When engaging donors in a campaign, it is tempting to simply list organizational needs and wants. However, while the needs are often well justified, it is wrong to assume that donors will inherently understand “why” programs, facilities, equipment, additional staff, or endowments are important to the growth and advancement of the organization.
When it comes to fundraising, our experience is that there are three elements that must be in place before donors will seriously consider “investment level” gifts for organizational needs.
Vision – Donors want to know that there is a vision for the future that goes beyond the status quo. Because we are a great institution of higher education, an excellent arts organization, or an outstanding social service agency is as motivating to most donors today as it was in the past. They want to invest in the organization’s vision for the future. It is crucial in a campaign to bring an aspirational picture of that vision to life for the donor.
Leadership – Donors want to see strong, competent, engaging, and persuasive leaders. They seek a level of confidence that the CEO of the organization has the “stuff” to lead. Leadership manifests itself in many different ways. CEO’s are not all extroverts or possessed with commanding personalities, but they must engender confidence with donors if they expect them to invest in the organization.
Direction – A combination of vision and leadership, donors must believe that the organization is headed in the right direction before they will likely make significant gifts. A sense that the organization is properly focused and pointed forward gives donors the confidence that their gifts will make a difference not just for today but for years to come.
Make no mistake, organizations must have a compelling case for support for fundraising, but communicating these key concepts of vision, leadership, and direction will catapult any fundraising program to success.