October 10, 2016

How to Succeed in Fundraising as a “Non-Fundraiser”

Very few individuals consider themselves “natural fundraisers”, or relish the opportunity to be involved in a fundraising campaign. For most, the idea of fundraising is scary – but it does not have to be. Fundraising is best understood by breaking it down into three insights:

  • Individual donors must be at the heart of your fundraising efforts. Individuals are by far the biggest contributors to charitable causes in the United States. Individual giving is routinely near the 80% mark of all charitable giving year after year. Adding in estate gifts and contributions from private, family foundations, and that number is closer to 90%. As much as organizations like to look at corporations and foundations, this is not the best way to raise funds. Always focus on individual donors first.
  • People give to people to help other people. The idea of asking another person for a gift tends to make people very uncomfortable. Most often, it is the fear of being turned down coupled with the notion that “begging for money” is somehow inappropriate. An adjustment in one’s mindset is crucial here: not getting a gift is not a rejection of the fundraiser as a person – the other individual has simply made the determination that our cause does not align with their interests or priorities at this time. In the end, a proper ask for support comes down to one thing: giving someone the opportunity to help another individual (not us, but the patrons our library serves). What we are asking for is not a $10,000 check. Instead, what we really are asking for is to give someone the chance to learn how to read, be more successful in school, or find a new job. Which leads us to our final point…
  • Our fundraising goal must be well-defined, and that isn’t an overall dollar amount, the building we want to expand, or the computer system we have to buy. All of those are just means to an end. They are stepping stones to help us realize our real mission – the one that’s focused on the individuals we serve.

The best way to approach our need to raise funds is by asking a series of Why questions:

  • Why are we asking for money?
  • Why do we need to expand our services and programs?
  • Why are we focused on the particular demographic we serve? (Provide data when possible.)
  • Why do we have to address this need? (Provide research data or successful pilot program data.)

About Marc Huber

Marc Huber is a fundraising professional with over seventeen years of experience, including strategic messaging, board development, annual giving, capital campaigns, and volunteer consultation and training. He's also the author of The Fundraising Co-Pilot.

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