4 Fundraising Principles Reinforced From a Fraternity Convention
Generous givers inspire me! This past weekend, I had the privilege of attending the fraternity convention of Phi Kappa Theta. I have the honor of serving as chairman of the fraternity’s foundation and was interacting with many generous donors over the weekend. The fraternity’s mission of developing servant leaders and its motto from St. Thomas Aquinas has been influential in my life for decades.
As I’ve reflected on a great weekend connecting with incredible leaders, four fundraising principles were reinforced:
- Giving is a joyful experience. Every donor I interacted with was proud of their giving and smiled as I thanked them. Giving provides real psychological and physical (and I believe spiritual) benefits to the donors! Be sure that your fundraising reflects and enhances a joyful experience! Fundraising done properly is fun!
- Every donor is different. At the convention, we gave two leadership awards for career success and philanthropic impact. One was given to someone who has given tens of millions of dollars to nonprofits; the other to someone who has given $2 billion away. One of these men was very quiet; one was quite outgoing. Both were driven professionally and philanthropically to make a difference. One donor likes to make a smaller gift first to have an organization prove its effectiveness; the other was not afraid to take bold risks in hopes of transformational philanthropy. Be sure you know your donors and prospective donors and what motivates them, including how they prefer to be treated in terms of recognition and more.
- You have to ask. As we shared about the organization’s foundation over the weekend, it became even more apparent that many were not aware of the foundation, and many did not feel that they had ever been asked … or asked in the right way … to invest. Most donors and prospective donors do not mind being invited to give, if it is done in the right way at the right time. Ask, and ask again—properly. But most importantly, continue to share about the great work you are doing and involve people.
- Fundraising is a team effort. We have a wonderful foundation board and staff that enable us to leverage resources and use the multiplier effect. Having 25 engaged leaders is far more effective than having just one staff person. The board and staff were engaged throughout the weekend in cultivating prospective board members and donors, and the results of their leadership was very, very positive.
Throughout the weekend, by setting the right stage, many people came forward to ask how they could help. They caught the vision. That is what we all want for our organizations and worthy causes. By remembering these four principles, you can increase your impact.
Looking for Jeff? You'll find him either on the lake, laughing with good friends, or helping nonprofits develop to their full potential.
Jeff believes that successful fundraising is built on a bedrock of relevant, consistent messaging; sound practices; the nurturing of relationships; and impeccable stewardship. And that organizations that adhere to those standards serve as beacons to others that aspire to them. The Bedrocks & Beacons blog will provide strategic information to help nonprofits be both.
Jeff has more than 25 years of nonprofit leadership experience and is a member of the NonProfit PRO Editorial Advisory Board.