Lifelong Learning and the Art of Fundraising

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I’ve got more than a few years behind me in my career, but I continue to learn how to emulate best practices in fundraising.  You should too.

Start by acknowledging that fundraising is always evolving.  Think about how fundraising has changed since you first started practicing.  Not all of us will remember what it was like before computers, multi media presentations, and PowerPoint slides.  But even in recent years, there have been dramatic changes in technology that make it possible to immediately fulfill gifts at events, in online cohorts and affinity groups that build community, and in Board portals that save trees and make vast amounts of information accessible anytime and anywhere to our most important supporters.

These are just a few examples.  Make sure you have people on your team who constantly scan for new, cutting edge, best practices.  You may not be the tech wiz yourself, but make sure your most accomplished technology practitioners are empowered to look outside the organization to find new solutions that will maximize your fundraising potential and make it easier for your donors to support your organization.

Remember, too, that fundraising is more art than science.  Be creative.  Resist putting everything on automatic pilot, or just doing what was done last year.  Look for the opportunity to give your donors a delightful surprise.  Make them smile when they encounter the next communication from you.  Touch their hearts with stories from the people who are helped by the generosity of your donors.  Let the beauty of the work your organization does shine through in your communications.  And don’t forget to step back occasionally and admire the results you are getting!

Finally, savor the fact that fundraising broadens our understanding of the world and its people.  Learn to see the world through the eyes of those whom you serve.  Understanding perspectives different from our own makes us better fundraisers.  The work we do is multicultural, multi-generational, and populated by a range of abilities, intellects, and aspirations.  It is humbling to know that the more effective we are as fundraisers, the more good can be done by our organization.

No matter where you are in your fundraising career, make it a habit to assess what you learned this week that can make you a more effective fundraiser next week!

by: Steven Murphy, Ed.D., Senior Advisor, HUB Philanthropic Solutions

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