The Truth About Successful Fundraising: It’s All About THEM | npENGAGE

The Truth About Successful Fundraising: It’s All About THEM

By on Aug 11, 2014


Working in fundraising is a challenge. Fundraisers need to have the confidence of a sales person, the interpersonal skills of PR professional, the strategy of a marketer, and the business acumen of a finance manager.  But perhaps the biggest challenge of being a fundraiser is that no matter what you do or what you accomplish, fundraising is NEVER about you.

Simply put: There is no room for ego in fundraising.

Consider this:

Extensive research has been done in order to determine what motivates people to give. Research has explored donor motivations by generation, geography, ethnicity, and spirituality. And while we see that people of different ages from different locations and with different ethnicities and belief constructs are motivated to give in different ways, one thing is consistent: No one reported being inspired to give because the fundraiser that asked them was a “really important person.”

In fact, if the fundraiser is truly doing his or her job, the donor shouldn’t think of them as anything more than a conduit for impacting an issue. Taking this donor-centric approach to fundraising means that fundraisers are building a relationship between the donor and the organization, not the donor and the fundraiser.

Donor-Fundraiser Relationships:

In my last post, I talked about why relationships are critical to fundraising success. Donors want to be wooed. They want to feel important. They want to understand the impact of their gift. This is where a successful fundraiser can shine. They are a voice for the organization and a bridge to the mission.

However, fundraisers get  into trouble when they build a relationship with a donor  so dependent upon themselves, that when they retire or move on, the donor is all but lost to the organization. That isn’t fair to the organization or the donor.

Try this tip: A great way to make a successful, donor-centric call is to say “you” more than “I,” “us,” or “we.” Donor-centric fundraising develops a relationship between the donor and the organization’s mission and is stewarded in such a way as to insure the relationship is both long-term and sustainable.

The future of an organization depends on a fundraiser’s ability to swallow their egos and focus on their donors. So the next time you go on a donor call listen to what you are saying and ask yourself:

Who is this really about: Me or the donor?


Holly Elizabeth Herbert is the best practices manager for Blackbaud’s eTapestry team. She works with nonprofit clients to optimize their fundraising and public relations efforts through the application of database technology. Holly has more than a decade of experience working in nonprofit PR and fundraising and brings a passion for metrics-driven, donor-centric strategies to her work at Blackbaud. Holly has a Master’s degree in Public Relations from Indiana University and has worked on PR campaigns for local, regional, and national nonprofit organizations. In her free time, Holly is an avid urban dweller and glitter aficionado. Connect with Holly on Twitter at @hollyeherbert.

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