Sat, November 05 2011

The four things that have to change in fundraising

Katya Andresen's avatar

Author, Robin Hood Marketing

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Filed under:   Fundraising essentials •

For a while now, I’ve been thinking about writing a manifesto.  The reason is, I’m frustrated by the fact that charitable giving has remained relatively fixed forever (as a percentage of GDP), and we need to do several fundamental things to change that.

Well, now I don’t have to because someone else wrote it, and they did a better job than I ever could.

I’m talking about this report: Growing Philanthropy in the United States by Adrian Sargeant and Jen Shang. It was based on a summit some months ago, and it directly addresses the fact that we need a new fundraising paradigm to finally grow philanthropy.

Specifically, it says we need to be focused on:

1) Enhancing the quality of donor relationships
2) Developing public trust and confidence in the sector
3) Identifying new audiences, channels, and forms of giving with a strong potential for growth
4) Improving the quality of fundraising training and development

Today, I focus specifically on the first theme; tomorrow, the rest.  As the report says:

Fundraisers [must] move away from responding to the motives that donors are consciously able to articulate, to a deeper understanding of donor identity and what people are saying about themselves when they give of their time, money, or talent. Identity is, by definition, at the core of self, and so it is an intrinsically powerful determinant of behavior. As an example, if we understand that individuals support our organization because of their identity as an American (i.e., they are expressing a patriotic identity), we can remind them why they should feel good about that identity and allow them to explore and derive value from it, through their support of our programs. That exploration may move the individual away from just offering money to engaging in other forms of support, but it may also lead them away from our organization to another better suited to who they are and their aspirations for their personal philanthropy.

I’m sure you can tell why I’m such a fan of this report.  It speaks to the heart of what must change: We must focus less on our own needs and more on our donors’ wants and dreams.

It’s not about us, it’s about them.

Or as the report says so very well:

...Rather than seeing supporters as donors we should regard them as individuals with their own philanthropic aspirations and goals. Some they will be aware of, some they will not. In seeking to grow giving we should be striving to find new and creative ways through which individuals can discover and express their own philanthropic identity and thus experience the joy of giving.

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