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The Benefits of Relationship Fundraising

By: Garry Crystal - Updated: 17 Nov 2012 | comments*Discuss
Relationship Fundraising Fundraiser

Relationship fundraising is basically maintaining and developing a relationship between fundraisers and donators. This type of fundraising strategy does have its critics but there are solid benefits to be gained through relationship fundraising.

What is Relationship Fundraising?

Relationship fundraising builds on the idea that donators should be inspired to give money rather than asked for it. But this concept has confused some fundraisers who have taken the ‘don’t ask’ element too literally. Relationship fundraising is simply a way to build a long term relationship with donators and make an appeal for donations more personal. Donators are more likely to give if fundraisers can cut out the commercialism and mass marketing. Relationship fundraising is a way of building trust and inspiring donators to give to a good cause over a long term period.

Inspiring Donators to Give to a Fundraising Campaign

One of the major elements that will inspire donators is the actual passion and dedication of their fundraising contact. A fundraiser who radiates passion for a cause will inspire donators. Many donators are passionate about the cause they support and if a fundraiser does not feel the same way it will be hard to build a relationship. Relationship fundraising is a long term strategy and the donator and the fundraiser must feel comfortable with each other. This fundraising strategy is not about repeatedly asking for money, it’s about getting and keeping the donator involved with a cause.

Thoroughly Research Potential Donators before Contact

Fundraisers should research their potential donators to find out if they have some interest in the fundraising campaign. This may be business owners who regularly donate to similar causes or charities. Remember that for big donators it is not the giving of money that initially gets them interested, it is the actual good cause itself. Send potential donators letters or emails to enquire if they would be interested in supporting the cause. These letters should be personalised and should not be of the sort where it is blatantly obvious that a template letter designed for mass marketing has been used.

Show Interest in the Donator’s Opinions

Good relationships are all about respecting the other person’s opinions and points of view. Fundraisers should get to know their donators, take on board their ideas and ask for their opinions. A donator/fundraiser relationship will deteriorate if time is not taken to preserve and maintain the relationship. Trust is a vital element and the donator should be made aware that they are not involved simply for the money they can donate. Remind the donator that their opinions and support are valuable to the fundraising campaign.

Keeping a Donator Database

Fundraisers should keep a database with information on their donators. This should include certain personal information that they have told the fundraiser. This can simply be used to jog the memory and remember facts on the donator. This will help to keep the donator/fundraiser relationship on a more personal level. Keep in mind the donator’s likes, dislikes, family life and work details; remembering these details will help to build relationships.

Essential Elements of Relationship Fundraising

There have been many theories on the best way to promote and implement relationship fundraising, but the key elements will include:

  • Creating, building and maintaining a relationship with donators
  • Be honest with donators; don’t pretend financial donations aren’t one of the main initial reasons for contact
  • Respect the donator’s opinions and thoughts on a fundraising campaign
  • Ask the donator for his or her ideas on the fundraising campaign, make them feel involved
  • Make sure that contact with donators is personal; do not send mass marketed thank you letters
  • Avoid using incentives such as gifts; donators would rather the money is spend on the good cause
  • Keep the donator informed of how the campaign is going via letters, telephone calls and emails
  • Keep as much relevant information as possible on a donator to keep the relationship on a one to one basis
Keeping the relationship between fundraiser and donator open and honest is a key element of relationship fundraising. Donators can see through mass marketing and commercialism and this is likely to turn them away from a campaign rather than donate. Relationship fundraising is a fairly obvious strategy that should bring out the best in donators over a long term basis.

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