Major Gifts, Making Your Case

Are you needy?

Often we talk about our organization’s services that offer a “hand up” not a “hand out”. Teach a man to fish, right?

So, why do we, as fundraisers, make pleas to our current and prospect donors for money citing how needy we are for their money? Essentially asking for a “hand out.”

“Men take only their needs into consideration, never their abilities.”

– Napoleon

What if we changed our request by positioning our organization as a wealth of resources for people in the community? And then we asked donors to make an “investment” in our organizations resources and the capabilities of the staff to deliver these resources?

By asking for an investment from a donor, you are stating that your organization is worthy of their funds because you will provide a return on their investment (ROI) by delivering services and resources to the community. An investment also gives a donor an active role: with their donation, they are able to make a difference in the community. So, not only are donors able to invest their money with your organization, they invest themselves.

“You have the great honor of giving people a way to make a difference of heroic proportions. People already want to give. It’s up to us to allow them.”

–       Jim Lord, The Raising of Money

You are also empowering donors to change the world. Their investment in your organization leads to positive results: your organization services being delivered and ultimately positively changing lives.

“Imagine if everyone who wanted to change the world knew they could.”

–       Jim Lord, The Raising of Money

This investment approach, shifts the job of fundraisers from beggars to investment managers. As fundraisers, we are offering a wise investment that will produce benefits. In doing so, we are offering donors an opportunity to give money and get something in return as opposed to asking them to “give away” their money.

So, ask yourself: Is your organization’s stock rising? If so, that means you have valuable resources to offer to the community.

With that premise in mind, present your organization as an asset, not a deficit (i.e. if we don’t raise the annual budget, we will have to close our doors). Distinguish yourself as an investment opportunity.

Shorthand advice: Don’t be needy.

1 thought on “Are you needy?”

  1. I also like to talk about creating a partnership with donors, particularly if I am asking for long term pledges, which seems to happen a lot these days. We have expertise in an area they care about, and the donor has assests. As partner we can bring them into the stratigic planning process and engage them as we create and define projects, No I dont think it works for every donor, and we should never really create a program to chase funding, although we all know that in rough times sometimes that happens, but by engaging funders, partiularly individual local community funders you often recieve sigingicantly more assests than just the donation.

    Some thoughts


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