Less is more

Success­ful fund­rai­sing needs to involve our heart, head and hands. Passion for a topic, compre­hen­sive stra­te­gic know­ledge, good orga­ni­sa­tion, hard work and pati­ence will usually lead you to your goal.

Fitting this arti­cle, Advice: Fund­rai­sing, into 2,000 to 3,000 charac­ters, inclu­ding spaces, is one of the hardest chal­len­ges I’ve ever faced. After all, authors such as Marita Haibach, Michael Ursel­mann and Peter Buss (the editor of The Philanthropist) each needed a couple of hund­red pages to cover the topic in their books on fund­rai­sing. There is a great deal to be said for study­ing these semi­nal works (and a few others). Howe­ver, in an age shaped by the inter­net and social media, people want a two-minute read that will tell them ever­ything they need to know about a topic. 

So, I’ll focus on three points summa­ri­sed by the motto of ‘less is more’. Speci­fi­cally, success­ful fund­rai­sing needs hearthead and hands

Heart: success­ful fund­rai­sing needs an orga­ni­sa­tion and people in this orga­ni­sa­tion who are perso­nally convin­ced that their work can change the world. They know exactly why we need a parti­cu­lar non-profit and its aims, and why it’s possi­ble to solve a problem with this speci­fic orga­ni­sa­tion and its projects. If this organisation’s mission state­ment aligns with my values, I’ll donate.

Head: success­ful fund­rai­sing is based on stra­te­gic deci­si­ons and a concep­tual foun­da­tion. In other words, fund­rai­sers need to know who their message will appeal to, and when, and how they can forge a connec­tion with donors (whether indi­vi­du­als or insti­tu­ti­ons) and then deepen this bond. Tools can help with this, while service provi­ders or books, like the ones mentio­ned above, can offer assistance. 

Hands: in day-to-day life, fund­rai­sing is about targets, chan­nels, measu­res, actions. In short, as well as having convic­tion and reflec­ting on your ideas, you need to do some­thing. And you don’t just need to do some­thing – you need to do the right thing, which means focu­sing on the most impact­ful chan­nels and measu­res. You often realise that less is more, and in terms of fund­rai­sing, we really can under­stand ‘more’ in the lite­ral sense of the word.

Inci­dent­ally, the same organs are important for donors, and they work in the same order, too: the purpose or content of an action appeals to their heart; their head reflects on whether the dona­tion fits within their own budget and whether the orga­ni­sa­tion is credi­ble; and they use their hand to fill out their payment slip, access online banking or make a dona­tion on their mobile, via Twint. 
(See – you really didn’t need more than two minutes!)

Book recom­men­da­tion:

Marita Haibach, Hand­buch Fund­rai­sing (Dona­ti­ons, Spon­so­ring, Foun­da­ti­ons in Prac­tice), published by Campus Verlag, 5th edition.

Michael Ursel­mann, Fund­rai­sing, Profes­sio­nal fund­rai­sing for chari­ta­ble orga­ni­sa­ti­ons, published by Sprin­ger Gabler, 7th edition.

Peter Buss, Fund­rai­sing, Grund­la­gen, System und stra­te­gi­sche Planung, published by Haupt Verlag.

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