Wednesday, December 8, 2010

The 4 Forever Facts About Fundraising

It's that time of year when predictions abound. Top 10 lists are on everyone's lips.  Whether it's improving work/life balance, getting over your ex or losing weight, it seems there's a prediction for how everything will or won't change next year.  Even my barista is giving me advice on the economy.  He warned me away from giving him a tip.

"You'll want to keep those pennies in your pocket," he said.  "Things aren't looking good out here.  Better to set something aside for Christmas."

But really, no one knows what's going to happen today, let alone tomorrow.  So, I'm eschewing my list of predictions for 2011. Instead, I'm serving up the four "forever facts" about fundraising. Enjoy!

1. Fundraising is a peer-to-peer sport

Remember those thermometers from the United Way campaigns? Every time a new department or individual gave money the "mercury" would rise closer to the top. As annoying as those were, they actually worked. Why? We all like to know that we're not alone, and conversely, no one wants to be the ONLY ONE who didn't give. Call it groupthink; call it shallow. But people want social proof that others donate too. They also want the reassurance and good feelings that come with knowing that they are part of the club.

What does this mean for you as a fundraiser? Continue to recognize your donors publicly. (Unless, of course, they have asked to remain anonymous.)  Also, encourage donors to share their stories with their friends and family members. This will help you bring new folks into the fold. You can do this online via some great peer-to-peer fundraising tools.

2. Fundraising is not a one-night stand

You've met your goals. Actually, you've exceeded them. Your boss is really happy because you've managed to accomplish so much in a down economy. Here's the rub. You're stewardship stinks. In fact, you don't even have a plan for keeping your newly minted fans in the fold. You're a one-trick pony. Someone forgot to send out the thank-yous.

Fundraising is about being in it for the long haul. It's more akin to a marriage than a one-night stand. Spend as much money (or more) on cultivating your current donors, i.e., the folks who already love you, as you do acquiring new leads.




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