Fundraising in hard times

I had the pleasure of having dinner last night with my friend and colleague Janet Hedrick. Janet Hedrick CFREJanet is a crackerjack fundraiser and fundraising consultant who is a senior associate for Bentz Whaley Flessner Consultants. Since she moved to Virginia from Massachusetts, we don’t get to see each other that often so it was a pleasure that she was in Hartford for business and I could meet her for dinner.

Of course, put two fundraisers in the room and shop talk has to come up. Janet flies around the US a lot, so I thought I’d get her take on what she was seeing out there.

Yes, people are anxious. Many large donors’ portfolios have taken a beating in the last few months and they aren’t feeling as wealthy as they once did. But Janet reminded me that many individuals who earned their wealth have gone through hard times before and risen again — that’s what makes them so successful.

Janet is telling her clients that campaigns may just take longer to reach their goals. During this time, it is absolutely essential that our organizations place a renewed focus on donor relationships – and I strong agree. Not that you should ignore building strong relationships with your supporters when economic times are good… but perhaps now organizations will finally act on this sound advice.

Janet used the word “Gratitude.” It’s a good one. It conveys appreciation, thankfulness which is so much more than just acknowledging and recognizing donors for their gifts. How many of you are truly grateful for the support your organizations receive? And how many of you express that gratitude to your donors in ways that are sincere and unexpected?

Try it. I think you’ll like it. If you look up “gratitude” on wikipedia, you’ll even find mentions of studies that show that businesses that express true thanks have customers who spend more, but even more important, in my book, is that feeling gratitude may be important to our own emotional well being.

Thanks, Janet, for a lovely evening and something to blog about.


P.S. Janet’s new book from Wiley will be in the stores soon. It promises to be a great read. I know that I can’t wait to get my copy.Effective Donor Relations

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