Fabulous and Philanthropic: Prospecting For Donors This Pride Month
There are many reasons to celebrate LGBTQ+ people this Pride Month—and every month. We’re fabulous! As AFP members I think we can all especially celebrate – and potentially even harness – the LGBTQ+ community’s likelihood to be more philanthropic. I certainly consider fabulous and philanthropic to be two great prospect qualifiers – for gifts and for finding me a husband someday.
It’s important to note here that the research doesn’t conclude LGBTQ+ people are likely to donate more money than straight people are. Due to the historically disadvantaged socioeconomical status of the LGBTQ+ community, there is generally less wealth to be found here when compared to straight counterparts. While the LGBTQ+ prospect pool may not be full of major donors, it’s likely full of committed, long-term, annual, or monthly givers – and if you play your cards right, maybe even planned gift donors. As someone in planned gift fundraising, I must call out the importance that your long-term small-dollar donors have!
Understanding that an LGBTQ+ person is more likely to be philanthropic makes them likely a ‘better’ prospect for some revenue lines. Further understanding that LGBTQ+ people are less than half as likely to have children and possess more wealth to distribute to charity notably though planned gifts may make them an even ‘better’ prospects. But how can you use this information?
Only use information that is directly provided by the donor. This is perhaps the clearest way to use sexual and gender identity to help you refine your prospect pool. Don’t act based on any assumptions you may have about a person in this respect. There’s no database that can tell you a person’s sexuality, gender identity, preferred pronouns, etc. – nor should there be.
Don’t assume you should put “Ms.” in front of “Casey.” Have you ever been going through a mailing list and tried to ‘clean-up’ salutations based only on the first name and what sex/gender you would assign them based on that name? I’ll assume you struggled here, and you should listen to your gut. If the donor didn’t provide a salutation for themself, don’t assign one. If a donor provides their name as “Mr. Casey Saunders,” of course, use it. Consider including a salutation field or dropdown menu in your online forms, for example, and include “Mx.” – a now commonly accepted gender-neutral option.
Add your pronouns to your communications – yes, all of you. Signal to the LGTBQ+ community that you are welcoming, inclusive, inviting, and actively helping our cause. For example, in my email signature, I write Casey J. Saunders, CFRE (he/him). Many of my colleagues who are part of the community as well as those who are straight allies do, too. This can also be done in letters, web content, and brochures. This concept is newer than the salutation of Mx., so feel free to explore resources that help explain why everyone should share their pronouns.
Make sure your communications and marketing are inclusive. What kind of messages do you send out for Mother’s Day, Father’s Day, and Valentine’s Day? Are all your marketing photos of the nuclear family? Are you using more than a token ‘two black dads’ photo in a brochure? Are you doing anything to acknowledge Pride Month in your social media that also relates to your mission? Many health research organizations, for example, have a mission to help “all” people. This month these organizations can celebrate their LGBTQ+ community members and really emphasize that “all” message.
Invite LGBTQ+ people to lead. Having different voices in a room is a great way to make sure LGBT+, for example, have input in your work – ensuring appeal to the community, identifying engagement opportunities others may not see, and helping you ensure you work towards a more inclusive and inviting environment every day.
Finally, walk the walk. Are your Human Resources policies, for example, inclusive of the LGBTQ+ community? Do you have an equal parenting leave policy? Healthcare benefits for trans employees? A gender-neutral bathroom in the office? What’s your dress code like? Make sure the image you portray to the LGBTQ+ community is backed by your company policies and actions. If so, maybe you even highlight those policies in your recruitment efforts this month.
There is so much to celebrate about the LGBTQ+ community, and I hope you all find a way to partake this Pride Month. There are also still so many hurdles to overcome for LGBTQ+ rights, and I hope you will partake in those efforts as well. Pay special attention this month to how you address your donors, the inclusivity of your marketing, and the diversity of the voices in your meetings. You may not see returns right away, but your LGBTQ+ donors will see your effort. They will immediately feel more welcome and more connected to you and your mission—that’s a win-win.
Casey J. Saunders, CFRE, is the associate director of planned giving for The ALS Association's National Office. He manages a portfolio of nation-wide planned giving donors and prospects and acts as a consultant for ALS’s chapters on all things related to planned giving. Prior to this role, he helped manage the planned giving program at the National Office of the Cystic Fibrosis Foundation. He received his CFRE a year ago and has more than five years of experience as a fundraiser. He’s a member of the AFP DC chapter and is active in AFP at the local and global levels.