No One Is 'Off the Hook' From Fundraising
Be prepared, some of these relationships may go nowhere. That doesn’t mean you’re doing a bad job. And it doesn’t necessarily mean the development team is doing a bad job. But you’ll find that these relationships can become some of the most rewarding parts of your work.
Fundraising isn’t just asking for money
Many CEOs I work with seem to think that 100 percent of the time they devote to fundraising should be spent asking for money. Or they feel this pressure from the board. That is a surefire way to exhaust your donors. And yourself.
I find it particularly hard for executive leaders to justify thank-you notes and calls with donors. So many seem to think their time is worth more than just saying “thank you.” Again, nothing could be further from the truth. For-profit companies know that it’s far less expensive to keep an existing customer than to acquire a brand-new one. The same is true in fundraising. So thanking donors for their ongoing support is definitely worth an executive’s time. You’re both helping save your nonprofit money and raise money. Adrian Sargeant, the first Robert F. Hartsook Professor of Fundraising at the Lilly Family School of Philanthropy at Indiana University, says studies show that even improving donor retention by just 10 percent can result in 175 percent to 200 percent more revenue.
One reason some executives feel uncomfortable simply saying “thank you” is that they feel like there should be a further agenda. If you feel this way, try thanking donors by reporting back on what their generosity has accomplished. As the chief executive, you should be able to ask your development team to prepare a report on what a person’s donation has helped your nonprofit accomplish.
These are more effective if you know what the donor values. You’ll soon grow to enjoy showing your donor how her giving connects directly with something she is passionate about!