Closer Connections

Nancy Swartz, who always has good marketing advice, wrote today In her Getting Attention blog about the “7 Steps to Motivating the Action You Need.” In it, she talks about the value of making it personal and putting a face and a name to your story.

That really came home to me Sunday night.  I was at the LA Master Chorale.  The last piece was David Lang’s sublime The Little Match Girl Passion.

Now, I’m not a kid person.  I mean, mine were all right (sometimes), but, frankly, I like them a lot more now that they are adults.  But, by the end of the piece, I was ready to give all that I have or might ever have to make sure there would never be another little match girl.

The music and the story burrowed its way in, because it showed not only what was--horrifically enough—but, more importantly (to me), also what could be. And it was that vision more than the bathos that affected me.

It is this last piece that we too often miss.  We are so busy telling prospects and funders what we think we need, we neglect to paint the picture or sing the song of what could, should, will be with the help of their generosity.  More, we need to understand what resonates with our (potential) supporters.

My mother had been an orphan and not one who found her Daddy Warbucks.  Her childhood was pretty awful. She contended with hunger, cold, and lack of anyone who cared.  Not surprising that The Little Match Girl spoke to me.

Knowing what speaks to your donors is critical.  You can only find out what that is if you—yes—speak with them.  That’s why we say that successful (major gift) fundraising is all about relationships.

Relationships, of course, are not one-way. The more you know about your donors and friends, the better you can ensure that you are sharing the stories with them that will matter to them.  And that will connect them more closely with your organization.


Janet Levine is a consultant who works with nonprofit and educational organizations, helping them to increase their fundraising capacity.  Learn more at