The Catalyst for Giving

As fundraisers, we are inundated with opportunities to become more effective practitioners of our profession. Knowledgeable individuals talk about cultivation as key to annual giving, major gifts, planned giving, and capital campaigns.

They speak about primary and secondary contacts, board involvement, the case statement, the five or six I’s, moves management software, and on and on.

All these elements, in some form, are necessary to success. But underlying them is the one reason why donors give, and continue to give, to your organization. And that is trust.

Of course, donors believe in your mission, respect your staff, board, and management. But the catalyst for success in fundraising is the trust your constituents have in you and your organization.

To earn trust requires actions that are ongoing and constant. They include honesty in all things. Your organization is forthright. You are good stewards of your donors’ gifts. You treat your donors with respect.

Your organization does what it says it will do. You keep your promises. You have an implied contract with your donors. You have the desire and ability to help your donors by responding to questions and facilitating their involvement.

All you do is personal. You call donors to thank them for their gifts. Every major solicitation is personal. You minimize the use of letters. Your communications are one-on-one. You are not always asking for gifts, but you are always exhibiting a genuine interest in your prospects.

Your staff is always helpful. You look for ways to assist your donor. You are knowledgeable about your organizations. You are able to answer questions. You do your homework. You are always prepared.

Dedication to what you do is paramount. Donors quickly see your dedication to your organization and mission. Dedication generates respect and enables donor satisfaction.

Does exceeding expectations and going beyond them generate trust? You bet. Is it important? Absolutely! Trust is the lubricant for the cultivation process, for developing relationships, for the tie that binds. The gift that results is, as Bill Sturtevant says, “…a gesture symbolizing great trust.”

Books by Jerold Panas (click on the cover for more information)


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