10 Relationship Fundraising principles from the past

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Sometimes in adversity, good things can flow to greet you. Very often, the inspiration for that good comes from the past. A comforting place, when it was what it was and from its certainty, we can draw lessons to help guide us in a future of uncertainty.

As the sector embarks on ways to re-engage with the donor, including the welcome launch of a Commission for the Donor, it’s worth remembering that so many of us began fundraising where we learnt from wisdom learnt before us. Moments of clarity that will have guided us for years to come. For those who remember and believe in Ken Burnett’s book Relationship Fundraising, its worth reminding us of a perfect list in the book, fashioned by Ken’s mentor, guide and friend Harold Sumption, a fundraiser and pioneer, and who founded the International Fundraising Workshop. There’s a great blog by Mathew Sherrington in 101 Fundraising with more pearls and wisdom. Whilst Ken reminded us that there are ‘no absolute rules and slavish adherence to formulae’ there are some principles fashioned from that relationship that would do well to shine today. Here they are, lifted without permission but certainty that the author would very much like them shared as they were written, so here they are….10 key principles

  1. Fundraising is not about raising money. It’s about meeting needs and bringing about change
  2. People give to people, not organisations or even causes. Fundraising is a people business. Personal requests work best. Fund the development is people development.
  3. Friend making comes before fundraising
  4. Open their hearts. Open their minds. Then open their chequebooks.
  5. Communicate need to bring the problem to the donor
  6. Set clear targets. Communicate your goals to your donors. Communicate action and success to encourage full involvement.
  7. Know how much to ask each prospect for, and when
  8. The most important 2 words are thank you. Acknowledge every donation with a friendly, personal letter. Give larger donors special treatment
  9. Encourage donors to identify with your organisation, to feel a sense of shared ownership
  10. Always be honest, open and truthful with donors. Share your problems as well as your successes

I hope this helps guide another generation and reminds this one that going back is the right way to the future

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