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Why It Pays to Use Intermediaries In Your Fundraising Efforts

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During an intro session with a European government funder on behalf of one of our institutional members, the funder asked why our member wasn’t joining us. “In full transparency I’m always skeptical of intermediaries” the funder said. While we appreciated the honesty, we felt the need to justify our role.

The meeting continued, we received feedback for our member on ways to more intentionally engage with the funder, streamlining their team’s efforts and saving everyone time and a lot of effort. Still, the funder’s honest comment stuck.

Typically we hear from funders that intermediaries are helpful, allowing them to speak openly about their interest (or lack thereof) engaging with our members, and minimizing their engagement if the implementer simply isn’t the right fit. 

So why would a nonprofit, social business or even corporation use an intermediary to reach donors or other potential partners? 

We lay out 5 reasons below:

  1. Having an intermediary connects the dots, allowing each party to act with honest intention. If a funder is not the right fit, it’s easier to pass honest feedback to an intermediary who can then share with the implementer, while helping the implementer address necessary gaps or turn their attention to a better fit funder in the future. It’s not always easy to be transparent in a fundraising dialogue, but it's critical.
  2. Wouldn’t you be thankful if someone said to you “don’t waste your time” before embarking on a project or program? Having an intermediary, with knowledge and understanding of the fundraising space, helps implementers save time, and provides them with intelligence to direct resources towards opportunities that are best suited for them. Having a world view of what funding is available allows intermediaries to direct implementers to the “right” type of funder or partner.
  3. Development teams are often nimble, but are notoriously understaffed. Having an intermediary is like having an extension of your team. Using an intermediary’s research resources, databases, or human capital, allows an implementer to be more equipped to take on fundraising research, outreach or intelligence gathering.
  4. An intermediary gains a set of unique skills by speaking to numerous types of donors and working on behalf of multiple intermediaries at one time. Specifically, an intermediary recognizes language differences funders prefer, the types of organizations they want to work with, and the type of programs they want to fund. This ensures implementers use language and style that will more closely resonate with the donors they want to reach
  5. Finally, it’s not easy to ask for help in most contexts. Fundraising can be brutal. It’s onerous and demanding. Sometimes it reaps great rewards for implementers’ stakeholders, and other times it can be defeating. Having allies who are rooting for you, or who keep you focused, staying positive and are there to support your efforts, make the role of an intermediary so incredibly necessary and rewarding.

At Connective Impact, we believe in the values of relationship-centric fundraising and the power of collaboration. Our role as an intermediary for our community members simplifies efforts of organizations solving our biggest challenges to find resources for growth. We couldn’t be more intent on doing our job with integrity so others may follow suit. 

Looking for the support of an intermediary like Connective Impact? Learn about our membership model here and join us!

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