Here are 5 lessons the pandemic has taught us about fundraising:
- If your goal is to engage donors well, you should spend far more time asking about and learning from them than you do sharing your case for support;
- The narratives of how your institution impacts those you serve – i.e., your mission – are far more compelling to donors than specific funding priorities, strategic plans, naming opportunities, or other “donor-centric” appeals;
- Being professionally nimble and creative are key attributes of successful advancement officers;
- Humans are and want to be generous. If you ask, donors will tell you they are grateful for the opportunity to help. Our work is to facilitate those opportunities so that more people will act on those impulses. Our work is not about selling anything and certainly not about taking anything from others;
- The more you invite, the more you receive. Even during difficult days, weeks, months, and years, our role is to invite gifts for missions that matter. When we do more of that, good results occur.
Both personally and professionally, the pandemic has taught us all many new lessons. It is worth noting, though, that the 5 lessons above are probably not all that new. In fact, it’s probably more accurate to say that these are all lessons we should have been minding in our fundraising work even before the pandemic.
Perhaps, then, the pandemic is more reminding us of time-honored truths, rather than teaching us time-bound lessons.