Thursday, August 27, 2009

News You Can Use

Understanding the Soul of Fund-raising

I know I can be a little repetitious in my sermons on fund-raising. I base my words on 26 years of experience in the field. I've worked with many organizations just like ours. The questions you have and the tactics you suggest often are similar to ones that I've heard or seen before.

In the end, the secrets to successful fund-raising are simple:
  • People generally need to be asked, ideally by someone whom they respect and who has already made a commitment.
  • People cannot give equally unless you ask for a gift that is the lowest common denominator of the group. Ask proportionately in accordance with capacity to give.
  • Individuals are by far the most generous donors, giving more than 8 out of 10 dollars donated.
More and more research is coming out which peers into the motivations for giving. One of the current leaders in this emerging field is John List at the University of Chicago. You can find an article on his work on the Crain's Business Chicago site here. A couple quick takeaways include research showing that the recession gave people more of an excuse for not giving than truly eroding capacity to give. Also, giving is highly social, and so have the right person asking is important. Finally, passive fund-raising, such as fliers and mail are not nearly as personal approaches like meetings and phone calls.

Remember the scarcest commodity most boards have is bodies willing to do the fund-raising. Consider List's recommendations as you plan for the coming year.


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