jimmie R.
Publication:Contemporary Long Term Care
Geographic Code:1USA
Date:Nov 1, 2004
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