By most measures, Jill A. Warren (left) isn’t wealthy.
She and her husband, the Rev. Robert D. Schoenhals, a United Methodist minister, together have never earned more than $112,000 per year. In some years, their combined income has totaled less than $40,000.
But they are diligent givers—they donate as much as 60 percent of their annual income to charity.
They’re big givers, for sure. But they often aren’t treated that way, especially by organizations that use database-screening tools to find wealthy donors.
“We’re the folks that fly under the radar, so we don’t fit the usual prospecting assumptions,” Ms. Warren said in a live discussion today with Chronicle readers. “The most important thing—just thank us. Send an acknowledgment after each gift. A small gift might represent a significant proportion of someone’s income or assets—we’re not the one-time big-gift givers, but we give a lot over time.”
She also advises fund raisers to pay more attention to people who volunteer at fund-raising events and other activities—regardless of their professions and income levels.
“Don’t underestimate our potential for major gifts,” Ms. Warren said. “There’ve been times I’ve been part of fund-raising activities, and the development staff didn’t ask me for a gift, probably thinking that because I work for a nonprofit, I wouldn’t have much to give. I felt really hurt by that. I was there because I wanted to give.”
You can find more advice by reading the transcript of today’s live Chronicle discussion.