A while back I asked the question on this blog, “who is your director of first impressions?” It is important to have your staff and volunteers understand the importance of relationships. This isn’t the sole job of the board, the executive or the development staff. If your organization understands the importance of living out your mission and being real with people, it will pay dividends. Who is the first person your next potential donor will have contact with?
Having breakfast with a colleague last week, we began discussing the importance of reaching out to alumni no matter where they are in the world. We have to meet donors where they live and work. He told me the story of a man from India who got a scholarship to a small college in Pennsylvania. He did not know a single person when he arrived at Newark Airport. He took a bus to a small town and when he got to the campus there was only a security guard present. The security guard told him not to worry and found a place for him to stay that night and told him he would pick him up in the morning and take him to the campus.
Years later that man donated millions of dollars to his school remembering the kindness he was shown by that security guard on campus. This is one of many stories I’ve heard through the years of people being moved by something someone said or did for them and their remembering that act.
Everyone plays a role in fundraising success from the volunteers to nonprofit management and leadership. Fundraising is everyone’s business. When the donor I mentioned was asked about his multi-million gift to the college, he said two things happened: 1) someone was present, and 2) that person did something. This is very simple, yet we make the process complicated.
Have you spent time with the people involved with your organization to explain that fundraising success is more than asking for money? It’s about what you do which leads toward that gift and sometimes it may take years to come to fruition but consistently keep doing the right thing.
“If you would win a man to your cause,
first convince him that you are his sincere friend.”
— ABRAHAM LINCOLN
Written by: Paul D’Alessandro
Founder and Chairman