The creative fundraising folks at More Partnership in the UK recently put together a small book called More stories, which is the “first in a series of little books about fundraising.” I hope they put out another little book soon because its 32 pages delighted and entertained me with inspiring and amusing stories on fundraising (just wait ‘til you read the one about the doctor, the lawyer and the development director at the Pearly Gates!).
One of the quotes in the book really hit home for me because it dovetailed nicely with a conversation I’d just had earlier this week…
The executive director of a nonprofit in New York City and I were meeting over coffee. She asked me how we go about finding board, volunteer and major giving prospects, and I outlined the concentric circles we study:
Starting with those closest to the organization (trustees, lead volunteers, etc.) we work our way outward through their branches of connection, so that the people, foundations and companies we identify already have a clear connection to the organization or to the cause they serve. We eliminate those who have been previously involved or were asked to serve but could not. We build a model of the ideal prospect, and see what obvious connections can be branched from there. And, of course, we do a few other trade-secret-y things.
Our process is hand-tailored and intense because we believe that one warm call that will be answered is much easier for a fundraiser to make than 15 cold calls. And if it can’t be a warm call, then we suggest one where the potential attraction is so obvious that it has the power to lean the prospect like a magnet toward the new cause.
Reading this quote from Ben Franklin, I was struck by the thought that, even 220 years later, the important things stay the same.