If you’re coming at fundraising from the perspective of “no pain, no gain,” I’d like to suggest you reframe your approach.
Especially when it comes to asking individuals, one-to-one, for passionate gifts.
As long as you hate it, you’re never going to be effective.
In fact, if anyone in your organization feels this way, you’re shooting yourself in the foot.
Because… (I really hate to break this to you)…
Donors can tell.
When donors can sense you’d rather be doing anything else than asking them for a gift, guess what happens? They follow your lead! In other words, they feel like they’d rather be doing anything else than making a gift.
Uh, oh. How can you change this equation?
Storm-based vs. rainbow-based fundraising
The first approach comes from fear, the latter from passion and joy.
If you approach asking as an onerous, to-be-avoided chore, your urge to get it all over and done with as quickly as possible seeps through your very pores.
Sure, you’ll get some token or one-time gifts this way, but these folks are not likely going to feel good about their giving. They’re not likely to become passionate about your cause, or to remain lifelong, loyal and dedicated supporters.
You see, as long as you think giving is taking something away from donors, you’re sunk. That’s the absolute worst way to approach philanthropy.
Passionate fundraising is about love of humankind.
Love, not war. Pleasure, not pain.
When you think to yourself that you’re “hitting someone up,” “twisting their arm” or otherwise inflicting some sort of pain and suffering upon your prospective donor, this attitude will come across.
- When you’re uncomfortable, it makes the donor uncomfortable.
- When you’re happy and relaxed, it makes the donor happy and relaxed.
- When you’re passionate, this passion is contagious!
Asking for money doesn’t hurt people.
In fact, it helps them:
- Accomplish things they could not achieve by themselves.
- Become part of something larger than themselves.
- Satisfy a moral or religious obligation.
- Fulfill their existential quest for meaning and fulfillment.
- See themselves reflected in the mirror as the person they yearn to be.
- Perpetuate their values.
- Get a rush of ‘feel good’
So stop thinking about fundraising as any kind of evil.
- Stop thinking of fundraising as begging.
- Stop thinking of fundraising as subtracting.
- Stop thinking of fundraising is not an end in itself.
Fundraising is servant to philanthropy
You engage in fundraising (you facilitate philanthropy) to create more love.
You invite people to join you in making the world a more caring, loving, harmonious, just and beautiful place.
In Two beautiful truths that will make you an amazing fundraiser, Jeff Brooks of Future Fundraising Now advocates an approach to fundraising that accepts two fundamental truths:
- Communicating with donors is good.
- Donors love to hear from you.
You’ll have a much more satisfying life if you believe these things rather than the pessimistic, self-destructive assumption that fundraising is bad, but we have to do it anyway.
— Jeff Brooks
Philanthropy facilitators are, as my teacher Hank Rosso said, the fundraisers who “teach the gentle joy of giving.”
Connect people to their joyful, potential purpose
Even when you don’t secure a gift, you still have reached out to another human being with a heartfelt appeal that seeks love as its reward. You have engaged in a positive, truth-telling and love-seeking experience that’s fundamentally human. And if you’ve done so in a strategic and positive manner, you’ve likely raised awareness and begun to build what may become a much stronger relationship at some point in the future.
- Of course, you don’t want to send appeals to folks who aren’t likely to be interested.
- Of course, you don’t want to badger folks by telling them what they should do if they want to be considered good people.
- Of course, you don’t want to make it all about you and your work and not about the donor and her values and passions.
Good fundraising is all about sharing your values and matching them to your donor’s values.
That’s when the value-for-value exchange occurs.
It’s a win/win.
Everyone leaves with a little more love, and a little more gratitude.
Create opportunities for philanthropists to show their love.
That’s what great fundraisers do.
Another article you might enjoy: Are the Rich Motivated to Give Differently? I’ll have more specific tips in the coming weeks to help you motivate likely major gift prospects to give passionately to your organization. Meanwhile, you might want to consider…
8-Weeks Towards Becoming a Major Gifts Fundraising Wizard!
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You’ll get CFRE credits… there’s a refund policy if you’re not satisfied… you can enroll up to 5 additional people for no extra fee… and this time next year you’ll be popping corks! I’m here to help you, if you’ll let me.
Hope to see you in school!