Category Archives: Fundraising Capacity

Posts about planning for progress and structuring for success.

Giving Your Donors What They Want

“You’ll have more fun and success when you stop trying to get what you want and start helping other people get what they want.”

Dale Carnegie


The most successful fundraiser I know told me that it’s never about money.  It’s about helping the donor to achieveStone wishing well what he or she hopes to achieve.  It’s why memorizing a pitch will never result in great fundraising.

Great fundraising happens when you first ask your prospects and donors what they want and then match what you need to their desire.

The way you do that is not magic.  It’s about having conversations that allow your donors and prospects to share with you what matters to them.

Often that means asking open-ended questions.  Questions like:

  • What is it about our mission that is meaningful to you?
  • What, more than anything, would you like to accomplish with your philanthropy?
  • Tell me about the very best charitable gift you ever made.
  • Tell me about the best thanks you ever received
  • What things do you think our organization could do better?
  • What brings you joy?

Not all of these, of course.  That would feel more like an interrogation than a conversation.  And as they share with you, you must respond authentically.  Frequently that requires more questions, like, “Can you tell me more about that?”  You may even want to share a story of your own—or a story about a client or another donor—that reinforces what they are saying. And when it feels right, you need to tie together their values, concerns, hopes, dreams with those of your organization and the purpose for which you are soliciting their support.

Since it is their support you are asking for, you must find out if you are on the right path.

  • Is this a project that you would want to be a part of?
  • What part of what we’ve been talking about excites you?
  • Is this a priority for you?
  • Does the amount we’re talking about fit your interest in the project or our cause?

And if the answer is less than enthusiastic, your job is not to try to talk them into supporting what you want them to support but in finding out what would make THIS the best gift they ever made and what would bring them joy now.



The Mid-Year Appeal

Almost half-way there—whether halfway through the calendar year or your fiscal year.  And even if your fundraising is going great guns, more would not be a bad thing.  If you don’t already do a mid-year appeal, you might want to consider it.  And if you do, you might want to think about how to make… Read more

Six Steps to a Successful Fundraising Campaign

Fundraising campaigns are time-defined efforts to raise money for a specified purpose or purposes using a range of fundraising techniques.  When most organizations talk about fundraising campaigns they are thinking about capital campaigns and those, typically, are focused on raising funds to build or renovate a building.  But campaigns can also help to enhance programs,… Read more

Succession Planning

Recently, I wrote a blog for Bloomerang on Succession Planning and the fact that it is not just for the CEO.  You can read that here . A lot of the focus in that blog was on planning before you need to worry about succession.  But what happens when you have no plan and you need… Read more