Understanding, connecting with donors key to success for today's charitable sector: Scotiabank Philanthropic Advisory Forum

- Experts offer BC charities strategies to strengthen, build organizations in a lean economy

VANCOUVER, Sept. 26, 2012 /CNW/ - With an economy that continues to challenge charitable organizations, two philanthropic experts today offered 125 British Columbia charities and foundations advice on building and strengthening donor relationships to succeed in today's lean philanthropic environment. The presentations were part of the Scotiabank Philanthropic Advisory Forum held earlier today in Vancouver: What the Donor Wants; Insights into Connecting with Today's Savvy Donor.

The fourth forum to be held in as many years, the Scotiabank Philanthropic Advisory Forum brings charities together from a number of service areas to talk about current issues facing the sector and share best practices and solutions. The series is complementary to Scotiabank's Bright Future program where Scotiabank provides direct funding and volunteer support to charities in Canada and around the world.

Nationally-known philanthropic advisor, Malcolm Burrows, Head of Philanthropic Advisory Services for Scotia Private Client Group, noted that while it has been a difficult environment for maintaining donation levels, charitable organizations focused on understanding and connecting with their donors have continued to fare well.

"Scotiabank has considerable experience with the charitable sector through our Bright Future philanthropic program", said Mr. Burrows. "We know that charities are being asked to demonstrate increased accountability for overall effectiveness and efficiency, which is understandable in today's economic climate. Operational efficiency is a given.  But just as important, we believe, is understanding and connecting with donors in order to attract, retain and build this important source of revenue.  We know for instance, that the average Canadian philanthropist gives to charities based on their belief in the cause and relationship with the organization. It is vital that the charitable sector deepen that relationship and provide meaningful ways for donors to give and remain involved."

Fellow panellist, Dick Vollet, President and CEO, St. Paul's Hospital Foundation, echoed the sentiment. "In order to position ourselves well for the future, it is important for charities to develop a more donor-focused mindset that continues to ask how they can make it easier for donors to say 'yes'. An entrepreneurial approach that continues to expand and provide new options for donors to connect is critical. We are all competing for a share of the donor's wallet so we need to be innovative, look for ways to work together on efficiencies while creating fresh and creative opportunities to engage donors. Today's donors want to know that their contribution is going to have a meaningful impact."

In reviewing the donor focused strategies for success in today's philanthropic environment, Mr. Burrows and Mr. Vollet offered the following specific advice.

  1. Know your donor.  The average Canadian philanthropist donates because of their belief in a cause.  Understand what drives their beliefs, and how they hope to make a difference. Develop giving opportunities that are tailored to the needs of donors, and that allow them to make a meaningful contribution.
  2. Impact focused donors.  Many of today's philanthropists place a greater emphasis on charity accountability, impact, measurement and business-based solutions and recognition. Understand this donor and be able to demonstrate efficiencies that allow donor dollars to flow more directly to the cause.
  3. Be flexible. Focus on how to give the donor more ways to say 'yes' than 'no' by expanding your services or options or collaborate or partner with another Not for Profit organization who has similar services.
  4. Be customer service minded. Good customer service skills are always good to have when providing stewardship. Make sure your organization has a strong appreciation for this essential characteristic.
  5. Never stop learning. There are always better, more efficient ways to do business. Ask questions, stay current, and understand what is trending.
  6. Be relevant. Is the service you are providing still relevant? Would the environment be the same, worse, or better if you were no longer in operation?

The forum, held at Scotiabank Theatre in Vancouver, was attended by over 400 representatives of Vancouver area charities and foundations.

About Scotia Private Client Group:
Scotia Private Client Group provides customized wealth management solutions to affluent Canadians in 14 Centres across Canada.  Relationship Managers lead a team of experts in the following financial disciplines: Planning, Private Banking, Investment Management Services, Estate and Trust services and income and asset protection strategies to provide a holistic financial plan.  For more information please visit www.scotiaprivateclientgroup.com.

About Scotiabank Bright Future: 
Scotiabank is committed to supporting the communities in which we live and work, both in Canada and abroad, through our global philanthropic program, Scotiabank Bright Future.  Recognized as a leader internationally and among Canadian corporations for charitable donations and philanthropic activities, Scotiabank has provided on average approximately $45 million annually to community causes around the world over each of the last five years. Visit us at www.scotiabank.com.

About St. Paul's Hospital Foundation:
St. Paul's Hospital Foundation is a registered charity that raises funds for medical equipment, research and enhanced patient care at St. Paul's Hospital, a world-leading academic health science centre located in the heart of downtown Vancouver, British Columbia. For more information, visit www.helpstpauls.com.

SOURCE: Scotiabank

For further information:

Michelle Henderson, Scotiabank Community Engagement and Sponsorships, (778) 327-5451, Cell (778) 668-2995 or michelle.henderson@scotiabank.com

Deborah Clark, Scotiabank Media Communications, (416)933-0646, d.clark@scotiabank.com


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