It is always startling to me when a donor engages in a fundraising process conversation with me. This is exactly what happened yesterday during one of my donor interviews. The donor I am referencing simply said: “The nonprofit sector needs to have a paradigm shift. They need to move from selling to serving.” This opened the door to a rich conversation about the importance of stewardship and loving your donors. (Believe it or not the words "stewardship" and "loving your donors" came out of his mouth and not mine.)
Without donors, your entire organization would grind to a halt — and therefore it’s easy to behave as though a donors is always right. But the donor is not always right. In fact, most of the time, donors are wrong. Let us count the ways and give those donors a bit of the unsolicited advice they’re so happy handing out to nonprofits.
The power to push back against the tide of need, apathy, ignorance, etc., behind the degradation of behavioral ethics lies more likely with nonprofits, with community groups. The power lies in the human connection. And the human connection is where nonprofit fundraisers excel.
Opportunity is everywhere, and not just strictly in the form of donors and dollars. Sometimes it wears a mask, and it hides in plain sight. But most development professionals have the innate skills to find it, learn from it and use it to help with future challenges. Here are two examples of what I mean.
The Michael J. Fox Foundation for Parkinson's Research seems to have it all wrong, going against conventional fundraising wisdom at seemingly every turn. Yet the $57 million MJFF raised last year ($50 million of which went toward its mission) tells a different story. The foundation, which has funded more than $240 million in research since its founding 10 years ago, is light on its feet and built for speed.
The number of donors recruited by members of the Public Fundraising Regulatory Association through face-to-face fundraising rose by more than 100,000 in 2010/11, according to figures released in advance of its annual general meeting.
The figures show that 730,269 people signed up as donors to PFRA member organizations during the year, compared with 624,951 in 2009/10. It is the second-highest level of sign-ups in the PFRA’s 10-year history, behind the 740,670 recorded in 2008/09.
It's difficult to resist petting these hard workers. But Freedom Service Dogs have a job to do. And the Englewood, Colo.-based organization that trains the canines and pairs them with people with disabilities who can benefit from these working dogs' help ensure that they're able to do that job.
Here are the four forever facts about fundraising.
For Charlie Annenberg Weingarten, giving away money is personal.
Explore, his branch of the $1.6 billion Annenberg Foundation, gives away millions of dollars every year, but Weingarten doesn't accept grant proposals or give money from a distance. He spends time with people whose causes he believes in and films the visits to call attention to what they do.
"I can't understand giving if it's impersonal," Weingarten says. "I don't give grants by somebody sending a 20-page docket."