Why Fundraising is Really About Relationship Building
In the end, the donor selected to fund a nonprofit they knew. The grantee's story was familiar. The donor knew that the grantee could deliver on one of the most critical elements of the proposal -- filtration for home use. Even if your organization's irrigation and clean water delivery capabilities would allow you to support filtration for home use, the donor knew with confidence that the selected organization was as well suited as possible to deliver the program, thus ensuring the funding would be more efficiently used, more impactful, many people would benefit at a much faster rate. The donor knew this with confidence because of a long standing relationship with the grantee. The grantee had proven itself and the donor knew it could deliver.
Fundraising in and of itself is a transaction. Money is passed between organizations and a service is delivered. Beyond the transaction, fundraising allows resources to transfer from those "with" to those "without." When grantees understand donor organization's "why", when it's clear what exactly a donor is looking for, the transaction is much easier. When a donor understands the capabilities of the grantee, and how it can deliver on the donor's "why", fundraising builds relationships, which in turn lead to more funding.
Making connections with the right people inside a donor or partner organization may not always come easy. It takes persistence. Making relationship building a key element of your fundraising strategy, however, is really important.
- People connect with people. Donors are more likely to connect with an individual whose values, approach and tone align with theirs. Consider forming relationships to understand what makes donors tick. What's their "why?" Often learning from individuals inside funding organizations allows for more success than going in cold with an unsolicited proposal or general inquiry.
- Mutual visions foster a sense of belonging. By engaging donors and establishing relationships, even those that take time, donors become more invested in the project, and can be more of a staunch advocate for your program.
- Relationships build trust. When relationships lead the way, donors and grantees can align quicker and easier. This ensures a smoother process and more resources to those who most need it.
- Creating long term partnerships allow for sustainability of a program. When funding is built on relationships, programs have a better chance of developing a long-term vision for lasting impact. Ultimately the donor AND grantee should build a program that can last long after the funding has ceased. Relationships built on a mutual sense of partnership can help advance the stages of program development and ensure long-term sustainability for the program even after funding has ended.
Support each other's "why", find that overlap of interest and vision, and aim high.
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