Getting to the Original 'Why'
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Brian and I had a delightful conversation last week. Brian is the CEO of a faith-based charity in the Southwest. He wanted to talk about the age-old conundrum of whether to ask for a specific amount when you solicit a gift.
This is a convoluted and nuanced subject, and I will not attempt to solve the issue today. Let’s just say there are times when it’s absolutely imperative, times when it can help, times when it’s likely to be a negative and times when it’s a definite no-no.
My conversation with Brian opened the door to the broader issue of the original “why.” That is, why are we approaching this individual for a gift?
In case you’re wondering, it’s not (or shouldn’t be) for money.
That’s because philanthropy isn’t about money. Fundraising that’s successful—sustainable and scalable—isn’t about money, either.
We tether and constrain ourselves when we make it about money and even more so when we’re specific about the amount.
Not that making a specific ask isn’t a good thing—at the right time and in the right situation.
The principle here is a bit subtle.
Far more than need be, nonprofit organizations tie themselves in knots by giving those whose support they desire very little room to maneuver. They think it helps their fundraising.
What feels efficient actually stops the conversation before it starts. It’s the old industrial model.
Whenever you’re reaching out to a potential, or current, investor, think “permission.”
Principle 4 of The Eight Principles™ is "Learn & Plan™." Learn about your supporters first—then plan your outreach.
That planning almost always involves contact—with them. Getting to know them.
But I haven’t really addressed the issue of when and how to introduce a specific amount into a solicitation, have I?
Doing justice to that requires a bit more than one of these columns. That’s why I’m taking the next couple of weeks or so to unpack the subject.
So stay tuned.
I extend my thanks to Brian for reaching out. He really opened a can of worms!
Let me hear from you. Please share your situation and the challenges you face in developing sustainable revenue streams. Email me, and I’ll arrange a brief consult providing you with practical guidance. I’ll choose some of these thorny obstacles to share, along with my insights, in upcoming columns.
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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