Fund Raising--What's It All About?

What part of fundraising does not make sense?  It is the things you do to raise funds for your fabulous organization so it can do the important things it does.  It should be something you are proud to do; something that you know—and want others to understand—is important. It is not begging, or hitting on someone.  It is asking them to partner with you, to invest in the work you do, to be part of the programs that make a difference.

As part of that, you are asking them to make a financial commitment.  To give a charitable gift, yes.  But more.  To become a part of what you do and beyond the money, to become an ambassador, an advocate.  Someone who tells others about the important stuff that happens because of your organization.

 None of that happens by magic.  It takes time and process.  It takes getting to know your donors, and finding out what it is they hope to accomplish (hope you accomplish) through their generosity.

That means you must be clear about costs.  To do this, costs that.  To have this outcome we must spend. To make a difference, please consider a gift of.

Of course, you must have specific numbers attached to all those conversations. And you must ask for a specific amount.  That amount should not be too small—that not only will defeat your purpose but may make your donor think that her gift really won’t matter very much at all. But it also should not be ridiculously large.  It should be an amount that your donor, based on everything you know, can afford.  Something they can do.

How do you know what that number is?

You get to know your donors.  You find out what matters to them, what they care about, how they like to be talked to and recognized for what they do.  That means asking questions and keeping your mouth shut.  It means listening,and then asking them to tell you more.  It means probing—and it always means talking about money.

To do this we must raise that.  If you were to give to this, do you think you would consider a gift that is equal to half of that?  More?  What would it take for you to make that commitment?  What do you need from me?

You are never coy when you fundraise.  You are clear.  Your are specific.  No doesn’t factor into this.  No just means not at that amount.  No means not yet.  It might mean not for this project.  Mainly, No means you haven’t done your job yet.  

Above all, you must keep the importance of what you do foremost in your mind.  You must always show your prospect why this gift matters; how they will make a difference. Show them, regularly, what you will, have been, or might be able to do because of them.  

Because they are what fundraising is all about.  Getting to know your donors.  Getting them engaged and committed.  Helping them to make the gift that is right for them—and that works for you.  And always showing them how they are the key that opens all these wonderful and amazing doors.

Janet Levine Consulting works with nonprofits, moving them from mired to inspired.  See how Janet can help you to increase your fundraising results, get your board more committed and move your organization to the next step.  Go to and sign up for the newsletter