How DonorPath is helping nonprofits amid state budget cuts
Q. What does DonorPath do?
A. We created a technology and a community that allows small and mid-sized nonprofits access to best practices and ongoing coaching in raising money. Traditionally, only the upper 25 percent of the 1.5 million nonprofits in the United States have the budget to afford these things
Q. How does the technology work?
A. Nonprofits create a profile on our platform about their mission, staffing, budget, greatest fundraising need, how they’re raising money and their fundraising goal. Through the matching algorithm, we present them with three experienced fundraisers, and they choose the one they want to meet. If it’s a good match, then they schedule the next appointment to start developing a plan.
The platform pulls an organization’s data into the app to visualize the information. The analytics show an ideal revenue distribution and allows a nonprofit to benchmark its health and revenue against a national average. There is a library of fundraising templates and tools to show a best practice and alleviate the time and expense in creating materials from scratch.
Q. How big is your company?A. We have 10 full-time employees and 275 part-time employee consultants.
Q. What do your services normally cost a paying client?A. $239 per month, or for organizations that want to pay up front for the year, $1,999. There is a $2,500 setup fee.
Q. What prompted the new project?
A. There isn’t cash available at the state level to continue these government contracts for nonprofits. They primarily hit community-based organizations that provide critical human services. As soon as Gov. Rauner announced his budget plan, there was concern this was going to get worse, and the reality is those public funds won’t be coming back.
Q. So the project provides what you offer for paying clients?
A. Yes, and we're doing this at no cost for nonprofit organizations. We've frontloaded many of the tools and coaching inside four to six weeks to allow the organizations to get more done in a shorter amount of time. We’re helping them to create a 12-month plan to raise money and diversify fundraising revenue. The third part is helping them engage, recruit and compel board members to help them participate in fundraising activities.
Q. How did you fund this?
A. We created the Capacity Building Fund that fuels the entire project. We raised $1.8 million from foundations and philanthropists to underwrite the cost, and the Chicago Community Trust administers it.
Companies providing services or value are doing it at a deeply discounted rate, including our bench of consultants.
Q. What did you learn from the Chicago pilot?
A. The success of any organization’s fundraising begins and ends with the passion, means and motivation of a committed board of directors. The No. 1 thing we will do is to help nonprofits recruit, train and motivate board members who also serve as foot soldiers delivering the mission of the organization.
It’s one thing to say, “We need board members. Do you want to help?” It’s another thing to find volunteers that have skills that you actually need.
Q. How will you measure impact?
A. We want to get at minimum 85 percent of participating nonprofits to where they can create a spring campaign, to successfully write and submit a grant and to diversify revenue from more than a single source.