Effective Fundraising Through Meaningful Relationships
There are weeks that go by when I do not dream or remember any dream that I might have had during the previous night. I recently came back to work after a week-long vacation in which I slept well and relaxed. I am back at work now and dreams are becoming vivid to me. I recently recalled a dream in which I went to an outdoor multi-purpose park for children. I did not have a child participating in the park, but I was there to relax in the stands, watching children and their parents play together.
In this dream, an older woman sat down with me, and we both watched happy children in motion. The kids were having a blast. I noticed the park was very old and in a state of disrepair. Like the movie “Groundhog Day” with Bill Murray, I kept coming back to the scene of sitting with this older woman. Over time, we developed a relationship, and I explained to her what the park could be like with a major renovation. The possibilities were endless and so many additional children could utilize the park through renovation and expansion.
After a while, she asked me why I haven’t done something about this need. Through conversations, I found out that she was very wealthy, loved children and decided to make at least a seven-plus figure gift for the total upgrade of this park. I did my research and connected her to the development officer and CEO of the park. At the end of the day everyone was happy.
I used my fundraising skills and expertise to bring the prospect along once I found out this lady was a prospect through relationship-building. This experience had nothing to do with my day job of fundraising for another organization, but had everything to do with making a difference for others. I woke up tired from the dream, but happy that morning as I remembered this experience. This process made me more motivated to use my talents and abilities to help others.
This Medium blog starts with a quote from John Dewey that says, “… to find out what one is fitted to do, and to secure an opportunity to do it, is the key to happiness.”
According to the blog, the seven reasons why we should put our talents, gifts or strengths to use are:
- Other people can benefit from them.
- Other lives may change because of our talents.
- Leads to a more satisfying life.
- We can make money out of them.
- Allows us to leave a lasting impression to people.
- Leads to faster growth and development.
- Show appreciation to the giver.
Every human being carries with them unique abilities and talents that can be shared with others. All of us constantly use skills and talents acquired in our profession. Many organizations and individuals need the skills development professionals bring to the table.
In the Classy Blog, “6 Key Skills of All-Star Development Professionals,” the following skills that can be shared with others to enhance their fundraising organization are:
- Build relationships through personalized communication.
- Surprise and delight donors.
- Use creativity to power through campaigns.
- Learn and adapt.
- Stay on top of fundraising trends.
Our professional know-how drives organizational missions. Skillsets like creativity, resilience, adaptability and the power to create meaningful connections with donors are what truly distinguish effective fundraising professionals. The question is do we go to work, share our talents and go home each day?
In addition to practical skillsets that we can give others as a practitioner, we are also consultants in our own way. We acquire a lifetime of experiences that we should share with others. Having been a consultant, I have given my share of free advice to those in need through the years. I encourage you, when feasible, to provide pro-bono consulting, especially to those that truly need consulting 101 for themselves or their organization.
If you are seeking pro-bono advice, do your research to see if organizations provide this type of service. Harvard Business School volunteer alumni teams, for example, provide pro-bono consulting to assist others. They leverage their intellectual capital and business talent that rewards their alumni who want to impact the social good and nonprofit clients who need professional help.
I encourage you to give 100 percent to your day job. I also encourage you to consider volunteering, consulting or assisting other organizations by offering your talents free of charge. My fundraising endeavor that helped another entity while I dreamed made me happy because I could help others without any personal expectation of return. I also gave joy to the donor! I hope that possible feeling is in your DNA. You have so much to give to others so why don’t you begin sharing it today!
Duke has extensive experience as a nonprofit practitioner, author, lecturer and consultant. He has been a contributing author to NonProfit PRO for the last 11 years. He has been a long-standing member of the Association of Fundraising Professionals where he was previously named the AFP Indiana Chapter Fundraising Executive of the Year and has held the CFRE designation for many years.
He received his doctorate degree from West Virginia University with an emphasis in education administration, master's degree from Marshall University with an emphasis in public administration and a bachelor's degree from West Virginia University with an emphasis in marketing/management. He has also completed post graduate work at the University of Louisville.
He is currently executive director of development for The Salvation Army Indiana Division in Indianapolis, Indiana. Contact Duke at firstname.lastname@example.org or 317-224-1029.