INN conducted a grant-funded pilot program with eight members to test strategies and tools for improving major donor giving. Among the findings: A major donor program builds on skills many journalists have.
“The curiosity and persistence that journalists bring to their investigative work are exactly the skills required for major gift work. What is missing are the tools and training that journalists need in order to have the confidence to go talk with their donors — and ask for a gift,” said Diane Remin of MajorDonors.com, who coached the news nonprofits in the pilot program.
Journalists have the ability to explain their newsroom’s story and priorities to potential funders. But news nonprofit founders often have put off setting up major gift programs until they could employ a development specialist. That delay could be short-sighted. Major gifts are a crucial potential revenue stream for news nonprofits, particularly those focused on investigative journalism.
The INN pilot program findings suggest that with the help of outside coaches, members can set up systems and build significant revenue even before they have full-time development directors. Seven of the eight newsrooms said the most valuable outcome of the coaching was learning to transfer skills from journalism to fundraising.