Fundraising VeritiesWhat Makes a Great Fundraiser?

Founder and Executive Partner Jerry Panas gives us his treasured insights on what makes philanthropy work with a series he calls, What Makes a Great Fundraiser. Jerry gives us his 70 Verities from his best selling book, Born to Raise.

The Verities

Is there a “fundraising type”? Outgoing, people-oriented, backslapping, extremely well organized, goal oriented, brilliant. This magnificent creature probably doesn’t exist.

It’s really hard, perhaps impossible, to know what makes an ideal fundraiser. If you were designing the perfect fly-catcher, you probably wouldn’t design it to look like a frog!

I interviewed nearly 50 men and women I consider to be among the greatest in the country— each, the ultimate fundmeister. They are all winners.

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Verities #13 - You Inspire Others to Action


A fundraising program or project must be pursued with inspiration by the fundraiser.

It is important to note that as significant as it is, inspiration alone provides only passion and spirit to a program. But without unyielding action, it is lifeless.

Verities #12 - If you can conceive it, you can achieve it.


The surest way to guarantee success is to determine you will succeed. You decide. You envision it. You dream of it. You command it to happen.

That’s how you win. That’s the road to success.

Verities #11 - You Have an Unwavering Commitment to the Institution, and a Near-Militant Belief in Its Mission


Goethe wrote: “Until one is committed, there is hesitancy, the chance to drop back. The moment one definitely commits oneself, then Providence moves, too. All sorts of things occur to help one that would never otherwise have occurred.”

Your commitment to the institution must be unshakable. That doesn’t mean without question or constructive challenge. That would be faith without thought. But your commitment to the cause must glow and glitter for all to see.

Verities #10 - Boldness Has Genius, Power, and Magic to It


The courage to dare, to step out—that’s what wins the contest and gets the gift. The great fundraisers are infused with boldness and courage. An awesome audacity.

There must be the willingness to brave the unexplored—and to attempt the unthinkable. The challenge!

Verities #9 - You Have Presence


None of the great fundraisers I interviewed indicate that presence is important. Then, when we discussed the question in some depth, most spent a good bit of time talking about how important an element presence actually is!

For the type of fundraising I’ve been writing about, being “attractive” to the donor is important. Having “the right” physical appearance is part and parcel of the whole collage which confronts the donor.

Verities #8 - You Delight in the Premise That Fundraising Provides Fulfillment to Deeds Not Words


It forces us to believe in the promise of the future. But it pays great tribute for what we achieve today. It chastens mistakes, but it is forgiving. It pays great dividends to those who strive the most, run the race, and give the best they have in them.

And every day is a new adventure. That is the promise.

Verities #7 - You Have Decisive Resolve


Nothing significant has ever been accomplished unless some man or woman dreamed it should be done. Someone believed it could be done. And then, most importantly, someone decided that it must be done.

Verities #6 - Great Fundraisers are Winners


They have a lust and a will for winning. Their attitude is that if you want to be in second place, nobody is going to fight you for it!

You attempt nothing great unless there are difficulties to overcome. You persevere and achieve from your desire to win and from the pride you have in vanquishing all.

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