Recruiting Fundraising Champions
By Grant Monck
In fundraising, as in life, I have learned that different paths may often lead to unexpected and rewarding results. I once met a couple who got lost and ended up on a remote road leading to the college campus where I worked. This began a journey that lead to a multi-year major gift from their family foundation. I was very glad they took that path!
My career as a board member, fundraiser and now a consultant with charities has taken many paths. During this journey, I have learned much from donors, staff and volunteers. In my recent work with clients, I have encountered a great desire for organizations to initiate new fundraising strategies, especially in the areas of major and planned gifts. However, board chairs and executive directors are challenged to build internal support for this work.
I started my fundraising career working for a well-established charity based in Vancouver. The organization had a long tradition of volunteer led fundraising with door-to-door campaigns and special events. They wished to diversify their methods of revenue generation but very few staff or volunteers had a sense of what needed to be done. We developed an incredible team of grassroots volunteers in over forty local communities in BC, aided by the support of regional staff and local community volunteers to assist with this work. This new focus on major gift fundraising and gift planning led to the first capital campaign for the organization.
One piece of advice I took to heart early in my fundraising career was to seek out and achieve early wins. One of the initial gifts I secured for the charity was a new life insurance policy from a long-term annual donor.
I asked the Chair of the local board if he would meet the donor to provide his thanks on behalf of the organization. His response was that he had never thanked a donor, but that he would love to do it!
I had many motivations for the Chair to meet this donor. In addition to donor recognition, I wanted the Chair to understand why the donor had established this gift and how the gift would benefit both the donor and the charity. The meeting with the donor went very well for all concerned. The Chair discussed the donor meeting and the gift with his board members. Volunteers began to seek out other possible individuals to thank for previous donations and discuss future ways to support the organization. At a provincial board meeting the initiative was discussed and other local communities began to follow the same model with success. Our team of fundraising champions grew from there.
The key to our success was the knowledge and passion of local volunteers who were the “eyes and ears” in their local communities.
My career in fundraising has demonstrated that there are many paths to success. I have also learned that sometimes paths less traveled may yield the best results. Recruiting fundraising champions amongst staff and volunteers of your organization will result in taking others along for a rewarding and worthwhile journey.