A Holistic Donor-centred Approach to Raising Funds

Delicious fruit doesn’t just “happen”. You need the right conditions – soil, moisture, sunlight, temperature. If the tree is to bear abundant and delicious fruit over a sustained period of time, it’s not enough for the tree to simply look healthy.

You cannot simply focus on the 180 degrees above the ground surface. The entire tree must be nurtured – roots and all.

You have to take a 360 degree approach to cultivating and nurturing your tree.

Like delicious fruit, profitable long-term donors don’t just “happen”.

You need to craft donor-centred solicitations and send out prompt, customized thank you letters. You need to finesse your external 180 degrees of touchpoints with donors.

To sustain healthy relationships with donors you need to … exceed donor expectations … earn donor trust and commitment … find out what motivates your donors … engage donors as partners in making the world a better place … you need the buy-in of everyone within the organization. Then you can maximize the philanthropic potential of each donor.

You need a culture of philanthropy – an holistic approach that involves all stakeholders, including the Board and other volunteers, all fundraising teams, communications, program staff, and supporting departments. All with a common goal and purpose – the mission.


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A Donor-Centred Approach – Three Essential Truths

A Donor-Centred Approach – Three Essential Truths

We’re on the right track. But we’ve still got a long way to go. For the past 20 years the not-for-profit sector has been talking about donor-centred fundraising. And in the last decade many have succeeded in thanking donors faster and providing feedback to donors. Some organizations – or at least some departments within organizations – write great donor-focused communications. Today most fundraisers know that taking a donor-centred approach to fundraising is key to success. This is in very large part thanks to the inspiring work, teachings and high visibility of people like Ken Burnett, Tom Ahern, Simone Joyaux, passionate consultants like Agents of Good, and a host of donor-focused fundraisers (to name any would exclude others who deserve to be noted). And for the benefit of those who need proof that superlative donor care is worthwhile … thanks to the professional research and publications of people like Adrian Sargeant, and Penelope Burke … we also have scientific evidence that a donor-centred approach is key to fundraising success. So we have come a long way. But we’re not there yet. Staff and volunteers who don’t have the title of “fundraiser” may agree that a donor-centred approach to fundraising is key to the successful raising of funds. “Good idea.” “Makes sense.” “We should value our donors.” “Yes, everyone is talking about that these days, you should do that too.” They don’t think it has anything to do with them. REALLY? WRONG! It has everything to do with them. But it’s our fault as fundraisers that they don’t get it. You see, for the longest time, we’ve been talking about “relationship fundraising” and...