Two Qualities Donors Need To See Before They Invest Big

by Fundraising Authority Team

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As fundraisers, we often focus on planning and tactics: what five things are we going to do to raise $200,000 this year?  How are we going to shift our direct mail strategy to find more mid-level donors?  What’s our social media fundraising plan?

Tactics are important.  Strategy is important.  We can’t ignore them: that’s why much of our article archive is dedicated to writing your plan, tweaking your strategy, and implementing tactics that work.

Yet, anyone who has been a successful fundraiser also knows that there are intangibles that matter as much as, if not more than, tactics and overall strategy.  Two of the most important of these intangibles are mission and energy.

Your Mission Matters: Keep it Front and Center

Chances are that at the heart of your non-profit, church, school, or foundation lies an important mission.  After all, whether it was 5 days or 50 years ago, some person or group of people founded your organization because they saw a need, and your group has been working ever since to solve that need and make a difference.

Guess what?  Your donors (and prospective donors) will care about that mission.  If they don’t, then it’s your job to show them why that mission is so important.  Your mission matters.

The best way to stay a viable, growing organization is to have donors who deeply care about and are committed to your non-profit.  The best way to find donors like that is by staying mission-focused.

Sure, if you need to raise money now – right now – for urgent operational or program needs, you may need to ask your board and other supporters to their “have to give” list… you know, their friends and business associates who will feel like they “have to give,” just because they were asked by someone they like, trust, or are beholden to.

But… if you want to grow a truly great and truly sustainable non-profit, you’ll also need to spend lots of time connecting with donors and prospects, getting them interested and passionate about your mission, and helping them understand why your mission matters.  Once that happens – once they make that connection – a wonderful thing happens: your mission becomes their mission.  They’ll be a supporter for as long as you continue communicating with them.

Organizations Need Energy Too

The second big intangible that we often forget is energy.  As fundraisers, we know just how much energy it takes to get on the phone, again and again… to do the meetings… write the letters… make the presentations.

Like people, organizations have an energy level.  They can be tired, weak, and disengaged, shuffling from “have to do” to “can’t wait till this event is over.”  Or, they can be vibrant, alive, and motivated, bounding from “this is a great opportunity” to “I can’t wait to make this presentation.”  Most non-profits I know are somewhere in between… they have enough energy to keep going, but not enough to make the type of impact they really could make, if they had more energy.

Where does your non-profit fall on the energy scale?  Where do you fall?  How does this effect your fundraising?  Are you thinking big?

Donors like to give to people, and charities, that are motivated and energetic.  Organizations that seem like they are growing, learning, engaging new people and meeting new challenges.  The higher your organizational energy level, the better your fundraising will go.  The most successful development professionals I know are also the most positive, most energized, most alive.

Here’s your task, if you choose to accept it: Keep your fundraising focused on your mission.  Keep your organization’s energy high.  Keep learning, keep growing, keep telling people why your mission matters.


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Dawn Roucka November 1, 2011 at 4:58 pm

LOVE your newsletter! Very helpful for me.
My question is if mission + energy = Raising more $$, what do you do if your planning board or Network circle has one or two members that suck the energy out of the room? They are so negative, people do not show up to planning meetings and these members only seem involved for their own ego. Their negative energy and self focused mission seem to = equal brain drain on staff and volunteers and little money raised. So how does one get rid of a volunteer planning member that does not help bring anything to the table?

Joe Garecht November 1, 2011 at 6:02 pm

Great question Dawn!

Simply put, for the sake of your organization, you need to gently usher them out the door. This may be done through term limits on the committee, through “promoting” them out of the committee by giving them some other “important” role that doesn’t require interacting with your other supporters, etc.

Your mission matters… that’s why you can’t have someone who is draining your energy hanging around and getting in the way!


Sarah Tassi January 21, 2013 at 1:59 am

Hello! We are wanting to hold a music benefit/fundraiser for my son Preston. He was born with a very rare neurological disorder called Moebius Syndrome (which has resulted in full facial paralysis and a few other issues). We are wanting to bring awareness to this disease and also raise money to one day get the smile surgery for him. (And long term goal is to hold this event annually and continue to raise money for others with Moebius who are wanting the surgery). But getting started I have a few questions. How would you say is the best way to start? I know becoming a non-profit is quite an ordeal. What would you say is the best way to go about setting up a fund for something like this?

Joe Garecht January 21, 2013 at 12:21 pm


Thanks for your comment and best of luck with your upcoming fundraising event. In order to raise money and have that money be tax free (both for you and the donor) you either need to set up a non-profit or work with a local non-profit or church that will partner with you to receive, manage, and distribute the funds.

Check around to see if any non-profits in your area are targeted at rare disorders or other missions that closely align with yours, and approach them about helping you raise money through this event.

Thanks again,

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