Nonprofit Fundraising’s New Secret Weapon: Mastery

December 18, 2013

“Don’t you get bored with fundraising?” my friend, a fundraising consultant, asked me the other day.  “I mean, how many times can you write about the same thing?”  Then I had this email conversation with another consultant recently who had just come from a major conference:

“…the one that keeps popping up is peoples reactions to the FUNDAMENTALS of good practices… (that is likely the worse sentence I have ever typed…)

eg: suggesting to a fundraiser to walk through their own donation process – OMG! CRAZIEST IDEA OF ALL TIME!
eg: sending out a customized thank you letter for each appeal – OMFG! MY BRIAN IS EXPLODING WITH GOODNESS!!
eg: reporting back on the success of an appeal – WTF!!! WHAT A GREAT IDEA!!!!”

Ahem…all things I’ve been blogging about since 2009.

In his foreword to Tom Ahern’s new book, Roger Craver wrote “Too many fundraisers are spending too much time in search of the next and greatest new thing.  Like hunting dogs ranging back and forth in pursuit of a fresh scent, they endlessly pursue some magic bullet that never seems to hit the fundraising mark.”

And now the latest news in the nonprofit community is that Facebook is releasing a new Donate feature that will allow people to make donations directly to their favorite nonprofits via the News Feed.  It almost goes without saying that Facebook will not be sharing donor information with the nonprofits on the receiving end (so the chance of building a relationship is nil).  As another aside, you couldn’t pay me to store my credit card information on Facebook.  The company’s trust factor is pretty negligible.

To Facebook’s announcement I say BFD.

Throughout 2013, I made it my personal mission to “be a donor.”   I’ve made over 50 small donations ($20-240) throughout the year, several of them monthly.  The experience hasn’t been a pretty one.  I can count on one hand the number of times I’ve been thanked, let alone been informed of what my gift has accomplished.

Here’s the skinny:  when so many nonprofits simply don’t have the fundamentals down, why do we continue chasing after rainbows and unicorns? 

The fundamentals include:

  • Telling your story and telling it well
  • Thanking your donors well – and promptly
  • Understanding what motivates your donors
  • Understanding and embracing donor-centricity

When you understand these basics, you move clean away from the *begging for dollars* mindset so prevalent in our field, and embrace your donors as what they are: partners in creating change.   Understand these fundamentals and you understand that everyone is responsible for fundraising.  Understand these basics and everything else flows.

In the words of Tony Robbins:  “Most people have no idea of the giant capacity we can immediately command when we focus all of our resources on mastering a single area of our lives.”

In 2014, keep your eye focused on mastering donor-centricity.

{ 2 comments… read them below or add one }

Katia December 22, 2013 at 11:06 am

Thank you for bringing some levity to this often mundane topic!

Patrick Rafter August 6, 2014 at 10:06 am

Liked your post and it brought to mind the old adage:
“The more things change, the more they remain the same.”
Fundraisers should print out your list of fundamentals and put them on their office wall (to serve as a daily reminder)!

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