Kent Stroman is one of the most experienced and articulate fundraisers I know. He has a remarkable knack for finding just the right way to say things. It’s rare when I speak with Kent that I don’t come away from the conversation with a new way of thinking or a new way of articulating something important.

And so it was on a recent call of the Capital Campaign Toolkit advisors. We were discussing what our response to the Coronavirus pandemic should be.

Kent proposed the following:

I’ve always thought that the best strategy for fundraisers is to get in line, stay in line and move to the front of the line.

So why is this good advice?

Fundraising Analogy: Staying in Line Is Building Trust

Trying to jump to the front of a line when you are waiting for a donor to make a gift rarely works.

Generous gifts are based on trust. And by its very nature, trust is developed over time. In fact, while it takes many interactions to prove yourself to be trustworthy, it takes just one misstep (like jumping the line), to break that hard-earned trust.

Generous gifts are based on trust

The best development officers understand that that principle their core:

  • They know that every interaction they have with donors must be honest and truthful.
  • They understand that their job is not to get money quickly, but rather to build solid, trustworthy relationships with their donors.

Kent’s advice about getting in line offers opportunities to build trust as you wait. You can use the waiting time to learn more about your donors. If you pay attention, you’ll see how they function and what matters to them. You’ll see who they support and why. You’ll have opportunities to do thoughtful things for those donors.

There’s no better time than now to reach out to your donors.

And by the time you get to the front of the line, you’ll have built a trusting relationship with them that will more than likely lead to a gift that is good for you and the donor. That’s what truly great fundraising is all about.

Staying in Line is Important, Too

Taking Kent’s analogy a step further — in the current environment, many fundraisers are getting out of line by stopping their fundraising altogether. Don’t get out of line!

For effective fundraising, you’ve got to take the long view. If you do, whenever a crisis does arise, your donors will be there for you because they’ll know that they can trust you.

Pivot your fundraising in a time of crisis

If you were in the midst of a capital campaign or preparing for a capital campaign when the current Coronavirus crisis hit, it’s not too late to pivot. Learn about how you can pivot your fundraising to better serve your needs during the crisis.


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