blue rule


Published July 1, 2014

Weekly Idea - Some Things I Have Learned in My Years of Fundraising

  1. People don’t want to give money away. They want to invest in bold, exciting, and inspiring ventures.
  2. Individuals contribute approximately ninety percent of all philanthropy, year in and year out, through gifts and bequests. It doesn’t come from foundations or corporations.
  3. Averaging what a group of people will give is a guaranteed way to fail. (If 500 alumni gave us $1,000 each . . .)
  4. People don’t give money because they should. They give money because you asked.
  5. You should ask for a specific amount, not a range.
  6. More than ever before, donors want to know the results of their investment.
  7. If you have three to four passionate and committed fundraising volunteers, you are luckier than most.
  8. The 80-20 Rule doesn’t work now. It’s closer to 90% of the money comes from 4 to 5% of the donors.
  9. Donors give to exciting and audacious dreams.
  10. Always keep a board member between you and a problem.
  11. Donors give to change lives and save lives.
  12. No organization will rise above the strength and commitment of its board.
  13. Expensive brochures are often a negative. Like children-- much beloved by their parents, but barely tolerated by others.
  14. A Donor wants to know: Why should I give to this organization? Why this project? Why now?  Why me?
  15. You can’t sell a vision and ask for a gift in 45 minutes. Sometimes you have to marry the girl.
  16. It often takes a long period of cultivation. You don’t make a pickle by sprinkling a little vinegar over it. You have to immerse it.
  17. You can be certain that any left-over bagels or cookies will find their way to the development office following a board or committee meeting.

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