Successor Donorship: Influencing Generations of Donors
How do you influence current donors to make their children also donors? This concept is known as “successor donorship,” and it plays a crucial role in the sustainability of your church and its funding sources. Of course, influencing generations of donors isn’t easy — here’s what you need to know.
What Is Successor Donorship?
Do you have high-volume, high-net-worth donors? Chances are, they have a donor-advised fund (DAF) account that has a successor specified in its paperwork. This means, when the donor passes or becomes unable to manage the account themselves, their successor (which could be a friend, child, or relative) will take over.
Of course, successor donorship is not limited to donors who have DAF accounts. As a nonprofit, it’s essential that you inspire successor donorship in other ways to ensure sustainability. Ultimately, even a donor with a DAF account may not guarantee successor donorship — in fact, 3 in 4 successors say they were unaware of the DAF account and, likely, the organizations associated with it.
So, how do you ensure continued support through generations? It begins with the fundamental approach you take to donor relations and the donor experience.
Why Does Successor Donorship Matter?
There are countless reasons to invest time and money into pursuing successor donorship.
- Successor donorship, by nature, ensures the sustainability of your funding and support. Reaching future generations helps grow your church exponentially.
- Successor donorship lets you re-center your focus and ensure you’re truly connecting with donors at a deeper level. This improves funding now and in the future.
- Successor donorship can open the doors to memorial donations and other gifts as families transition from one donor to the next generation of donors.
How many resources you put into successor donorship depends on your budget, number of donors, and other factors.
How to Encourage Successor Donorship
Many smaller nonprofits hesitate to invest in successor donorship, either because of limited resources or because of the concept of “delayed gratification.” Investing in successor donorship today may not net you an immediate increase in donations. Yet planning for the future of your organization is definitely worthwhile, and crucial, when looking at the big picture.
Ultimately, encouraging successor donorship is vital to your organization’s on-going success, and good efforts will also lead to some amount of immediate gratification, if you take the right approach.
1. Analyze Your Donor Base
Before you begin investing in successor donorship, you first need to understand who your donors are. This begins with an overview of basic demographics, which will tell you the timeline of successor donorship.
For example, a church with a congregation that skews young is less likely to see immediate results from successor donorship as current donors may not have children at all or may have very young children. Since children are the primary example of successors, this will delay results. Meanwhile, a congregation that skews older, perhaps representing grandparents and parents, is more likely to see results over the next five years if they boost investment in successor donorship.
Of course, completing this in-depth analysis doesn’t just tell you how many resources you should be devoting to successor donorship and when, but it also helps you segment your followers so you can target your successor donorship efforts to the right people.
2. Focus on Change
When you’re trying to get a donation, do you talk about how much money you need or do you focus on what you want to do? The most successful fundraising campaigns focus on the actions and accomplishments that will result from the fundraising. As a nonprofit, it’s essential that you’re in the action and results mindset whenever you think about donations. This is especially true when considering successor donorship.
Successor donorship is rooted in a legacy, not just a child carrying on the charitable legacy of their parent or grandparent, but in supporting the legacy that is your organization. No matter how young or old your organization is, it’s essential that your overall fundraising presentation and approach help support and build a lasting legacy for your nonprofit. This is best accomplished by quantifying and emphasizing your impact so far and planned impact for the future.
3. Plan Your Campaigns
Once you know which segment of your donor base you need to target with the specifics of successor donorship, you need to plan your campaigns accordingly. The idea of embracing a legacy should be consistent across your entire fundraising plan, but it should be further emphasized in your successor donorship campaigns.
Successor donorship campaigns should inform donors about:
- The concept of successor donorship
- Methods to ensure continued support in their honor
- Why they should tell their kids about your charity
- The impact your charity can have in the community and their children’s lives
As always, the campaigns should be on-brand and align with your organization’s overall cause, values, and marketing plan. Successor donorship should be tweaked in its tone to address the needs and concerns of that segment while the overall voice of your organization remains consistent with what you’ve already embraced.
4. Measure Results
Depending on the size of your organization and the demographics of its followers, measuring the impact of successor donorship campaigns may be difficult, but it’s always a necessity. Before launching any campaign, define metrics and the means by which you will track them in order to determine whether your campaigns are effective.
As you track metrics overtime, you should begin to see an increase in generational donations. This increase denotes a successful campaign that is instilling your organization’s impact and values not just in the individual, but in their entire family and household.
Grow Sustainably With DonorWERX
DonorWERX coaches church leaders every day about discussing donations, quantifying impact, and growing sustainably. You play a major part in the safety and happiness of your community, and that’s something your campaigns should showcase. Ready to Get started and encourage successor donorship with your congregation? Schedule a free consultation.