Wednesday, February 9, 2011

BIG’s Blog: Relationship Building - Fund Raising Faith-based Organizations Can Love - Part Five

In this blog, the final installment of the Five-Part series entitled: Relationship Building – Fund Raising Faith-based Organizations Can Love, I will address the most difficult hurdle in moving the focus of fund raising to Relationship Building.

Without a doubt, the most difficult hurdle many faith-based fund raising organizations face is that they will either not attempt this transition or will fail at it because of their fear of change. In all human endeavors, change is by far the most difficult hurdle to overcome before transformation can occur. Is it any wonder that through history at times of great turmoil, whether personal or national, it is fear of change that grips us and keeps us from moving forward? President Franklin Roosevelt in his first inaugural address in the depths of the great depression echoes over time the reminder to all of us, “The only thing we have to fear is fear itself.”

In the weeks and months to come, I will write blog after blog about the tremendous benefits of this fundamental shift in fund raising to Relationship Building and point to more and more faith-based and secular nonprofit fund raising organizations shifting the way they engage constituent donors. But the overarching issue for faith-based fund raisers is coming to the point of recognizing the need for a change in direction in fund raising and making the decision to begin that transition.

Most of the people reading this blog work in faith-based or religious fund raising organizations that have been around for at least 50+ years. Fifty years ago there were 70 to 80 percent fewer nonprofit fund raising organizations. Today’s potential constituent donors have a wide choice of organizations to support. Whether your fund raising organization today has thousands or millions of constituent donors, today each one of those constituent donors expects to have a relationship with the organizations they support or they will leave and go find an organization they can have a relationship with.

In closing this series, here are some final thoughts. This kind of fundamental transformation rarely comes along. After all, what Gutenberg started with his moveable type printing press over 550 years ago has been the basis for our broad-base non-broadcast communications up until very recent times. And I don’t have to explain to my blog readers – of a certain vintage – that the world is moving much faster than it was when we got our first job a few decades ago; all the more reason that this transformation for all nonprofit fund raising organizations is essential for survival. But, for faith-based organizations, maybe the more compelling reason is the ability to develop deep and personal relationships with their constituents and where gifts from constituents become a by-product of the relationship rather than donations from...more often than not...anonymous donors.

Change of this type is heavy lifting. It involves organizational introspection, keen and dispassionate assessment skills as well as the ability to develop a new strategic plan direction. Some organizations can do this internally, but many cannot. Seek out guidance and expertise if you feel you do not have the resources internally. But, by all means, do not let fear freeze your organization from transforming it’s fund raising. Making the decision to transform your fund raising from a focus on donations to a focus on relationship building is long overdue for faith-based fund raising organizations.


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