The More things change

Age is interesting.  For example, I’m now at that age when most people—certainly most of the people I know—have already retired or are planning

on it in the next year or so.  Lunching with an age-appropriate friend the other day, she noted that we might be the last two standing, and that she was thinking of starting a salon for still working consultants.

It’s definitely affected my business in that people who regularly re-hired me for various assignments are gone and their successors are often looking to put their own stamp on things. On the other hand, it has been liberating and wonderful to work with people who aren’t so tied to the way they do things that they can’t consider something different.  My only fear is that for some, tried and true seems to mean old and tired and not what we are going to do under any circumstances.

While fundraising has changed in many ways, there are things that remain the same.  The importance of building relationships for one.  The way relationships develop for another.

Social media may be terrific for talking about the broader outlines of your life, but if you really want to get to know someone, face to face is still the best way to go.

To get a small gift, all I really need to know is that our mission matters to you.  Yes, I have to do certain things, but many of those can be done from afar.  Making sure that I thank you appropriately, keep you in the loop, show you how your support matters are critical for ensuring your loyalty to our organization.  Showing you the impact of what we do—and how you make that impact possible—is critical.  And, if I want you to increase your gift, it is important that you get to see and feel and hear what is happening in a personal way.  That means tours, small events, videos and personal letters, tailored specifically to you.

Larger gifts, however, involve more.

In my experience, commitment to a cause or mission is the main motivator for smaller gifts.  Larger gifts, however, often depend on the donor’s specific philanthropic desires.  That means that instead of you explaining why their support will help your organization di something, you must find out what they want done as a result of their support. And sure, you can ask via social media or in an email, “Tell me, what do you hope to accomplish through your philanthropy,” but the answer will undoubtedly be pretty generic with grand visions and lofty ideals.  To find out what they want to accomplish at your organization, takes a face-to-face meeting.  In fact, it will likely take several to many face-to-face meetings, long conversations, not just the two of you but as you connect your donors with others in your organization.

As you find out about your donor’s hopes and dreams, values and aspirations, together you can craft a gift that will benefit both your organization and their philanthropic goals. And if you remember that the gift is truly the start of it all, and you keep them close, their support will grow.

We’ve all heard that old chestnut:  the more things change, the more they stay the same.  Certainly, in raising larger gifts, that is totally true.


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