Fundraising Is Not Just About Raising Money

If you are the executive director of a non-profit organization, you are also the chief fundraiser. Your donors need to have trust in you and your leadership before they will write you a check of any substance. 

While some individuals are comfortable with writing a large check to national non-profit when people contribute to local organizations, they frequently want to know more about how their donations will be used and the people who will be spending their money. That’s why leaders must also be comfortable with their fundraising role.   

So, that is why I ask, do you know your organization’s top ten donors?  

When was the last time you met with them? Or even talked with them? 

Every executive director should have a one on one relationship with their lead donors. Start with the top ten. Then add ten more to your “must get to know them” list.   

But the relationship isn’t just about money. You need to know why the person chooses to share their treasure with you. What is important to them? What motivates them personally and professionally? What are their interests? Look at pictures of their kids and grandchildren. Write all this down. Remember it.   

Make sure each person knows how their support makes a difference.   

Be very transparent in the way money is spent by your group.   

Doing this not only brings you closer to your donors, but it will help ensure that the person will continue to support your group.   

This should also be true of your largest corporate donors. Who are they? Who drives the decision to contribute to your non-profit? Is it the CEO or the head of marketing? Why do they do it? Get to know them too. Meet with them and give them a tour of your shop. Invite them to events.   

Of course, you will also want to have a good relationship with each member of your board. They should all be donors. Some non-profit boards have adopted a policy that each board member will contribute a minimum amount of money each year. In rare instances, when a person is on the board but does not have the means to make a significant gift, the board might adopt a “give or get” policy. The person who can’t contribute on their own can raise those funds instead.   In between their meetings, find reasons to stay in touch. If you’ve discovered that a donor is interested in a specific part of what you do, send them updates by email letter or phone call.   

I’ve tried to make sure that I have at least six interactions a year with my group’s very largest donors. Your development team can help you with that.  Put reminders on your calendar so you don’t lose track.   

Think of other things you can do to make sure donors know they are appreciated. Whatever you do will be appreciated by them and help you secure future and even larger gifts given your insights and relationship.   

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