The Power of Building Relationships: Why Donors Need Good Fundraisers

Why, of all people, would a donor want to build a relationship with a fundraiser?

If you are a donor, it sounds like a questionable proposition. The organizational representative who wants to build a relationship with you is a fundraiser. Talk about conditional love.

However, I advise donors that if they find a good fundraiser, they won’t find a better organizational representative for the following reasons.

No one will work harder for them.

No one will be more honest with them.

No one will do a better job of finding the best way for them to give.

No one will be more diligent in making sure that the organization lives up to the real and implied promises made to them.

No one will do a better job of brokering relevant, satisfying relationships with other members of the organization.

No one will be more responsive to the interests of other family members.

No one will be a better troubleshooter if problems or frustrations with the organization arise.

No one will be more responsive if they or loved ones fall on hard times.

Is this because good fundraisers are just swell people? No, it’s because they know honesty and consideration underpin all long, healthy, successful, and mutually satisfying relationships. Yes, it is in their self-interest to keep donors happy as well as themselves. They know that the right way is the best way in the long run. They want to succeed but with integrity.

Organizations are lucky to find good donors and good donors are lucky to find good fundraisers. Good organizations respect the guidance from their best fundraiser and thereby solidify the triangle of shared interests.

I don’t have to tell you what happens when organizations don’t listen to their best fundraisers. We’re living with the consequences.


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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