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Building Fundraising Relationships

The Essence of Effective Fundraising, according to Ken Burnett (Relationship Fundraising, Jossey-Bass, c 2002), is the concept of Relationship. A fundamental of sound fundraising practice is that “people give to people.”  The degree to which your nonprofit organization gets at Relationship building is a measure of future effectiveness at raising money for your mission.

On pages 28 and 29 of his seminal book Relationship Fundraising, Mr Burnett offers 28 bulleted points for practitioners to keep in mind.  Among his points is this: “Fundraisers need to be able to see things through their donors’ eyes.”  Part of the process of engaging board members in the process of raising money for mission is to get them talking face-to-face with donors.  And I mean people who are already committed to giving to your cause.  These are the folks in your donor database who are giving to your annual campaign.  Bringing the Development Committee together to review the list before the next campaign to identify individuals they know, and to get board members asking for renewed gifts from people already giving to you is a good way to engage your volunteers in the process of raising money for your nonprofit’s purpose.

And this is very different from prospecting for new donors.  You are asking your volunteers to get involved in asking experienced donors to renew their gift.  To increase their gift a bit over what they donated the previous year.  Instituting this process at your nonprofit engages your board in gift renewal. Gets them used to and comfortable with asking.

We know that there are individuals on the board who are not comfortable with asking for money. This, involving the board in the renewal process can help take the reluctance away. And it opens the door for a conversation about why the donor gives, and then, in response, why the board member is also a donor and gives.  They get to share their thinking about what’s important about the nonprofit. Its mission. Its raison d’etre. And out of this conversation can come a relationship, which helps cement the connection to mission.

Another of Ken Burnett’s 28 points is great fundraising is sharing. For sharing to occur, there needs to be some dialogue.  A chance for a connection to be made. This all serves to grow the campaign, to reduce donor attrition.  Getting members of your nonprofit board involved in the annual fund ask process helps build your potential to raise more money.

This is how successful nonprofit organizations grow their potential to extend the reach of mission.

Make the potential for strengthened relationships part of your annual appeal.

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