Let's Raise Some Money
Insights from Karen Climer about fundraising and nonprofit organizations

Not Everyone Will Be Interested – And That’s OK

September 30th, 2013 by Karen Climer

There is a fundraising system called Benevon.  If you are not familiar with it, the signature aspect of this system is a breakfast where people are asked to make a multi-year commitment.  I rarely recommend this program to clients, but it has a few components I like.

One aspect of this system that I wholeheartedly endorse is what they refer to as “Bless and Release.”  If someone learns about your organization, and decides they are not interested, do not try to convince them that your organization is worthy.  Do not try to educate them into giving.  Do not keep them on the mailing list for eternity thinking they will change their mind.  Instead, thank them for considering your organization and “bless and release” them.  Just let them go.  Encourage them to give to something they are passionate about.  Your job is not to convince everyone that your cause is worthy.  Your job is to find those people who already believe your cause is worthy.

I cringe when I hear people say, “If people just understood how bad this disease is, they would donate.”  Actually, they wouldn’t.  No matter how many stories you tell them.  No matter how many pictures of sick kids you show them.  No matter how many statistics you spout out.  Let’s face it, some people are not interested in that disease and instead are interested in the local homeless shelter or hospital or school.  And you know what?  That’s OK.

Instead of trying to convince the person that your cause is more worthy than whatever else they are giving to, just move on to the next person.  Find someone who is predisposed to give to your cause.

Recently, the director of development of a local nonprofit asked me to donate something to their annual auction.   I politely declined.  She asked again…and again…and again.  Four or five times in the same phone call.  It was quite uncomfortable.  She continued to pile on reasons why I should donate.  It was almost like she was trying to sell me on the benefits of buying one software package over another.  The only problem was that I wasn’t buying software packages.  In fact, I wasn’t even in the market for new software.

Now, I am uncomfortable with this person and have a bad feeling about the organization she represents.  If this development director had “blessed and released” me, all parties would have benefitted.  She would have been less frustrated.  I would have ended the phone call with a better feeling about her and the organization she represents.  She would have had more time and energy to contact someone who would be predisposed to donate to the auction.

Spend your energy on finding people who are interested in your cause, not chasing those who are uninterested.

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