Here’s a pretty revolutionary concept: Could it be that “friendraising” might work better than fundraising?

In many instances, the answer is yes.

Consider what could happen if you focused on your current donors and tried to make friends out of them.

Just imagine: You’d have friends for the cause. Die-hard supporters. Passionate, flag-waving friends who just love your work.

You can change the world with friends like that.

You and your team may want to try Friendraising if it will yield results like these.

You may say, “but we need the money. We can’t afford to waste time trying to develop organizational cheerleaders.”

We would respond, “your current donors are not going to stick with you if you do not make them feel like they have a personal stake in your mission’s work.”

We all know that if you treat donors like ATM’s, they will begin to drift away. Just remember that many donor retention rates tend to hover around 40- 45%.

If this is your retention rate, you could be losing 55-60% of your donors every year. And that’s a tragedy.

Treating donors like friends will help increase your donor retention, and keep them giving year after year.

If you had passionate friends supporting your work,  what would they do for your cause?

  • They’d stick with you.
  • They’d be loyal no matter what.
  • They’d bring in other friends.
  • They’d spread the word.

And, when the going gets tough, where will your friends be? They will be right there with you, doing whatever they can do to keep your cause afloat.

Will your friends make gifts and contributions? Absolutely. They will give whatever money they can because they are such passionate supporters.

Create a true culture of philanthropy.

Treating donors like they are close friends can, and should, become an organizational priority.

One of the hallmarks of a true culture of philanthropy is when the organization truly values its donors. In this case, everyone in your organization treats donors like important stakeholders, which they truly are.

What an interesting shift, when donors are valued and appreciated as strong organizational assets. Just think about the power you would build for your cause!

A new goal: Make your donors as passionate about your cause as you are.

We endorse a friendmaking approach, because it helps create passionate supporters. Even more, we propose to you that friendmaking is a kinder, gentler, more fun, and much more effective approach than “fundraising” – which tends to focus on the money.

Best of all, friendmaking is a more sustainable way to raise money. It’s more sustainable because you are creating a group of die-hard annual donors who will deliver over and over, every year. There’s your reliable annual fund, right there, and you can count on it!

It happens because friendmaking puts the emphasis where it needs to be – on building a deeper relationship with the individual donor. It seeks more out of a donor than just money.

Friendmaking is a winning strategy because it treats donors like real people and not like wallets.

Friendmaking is good manners because it asks for more than just money. You are asking for the person’s help, participation, involvement, and good ideas. And then the money will come.

And we all know the old fundraising adage: Involvement Leads to Investment.

When all is said and done, friendmaking is simply a more successful way to do fundraising.

Try turning your current donors into your Friends.

Why don’t you focus on your current donors and make friends out of them – so they’ll stick with you and renew their gifts?

Wouldn’t it be fun to approach your donors like family – like long-lost friends? Perhaps you could even over-communicate and over-involve them.

Friendmaking activities for everyone.

Invite them to special parties and events. You can give them behind-the-scenes tours.

Why not try special donor/briefings about what you are doing and the challenges your organization faces? Don’t forget about asking them to volunteer and help you out.

Do special things for your friends and by all means, don’t forget a donor newsletter!

Board members love the idea of friendraising.

You may know that we have worked with many boards around the country and the world.  Unfortunately, many board members worry that fundraising is all about “hitting people up for money.”

Worse, many volunteers think it’s about “asking strangers for money.” No wonder board members want to shy away from fundraising!

But we know that fundraising is ultimately not about asking for money – it’s about changing the world.

When we make it all about money – we lessen our impact. We lower ourselves.

Changing the world has you standing high up on the hill, shining with purpose and light. You attract people and energy to you.

Seeking just money puts you down in the swamp where fundraising is transactional – like buying and selling. In these cases, it’s easy to repel people.

Of course, we all know that good fundraising is emphatically never about money. As a rule, we never want to be just asking for money. we are asking someone to join us to make our community better – to solve a problem – to change or save lives.

Shame on us if we make it all about the money.

Why not try Friendraising with your board?

It’s a wonderful approach if you are trying to get your board members involved in fundraising.  It’s fun. And it’s accessible.

Above all, we genuinely DO want Friends for our organization – whether they give money or not. We like to tell board members that their real job is to find die-hard friends for the cause.

We tell board members to put the idea of money and the ask over to the side.

Board members can be very comfortable in the activity of making friends for the cause because it removes the dark notion of “asking for money.”

Friendraising takes the fear away from fundraising.

This idea takes the fear away from fundraising for many board members. Volunteers can embrace the idea of just piling everybody they know on your organization’s bandwagon.

Volunteers can embrace a fight for the cause. A fight for what they believe in. A fight for what they know is right. Now THAT’s the way to put some energy behind your board’s friendmaking efforts.

Bottom Line: Friendraising Works!

Refocus your – and your board’s – efforts on Friendraising and you just may unleash a tidal wave of energy for your cause!

Also, kudos to the brilliant Hildy Gottleib for first bringing this concept to light. We highly recommend her book on Friendraising.

As always, it is a pleasure to share our weekly insights with you as we cover important fundraising strategies. 

If your organization is planning a capital campaign or expanding your major gifts program – we can help. Send an email to if you’d like to schedule a free strategy call with us.