The Best Fundraising Appeal Opening Lines

The Best Fundraising Appeal Opening Lines

“Johnny didn’t go to school last week because something was wrong.  His mom, Susan, couldn’t quite put her finger on it, but her mother’s instinct told her that he needed help.  Thankfully she brought Johnny into the clinic before it was too late.”

Don’t you want to know what was wrong with Johnny?  Don’t you want to hear how Johnny and Susan’s story ends?

What if your appeal letter started with a story like this?  Your donors would be much more likely to read it and respond.  As fundraisers we are good storytellers, we have to be, its how we convey need and impact.  But when we write appeals, we tend to bury these compelling stories in the middle of the letter.  And unfortunately, that is the section that very few people actually read.

Even worse, we revert to business writing 101 and often start our appeals with “Here at ABC Charity, we help individuals with …”  I can almost see your donors’ eyes glaze over as the appeal is dropped into the trash can.  We need to capture attention from the start, and what better way to do that than with a captivating and compelling story.

Here are a few other sample opening lines that lead right into great fundraising stories …

  • Just the other day, Marci walked into our facility with a big problem.
  • Last week, I was walking down the hall and stumbled upon something magical.  Six year old LaShonda was sitting outside her classroom huddled over something.

You’ll notice that each of these stories is about one person.  And that one person is referenced by their first name.  This is a key characteristic of fundraising stories.  By talking about just one person and using their name, you allow your donors to put themselves into that person’s shoes.  It is no longer a giant problem that their donation can’t change, it is a problem that one person has and their donation can make a huge difference toward fixing it.

Small changes like this can yield huge results for your fundraising appeals.  We recently heard from someone that attended our “How to Make Sure Your Next Fundraising Appeal Outperforms Your Last One” webinar in the fall.  She put the tips into action with her year end appeal in late 2017.  She couldn’t believe it, but the performance of her appeal actually doubled year over year by following the research-based best practices that we shared.  It’s not rocket science, but it takes some research and effort.  We do our best to simplify that process for you.  It’s what we love to do!

What’s your favorite fundraising appeal opening line? Join this discussion in our private Facebook group, the Fundraising Fish Fry.  We’d love to hear your tip!

For more fundraising appeal tips, check out our Free Resource Library.

The Top 10 Tech Tools for More Productive Fundraising

The Top 10 Tech Tools for More Productive Fundraising

Technology is both a blessing and a curse when it comes to fundraising, or almost any kind of work.  It can be a huge help or it can be a frustrating time suck.  The key is making smart decisions by using the right tool for the right task at the right time.  We’re not technology experts at Productive Fundraising, but we’ve certainly been around the fundraising scene long enough to know a great tool when we see one.  Here are our ten favorite tech tools for more productive fundraising …

  1. Your Fundraising Database
    Let’s start with the most obvious place first … your database.  And I certainly hope you have a fundraising database.  Excel and Outlook are not fundraising databases, they are places to dump information … not tools that make you more efficient.  Getting information back out of your database is just as important as having a place to put it, and that is not easy with spreadsheets and contact files.  When it comes to fundraising databases there are tons of options out there.  We’re currently partial to Bloomerang and NeonCRM.  Both of these products offer monthly fees that are based on the size of your donor base, so they grow with you and do not require large up front cash investments.  The key is to make sure your database is right-sized for your organization.  You don’t need something with every feature if you’ll never have the time to use them.
  2. TextExpander
    Have you ever noticed how it seems like you’re typing the same thing over and over again … especially with emails?  Well, there’s a tool to help with that called TextExpander.  TextExpander lets you instantly insert snippets of text from a repository of emails, boilerplate and other content, as you type – using a quick search or abbreviation.  Our favorite time to use it?  When sending donor visit request emails.  If you’ve been following us for long you know that we advocate using an optimized template for these requests.  So if you’re using a template why not make it easy?  We can insert this template into our email simply by typing “\donor” in the subject line of a new email.  TextExpander handles the rest … here’s a video we compiled a few months back showing this in action.  We also use this tool for doing things like following up with potential event attendees, sending birthday greetings and reaching out to keep in touch with donors and contacts.  TextExpander is a paid service, but we’ve found it to be well worth the minimal annual investment.
  3. Pocket
    Pocket is probably our favorite tool on this list.  It is a handy tool that keeps you on task and ensures that you are always learning something new … two essential keys to productive fundraising.  Pocket lets you save all that great content you find when browsing the web and social media, without using precious blocks of time in the middle of your work day to read it.  When you find something you want to view later, you simply put it in your Pocket.  You can put articles, videos or pretty much anything into Pocket using a simple button directly from your browser or using the share feature in apps.  If it’s in your Pocket, it’s on your phone, tablet or computer. You don’t even need an Internet connection.  You can then use all those little snippets of time in your day (waiting rooms, waiting on hold, etc.) to be productive and learn something rather than aimlessly flip through your Facebook news feed.  It’s a win-win … staying on task and making snippets of dead time productive.  And it’s a free service!
  4. Evernote
    If you haven’t gone paperless, we’d encourage you to highly consider it.  It is life changing and freeing.  You are never worried about where something is, it’s simply always with you.  The tool that makes this all work is Evernote.  Evernote lets you collect what matters and find it when you need it, wherever you are.  You can write notes, capture ideas, clip pages from the web, scan statements and receipts and even record your voice. With Evernote on your computer, phone, and the web, your notes are always with you and always in sync.  Plus their easy search feature means you can find what you need when you need it, even handwriting in images.  Guess where we keep track of blog post ideas?  Yep … Evernote.  We recommend getting started by putting one type of information in Evernote.  See how that goes and then move your life there … it’s a journey.
  5. Spokeo
    So let’s say you send one of your donors a personal note in the mail and it gets returned as undeliverable, what do you do?  Yes you can search Google or the white pages but often times they are not adequate.  You need a good research tool that can pull together all the public data and let you figure out where your donor went.  Have they moved?  Are they at a seasonal address?  Our go to tool (because of its affordability) is Spokeo.  Spokeo lets you look individuals up by name, narrow in to find the right person and then access all of the public data available on them.  It’s often a good way to find a missing email address as well (but don’t just automatically add them to your list, you don’t want to be a spammer).
  6. Feedly
    There are bunch of great fundraising thought leaders out there putting out amazing content (for free) just about every day.  There’s so much quality information that it can get overwhelming and it is very easy to miss great content.  Subscribing to all of their email newsletters just makes your inbox a train wreck.  So, we recommend putting them all into an RSS aggregator like Feedly.  Then you can just spend a bit of time every few days flipping through the headlines and save what you would like to read to your Pocket (with one click).  Then when you read it in Pocket and find something you want to implement it you can save it to your Evernote (with one click).  See what we did there?  A lot of these tools work great together to optimize your workflow.
  7. Doodle
    We coordinate a heck of a lot of meetings as fundraisers.  If you’re scheduling these by sending emails back and forth to committee members you’re wasting a lot of time (and driving them nuts).  Thankfully there’s a far better option, check out Doodle.  Here’s how it works … you select dates and times that work for you using their intuitive website.  This creates a poll which you invite your attendees to view.  With the invitation, participants can select their preferences. They don’t even need an account.  Once the votes are in, you select the option that works for the most people and notify the attendees.  It’s easy as pie (and the basic service level is free).
  8. Auction Management System
    An auction management system can really streamline special event auction coordination and make it a much more enjoyable process for your guests.  After you enter your auction items into the system, it can handle time-consuming tasks like generating bid sheets, catalogs, bidder reports and preview websites with the click of a button.  On the donor’s end the addition of an inexpensive credit card reader to a laptop allows you offer real-time check out and even pre-swipe credit cards to expedite checkout.  Our current auction management system of choice is Auctria (formerly Charity Auction Organizer).  It offers an affordable annual license which is adequate for most small to midsize nonprofit organizations.
  9. Image Editing Websites
    So much of the content that we generate is much more appealing in a visual format.  Our donors are far more likely to read something if it is graphical or includes an image.  Thankfully you no longer have to be a graphic designer to be able to produce nice, simple, clean images that enhance your messaging.  There are a bunch of free websites that allow you to create sharp images with text overlays (or even your logo) on top of free stock images.  Our current favorite is Pablo, but this seems to change every few months.
  10. LastPass
    What does almost every tech tool mentioned so far have in common?  They are all websites that require passwords.  Where are you putting all of those passwords?  Hopefully you are long past the days of keeping a written password book or putting them on a post-it note attached to your monitor.  But often times we end up using the same password for everything in order to make remembering them easier.  In the process we make ourselves (and our organizations) extremely vulnerable to hackers.  What’s the solution?  Use a tool like LastPass which is an online password vault which generates and remembers incredibly secure passwords.  The best part, you only have to remember one password moving forward (your LastPass password) which allows you to make it something creative, unique and secure.

That’s it …  our ten favorite tech tools for more productive fundraising.  Do you have a favorite tech tool that isn’t mentioned?  Join this discussion in our private Facebook group, the Fundraising Fish Fry.  We’d love to hear your tip!

For more productivity tips, check out all the productivity resources in our Free Resource Library.

PLEASE NOTE: Some of the links in this post are affiliate links, which means that we earn a small commission if you make a purchase (at no additional cost to you). We are VERY selective with this list.  To be included on this list it must be a tool, service or vendor that we have personally used and know that you too will have a positive experience if you implement it in your development shop.

How to Find Time to Read as a Busy Fundraiser

How to Find Time to Read as a Busy Fundraiser

I’m often asked by nonprofit board members, “What’s the most important skill to look for in a fundraiser?”  My answer is always the same … a relentless passion for learning.  A successful fundraiser always needs to be seeking new ideas and improving their fundraising knowledge base.  One of the best ways to acquire this knowledge is through reading.  There are so many great books, magazines, and blogs dedicated to nonprofit fundraising.  But many fundraisers state that finding the time to actually read is quite difficult.

So, here are my six hacks for fitting more reading into your daily schedule

1) Keep a list of what you want to read

When you hear about a great book or article, make note of it.  I add books I hear about to my online wishlist (at either or  When it comes time to look for new reading material, I have a list and don’t have to waste time browsing.  I can use that time for actual reading.

2) Save posts & articles to read later

When I’m spending time on social media, I do my best to get in and get out.  I don’t read articles or follow link trails.  But fellow fundraisers post lots of great content that I do want to read at some point.  That’s where Pocket comes in.  Pocket is a service that lets me save articles for later (in my pocket).  Then when I have a few minutes (e.g. waiting for an appointment, standing in line, before a donor meeting, etc.), I can read these articles — on ANY of my devices at ANY time.  It’s like having your TO READ pile with you at all times, but without the clutter or the weight.

3) Stop reading if you aren’t getting value

If you start reading something and it’s not what you thought it would be, STOP.  There is no rule that says you have to finish what you start reading.  We aren’t in grade school anymore.  We choose what we read.  This is especially important with books.  Reading an entire book is a big commitment – make sure it’s worth your time.  I will admit that I only finish about half the books that I start reading.  Once I can tell that I’m not going to get enough value out of it to justify the time, I’m done.  It’s that simple.

4) Read during all the little moments of extra time

Surround yourself with things to read.  Fill your Pocket with articles.  Keep books and magazines that you want to read on your coffee table, desk, night stand.  Keep reading material in your briefcase and in your suitcase.  Make sure you are never in a situation where you have time to read, but nothing to read.

Then instead of hopping on Facebook on your phone when you have a spare minute or two, pull up something to read.  Even if you only read a page, you are making progress and being inspired.  Don’t let these little moments go to waste, they add up.

5) Schedule a lunch with yourself

When I have something that I really want to read, like a book written by my favorite speaker at a conference or the latest edition of AFP’s Advancing Philanthropy, I schedule lunch with it.  I literally go to my calendar, find an open lunch slot, and plug in “Meeting | Advancing Philanthropy.”  It’s a lunch date, with reading material.  The key is that it is blocked from any other commitments (and it looks like a real meeting to the folks that help manage my calendar).  It’s a great way to make progress on beefier items which really require time to digest (puns intended).

6) Try audiobooks or podcasts (especially in the car) 

Driving is one of the least productive uses of time, but you can change this.  Listening to audiobooks or podcasts is a great option.  Almost any book is available in audiobook format these days and there are countless podcast options — even a few about fundraising.  You can also turn up the speed on audiobook or podcast apps to have them play at 1.5x or 2x speed.  This can allow you to finish things in half the time, and it is often times still very easy to understand.

So there you have it, six tips to help you read more and grow your fundraising knowledge base.  What are your favorite reading hacks?  Need something to read?  Check out the recommended reading section of our Free Resource Library.

Have another tip to share or a favorite resource?  Join the discussion in our private Facebook group, the Fundraising Fish Fry.  We’d love to hear from you!

Productive Fundraising: It’s Both WHAT You Do and HOW You Do It

Productive Fundraising: It’s Both WHAT You Do and HOW You Do It

Productivity is a two part process.  It requires the perfect balance of efficiency and effectiveness.  It’s not only the outcomes that matter, but also the process for reaching those outcomes.  It’s both WHAT you do, and HOW you do it.


As a professional fundraiser, there is a constant temptation, and sometimes expectation, to try to raise funds every way possible.  The suggestions come from everywhere:  articles, blogs, conferences, etc.  My favorite is the “helpful” (and insistent) board member …  “I’m involved with XYZ organization and they just held this great event that raised a lot of money, we’re going to do that too!”  Don’t get me started on non-strategic special events!  Regular readers of this blog know that I recommend holding no more than two big special events per year.  The flip side of this board member is the one that says “if it ain’t broke, don’t fix it” at every single meeting.  One wants to do the wrong thing and one doesn’t want to try anything new at all.

So what’s the problem with these two mindsets?  Whether you try every tactic possible, or try nothing new at all, you will get the same result … mediocrity.  Things will be fine, but you’ll never really fulfill your mission and change the world.  You’ll be stuck in slow growth mode or maybe even stagnancy.

So how do you do better than mediocre?  The key is to figure out what will work best for your organization, and to do it well … really well.   Buy how? In my opinion, the number one skill for today’s fundraiser is the desire to always be learning.  Read every day … make it a priority.  Keep up with the latest trends.  Attend industry leading conferences.  Expose yourself to other sectors and see what’s working there.  Then bring those ideas back to your office and apply them to your work … INNOVATE.

But don’t just blindly innovate, you have to test what you put into place.  Is it really working, or is does it just make your organization look good?  Charities don’t fulfill their missions by looking good … they do it by raising vital funds and delivering programmatic results.  So, make a commitment to innovation.  Try one or two new strategies at a time.  Keep the ones that work and kill the ones that don’t.  After a few development cycles, you’ll find a few strategies that really elevate your fundraising and charity to the next level.  And you’ll get really good at saying “NO” to the things that you know will take you back  down to the land of mediocrity.


Something must also be said for HOW you work.  Are you an efficient worker?  If meeting your goals requires that you put in 60 hour weeks every single week, there’s a problem.  It could be unrealistic expectations or it could be bad work habits.  It’s most likely a combination of both.  By being in touch with your personal productivity habits and constantly seeking ways to improve them, you can take back your life and still be an effective fundraiser.

Developing a personal productivity system that you can trust is a key to success (and sanity).  Managing time, email and social media use are also key skills.  You also need to know how to limit and maximize meetings, travel smart and properly integrate your work and home lives.  And finally, you have to do it all with a great attitude by managing your mood and energy level.

And let’s not forget … you have to actually leave the office to meet with donors, network and build the pipeline.

This has been my framework for success in the nonprofit sector: constant innovation (and testing) with a major focus (okay, addiction) on working efficiently.

How do you balance the WHAT and the HOW?  Join the discussion in our private Facebook group, the Fundraising Fish Fry.  We’d love to hear from you!

Want to learn more?  Check out the our Free Resource Library.  Or attend our next productivity webinar, “How to Fix Your Productivity to Amp Up Your Results.”

Stewardship Calls: Are They Worth Your Effort?

Stewardship Calls: Are They Worth Your Effort?

Every fundraiser knows that stewardship calls boost donor retention and engagement. But it’s always been difficult to find hard data to support that claim. Stewardship calls are also a great way to involve reluctant board members in the fundraising process. But there’s always that one board member that wants to see the data that proves it works before they’ll join in the effort.

Thankfully, the folks at Sumac recently published a blog post titled “The Incredible Power of The Phone: 3 Nonprofit Case Studies and a 400% increase in Donations!.” In this post they compile research from Penelope Burk, The Thistle Foundation and HJC Nonprofit Consulting to show the impact of stewardship calls. Here’s the data:

  • Board members calling to thank donors increases donations by 39%;
  • Staff calling to update donors increases donations by 41%;
  • Staff calling to encourage event participants increases pledge donations by 400%.

Now that you have hard numbers backed up by research, what board member is going to turn you down when you ask them to make thank you calls?  Yes, they will still want a script — so here’s a free sample one from us:  

And what about those staff calling numbers? I hope you’re seriously considering making some calls yourself … especially to provide impact updates and encourage your peer to peer event participants.

Regardless of who does it, the key is to pick up the phone. It may no longer be a great solicitation tool, but it definitely still has its place in the fundraising world.

What’s your favorite way to implement stewardship calls in your fundraising? Join this discussion in our private Facebook group, the Fundraising Fish Fry.  We’d love to hear your tip!

Are You Sure You Want to Publish an Annual Report?

Are You Sure You Want to Publish an Annual Report?

Here’s a typical scenario that most fundraisers go through every year … It happens about six weeks after your fiscal year end close. The numbers are finalized and it’s time to let your donors know how you did. What’s your go to delivery device? That’s right, for most of you it’s the nonprofit annual report. The dreaded nonprofit annual report.

It’s the piece that every development director hates to write and every donor hates to read. The development director feels like they have to publish one (“because everyone else does”) and the donor feels like they have to read it (“because the staff went to so much trouble to write it”). No one really wins in this situation, it’s extra work for no real value. Yes, you may educate your donors a bit, but there is far better use for that time than compiling a lengthy report (like actually meeting with them face to face).

Yes, you need to report out on your results. You need to show how your organization pushed the needle forward thanks to the generous, loyal support of your donors. But you DON’T need to send an annual report. Especially not the typical eight to twelve page annual report with lots of text in small font, pie charts and an honor roll of donors. Donors don’t read this and for the most part don’t care about (or want) their name to be published anyway. I’ve heard this directly from them, time and time again, in donor focus groups for all types of causes.

So what should you do instead? I advocate publishing an annual report postcard. It’s a simple piece that highlights a few key statistics from the year, VISUALLY SHOWS impact and thanks your donors. That’s it … no boring paragraphs of text, no pie charts, no giant list of donors.

Here’s a sample of one I’ve created in the past:


The back isn’t pictured, but it simply says “Thank you for your loyal support. Because of you, the arts are thriving in our region. We appreciate you and wanted to let you know the impact of your ongoing support. Thanks again!”  This is printed in large font to fill the back of the postcard along with a few logos of corporate supporters (just the ones that actually want that).  Here’s the link to download this FREE sample.

This project takes a minimal amount of staff time, is quick (inexpensive) for a graphic designer to compile and is affordable to print and mail. That’s quite a few wins on several different fronts. The biggest win? Donors love receiving them! I’ve even seen annual report postcards hung up on the fridge when I show up for a donor visit!

So scrap that annual report and do something more productive and effective: publish an annual report postcard. Just don’t spend that saved time in your email inbox … get out there and meet with your donors.

Have you done an alternative annual report that was well received? Join this discussion in our private Facebook group, the Fundraising Fish Fry.  We’d love to hear your tip!

For more stewardship tips, check out our Free Resource Library. or join us for our next stewardship webinar, “How to Keep All Those New Donors You Worked So Hard to Get.”

Productive Fundraising In Action: Michael J. Rosen

For this month’s edition of Productive Fundraising in action, I interviewed my fellow Pennsylvanian and fundraising guru Michael J. Rosen, President of ML Innovations, Inc. Let’s dig in …

What personal productivity technique has had the most impact on your career?

In any given moment, I try to do the most important thing. Depending on the moment, that might mean writing a planned-giving marketing plan, preparing for a training, or just relaxing. Related to this, I also try to take care of the tasks I hate the most first (assuming they’re important) in order to get them out of the way so they’re not hanging over my head.

Why did you choose this specific technique over any others that you may use?

I’m a natural born procrastinator. I have to always fight against that tendency. Staying focused on doing the most important thing at any moment helps me stay on course.

Do you have a favorite tool that helps you stay productive?

If I had to choose just one productivity tool, I’d have to say it’s my laptop. I’m definitely not a technology expert, but I know enough about my laptop (and smartphone) to be very useful.

Do you have a favorite productivity book, system or expert that you look to for guidance?

No. I’ve focused my energies on growing as a fundraiser and a marketer. I haven’t focused too much on finely honing my personal productivity skills. At this point in my career, it’s not such a big problem. However, early on, I certainly could have benefited from knowing more about productivity. It would have saved me from learning the hard way.

Chad’s Two Cents

Michael has some great tips on beating procrastination. The MIT (Most Important Task) theory is preached throughout productivity circles. I don’t preach it because I don’t do it (and I only preach what I practice). I personally prefer a warm up with some administrative tasks before I get to my key items — but that’s just me. Personal productivity is just that … personal.

Michael’s last point is key. While he doesn’t give us productivity book, system or expert, what he says is very telling: “I’ve focused my energies on growing as a fundraiser.” There’s definitely such a thing as focusing too much on productivity (and yours truly may be guilty of this). There’s a balance … you need to focus on your craft (fundraising) AND refining that craft (productivity).

Michael J. Rosen is President of ML Innovations, Inc. ML Innovations provides a broad-range of ethics, fundraising, and marketing consulting services and training programs for nonprofit organizations throughout the USA. Fundraising specialties include annual giving, planned giving, telephone fundraising, and donor retention.  You can learn more about Michael (and pick up some great fundraising tips) via his blog, Michael Rosen Says.

What are your two cents? Join the discussion in our private Facebook group, the Fundraising Fish Fry.  We’d love to hear your thoughts!

For more productivity tips, check out our Free Resource Library, or join us for our next productivity webinar, “How to Fix Your Productivity to Amp Up Your Results.”

Productive Fundraising In Action: Alice Ferris, CFRE, ACFRE

For this edition of Productive Fundraising IN ACTION, we get to peek into the inner workings of fundraising superstar Alice Ferris, CFRE, ACFRE. Alice is a Partner with GoalBusters Consulting out of Flagstaff, AZ. Let’s see how Alice stays productive …

What personal productivity technique has had the most impact on your career?

Setting a morning ritual: I start the day with a short meditation session, a short yoga routine, then spend no more than 30 minutes updating social media, and breakfast (or at least coffee). I try to stick to this even when on the road (200+ days a year!), which is sometimes unsuccessful, but I always do the meditation, at minimum.

Why did you choose this specific technique over any others that you may use?

We live in a non-stop, constant input world, and I need to give myself a little space to clear my mind and make room for new ideas and creativity. Plus, it helps me stay a little bit more physically balanced.

Do you have a favorite tool that helps you stay productive?

I’m constantly trying out new tools, so this is my answer of the moment! I’m using SaneBox and ActiveInbox to manage my constant deluge of emails, which helps me get to Inbox Zero, usually daily. I also use Trello to manage my to do list, augmented by Google Reminders. My other favorites are ScheduleOnce, which allows people to schedule themselves for conference calls on my calendar, and FancyHands, a virtual assistant that takes care of random stuff that I don’t have time for or just don’t want to do myself. Plus, I always have a notepad from some random hotel on my desk for the miscellaneous thoughts.

Do you have a favorite productivity book, system or expert that you look to for guidance?

Again, I don’t have just one. My Trello boards are based on a model from Asian Efficiency (how’s that for conforming to a stereotype?). I also follow, to some degree, Marie Kondo’s KonMari system for tidying up in both my physical environment and my calendar.

Chad’s Two Cents

Wow, talk about a productivity geek’s dream interview. Alice mentions so many great tools … and some that I haven’t even tried (yet)!

Alice’s morning ritual is key. You need to make sure there is time for YOU in each and every day. By taking a few minutes in the morning to center yourself and prepare for what lies ahead, you will be far less stressed and better able to tackle the day’s challenges. I too have a morning routine and while mine centers more on learning, caffeinating and hydrating, it has the same effect. Both Alice and I emotionally centered and ready for the day by the time we finish our ritual/routine.

Alice and I use a very different set of productivity tools, but are both highly organized type A folks that balance a lot of different commitments. This further proves that it’s not the tool that matters, it’s the process and thought behind it. Find a personal productivity system that works for you, then find the tools that support it (not the other way around).

Finally, thanks to Alice for finally getting me to pull Marie Kondo’s “The Life-Changing Magic of Tidying: A Simple, Effective Way to Banish Clutter Forever” off my shelf and give it a read. I’m about a third of the way through and I can already tell it’s worth the time.

Alice is a Partner with GoalBusters Consulting. GoalBusters Consulting supports small to medium-sized nonprofit organizations throughout North America with strategic planning, development assessments, training and outsourced development services.

What are your two cents? Join the discussion in our private Facebook group, the Fundraising Fish Fry.  We’d love to hear your thoughts!

For more productivity tips, check out our Free Resource Library, or join us for our next productivity webinar, “How to Fix Your Productivity to Amp Up Your Results.”

Fundraising Isn’t Rocket Science, But It Demands Willpower

Fundraising Isn’t Rocket Science, But It Demands Willpower

“So, what do you do for a living?”

“I’m a fundraiser.”

“You mean you ask people for money? I could never do that.”

Does this conversation sound familiar? I typically have this conversation at least once a week … usually at a networking function with local business executives. What I find most ironic is that it’s typically a sales executive that is saying it, and guess what? We’re pretty much using the same skill set and process, just with some different nuance. I like to say that fundraising is simply sales for a higher cause than profit. But they don’t see it that way. It’s like they think fundraising is some kind of impossible rocket science that they could never master.

Well, the good news is that fundraising isn’t rocket science. There is a large body of best practices for fundraising success that anyone can learn. At its core, every component of successful fundraising comes down to:

1) Developing relationships; AND,
2) Creating and implementing the systems that make sure those relationships get built.

The key is that you have to do both #1 and #2. You have to do them both well. And you have to do them both at the same time. If you just develop relationships then there is no follow through or end goal. If you just develop systems and hang out in your database all day then you aren’t out developing relationships. You need both. You need to do them both well. At the same time.

But that’s it, period. Sure there are lots of other things that you CAN do to boost fundraising returns, but this is all that you HAVE to do. It’s definitely not rocket science, but it is difficult to master. It’s difficult because it takes a ton of willpower and persistence to keep pushing forward. This is especially true in small shops where there’s no one there to encourage you or to check in on your progress on a daily basis. The success all rides on you.

That’s where passion comes in. Working to raise dollars for a cause that you are incredibly passionate about often times doesn’t feel like work. And if it doesn’t feel like work, then that willpower is a heck of a lot easier to muster.

My new favorite response when someone says “You mean you ask people for money? I could never do that” is “Why, it isn’t rocket science … I just develop relationships for a cause that I’m deeply passionate about.” This typically leads into a much deeper conversation about philanthropy and civic duty and gets us back to what we should be doing a networking event, finding common ground.

“So, what do you do for a living?” …

How do you answer this question? Join the discussion in our private Facebook group, the Fundraising Fish Fry.  We’d love to hear your thoughts!

For more fundraising tips, check out our Free Resource Library.