How Do You Cultivate Donors with Newfound or Hidden Wealth?
Imagine that you just came into a large amount of money. Perhaps you sold your business, or you found out that a relative left you $5 million. The money has no strings attached. It’s just a check that arrives in the mail.
Stop and think about how that would affect your life.
You’re Suddenly Wealthy. Ask Yourself…
What would you do differently and what would stay the same?
- Would you move to a new house? Would you pay off your debts? Would you buy a fancy new car? Would you quit your job?
- Would you tell your friends? Would you have a huge, expensive party? Would you go on a fancy vacation?
- Would you create a college fund for your children? Would you buy new clothes?
- Would you not change much of anything in your life?
- How do you think your newfound wealth would change your friendships — particularly if you started behaving differently?
When people come into lots of money, they behave in different ways. Some make big changes, but many change just about nothing.
Those With New Wealth Often Don’t Change a Thing
Some stories about people with newfound wealth have sad endings. They are preyed on by friends and family. They have lousy advisors, and they wind up unhappy and broke.
For many people, a big change in wealth has little or no external effect. They stay in the same house, drive the same car, wear the same clothes and eat the same food. They may pay off debts, give away a bit more, replace the 10-year-old car with a new used one. But unless you looked closely, you’d never know that your friend or neighbor’s bank account had multiplied.
Try This Thought Exercise
The chances are good that some of your donors who live in modest ways have the ability to make large gifts to your campaign. They don’t want to be sought out because of their wealth. They don’t even want you, or anyone else, to know they have become wealthy.
The question is this:
What should you, a fundraiser, do to learn about people who hide their newfound wealth?
I hope you will share your answers and ideas in the comments below.
Here is one of my favorites:
New Wealth or Not, We Should Pay Close Attention to Our Donors
The more we pay close attention to our donors, the more we are likely to see.
- Hone your curiosity.
- Notice as much as you can about your supporters.
- Learn what they love to do and when it’s appropriate, help them to do more of that.
I believe that last bullet is good advice, not just for fundraising, but for living your best life.
The more attention you pay to other people, the more you notice about what they do and why they do it — the better your life is likely to be. In fundraising, that kind of careful attention and interest in what your donors love may well lead to some large, unexpected gifts.
How do you get yourself to be more curious and observant about your donors? And what can you do to learn more about those who hide their wealth? Leave your suggestions in the comments below.
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Andrea Kihlstedt is an innovative leader and expert in capital campaign fundraising. She wrote "Capital Campaigns: Strategies That Work (4th ed)," often referred to as the “bible” of capital campaign fundraising. She founded Capital Campaign Masters and co-founded Capital Campaign Toolkit, an online capital campaign resource and platform.