Are You Ready for Grassroots Fundraising? (Part 2)
Last week, I suggested the first three distinctions of grassroots fundraising: who you know is at least as important as what you know; who they know may be more important than what your organization does; and mistakes are more public and require more attention.
Following are three additional differences I have experienced between grassroots fundraising and working as a fundraiser for an organization with a broader constituent base. While neither one is better nor necessarily easier, moving from one to the other without being aware of the differences can lead to failure — both for you as a fundraiser and possibly to the nonprofit (at least short term).
Don't ask for an opinion unless you plan to do something with it
We often send surveys or ask potential major donors for their opinions to help increase donor involvement. Much of the time, this information is interesting — but it might not alter anything we do.
In a grassroots organization, donors are more likely to expect you to take their advice and make changes as a result. There is a much greater sense of connection as they see you regularly, may visit your programs and possibly feel integral to your success.
If you ask for an opinion, be ready to incorporate it — or at least explain why you didn't after giving it fair consideration. Otherwise, you run the risk of seeming arrogant or patronizing — or even "ignorant" because (they believe) you don't recognize good advice when you hear it.
Social media is critical since the feeling of 'friendship' is stronger
While social media is great on the national level, it becomes even more important on the local level. Providing up-to-date information, kudos to businesses and community leaders who lend a hand, photos of your program, and reports on events is more like sharing news with your family — it's expected to show up on your social-media pages.
Pamela Barden is an independent fundraising consultant focused on direct response. You can read more of her fundraising columns here.