Securing Major Gifts: The Lie About the Silver Bullet
It took me a long time and a lot of failure to learn that the silver bullet, in any part of life, personal or professional, is not the solution to any situation I face.
I thought that the way to win the love, affection and commitment of a woman was well-crafted words, creative outings and events, gifts, giving her compliments and getting her to like me, etc. Nope. It’s about respect, mutuality, authenticity and love. Basic stuff.
I thought the way to win the boss's favor was to look good, complement them, do what they want, always say yes, etc. Nope. It’s about service, results and being a team player. Basic stuff.
I thought the way to secure a major donor’s money was creative approaches, innovative moves, crafty and emotional donor offers, putting the donor together with high-profile people in the community, great events, etc. Nope. It’s about helping them fulfill their interests and passions. Basic stuff.
The silver bullet is promoted by many people these days. I Googled it just now. Goodness! There are a lot of promises. “Just do this,” they say. “And everything will be great!” It’s not realistic. The ideas might be helpful. But they are not the ultimate solution.
The ultimate solution is just the basic stuff.
Several months ago, someone at a conference asked for a silver bullet. “What creative new thing could I do to get the donor to give?” they asked?
“Find out the donor’s interests and passions, and then help the donor fulfill them through your organization,” I quickly replied.
I could tell the person was disappointed. The little voice inside the person’s head was saying: “Really? Come on, Richard, you can do better than that? Is that all you have?”
So I said: “I can tell you’re disappointed with my reply and that you’re wondering if there really might be some other more exciting and creative idea I might share that would actually work. Am I right?”
“Yes,” the person replied.
And then we had a long discussion about the lie of the silver bullet. Jeff and I repeatedly find that people are amazed and somewhat confused by our basic stuff — our call for major gift officers to come back to the real things that matter and work. But we keep talking about it because it does matter, and it works. Plus, it’s honoring the donor and protects and enhances the economy of the nonprofit.
Don’t overthink your donor relationship strategies. Just do the basic stuff. That’s what will work. There is no silver bullet.
If you’re hanging with Richard it won’t be long before you’ll be laughing.
He always finds something funny in everything. But when the conversation is about people, their money and giving, you’ll find a deeply caring counselor who helps donors fulfill their passions and interests. Richard believes that successful major-gift fundraising is not fundamentally about securing revenue for good causes. Instead it is about helping donors express who they are through their giving. The Connections blog will provide practical information on how to do this successfully. Richard has more than 30 years of nonprofit leadership and fundraising experience, and is founding partner of the Veritus Group.