The essence of fundraising (i.e., development) is often analogized with “asking for the gift,” or “engaging the giver,” or “cultivating the prospect,” or even “stewarding the donor.”
But almost never is fundraising viewed as “spreading ideas.”
Spreading ideas, though, is exactly what the best development and advancement leaders and teams do exceptionally well.
They effectively spread the idea that an upcoming event is something we want to attend.
They compellingly spread the idea that their vision for the future is worthy of our emotional investment.
They earnestly spread the idea that, without our financial support, their mission will not be achieved.
They ardently spread the idea that they are grateful for our gifts.
They strategically spread the idea that the impact of their work is nothing short of transforming or saving lives.
And, because we rarely think of fundraising in this way, we also fail (sometimes miserably) to understand how ideas are best spread.
Ideas become viral not because of the idea itself (the content). Not even because of how we communicate the idea.
Ideas are spread well based on who spreads them – volunteers who are trusted influencers, champions, and donors.
In many instances, our best fundraising work does not happen when we ask for the gift or when we send the event invite or when we cultivate the prospect.
Our best fundraising work happens when we prepare the right volunteer to share her enthusiasm for our mission with her friend.
If the goal is to make more people care about our mission so that they give, prepare others to spread that idea.