The Raising of Money

Recently, I read The Raising of Money by Jim Lord to prep for a Board meeting client training. Although the book is extremely short and an easy read, I went ahead and made a Book Summary (below) as a cheat sheet just in case any of the Board members did not get a chance to speed read the book.

Introduction

  • The Volunteer is Still the Key: Philanthropy is at its core voluntarism. The sheer presence of a volunteer – one who shows evidence of having invested themselves in the cause – makes the most compelling and persuasive statement. This exemplary commitment serves to encourage by example, rather than advice. (p. xxvii)
  • And Our Own Quest:  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. (p. xxix)

 

Working from the Perspective of the Donor

  • Organizations Have No Needs:  Many organizations believe that the more compelling their needs and the more desperate for funds they appear, the more successful at fund-raising they’ll be. But donors are tired of hearing these please over and over again. In fact, from the viewpoint of the donor, an organization has no needs.  The organization has strengths and capabilities. (p. 3)
  • Seek Investment, Not Charity: Invite your prospective donor to make a wise investment that will produce benefits. Donors are tired of giving handouts to the needy. (p. 4) A new fundraising strategy was adopted, (the organization) presented itself as a community asset that carried the city’s name worldwide. The new strategy was successful. (p. 6)
  • Position Your Cause in People’s Minds: What does the organization do well – or what can it do well – that matters to the community? (p. 8) The institution had identified its distinctive competency –  the major benefit it was in a position to provide better than anyone else. (p. 9)
  • Listen to the Community: It’s essential to listen to the donor community. If we can find out what’s on their minds and where they’re going, we’ll be in a strong position to shape our offering accordingly.
  • Listen to What Each Donor Has to Say: If we listen to (donors) as individual, find out what they want, and make our approach accordingly. (p. 12)
  • Donors Will Tell You What They Want: We never know what a person wants – until we ask. Understanding what people want is vital to the practice of raising money. We’re in conversation with them, rather than assuming that we already know. (p. 16)
  • Make your Case Larger Than the Institution: The effective case for support is like an investment prospectus for a business. It is designed to attract donors – who are, after all, investors. What works best is to present a vision of the future – one that people find attractive, achievable and worth working for. The case demonstrates how the organization can make a special contribution to building that future. (p. 17)

 

Getting People Involved

  • Go For the Gold:  In enlisting volunteer leadership, it’s best to begin by “going for the gold” – the winners. The best person to lead your program is the one who has a reputation for allowing nothing to fail. (p. 23) What makes for good leadership? Affluence, Influence, Availability and Team spirit. (p. 24)
  • Create Authentic Involvement: The best way to develop that sense of involvement is to invite a person to do something important for us – something they are especially qualified and suited to do. (p. 26) The person will then begin to become an insider. (p. 27) It is the best way to invite someone (who deserves the role) from being an outsider to being an insiderand finally to enable that person to engage and develop ownership in the organization. (p. 28)
  • The Process of Planning is More Important Than the Plan Itself: Use the planning process to get people involved in mapping the organization’s future – especially those who have the power to help bring about that future. (p. 30)
  • Share Your Plans Without Asking for Money: This approach (feasibility study) seeks to cultivate relationships with donors by involving them – the best kind of cultivation. (p.35)
  • Use a Feasibility Study to Build a Strategy: What was remarkable about this experience is that the very process of conducting the feasibility study may have done more for the success of the campaign than did all the information that was obtained, and all the strategy that was built upon it. (p. 38)

 

Setting the Pace for Giving

  • If You Seek Average Gifts, You Get Below-Average Results: One problem with raising money by the multiplication table – $5,000 times 20 – is that not everyone will participate. Even worse, seeking $5,000 from each donor will, in effect, set a ceiling on what an inspired donor may want to pledge. (p. 44)
  • A Few Will Do the Most: Ninety per cent of the funds will come from about ten per cent of the donors. (p. 45) Experience shows that the best donors for the immediate future are those who have given in the past. (p. 47)
  • The Early Donor Sets the Pace: He who gives early gives twice. (p. 48) It’s the people who give first who set the pattern for those who follow. (p. 49) “My practice,” explained Franklin, “is to go first to those who may be counted upon to be favorable, who know the cause and believe in it, and ask them to give as generously as possible. When they have done so, I go next to those who may be presumed to have a favorable opinion and to be disposed to listening, and secure their adherence.” (p. 49)
  • Trustees Have an Opportunity, Not an Obligation: Whatever example the board sets, the effect will be felt through the enterprise. “As the board goes,” according to the old saying, “so goes the campaign.” (p. 51)
  • Staff Giving Can Lend Credibility: Staff contributions can have a powerful impact on the rest of your donor constituency. (p. 53) Those who see it everyday – do believe in its value and respect its leadership. (p. 54)
  • Make Great Investments Possible: Provide donors flexible payment terms through a subscription period. This will allow them to spread the payments, and the tax benefits, over a period of years. In this way, the donor can often make a large commitment. (p. 56)

 

Applying the Campaign Principle

  • People Prefer Structure: Human beings work best with goals and deadlines. (p. 61) For people to work effectively within our structure, we also want to create a positive climate – a climate of optimism, enthusiasm and confidence. (p. 62)
  • Take One Step at a Time: “A successful development effort results from a series of steps, take one at a time, each done in correct sequence, according to a plan and schedule.” (p. 63) Each group of prospective donors is visited in sequence, to set the best possible pace for the effort. Prospective donors for six-figure contributions are seen before five-figure donors. (p. 64) Before the person (donor) is invited to invest, they deserve to be informed about the program. And before the volunteer makes the call, they deserve to be informed about the prospective donor. (p. 64)
  • Scheduling Creates Momentum:  One principle to keep in mind is synergy. (p. 65). “The whole is greater than the sum of its parts.” (p. 65) When three events – for example, three major commitments – happen at the same time, or in rapid succession, they can have a powerful impact on the campaign, far more than if the three events had occurred a couple of weeks apart. The point is that synergy gets people excited. (p. 65)
  • Build a Sense of Campaign: The winners of this world are those who set a goal, set a deadline, and place milestones along the way. (p. 66) The dynamics that come into play during intense campaign activity can be truly exhilarating. (p. 67)
  • Create a Climate of Universality: One reason the concept of a campaign works so well is that everyone in the community can join in: individuals, corporations, foundations, clubs, unions, churches and even (praise be!) governments. (p. 67) Be selective. Enlist people who are known for coming through. Plan for the best in people, not the worst. What you plan for is what you’re likely to get. (p. 68)
  • Winning is Fundamental: Set a dollar goal for your program – and set smaller goals along the way. You want the goal to be high enough to stretch people, and low enough for them to reach. (p. 69)
  • Meetings Keep Things Moving: Meetings are the glue that keeps a development program together. Experience has shown that a person’s effectiveness as a volunteer is directly related to their attendance at meetings (p. 70) Well-run and well-attended meetings provide tangible evidence of an effective organization and a strong development program (p. 71)

Asking for Money

  • People give to people: The volunteer (solicitor) is an investment counselor – not a salesman. (p. 73) People give for people. (p. 75)
  • The Right Person Makes the Difference: When we ask for money, we are friends, not adversaries. We are counselors, not salesman. It’s not a game of predator and prey. We are trying to help the donor do something significant for the community and for society. After all, we’re not asking for anything for ourselves.
  • The One Who Asks First Gives: In business or in philanthropy, a person’s actions are more convincing than their advice. This is the cardinal rule of raising money: A volunteer first makes a personal commitment before asking others. That is a given. (p. 79)
  • See Each Person Face to Face:  If we really believe that people are more important than dollars, then we owe it to our top prospective donors to visit them in person. Besides, seeing people face to face works better than any other method. (p. 80)
  • Ask for a Specific Amount; Ask for Enough: “Whatever you can do” is a recipe for failure. Many volunteers are surprised to learn that prospective donors prefer to be asked for enough: enough to reflect their stature and capacity, and enough to really get the job done. (p. 81)
  • Qualify the Person: A qualified prospective donor is one who has the financial capacity. They would have some rationale for giving to the program – a philosophical rationale, if not active interest or involvement in the organization. And they would have some history of giving – to other organizations, if not to your own. (p. 84)
  • Tenacity Prevails: Let’s face it: Before a commitment can be secured from a person, a volunteer may easily end up calling on the person two, three, or four times. (p. 85) You may spend the first visit or two just providing information, answering questions – being a good investment counselor. (p. 86)
  • Ask for the Order: We can do our research; we can cultivate their interest, involve them. But if we don’t move ahead and invite them, we may have missed our opportunity. (p. 87)

Practicing Stewardship

  • The Donor Deserves Good Stewardship:  Good stewardship means protecting and managing the donor’s investment – so that is produces the best possible return. (p. 71) If donors only hear from us when we’re asking for money, they’ll be less likely to respond. The principles of good stewardship apply to the way we treat volunteers, as well as donors. The people who raise the money deserve our thanks and recognition. We want to stay in touch with them, to keep them involved. (p. 92) Good stewardship is well worth the extra effort it requires. It is the bedrock on which the future of an organization is built. (p. 93)

Kindling the Spirit of Philanthropy

  • The Best Advocate is Both Donor and Volunteer: To inspire the best people to become our best advocates. If you believe in this cause, as I do, will you make as large an investment in it as you can, and will you ask another to do the same?” (p. 97)
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