Fundraising is a World of “We” not “Them”

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Every week, I get e-mails from well-meaning fundraisers talking about “them.”

Sometimes, it’s a non-profit that wants to raise more money, but doesn’t want to ask their donors or board for any more help. But, we know there are lots of big donors in our city. How do we reach “them” with a letter?

Other times, it’s an organization that keeps trying to reach a couple of big companies in town, but can’t get a meeting, no matter how many times they call. How can we reach “them?”

Or maybe it is a charity that wants to raise money for a new project, and wants to know if there is a list of people “who give to this sort of thing.” How do we reach “them?”

I’ve got bad news for any non-profit that is thinking like this…

“They” Will Never Give to Your Non-Profit

These are donors who don’t know you. They don’t know your staff or your board. They don’t know your work. Why should they give their money to you? Imagine if someone you never met called you on the phone and asked you for $1,000 for a cause that sounded nice, but you never heard of. Would you make a donation? Do you have time to do a 60 minute meeting with the caller in the middle of your week?

The only way to raise the money your organization needs to thrive is to focus on we, us, and our.

We need to raise money, so we (including our board and staff) need to be focused on it, and willing to do the work.

The best way to find new donors is to talk to people who already know us, to ask them to introduce us to their friends, to become part of our team.

We should constantly be asking our donors, volunteers and friends to help us meet new people and expand our fundraising network.

For new non-profits, this means relying on the founding board and staff to build a fundraising network the old-fashioned way: with conversations, meetings and phone calls. For more mature organizations, this means thinking in terms of the second ask, referrals and non-ask events.

Of course, we don’t talk to donors this way. When we communicate with donors, we talk about “you” and “yours.” But when we think about donors, we think about them as part of “we” – they are part of our team.

“They” won’t come to your rescue. But your current donors and supporters will.

Photo Credit: The Arches

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