To be honest, I've been pondering whether I should post this blog for a while, thinking it will probably kick up some major dust or at least lead to a few great conversations along the way.
For those of us experienced in fundraising, we already know that there is a turnover problem in our industry. The average lifespan for a front line fundraiser is 16 months right now. But in contrast, if you've ever been exposed to an amazing fundraiser, you know it instantly. I have noticed a few differences between those who excel in our field and those who struggle. Today I want to cover one of those differences.
Many times front line fundraisers will come to us in donor relations and communications looking for "collateral" or print pieces like case statements and brochures. Often they're looking for a leave behind for a donor but I find that these communications can often be a crutch for a weaker fundraiser. While we need to tell our story of need to the donor, do we need to do it in a pre-printed format that isn't custom to the donor?
The best fundraisers don't need brochures. They make their visits all about the donors and matching their philanthropic interests with the organization's needs. they innately understand that one size doesn't fit all and that in fact, a case statement or brochure printed en masse may dissuade a donor.
What if your donor is left with the perception that if they don't fund one of the items on the list then you will move on to someone else on down the road who will?
With today's full color print on demand resources, why do we continue to produce these publications? We know our donors are unique and special to us, what if we invested the same resources into printing big sweeping collateral trying to be everything to everyone and spend that time and resource on creating modular, customizable pieces that are catered to a specific donor. In contrast, do donors want to see a big list of funding priorities that are possible? Maybe these pieces expand their horizons to funding opportunities that they were unaware of. As we all know fundraising is an art and a science. The art of fundraising, the height of the profession, is perfectly pairing a donor's passions with a funding opportunity. If we do that, and do it well, then we have made both the donor and the organization move forward in a meaningful way.
Next time you're around an amazing fundraiser, someone who truly has an amazing passion for our profession and is able to bring fundraising to almost a nirvana state, watch their behaviors, look at common characteristics, and try to understand the things we can do to help support their success. It probably doesn't come in a tri-fold version.
I would love to hear your thoughts, especially from those of you who fundraise and help those who do.