The Way You Fundraise Matters

There are lots of ways to fundraise. All of them can be said to work in some ways but the way you fundraise:

  • Determines the kind of donor you attract
  • The level of giving you command
  • The degree of importance donors assign to your cause
  • The image that you create for your organization
  • The level of trust that does or does not accrue to your organization
  • Whether you build community or let it erode
  • The quality of the advancement practitioners that you attract or repel, or keep or let slip away

Most fundraising raises funds but does not inspire or motivate donors to give their most or dedicate a significant portion of their lives to being with you, or wanting to be one with you. It’s just fundraising.

The 10 Big IFs of Fundraising
  • If you beg, you get pocket change
  • If you ask for loyalty, you get dues
  • If you ask for organizational support, you get subsidies
  • If you act as if giving is obligatory, people give to get you off their back
  • If you use events, you breed expectations that you should put on a show to get my dough
  • If you make giving a day, you whip up froth that won’t last the night
  • If you make it about societal ROI, you get more long-term investors
  • If you seek long-term partners, you won’t pop the question after three dates
  • If you want trust, you tell the truth and don’t duck the hard questions
  • If you want community, you model respectful inclusivity


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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