What is the old saying, “You say it ‘potato’ and I say it is …”
Unfortunately, when it comes to donors, I don’t think you can splice words.
Are we asking for money? Asking for support?
Or are we thinking about this relationship differently and “inviting investments.”
Investments in a better future. A brighter world. A transformed life.
To me, that is the difference between fundraising and fund development.
We are doing much more than just asking people for money.
We are extending invitations. We are financial advisors of a different sort. We are stewards of resources.
We are connecting with people’s core values. Having them look at places inside themselves that a sacred and deep.
We are exploring with them the answers to critical questions. What do they stand for? And what do they believe in?
The organization and the donor are on the same equal footing. We as the development professional are the conduits, the facilitators of making all these connections and investments happen on deeply personal levels.
Investment also implies that we will report back, develop a deep, long-term relationship. We will advise, stay in touch, suggest, renew and reinvest.
I recently read somewhere that all investors in not-for-profit organizations are donors, but not all donors are investors. The investor relationship is not measured by the size of the gift, but by the intensity of the connection the donor and the organization feel with each other.
Investors in nonprofits look for two bottom lines (financial and values) but one principal return: the knowledge that their investment will have the intended results and make an impact on the organization and on the community.
What are we here to do…build donors or build investors?
We as professionals need to be willing and able to put in the time required to create investors. It is a process. Are we ready?
Perhaps if we think differently about these types of partnerships, the downward spiral in donor retention may start to look up.
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