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Fundraising basics when everyone is whining!

January 14, 2009
by Nelson W. Burns
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As the financial investment reports hit our mailboxes in January and the media pumps out the specifics of our “Global Financial Crisis” to millions of viewers, non-profit organizations begin to brace for the worst. Non-profit fundraising isn’t the most pleasant topic to discuss over lunch or breakfast with a donor. During a recent Foundation Board Meeting, my smart Resource Development Professional gave us all a great internet article by Jeffrey Byrne & Associates entitled “Stay Calm, Keep Focus on Fundraising in Uncertain Times” ( I would recommend you all to read these brief but thoughtful recommendations.

One point of the seven recommendations that resonate with me is the need to get back to fundamentals. How often do many of us take advantage of our donor relationships; expecting them to write us a check after a brief lunch. Getting back to fundraising basics means to believe in your mission statement, articulate your organization’s needs to the donor and cultivate your relationship. Many of us send birthday or anniversary cards, call on them to talk about an event in the local paper or get their advice on an important issue. Above all we need to be good listeners and enjoy the valuable relationship of our donors. Donor cultivation is more than one event but a continuous process that should build over time. Let’s quit the whining, start meaningful relationship building, and be thoughtful supporters to our donors.



Great article. As a long time serving professional fundraiser working at present for a large behavioral health nonprofit, I am disappointed with the way my organization has approached and supported fund raising. When I was hired I discovered very quickly that there has not been an philanthropic education or works. My President thinks he knows fundraising but actually has no idea of how much friendraising and cultivation needs to take place before any substantial gift is made. There's little hope of fundraising until the professional fundraiser is fully embraced and supported.
Let's see more fundraising education and support to those who are working very hard to raise funds for the consumers we work for.

Great advice, Nelson! Keeping in touch with key donors is a vital but basic step. I've seen some impressive newsletters over the years that keep important donors in the loop on nonprofits' plans.

Nelson W. Burns

Nelson W. Burns

Nelson W. Burns has been the president and CEO of ...

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