Fundraising for Nonprofits

Inspiring Gifts that Transform

Friday, November 23, 2007

What to look for when prospecting for donors

I was recently asked by someone if, “complete strangers are more generous than close friends?" She asked because she is continually surprised by who donates and who does not.

My short and simple answer was “no.”

My longer answer was that when prospecting for potential donors one traditionally looks for three factors: linkage, interest and ability. The stronger each of these qualities, the more likely your prospect is to make a gift.

Linkage means the closeness of the relationship between you and the potential donor. It is the most critical factor in determining whether someone will be inclined to a good cause. In surveys, the number one reason people give for donating is that someone they knew asked. The fact is, people are more like to give to an individual representing a good cause, rather than a good cause all on its own.

Interest means just that, is the prospect interested in your good cause? How do they spend their time and money, what is their family history, and most importantly, what are their values? At its core, fundraising is simply offering donors an opportunity to act on their values. When you ask somebody to make a donation, you are helping him or her become the hero of their life story by making a difference in the world.

Last -- and of surprisingly least importance -- is ability or how rich someone is. The wealthy may have more money to give away, but statistical speaking lower- and middle-income people give a higher percentage of their wealth than those with higher-incomes.

One other important factor is how routinely has the prospect ever given in the past to other causes? Some people are givers; others are not. Usually this has to do with their own relationship to money, something constructed within all of us at a very early age. It is easier to secure gifts from those who learned “to whom much is given, much is expected.” On the other hand, if they learned, “money is the root of all evil” or “we need to save money for a rainy day,” my friend may have some barriers to overcome. The successful fundraiser is one who actively listens to prospective donors, and through reporting, assessing and reframing helps them build a more healthy and generous relationship to money.


Saturday, November 17, 2007

And the young shall inherit the earth, thankfully

In 1992, at the age of 12, Severn Cullis-Suzuki raised money with members of the Environmental Childrens Organization (a group she founded) to travel from Vancouver to speak at the Earth Summit in Rio De Janeiro. Watch this 7-minute video and know there are leaders among us who can be the change. They are our children.

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Monday, November 05, 2007

I'll show you mine, if you show me yours

I’ve been tagged. Britt Bravo, of the most excellent Have Fun, Do Good blog, has invited me to participate in a book meme. So without further ado:

Total Books I Own
275. Thought it would be less, as I enjoy giving away books after reading them. Guess I still have challenges with "letting go."

Last Book I Bought
The Last American Man by Elizabeth Gilbert.
If you’ve loved her recent run-away best seller Eat Pray Love like both Britt and me, then you'll also enjoy her previous National Book Award finalist looking at life on the other side of the gender line. I'm nearly finished reading this one, and makes me wonder how much her own personal journey of self-discovery in Eat Pray Love was inspired by Eustace Conway, the real-life protagonist of The Last American Man? Also makes me wonder how some people are able to experience life with insight? If I could only live my life with half, no a quarter, no a tenth of the passion Elizabeth or Eustace experience, I'd die happy. But then again, the message of both these artist adventurers is we can. We only need to choose.

Last Book I Read
Co-Active Coaching: New Skills for Coaching People Toward Success in Work and Life by Whitworth, Kimsey-House and Sandahl.
There is nothing I enjoy more than sitting down over a cup of coffee with someone and having a good conversation. So it is no surprise that I am attracted to coaching, which according to this book is the "art of the powerful conversation." What I enjoy about fundraising is its ability to transform lives; coaching has that potential too. I've been seriously considering getting my coaching certificate, because I believe fundraising and coaching together can be very powerful tools for both individual, institutional and social change.

5 Meaningful Books
The Art of Possibility: Transforming Professional and Personal Life by Zander and Zander.
What if we gave each person in our lives an "A plus" grade? What we gave ourselves an "A plus" too? Brimming with optimism, this title written by a husband and wife team argues that life is all invented, so why not invent the life we want to truly live? Filled with engaging antidotes and exercises, it made a believer out of me. Perhaps it will for you too?

How Then, Shall We Live?: Four Simple Questions That Reveal the Beauty and Meaning of Our Lives by Wayne Muller.
I’ve already written before about this book, given to me as a gift, so no need to write a lot more. Other than to say, isn't there something special about receiving a book as a gift, rather than buying it yourself? Even better when it is unexpected, don't you think? So why wait until the holiday season to bring joy into somebody's life? Do it today!

Care of the Soul : A Guide for Cultivating Depth and Sacredness in Everyday Life by Thomas Moore.
Maybe I don’t have to fix everything? In fact, what if within suffering is the source of healing? This is the message of Moore's extraordinary book, which takes a homeopathic approach to what ills our contemporary spirits. Drawing on over 2,500 years of western cultural and spiritual traditions, this Jungian therapist and former Catholic monk, is a literate man of grace and compassion. Reminded me again how important it is to simply treat ourselves, and others, a little more gently.

Writing Down the Bones: Freeing the Writer Within by Natalie Goldberg.
I used to live in Minneapolis, Minnesota, where among other things I was active in the local literary scene: publishing a community arts newspaper, hosting literary festivals and promoting spoken word artists. One day an editor friend visited my house. He seemed a bit disoriented at first. Then after a long pause he told he had been to this house many times before. This was where Natalie lived a decade before when she wrote her now classic text. Told me how he would come over to her house for a book group; sitting on milk crates they would discuss their dreams of becoming successful writers. See what happens when start sharing your dreams?

What Matters: Young Writers and Artists Speak Out edited by Jancie Mirikitami.
Another surprise pick. This poetry collection was written by the children of Glide Memorial Church, located in San Francisco’s tough Tenderloin Neighborhood. However, I still remember one Sunday listening to the young authors read their work. Afterwards I walked up with tears in my eyes to buy not one, but five copies, so that I would have enough to give away to friends and family members. Rooted in the ethos of the 1960's civil rights movement, Glide is world renowned for its gospel choir and extensive social service programs, including serving up 1.5 million free meals a year out of its basement kitchen. These young authors have lived more by the age of ten than most adults I know.

5 People to Tag
So whose book collections would I like to learn more about? Well, here's a short list people I know who occasionally read this blog and have blogs of their own. Perhaps they would like to share what is on their bookshelves with their readers as well?

Phil Cubeta
Susan Herr
A Fundraiser
Sean Stannard-Stockton
Francesco, Ioana and Daniele

TAG, YOU'RE IT: Don't have a blog? Feel free to add book titles which are meaningful to you to the comments below.

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