3 Parts of a Gift
When we reach out to our investors—our donors—our efforts are to move donors to make a gift to our cause. If not right away, then eventually.
Our public relations efforts, media placements, events, even one-on-one cultivation is focused on getting the gift.
Fundraisers are evaluated on their abilities to get the gift. That’s all that counts. Well yes—and no. The object of fundraising is to build a sustainable revenue stream based upon philanthropy.
Yet, fundraising isn’t about money. Yes, the result is increased revenue, but that’s not what it’s about.
Fundraising—the kind that delivers consistent philanthropic revenue and scales—is about three things.
First, it’s about awareness. Your potential investors need to be aware of you. They need to know who you are, where you are and what you do. Many organizations are reasonably good at this.
Principle 2 of The Eight Principles™ is "Begin at the Beginning™." You first reach out to your potential supporters to make them aware of you, your work and vision. Critical to success here is to present yourself in the manner in which your supporters want to receive you.
Many organizations behave as though awareness is the sum total of the fundraising effort. Make your need known, and your solution to meet that need and the money will come.
Second, fundraising is about trust. This is a lot more nuanced and complicated. How do you acquire the trust of those who would support you? How do you keep it? Trust comes from others’ experience of you. Of promises kept. Of others speaking well of you.
There was a time when charitable organizations could assume the trust of the philanthropic public simply because they were charitable. No more.
With publicized financial and abuse scandals of some charitable groups, and the maturing of a more demanding generation—the Millennials—nonprofits must earn trust as any other organization or for-profit business.
Principle 3 of The Eight Principles™ is "Leadership Leads™." It is in the arena of trust that leaders must perform and hit the mark every time.
Third, fundraising is about action. Action is when someone shows up, when someone talks about what you do and when the gift is actually made. Many, many potential investors to your cause may believe that it’s a good idea to invest in you—but don’t do it.
Why? Because taking action requires doing something different. It requires a change in behavior.
Getting a donor to take the first leap and support you is the most difficult part. Your real challenge, however, is to get the donor to stay there.
Principle 7 of The Eight Principles™ is "Renew & Refresh™." This truth speaks to the need to both acquire new investors even as you focus on building relationships with those who already support you.
Nonprofits compound the challenge of acquiring new investors with their abysmal efforts at retaining them. These organizations’ fundraising then becomes endless cycles of conversion with no growth—in numbers of donors or revenue. It’s the proverbial treadmill.
Principle 8 of The Eight Principles™ is "Invest, Integrate & Evaluate™." You must consistently invest in your fundraising program, you must integrate your efforts from your investors’ perspectives, and you must ruthlessly evaluate them. It’s the last part that is often the most neglected.
Just being aware won’t make a potential donor act. Being trusted alone won’t initiate action. Action alone won’t do it either.
The three parts of getting the gift—awareness, trust, and action—must work together in a seamless effort. Constant evaluation. Constant refinement. Constant rebalancing.
Your job is to determine which of the three—awareness, trust or action—is in the greater need of attention by your organization today. Then work from there.
Success is waiting. Go out and achieve it.
Larry believes in the power of relationships and the power of philanthropy to create a better place and transform lives.
Larry is the founder of The Eight Principles. His mission is to give nonprofits and philanthropists alike the opportunity to achieve their shared visions. With more than 25 years of experience in charitable fundraising and philanthropy, Larry knows that financial sustainability and scalability is possible for any nonprofit organization or charitable cause and is dependent on neither size nor resources but instead with the commitment to create a shared vision.
Larry is the author of the award-wining book, "The Eight Principles of Sustainable Fundraising." He is the Association of Fundraising Professionals' 2010 Outstanding Development Executive and has ranked in the Top 15 Fundraising Consultants in the United States by the Wall Street Business Network.
Larry is the creator of the revolutionary online fundraising training platform, The Oracle League.
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