“If you would win a man to your cause, first convince him that you are his sincere friend.” – ABRAHAM LINCOLN
A while back, I asked the question on this blog, “who is your director of first impressions?” It is essential to have your staff and volunteers understand the importance of relationships. In other words, it 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 a contact within your organization?
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 that the security guard on campus showed him. It 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 from the volunteers to the leaders of organizations. 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. It is very simple, yet we make the process complicated.
Have you spent time with the people involved with your organization to explain that fundraising 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.
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