Fundraising: It's Not the Pitch
"We want to know if our mission resonates," the prospective client shared.
Then, when I met with some of his board members, the question came up again.
Well, I prompted the discussion when I stated that they have a well-written mission statement and that either of the two fundraising approaches they were evaluating would address the question that has them perplexed: How well-known and understood is our mission?
"Really?" the chair asked about the mission statement. He challenged me to explain. I shared that we do a lot of strategic planning and work with mission statements. Our rule is that you change a mission statement when it is not clear, not accurate or not memorable.
Over a few years, the organization had been in a campaign. It enjoyed success but not to the level that some of the board would like to see. As we continued our conversation, it became apparent that most of the board members were looking for "someone" to do the fundraising for them. And they were looking for a "silver bullet." And they were hung up on their mission statement.
The more I learned, the more impressed I was with their progress. Yes, they could be a whole lot more successful with the campaign. They would have to reset a lot of things, be a bit patient and change their ways.
After I left, the CEO shared that the discussion I led promoted them to continue it after I had left. A few of the board members were hung up on the mission statement. Certainly if it was good, gifts would follow.
I explained that major-gifts fundraising is done eyeball to eyeball — and not just one visit for the kind of gifts that they aspired to.
It isn't about "the pitch," as this board called it. It's not about a presentation. It is about having a meaningful conversation with prospective donors to see if they share your values, mission and vision - aspirations to make a difference.
Don't pitch your prospective donors — engage them!
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.