So…how much did you ask? How did the visit go? This is a common question that fundraisers are asked after they meet prospects.
In a new book, “The generosity network: New transformational tools for successful fundraising,” authors Jennifer McCrea and Jeffrey Walker take a fresh look at fundraising. The authors show that “creating a sense of meaning and personal fulfillment is at the heart of great fundraising.”
They oppose fundraising as a transaction-based relationship where the fundraiser meets the donor solely to secure a financial gift. The book argues that “fundraising is a vehicle for transformation- personal, organizational, social, even global.”
Narrating her early experience as a fundraiser in New York, Jennifer says every ask that she made focusing solely on securing a financial gift yielded a negative response. She soon realized that fundraising was not just about the numbers. Instead, it is a “shared commitment as two people sit down and have a deep conversation about their lives.” Giving is emotional, personal, makes people happy and is social.
The authors oppose fact-based appeals used commonly in fundraising. They argue that fundraisers should focus on why people want “meaning in their lives” and not dwell on data-driven case statements. “Another slide show won’t work and the most important aspect of fundraising is to create human connections.”
They are also against canned elevator pitches, a tactic commonly used by non-profits. Instead, they encourage non-profits to focus on authentic storytelling. “Do not inundate your audiences with data, instead tell them stories.”
The book urges non-profits to stop selling ideas to people and encourages them to give donors “opportunities to connect with causes.” It offers several nuggets, including one where the authors ask fundraisers to consider donors as their peers, irrespective of their social or financial standing. Treat them as peers and move from the “salesmanship model to enabling people to contribute to a dream.”
Authentic storytelling gets reinforced throughout the book and it has abundant tips on how to make the ask. At the heart of every ask is a “powerful story of the self, the power of us and now.” A good read.