Why we think there are new rules for fundraising today

By Dr. Kathryn Gamble

These days have been anything but usual.  Managing a fundraising program has become almost a herculean effort.

Much of the challenge is due to the uncertainty that surrounds us regarding the pandemic.  For the past three months, our organizations have shifted programs, events, and fundraising into an environment outside our usual way of being and into a new place – a virtual place.

Our most basic human instincts – to shake hands, to be physically close, to gather – have been limited to a great extent.  With that, how we conduct our fundraising – especially our major gift fundraising has been changed.

These changes have left many feeling stuck and uncertain of what to do next.

The proven strategy to successfully deal with uncertainty and change is the ability to adapt.  Adaptation has always been key to survival.

You can be successful with major gift fundraising right now and into the future.

The new environment calls for new rules for major gift fundraising. Understanding and adapting to these new rules will help you move forward. Here are three of the rules:

1. Messaging.

Your messages must be relevant to the current situation – where your organization is right now.

2. Permission.

This is not a new concept, but is essential in the virtual environment.

Permission involves how you frame and phrase your approach to and conversations with donors.

It is respectful and at the same time allows you to conduct skillful conversations and nurture the relationship with the donor.

3. Platform

Don’t overload your donors with Zoom or other digital meeting platforms.

While this is highly tempting and at times even necessary, the good old-fashioned phone can be quite effective. And, don’t forget pen and paper.

Handshake | Gail Perry

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A good letter or a well-crafted note are useful and viable tools.

Understanding the new rules will help you approach major gift fundraising from a fresh perspective.

How do we apply the new rules to our work?

  • Be transparent and authentic with your donors. Share your organization’s challenges and opportunities.  Be mission-centered – talk about your impacts. Are your students, artists, patients affected by how your work has changed and/or adapted to the new environment? Say how and what you are doing about it.  Share what your organization needs.
  • Skillful conversations to build meaningful relationships with donors depend on your having skillful conversations with them. This involves setting objectives for your donor conversations and gaining insights into your donor’s motivations and interests.
  • Use permission to determine your donor’s willingness to discuss making a major gift commitment. Asking or inviting is a series of conversations involving give and take – not a sales pitch.

Understanding the new rules will help you develop the major gift strategies that will work right now.  You may be in a capital campaign or you may want to launch a major gift program for the first time.  Either way – you can be successful.

Join our webinar next week to move forward with successful fundraising now.

We’ll share pointers for adapting and mastering the skills to build virtual relationships with major donors. You can raise major gifts, even during budget cuts, Zoom meetings and social distancing. We’ll show you how.

Changing Times: The Rules for Virtual Major Gift Fundraising

Thursday June 18, 2pm ET

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