Direct Marketing Fundraising Lies in the Art of Friendship
The fundamental building block for fundraising is relationships. This is true for major gift officers who sit across from donors to share a meal or a conversation. It is also true for direct response professionals who must skillfully identify the right stories and images to illustrate an organization’s mission to donors who may never witness first-hand the difference their contribution makes. Christian Appalachian Project (CAP) and its direct mail consultant, Creative Direct Response Fundraising Group (CDR), understand how their relationship fuels the impact of CAP’s mission.
CDR values the work of their clients because their clients seek to improve the world. This shared goal is at the heart of both organizations. When CAP succeeds in fulfilling its mission there is a direct correlation to CDR’s success as a fundraising organization.
Following are four methods to help organizations strengthen fundraising through relationship building.
1. Look for common ground in your mission.
As an example, CAP is a not-for-profit organization that has a mission to build hope, transform lives and share Christ’s love through service in Appalachia. It is a natural alliance to add a fundraising counsel whose core values align with those tenets of faith, service and compassion. The commonality of purpose is demonstrated in the commitment of both organizations to seek to improve society. The nonprofit serves children and families in Appalachia, while their fundraising consultants achieve that same purpose by serving their clients with proven fundraising methods. In this way, the organizations serve one another in a mutually beneficial relationship in which each lives out its core values of helping people in need and creating a more caring world.
2. Put your hands to the plow.
Over the years, the business relationship between CAP and CDR has been deepened by joint participation in core organizational events and programs. Staff who are used to developing mail plans, writing copy and analyzing campaign data welcome the opportunity to serve people in need and to see the outcomes of their work in action. Meeting program participants in person and hearing their stories have contributed to the CDR creative team’s strong commitment and understanding of its client’s mission as a nonprofit.
As a long-term client of CDR’s, CAP has continually shown first-hand the good work they do in the human services sector. On an annual basis, staff from both offices look forward to the opportunity to work alongside CAP program staff to repair substandard homes, distribute commodities to the community through a food pantry and even to steam clothing to be sold in a thrift store. Working together on-site gives both teams a chance to experience the fulfillment of the mission based on the hard work of their successful fundraising efforts.
Getting in the trenches provides the creative staff a deeper understanding of the need that exists in the service area and to witness the tangible result of successful fundraising campaigns—children are fed, homes repaired, seniors helped. Being involved in this manner helps keep staff motivated to do their best work to ensure lives are continuously impacted in a positive way.
3. The Boomerang Effect.
What goes around certainly does come around. Serving and interacting with participants and program staff alongside our fundraising partners helps CAP’s direct response team strengthen the messages they seek to highlight. Working alongside the CDR creative team to personally impact the lives of participants brings a new level of depth and sincerity to our work. When all hearts are working toward the same mission and have shared experiences of working with participants, it inspires both organizations to maximize successful fundraising campaigns. It cultivates a personal emotional connection to the outcome. The collaborative work literally helps families feed and clothe children in need, repair substandard homes and so much more.
4. Strengthen the interpersonal bonds to strengthen the message.
Each time the fundraising team comes to visit, the personal relationships between the staff of both offices are strengthened. These personal relationships flow over into daily work, enhancing working relationships and communication. There are still times when tough conversations must be had about budgets or outcomes, but there is also a high level of respect that exists among both teams. The close relationship allows them to work better together to best serve mission goals and fundraising objectives.
Relationships, relationships, relationships. Learning to enhance professional and interpersonal relationships has increased the effectiveness of this partnership. Through the successful service work of their nonprofit clients, CDR measures their own success. The science behind the execution of direct marketing fundraising still lies in the art of friendship.
Tina Bryson is the public relations manager for Christian Appalachian Project (CAP), the largest human services organization exclusively serving Appalachia. In 2016, CAP’s mission was supported by donors in every U.S. State, Puerto Rico, Canada, multiple U.S. Territories and the U.K. Contact Tina at firstname.lastname@example.org or follow her on Twitter @TinaBrysonCAP.