Genuine Care is a Part of the Fundraising Lifestyle

For many nonprofit leaders and most missionaries, fundraising is not just a task or even a journey, it's a lifestyle. As you understand more and more of the need to involve your partners in making a difference in this world, you begin to make them a part of your life as well. 

This story from Veritus Group illustrates this perfectly.

Several years ago, Karen (not her real name), the MGO I was working with, got a notice from an estate attorney that one of her donors had died and left her organization $100,000. Karen knew her donor had Parkinson’s disease, but hadn’t realized she was close to death. So while it was a great gift, she was sad about the donor.

A week later, Karen was at a local fundraising conference in her city and bumped into a colleague from another non-profit. They started talking and her colleague mentioned that one of her donors had died recently and left them an incredible gift. Turns out, it was the same donor.

Curious, Karen asked how much the donor had left to the organization. The gift was just over two million dollars!

That night, lying in bed, Karen began wondering why this donor left that organization so much more money than her own organization. Perhaps she loved the mission more? Maybe her colleague had a closer relationship? Like any good MGO, Karen was curious about it.

So she set up a lunch with her colleague, hoping to find out what the story was with this donor from her colleague’s perspective. Her fellow MGO told her how she had met the donor and learned very quickly that she had been diagnosed with Parkinson’s.

She said she had begun researching the disease and over the months and years that followed, she had sent the donor articles, suggested different doctors, and even connected her to another donor who was also suffering from the disease. Her colleague said, “Like all of my donors, I make it my mission to find out who my donors are, and I just love them.”

That struck Karen. She had never considered the idea of loving her donors. Karen told me she always did a good job thanking and reporting back to donors, and occasionally she would send touches that related to things about the donor’s interests – but “loving” was a different mindset for her.

Now, was this the reason the donor gave the $2MM vs. the $100,000 she gave to Karen’s organization? For Karen, it didn’t matter. She now had a new way of understanding her portfolio of major donors.

From that point forward, each year as Karen would plan her communication with every one of her donors, her overarching strategy was, “how can I love and care for these good people?”

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