Influencing the Influencers
We are in a noble profession—connecting philanthropists of all types with the opportunity to change lives, to save lives.
So often we can be focused on one person and forget about the influencers. One of the greatest errors in our profession is to forget a spouse. I wrote a few months back about the pain I felt when a new client shares that they had made major gift asks and did not involve the spouse.
For some family gifts—and especially if you are looking at long-term continuity—you will need to involve the children. Even at a young age.
Some donors make gift decisions themselves and some make them involving their family. Some involve advisors and friends. So know who those advisors are—attorneys, accountants and others who are in a position to influence the gift.
Build relationships and, yes, even alliances, with these influencers.
The same is true within our organizations. Too often the mission of a worthy nonprofit is hampered because of silos. Programs don't talk to fundraising. Fundraising doesn't talk with marketing. Finance feels their job is to protect the organization from all the free-spending departments and doesn't understand the fundraising return on investment.
Then, think about your board. Who are the leaders in line to be chairs or serve on the executive committee? Who are these leaders now? Do you have a relationship with them? Do they understand and embrace fundraising?
Don't leave any of this to chance. Have a plan with each. When you begin to deepen a donor relationship, identify the key players and make a plan to deepen those relationships too. If you are the chief development officer, make it a plan to regularly interact with your peers on the senior team. And be sure that you have access and are able to build relationships with the current and upcoming board leadership, and that a part of this is coaching them on fundraising and the incredible return on investment that it provides.
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.