Where’s the love? Board fundraising as matchmaking

Do you love your charity?

Of course you do!

People like us who work or volunteer in the charitable sector do so because we love it.

We love the impact we have on the people and communities we serve. We are proud to lead the changes we believe are most important to our world. We put our hearts and souls into it. And we do so with love.

Do you love fundraising?

If you’re like most people I meet, the answer is “no”.

Sure, maybe you get why fundraising is important for your charity. After all, more money means more impact, more people served, more change.

But the act of fundraising probably leaves you feeling “icky” like you’re begging. Or maybe you don’t want to put your family, friends and colleagues, on the spot. Chances are that you feel like you don’t have time to fundraise and that even if you did, you don’t know where to start.

In my experience, many people feel like fundraising takes them away from their authentic self. That it’s salesy and pushy.

But I know that fundraising is actually about inspiring people and being your most authentic self – someone that is passionate and committed and wants to do good work in this world. That is, when fundraising is done well.

There is so much opportunity for organisations that can get their fundraising house in order and I believe it needs to start at the top.

We all know board fundraising is a challenge. If it’s not for your organisation, congratulations! But honestly, most charities, especially small and medium ones, struggle with it. But it’s also an area of huge opportunity. A board engaged in fundraising can be the difference between failure and success, regardless if you have fundraising staff or not.

And here’s the thing. Even though 70% of board members don’t feel confident around fundraising, 85% want to help and want to know how to fundraise. You get it – you know how powerful an organisation can be when all the board members are out there fundraising and building a community, you just don’t know where to start.

So I want to share with you one major insight for your board that you need to commit to memory.

Something that if you learn nothing else about fundraising, you remember this:

Fundraising is match making. It’s all about the love.

Your mission in fundraising is to find others who will fall in love with your organisation too. It’s about finding your tribe and building a community.

When you start to understand that fundraising is match making, magical things happen:

You realise there are plenty of fish in the sea.

Not everyone you know will be a donor to your charity. Fundraising is about finding your tribe. Then, you build a relationship to help them come to value and respect that work and understand its importance.

You understand that you don’t propose on the first date (especially if it’s a blind date!)

Asking for a donation is like a marriage proposal. You don’t propose marriage on the first date. Similarly, you take the time to get to know your potential donors before asking for a gift.

The most successful asks are the ones where you’ve tapped into their hearts and aligned their dreams with your organisation’s ambitions. That takes some time.

You get that it’s about a long-term, mutually beneficial relationship

If I asked you why you continue to support your charity, what would you say?

Likely that you get just as much value out of your involvement as the charity does. I have had million dollar donors THANK ME when they give because it’s so meaningful to them to see their values and dreams come to life.

Your best donors are the ones who will be giving year after year (at any amount). Why? Because it’s mutually beneficial. By this point, they are in love with your organisation too.

Fundraising can be done in a way that is authentic and comfortable and the great news is, this will lead to better results! More money raised, greater community impact.

Cindy Wagman is a fundraising coach and consultant who is on a mission to teach charities to love fundraising. Her course to teach board members and trustees how to fundraise in a way that feels comfortable and authentic while being effective, what the fundraising! is open for registration now. Visit www.whatthefundraising.com

Beyond Giving | Thomas Muirhead

Someone shared this TEDx Talks video with me the other day, it was a talk from Thomas Muirhead, Managing Director of Child.org.

First, have a watch, it’s only 16mins:

Thomas Muirhead, in this talk, spoke about how we need to move beyond giving, and move towards spending.

He spoke eloquently on the “overhead myth” something which the UK media is beating the charity sector on nearly every week and charities just aren’t being bold enough to defend their model.

Every other month I run a Corporate Fundraising Network, where I sit with some of the most brilliant fundraisers in the UK third sector at the moment. We often discuss how frustrated we are with the lack of knowledge on how the charity sector works. In fact, I have had to defend my salary to family members’ before, who have been horrified that their donations go towards paying people like me.

Muirhead in his TEDx Talk explains it better than I ever can. He talks about how there is a ‘fundamental misperception of the third sector’ and how the perception is wrong and at worst ‘disingenuous’.

Admin costs have become a bit of a buzz word in the charity sector lately. Charities are often having to defend their admin costs, despite the fact that most of the charities with the highest admin costs are having the biggest impact.

I think that the media and therefore the public have become so obsessed with admin costs they have forgotten what charities are there to do. Muirhead quite rightly draws attention to the fact that instead we should be looking at the impacts we are making. He draws the easy comparison between the private sector (using Apple) and the third sector and the double standard that permeates.

I think next time I’m faced with someone who insists the third sector should be solely run by volunteers I will send them this TEDx Talk as I really do feel that it’s an important message to get out there.

I also hope organisations like the Institute of Fundraising, step up and speak the message more clearly. We need to defend ourselves more, admit when we’re wrong and be more of an open book. We’re the sector changing people’s lives everyday yet to general public they just don’t know how we work and operate.

A dialogue needs to take place.

You can watch the video here and find out more here about Child.org (in fact at the moment they’re looking for a new Fundraising Product Officer)