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Five keys to successful fundraising

By May 18, 2022Steier Tips

In his book “A Spirituality of Fundraising,” renowned author and philosopher Henri Nouwen described fundraising as “proclaiming what we believe in such a way that we offer other people an opportunity to participate with us in our vision and mission.” But how do we get people to give to something we believe in? And what keeps people supporting this in the future?

These five keys to successful fundraising can be used for any fundraising effort – a church, school or local nonprofit. We are confident that if you apply these tips, your fundraising effort will be a success.

Be authentic: People give to people. Here at the Steier Group, we have nearly 25 years’ experience proving that to be true. Our customized approach to fundraising centers on a person-to-person connection and encourages our partners to meet with their donors and personally request a gift. This connection allows for an authentic relationship to develop between the person making the request and the one receiving the request. By establishing a genuine relationship, a fundraiser becomes more relatable to the donor – the fundraiser isn’t seen as someone just looking for a quick buck.

It also allows the fundraiser to state the case for support in a meaningful way. If a donor can sense that someone isn’t genuine about their reasons for the request, the donor won’t give. End of story. When the ask comes from a place of deep understanding and belief in what is needed for the cause, it tends to yield more successful results.

Be honest: Honesty is the best policy. This is no different in fundraising. It is prudent for fundraisers to stay vigilant of this and not mislead their donors to achieve their own fundraising goals.

But how would a fundraiser mislead or be dishonest with a donor? Think of it this way. When a question is asked during a meeting with a donor and the fundraiser doesn’t know the answer, rather than making up something that may not be true, a fundraiser should apologize for not knowing the information and craft a plan to follow up with the donor to provide the requested information. This sort of transparency and communication helps foster a relationship centered on trust. And when a donor trusts that you are honest about your intentions and truthful about how their gift will make a difference, future asks get that much easier.

Be courageous: Fundraising is a high-energy, fast-paced field that is not for the faint of heart. A successful fundraiser needs the courage to ask someone for a significant contribution to your cause. Fundraising is a daunting task. That’s why it takes strong, bold individuals to lead the charge.

But how do we overcome our fundraising fears and be courageous? A successful fundraiser puts aside their fears and latches on to their desire to grow support for their cause. They do this by embracing the notion of rejection, understanding that not every donor will have the capacity or desire to support their organization or cause. This should embolden them to keep striving to reach more people in support of their cause, not deter them from forging ahead. There is something to be said about the euphoric feeling when a major request is answered to the fundraiser’s delight. As courage is honed and relationships are fortified, successful fundraising should come more easily.

Be creative: There is no one-size-fits-all approach to successful fundraising. That’s why customization and creativity are necessary when developing successful fundraising strategies. Creative fundraisers take a donor-centric approach to their fundraising. They consider their donor’s capacity and desire to make a gift toward their cause and apply that to their personalized request. Each donor brings a new personality and passion, along with a different ability to make significant gifts based on their economic status. A successful fundraiser can modify their request to each donor and take a personalized approach toward making the ask.

The way to reach donors in an ever-changing world is rapidly evolving. Successful fundraising requires the ability to adapt to these changes and use emerging technologies to an advantage. You likely aren’t the only organization asking for support. So how do you make sure that your organization’s needs are heard through the noise? A successful fundraiser crafts creative, personalized communication pieces that resonate with the individual donor and encourage them to help alleviate a need in the community by contributing to their cause.

Be grateful: Too often, in the excitement of receiving an important gift, fundraisers forget the most important element of their work: thanking the donor. This simple task goes a long way toward establishing a relationship with the donor centered on trust and respect. Demonstrating the value of their support toward your cause helps the donor feel like they made a difference. By not thanking a donor, the perception could be that the gift was not appreciated or did not provide value to your cause. By demonstrating the value of their gift through a personal visit, a letter or a phone call, you open the door for larger gifts in the future. Always remember to be thankful for any gift, whether big or small. You never know the size of the gift that might come next.

If you have any questions about successful fundraising or about the services offered by the Steier Group please contact me. You can also visit our website at