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Relationship Fundraising in the 21st Century: Social Media has Arrived!

Some of you may be familiar with Ken Burnett and his book, Relationship Fundraising (2nd. Ed., Jossey Bass, 2002) which I vamp shamelessly to my clients and my students in my marketing and fundraising classes at Northeastern. A fine book. If you raise money for a living, you want a copy by your side. Particularly his Essential Foundations of Fundraising: 28 bullet points that are quick, helpful reminders of important basics to fundraising best practice.
For example: “Don’t just ask people to give.”
It’s about the relationship first.
It’s my belief that if nonprofit staff start here (relationship first) with their boards of directors they’ll more likely get from square one to square two. And maybe three.
In this hectic life we lead, keeping the relationship alive with the donor is a challenge.
So, lucky we have Pamela Grow and Pamela’s Grantwriting Blog to help keep us on the right course.
Ken’s book. Pam’s blog. Simple.
Recently, Pam wrote “Five Simple Solutions” in response to a Blackbaud piece on “Five Troubling Nonprofit Statistics.” And a healthy part of Pam’s advice to us is about communication, keeping connected, shoring up the relationship.
Because if we take the time to keep connected, we’ll do better renewing our donors and make our donor acquisition and retention job more sane. Actually do-able.
Reading student papers this past weekend, I noticed this recurring theme: when interviewing fundraisers of a Baby Boomer persuasion, who’ve been at their jobs for a good while, getting acknowledgment of the potential of social media was clearly a real slog. For my younger (Gen Y) students. The exasperation was falling right off the pages of their papers.
So. If we recognize that Relationship Fundraising is a fundamental, we need to employ the newer 21st Century tools to help us bridge and maintain those relationships. With those younger donor prospects we yearn for.
So c’mon, folks. Let’s not write off a generation as disinterested in public benefit causes. Uh uh. Let’s reach out, form the relationship and work toward donor status.
On their turf.
Are you with me?
After you emerge from your tryptophan-induced fog after Thanksgiving turkey, start thinking about building that bridge between your board members and the prospective donors out there who need to hear your message, bond with you, take up the banner, raise and give $ to make the mission possible.
Can that work for you?

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