If the change we want to see is a world where relationships between institutions and individuals are built upon trust – just like it is in real friendships – what might that look like in this highly transactional world?
This question is of particular importance in the fundraising arena, where the word “friend” is used as a euphemism for “donor.”
What might “walking the talk of true friendship and trust relationships” look like in the day-to-day of developing a fundraising campaign?
As Creating the Future is about to develop a Monthly Contributor Campaign, this question is front and center for us.
What do we want our monthly contributor campaign to make possible?
An interesting thing happens when we ask NOT about what the donations could make possible, but what the campaign itself could make possible.
If we want our campaign to create meaningful relationships, then our most important questions won’t be about the money or our organization, but about the PEOPLE we will encounter during the campaign!
What could a Monthly Contributor Campaign make possible for the people who are already contributing monthly?
What could such a campaign make possible for community members who are not yet currently contributing?
What kind of difference could such a campaign make in their lives?
Aiming at “Our organization will have more money” is the easy goal – and not the most rewarding one. If the campaign itself can create more meaningful relationships beyond just the money it raises, then we will be onto something grand indeed!
What a Campaign Can Make Possible: CURRENT Monthly Contributors
If someone cares enough to support our work all year long, we want to establish a caring, trusting relationship with that person – NOT so they will donate more, but so they will become engaged in our mission in every way possible.
Old Fundraising Adage: We make friends so that they’ll donate. **
New Fundraising Adage: Our opportunity when people donate is to grow a real friendship.
What a campaign therefore makes possible for our current contributors is…
- Honoring them: Our current contributors often brag about being early adopters as it relates to our work. A campaign allows us to honor them as such, giving them something to point to with pride. “I have been part of making this awesome stuff happen!”
- Seeing results: Because we will be publicly crowing about our accomplishments, our current donors will be seeing more evidence of what they are making possible.
- Connecting: Feeling like they’re part of something bigger than themselves, and meeting others who are involved with this thing they care about.
- Stories: Learning from other people’s stories and sharing their own. Because a campaign will include tons of stories!
- Confidence to step into new roles: Through sharing stories of what Creating the Future has meant in their own lives and work, our current donors may step more confidently into being advocates, leaders, champions.
- Modeling: Learning what real engagement can look and feel like, to apply in their own work of engaging others, in any sector or field.
- Language: Many people tell us that our work resonates with them, but they aren’t sure how to talk about it themselves. A campaign would give them that language!
What a Campaign can Make Possible: Community Members Who are Not Yet Contributors
The campaign we envision will engage people who are already participating in our programs in some way, but who have not yet become deeply engaged in our mission. A campaign is therefore a great way to engage them!
What that campaign can make possible for those community members is…
- Deeper Engagement Part 1: People in our communities already feel part of something. A campaign could deepen their sense of belonging. “I’m part of something important!”
- Deeper Engagement Part 2: A campaign could activate people who are ready to be more involved but have never been asked, to learn about different ways to participate.
- Deeper Engagement Part 3: Aligned with our values, Creating the Future never asks someone to give what they have (money) without hoping they’ll also share who they are. “You already love being part of this community. Would you help with monthly support? And would you also then invite two new people to the group, so they can benefit from the things you love about it?”
- Learning from stories: The campaign will be full of stories of people bringing out the best in themselves and those around them. Seeing a path beyond their own frustration – that alone could be helpful for some people.
As we begin developing this campaign, the next steps will be determining the conditions that will put these potential outcomes into action. What will it take for people to feel connected, to learn, to engage? What will they need to know? What will they need to believe?
We are confident that our Monthly Contributor Campaign can help people see a path to bringing out the best in each other in their everyday lives. And if that is possible, that is the heart of our mission in action.
So please, if you have landed at this post, let us know…
What do you think this campaign could make possible for YOU? What could you learn? How might you grow? In what ways could a campaign make a difference for YOU?
Do you want to learn alongside us, to apply these approaches to your own work? If so, let us know here and we’ll invite you to our next meeting!
* From our Statement of our Values in Action, rooted in The Pollyanna Principles
** When our team members do workshops about engagement, almost every time someone in the room asks, “I understand this engagement stuff. But when do we ask them for money?”