Fundraising should be as comfortable as two people exploring possibilities.
If done wisely and well, fundraising is nothing more than two people exploring possibilities. That entails:
Agreeing to meet to see if there is a basis for joining forces
If so, exploring which issue organizational capabilities align with a donor’s passions
If achieved, blocking out a project around which a collaboration could be built
If achieved, providing ways for the potential donor to gain comfort and confidence with the potential project, both greater conceptual understanding and experiential familiarity
If achieved, reviewing a draft of what each party is willing to commit to
If agreed to in principle, beginning negotiations to iron out the details
If achieved, signing a gift agreement that includes a stewardship and donor engagement plan
There’s no reason for either party to feel awkward or uncomfortable at any point and plenty of opportunities for either to hit the brakes or, if necessary, bail out. This is balanced fundraising.
So what might cause discomfort? Possibilities include:
Any or all of these will create imbalanced fundraising. Any or all will eat away at, if not ruin, the partnership.
Good fundraising should be comfortable for both parties. Bad fundraising usually makes both parties uncomfortable.
So how does your fundraising feel? Just like exploring possibilities? Of has some discomfort crept in – and to which of the imbalances do you attribute it? What other factors contribute to imbalance?
The right way, the open way, the honest way is the best in the long run and for the long run – in fundraising and all relationships and partnerships.
Jim Langley is the president of Langley Innovations. Langley Innovations provides a range of services to its clients to help them understand the cultural underpinnings of philanthropy and the psychology of donors and, with that knowledge, to develop the most effective strategies and tactics to build broader and more lasting communities of support. Jim has authored numerous books including his most recent book, The Future of Fundraising: Adapting to New Philanthropic Realities, published by Academic Impressions in 2020.
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