Valentine’s Day Holds the Secret to Fundraising Success

As I write this post, Valentine’s Day has arrived once again. Originally a religious feast day, it has evolved into also being a cultural and commercial celebration of love.

So, what does that have to do with fundraising? Everything!

Think about it. The very word philanthropy means love of humankind. Passion, caring, and relationships are essential to romantic love. They are also vitally important to the fundraising process.

If you treat your donors like an ATM (cash machine), they likely won’t be your donors for long. By contrast, if you understand and tap into their philanthropic passions, show them you care about their needs, and develop a relationship with them, they’ll be more likely to renew their support and even upgrade their giving over time.

When volunteers, and even fundraising professionals, are fearful of asking for contribution, it’s probably because the organization is placing too much of an emphasis on asking and focuses too little on relationship building.

Let me be clear. Fundraisers who fail to develop relationships are simply beggars while those who build relationships, as well as ask for gifts, are development professionals.

When it comes to major-gift and planned-gift fundraising, relationship building is particularly important. Gail Perry, President of Fired-Up Fundraising, recently addressed this issue artfully in a terrific #Gailism that she has allowed me to share with you:

Developing relationships with major and planned-gift donors and major and planned-gift prospects allows us to:

  • Understand what motivates them.
  • Learn what it will take to inspire them.
  • Discover their needs.
  • Earn their trust.
  • Target an appropriate ask.
  • Time the ask properly.
  • Structure the ask in a way that benefits both the donor and the organization.
  • Position the ask as a natural conversation rather than an awkward imposition.

If you strive to build relationships as part of your fundraising process, you’ll also reap a benefit you might not have considered.

Do you have difficulty involving C-Level staff, board members, and other key volunteers in the fundraising process? Are they unwilling and/or afraid to ask people for money?

Gail has the solution for you. She has produced a series of blog posts full of powerful tips to help strengthen your major-gifts program. For example, here is her suggestion for engaging your organization’s leaders in the fundraising process:

Take Soliciting Off the Table

Your colleagues and board members are probably most nervous about the idea of having to ask someone for a gift.

That is really what is scaring them away from having anything to do with the entire fundraising process.

Calm them down by telling them that they don’t ever have to engage in soliciting.

They can just enjoy the fun part of fundraising – cultivating donors, hosting tours, entertaining, thanking, and honoring your donors.

You can still have a full-scale major gift fundraising program, and you can handle the soliciting.”

Let this Valentine’s Day inspire you to share the love with your best prospects and donors. Think about how you can engage people, show them appreciation, and develop a relationship with them in the coming weeks and months. Consider how you can engage your organization’s leaders in the relationship-building process. If you do those things, I promise you that asking for support will become easier, and you’ll be more successful.

What are some of the things you do to build relationships with prospects and donors?

That’s what Michael Rosen says… What do you say?

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