By Erin Morantz
Giving before asking is one of the key tenants of fundraising, but we as fundraisers often only think about it in monetary terms. All good fundraisers know the importance of making their own gift before asking others to do the same, but why do we stop there? Why don’t we give before asking in all aspects of our work?
During my first week at SFU I met a colleague who oversees the co-op program within the faculty. The first words she said to me were “If you’re just here to get my list you can forget it, I don’t share my connections with fundraisers. That’s all you ever want.” Funny thing was I had brought a list of contacts with me that I wanted to share with her. Once she understood that I was coming to give something to her not ask for something, the whole thing turned around. We now work collaboratively and meet with companies that can benefit the faculty from a monetary and non-monetary perspective. In fact, partnering with her helps me give our prospective donors something they need before I ask them for money. By offering companies our talented students as temporary staff (through co-op work terms), I am able to give something meaningful before I ask for a gift.
Finding out what a prospect or donor wants out of the relationship with the organization and giving it to them is the best way to bring them closer to you, build trust and create a long term relationship. But don’t expect a cultivation process where you give before asking to get you to a gift quickly. It can take months or even longer to find out what it is that your prospect wants or needs from your organization. Take the time to get to know what makes your prospects tick, what motivates them, and what you can do to help them.
With corporate prospects, take the time to learn about key issues in their industry, ask lots of questions about these issues and what is being done to solve them. Listen carefully to the responses, then strategize about the ways you can help.
And remember, be flexible. Too often when we meet with a prospect we already have them pegged for a gift to a specific project. By listening to what the prospect is looking for we are able to find a more meaningful way to collaborate and we develop much stronger and longer term partnerships.
Erin Morantz is a seasoned fundraising vet with more than 15 years experience in the non-profit sector in Vancouver. Last spring, she joined SFU, taking on the role of Director of Advancement in the Faculty of Applied Sciences. Prior to SFU Erin was a Senior Consultant with KCI Ketchum Canada where she lead a number of successful capital campaigns. In her spare time, Erin likes to hike and bike on the North Shore with her family.