The Link between Networking and Fundraising

Adrianne DuMond

Do you remember the time when you designated your donation to United Way through your paycheck, and maybe made a donation to your church and that was the philanthropy for the year? Now you are enticed to contribute, via television and the internet, to every crisis that occurs. What does this do for fundraising efforts by nonprofits? Is this serious competition for the individual dollar?

I believe that fundraisers must work harder to get their story out and that spending more effort and time on networking may achieve better results. I recently read an informative article on networking in the Entrepreneur newsletter (online) that gave the most important habits of super networkers. If nonprofits are to keep the donor dollars they are accustomed to (which have not recovered from the recession yet) then every Board member and certainly the Chief Executive could practice some of these habits.

Ultimately it is about building close relationships with your donors and potential donors – at every opportunity. Here are the habits.

Ask insightful questions, learn their story. Building close relationships means knowing what’s new in the other person’s life, even when you have known them for awhile.

Add value. This means the moment you find a way to help someone, take action – maybe a contact, a resource, a referral.

Share a memorable fact. You have a compelling story to share and this is the opportunity to tell someone about a recent success or a need.

Keep notes. When leaving an event or meeting, take time to make notes about the important information you learned from the contacts you made – their history, interests. Hopefully you have their business card.

Make small promises and keep them. If you have offered anything as you spoke with others, be sure to keep your promise, and follow up afterwards.

Reward your ‘power’ contacts. Keep a list of the 5 to 10 important people (donors?) in your network and stay in touch – maybe one contact each week – with a phone call, a lunch invitation, a book to send.

For this article, I am indebted to the author, Lewis Howes, who writes, trains, and lectures on Linkedinfluence. Mr. Howes is a member of the the USA National Team in handball.

Author:  Adrianne DuMond, Executive Coaches of Orange County,