Sunday, December 09, 2007

New column every Monday: "Fundraising Guru"--December 10, 2007

Go where the money is being given away
by Stephen L. Goldstein, consultant and author of the bestseller 30 Days to Successful Fundraising

Except for the occasional multi-zillionaire whom no one thought to ask for a contribution--except you, the broad base of your philanthropic support will come from known givers. Here are tips to increase your success in reaching them.

1. Don’t disqualify anyone. Don’t think that just because people have made donations, even in large amounts, they are tapped out.

2. Look for people in the shadow of major givers. Pay attention to married couples in which one spouse is recognized for philanthropy, but the other stays in the background. Try to find a niche for that person. Look for the children of well-known philanthropists. They may have their own money (or access to their family’s) and may want to carry on the family tradition.

3. Go where real money is really being given away. A wise fundraiser once advised me, “You don’t have to find the people who have the most money, but the people who are willing to give the most.” When looking for sizable amounts of money, you may be elated to hear someone say, “I have always given money away”--until you discover that those gifts have never exceeded $25. Learn to listen between someone’s words. Tactfully qualify people’s level of giving.

4. Identify other people’s donors. Most charitable organizations print lists of their donors that are ripe for your picking. Begin to collect and make files of everyone else’s contributors, paying special attention to those who appear more than once. Make sure you note the level of giving, not just the name.

5. Get on your donors’ turf as soon as you can. Visit them in their office or at home. Don’t be impressed by lavishness or put off by meagerness. The people with real money to give often downplay their wealth, while those with little or nothing often overplay it. You can learn valuable information about people’s personality, history, and willingness to give from what they hang on their walls, the photographs they display, and the books they read. Keep your eyes and ears open.

6. Go where the people with money are. Strategically place yourself or your representative in organizations, on boards, or at social and professional events that let you schmooze with potential donors one-on-one.

7. Don’t trust publications that list donations by individuals, corporations and foundations. They are often out-of-date and inaccurate, simply starting points for your prospect research--to which every other nonprofit has access.

8. Befriend accountants and lawyers. Ask people who know where the money is to work with you. They can point you in profitable directions without violating the confidentiality of their clients. Plus, when their clients ask them for advice about where to make a contribution, you’ll be at the top of their list.

9. Don’t let donors play hard to get. Potential contributors know that they can get attention from you if they intimate they have money to give. Don’t let yourself get strung along.

10. Know where the money will never be given away. Learn to give up hope, face reality, and cut your losses. Heed the signs that someone is not willing or able to give to you, then extricate yourself politely. Otherwise, you’ll waste your limited time, energy, and money.
Go where the money is being given away. It’s half the battle.
E-mail your comments and questions to Stephen Goldstein at