The only thing worse than being talked about… | npENGAGE

The only thing worse than being talked about…

By on Jan 3, 2012


I was honored and excited to be part of Ron Lieber’s New York Times column, Taking Fund-Raising To a New Level. Some of you might now be wondering why, since it did raise some questions about the scope of my passion in support of my vocations – professional fundraising and prospect research. The simple reason is that I am glad people are talking about the art and science of fundraising.

What fundraisers do fuels not only amazing causes like ending hunger, stopping crimes against humanity, seeking cures to cancer, building places to live, educating the world, it also contributes 5.4% to the GDP in the US alone. And, on top of that, fundraisers and researchers are also some of the most dedicated and passionate people I have had the pleasure to meet as they live for their causes. That said, we should take a minute to talk about them and in the same breath. we should acknowledge that sophisticated, professional and ethical prospect research is essential to effective and efficient fundraising.

In this post, I wanted to continue a discussion that Ron started, and tell you some more about how these amazing fundraisers and researchers do their work. Four points came most immediately to mind:

  1. Since confidentiality and privacy were mentioned, I thought it was important to start by saying, I consistently observe that nonprofit professionals promote ethical standards that exceed legal requirements. Fundamental human compassion governs their activities and they act with integrity at every step.
  2. People are often surprised by the information about them that is publicly available. However, when the fundraiser’s use of the information is explained, and when the care that nonprofits exercise in using the information becomes clear, their concerns are reduced or eliminated. I have been in board meetings in which one board member would express reservations, and others will jump in and explain why this data is necessary to effectively support fundraising and strategically further their mission.
  3. At the core of the fundraising profession is a fundamental commitment to donor-centered fundraising that ensures that a donor’s financial support to their chosen causes is maximized. Fundraisers care about knowing an individual well to ensure that the money given goes to a cause the donor supports.
  4. In my work with donors, the subject of anonymity sometimes arises. While I would always respect their wishes, I would also encourage them to reconsider this decision. Donor stories encourage more donors to step forward; their gifts become inspirational and motivate others to do the same. I ask donors to lead by example.

Overall, like Mr. Lieber, I believe that donors can and should expect nothing less from their favorite nonprofits than the avid and ethical pursuit of methodologies and technologies that make fundraising efforts more efficient and effective. This means more money goes to the mission… the cause of motivation for both donors and fundraisers.

Thanks for continuing the discussion. I look forward to your thoughts on my experiences.

And, to all of you, your friends, families and colleagues, I wish you a happy and safe 2012!

Lawrence Henze

Managing Director and Principal Consultant, Target Analytics


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