Seek and You Will Find Donors
Have a fundraising challenge you want to crack? Weary of doing the same old, same old yet hoping for different outcomes? Do you want the over-the-top results that come from superior strategy?
Email me with your particular problem, and I’ll arrange a quick consultation offering you a practical solution you can implement. I may even use your situation to share with my readers. Names are changed, of course.
Susan and I had a recent conversation on how her organization, a nonprofit focused on education for disadvantaged youth, can expand its donor reach. Her complaint is a similar one. “We’re in a relatively small community. There must be a thousand nonprofits here competing for the same donors. We’re seeing a lot of donor fatigue.”
A few questions into our discussion I could see the real obstacle she was facing. Many people make assumptions that, on their face, may sound legitimate but actually defy reality.
First, there’s the notion that all nonprofit organizations in a given area are, by definition, in “competition” with each other for a fixed (and small) donor pool. The false assumption is donors make gifts to organizations indiscriminately, without regard to mission or outcome. Principle 1 of The Eight Principles™ is “Donors are the Drivers®.” Donors drive philanthropy not with their money but with their visions and values.
Nonprofits only “compete” with each other when they make it about the money. They do this when their approach to potential donors is transactional rather than values-based. The one-size-fits-all charity event comes to mind. Donors do fatigue of these—and fast.
The second false assumption is everyone or anyone is a potential investor to your cause. They are not. Reference Principle 1 of The Eight Principles™. The first step beyond this fiction is in understanding Principle 4, “Learn & Plan.” First learn who will support you by virtue of their values and vision, and then plan how to reach them. Create a donor profile that matches your own values and then develop an approach that works for them.
OK, so you’ve done the homework. You know who you are. You know the kind of donor who will respond well to your message. How do you find them?
Again, the conventional wisdom says—canvass everyone. That will cover the landscape but it is time-consuming, costly and produces little. It also negates the multiplier leverage you gain by taking a more strategic approach.
Principle 5 of The Eight Principles™ is “Work from the Inside Out™.” This is where your board and key volunteers can shine. Begin with those closest to your organization by relationship and affinity. Work outward building a strong referral network. This is where it’s clear the fundraising enterprise is not so much about asking as it is networking.
You may be saying, “Yeah, I get this.” “We already do it.”
You might also be saying, “Wow. We’re gonna have to invert our entire approach.”
Well, what you waiting for? No time like the present.
My conversation with Susan was all too brief. I encouraged her to read ”The Eight Principles of Sustainable Fundraising”, and check back with me.
She’ll do well, I know.
You see, she has the one absolutely essential requirement to be successful in philanthropy. She really wants to make it happen, not merely wish it different. She’s willing to do what it takes. More power to her!
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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