GolfStatus.org Partnership: Q&A With Mike Geiger
AFP recently announced a new partnership with GolfStatus.org, golf's premier tournament management solution and golfer engagement platform for fundraisers and nonprofit organizations. AFP President and CEO Mike Geiger, MBA, CPA, sat down with GolfStatus.org to discuss fundraising, golf, partnerships, challenges and the future.
GolfStatus.org: Thanks for sitting down with us to talk about this new partnership and fundraising in general.
Mike: Thank you for inviting me—more than happy to talk with you. We’re really excited about collaborating with GolfStatus.org and what you can bring to our members. Plus, personally, I don’t ever mind spending a little time on a golf course, especially given the times we’re in. It can be very relaxing.
GolfStatus.org: Speaking of, how are fundraising professionals overcoming the challenges of the current fundraising climate?
Mike: This is one of the most unique and challenging environments the fundraising profession and charitable sector have ever been in. We don’t know how long COVID-19 will last, and there are economic, social, and personal impacts that may be with us for a long time. Dealing with COVID-19 was already a rollercoaster of emotions, and then we experienced the anger, frustration, sadness and pain of the last several weeks, watching the U.S. and the world respond to the murders of George Floyd, Breonna Taylor, Rayshard Brooks and countless other people of color.
There’s been lot of change, but the one thing that hasn’t changed is the need for fundraising. Yes, we need to approach people with empathy and sensitivity. But we still have to approach them. We cannot turn down our fundraising when the needs of our communities have only increased, not decreased.
We have to remember that our donors want to support causes. They want to let their principles and values be known. They want to have a voice and create impact. And with many in isolation, they will want to talk with us about everything—how they’re feeling, how they have been impacted, what they think we should do. Fundraisers can be an important outlet when we communicate with them.
I like to say, fundraising is the IMPACT profession, and now we have an opportunity to show just how important our organization is and the impact we create. But more than ever we need to understand our donor base. Who’s most in jeopardy for not giving anymore this year? Who could use a little personal contact in order to ensure their gifts? And how do we best communicate with them all?
I would suggest three things. One, take a deep dive into your database and separate donors by group and who needs to be contacted. Two, this is the time to ASK your donors what they want and need during these times. How awesome will they feel to be sent a communication that doesn’t ask them for money, but instead what they’re thinking about what’s happening in their life and how you can be their partner.
Third and finally, develop action plans for every three months or whatever works for your organization. It’s very easy to get bogged down, with just the pressures of working from home, trying to keep in touch with everyone remotely, and adapting to the constantly changing environment. One way to help keep staff, donors and others focused and energized is to have shorter plans (three months out, six months out and the rest of the year). What can you accomplish in three months that you can then celebrate and use the momentum from for the next three months?
GolfStatus.org: When it comes to fundraising, what value does the golf event bring?
Mike: I think there’s a natural connection to fundraising and golf—both in terms of reaching out to donors and providing supporters with sponsorship opportunities. What’s interesting is that during the pandemic, golf courses are reporting significant increases in usage. Playing golf is a way to get outside and be social but in a smaller, more confined group. I think golf and golf events are important opportunities that charities and fundraisers should consider as they think about their development plans moving forward.
GolfStatus.org: What impact can technology have on the operational, budgetary, and time-management challenges nonprofits face?
Mike: Technology is absolutely critical when it comes to fundraising, and there are two main aspects. One is using technology to comb through your database and find the donors and potential donors who could really make an impact on your organization. Charities miss out on significant opportunities if they don’t have the appropriate technology to really make use of their database and all of the information it contains.
Second, we as a profession have to use technology better when it comes to automating processes and making our lives easier. Whether it’s for shepherding online donations or managing all of the aspects of a special event like a golf tournament, we can be so much more effective and efficient with better technology. I think anytime you work with a partner like GolfStatus.org that can provide event management software and mobile apps which help event organizers streamline outings to save time and raise more dollars can be really powerful.
GolfStatus.org: How does the partnership between GolfStatus.org and AFP align with AFP’s efforts to help fundraising professionals and the sector as a whole?
Mike: AFP’s goal is to provide our members with the programs and resources they need to raise funds and create impact in their communities, and one of the most critical ways we do that is by working with outstanding partners who share our values. GolfStatus.org has a unique niche in the philanthropic world, and they understand both what fundraisers need, as well as the ethical principles and values that support their work. That’s really important to me and to all of AFP. Golf events can be valuable fundraising and donor stewardship events, so the resources, technology, and tools that GolfStatus.org can provide will help our members in reaching their goals and creating impact in their communities.
GolfStatus.org: We’re looking forward to our partnership and are so excited about working with AFP members. Thanks for taking the time to speak with us, Mike.