Relationships: The Foundation of our Fundraising Success

Category: Team

In the beginning

In March of 2020, the World Health Organization declared the COVID-19 virus a global pandemic. Little did we know that this pandemic presented a threat that would not only change fundraising as we knew it for the short term but would turn ‘business as usual’ upside down for the foreseeable future. 

Within the first few months, we realized that the pandemic was not going anywhere, and we needed to pivot to ensure that we were able to continue to raise critical funds for the charitable organizations we represent and keep our staff employed. We had 10 years of strong expertise in door-to-door fundraising, and we took all those years of learnings from the doors to the phones, building an outbound tele-fundraising team.

Relationships within Teams

We built off our greatest strength, our Globalfaces culture. Our team spirit and willingness to lean into each other’s strengths and support each other with our combined experiences allowed us to establish outbound tele-fundraising best practices through constant evolution of ideas and efforts. As a team, we constantly share effective communication strategies, information and storytelling that resonates with donors. This level of collaboration not only expands our individual knowledge and resources, but also allows us to reach levels of success for our charity partners that otherwise might not have been possible. 

As a solution-oriented team, we know that when we are honest, transparent and willing to share our successes and challenges, we are able to create action plans that benefit our partners and more importantly, the beneficiaries they serve. We know that diversity gives birth to innovation and creativity: the whole becomes greater than the sum of its parts. Ultimately, this leads to better fundraising.

Even on our toughest days, knowing that the team has each other’s backs and that each person is fighting just as hard for something that we collectively believe in motivates each of us to do our best each and every day to ensure that every campaign is a success. We call people who have been living, often in isolation, in a pandemic for over two years and we talk about very serious issues – from international development to food shortages to education and healthcare. Some of us are immigrants, some of us live with mental dis-health and some of us live with disabilities. We share our personal stories with each other and rally each other to keep having the important conversations that will lead to securing the critical funding our charity partners depend on. We stay focused on our collective goals and the social change our work seeks to make happen.

Relationships in Fundraising

When reaching out to a donor we have 30 seconds to make a connection, whether face-to-face or on the phone. Once we’ve established a connection, we need to build a ‘triangle’ of relationships, between the fundraiser, the charity and the donor.

Fundraiser and the Charity

We can start with the relationship between the fundraiser and the charity.  World renowned author and motivational speaker Simon Sinek is famous for his saying, “People don’t buy what you do, they buy why you do it.  And what you do simply proves what you believe.” I can’t think of a better application for this than fundraising. You need to be personally motivated by the work the charity is doing. Fundraising is not reading from a script or checking off talking points. It’s connecting with people by showing them your ‘why’. Sharing your passion for a cause with a potential donor is infectious. When you give them a reason to believe that change is possible and that they can be part of that change, you have a much higher chance of making a lasting connection.

Fundraiser and the Donor

Building rapport with potential donors is a crucial first step to continuing a conversation as opposed to receiving a hard no. Educating them about the charity you are fundraising for and your reason for believing (your ‘why‘) can open up conversations about common perspectives, priorities and sometimes even shared values.  Actively listening to the potential donor and answering their questions based on what is important to them (their ‘why’) is an important step in relationship development. Again, Simon Sinek says, “The goal is to sell to people who believe what you believe.” When you can determine where your values align and they are able to see that you have common beliefs, they will often decide for themselves that they want to become a donor.

Donor and the Charity

Now that the potential donor understands your ‘why’, you need to educate them on the ‘what’ and the ‘how’ of the work your charity engages in, in order for them to understand the importance and value of their gift. This is where the initial rapport built becomes critical to conveying a compelling narrative. By identifying what is important to the donor and connecting their motivations to the cause, the fundraiser is then able to customize the conversation, speaking specifically to that donor’s priorities and letting them know how the charity is making a difference in areas that are important to them.

In Closing

Relationships are at the heart of everything we do, from our internal culture, teamwork and shared values to the ‘why’ that we share with our charitable partners and our donors. Anyone can read off a script. Anyone can try to coerce or guilt someone into donating. We all know what happens to those donors. They don’t stick. Instead, what makes us successful, is that ‘why’. We work from the heart, sharing our passion with like-minded individuals who are seeking to make the world a better place. And once again, as Simon Sinek says, “There are only two ways to influence human behavior: you can manipulate it or you can inspire it.” At Globalfaces, we inspire.

Priya Moraes

Priya has worked in the professional fundraising space for 5 years, both in telefundraising and in door. She has had the privilege of speaking with thousands of donors and enjoys getting to learn about each donor’s unique story and connection with the causes they care about.