This post comes from the Gravyty Fundraising Academy, a series that examines how fundraisers adapt and strategize to evolve what's possible through philanthropy.
Your guide for the Gravyty Fundraising Academy is Director of Customer Success, Lisa Alvezi. Lisa has worked with countless fundraisers across Higher Education, Health Care, and Nonprofit organizations to transform fundraising. As a former frontline fundraiser herself, her goal is to help you see better results from your fundraising efforts.
Organically building donor relationships through networking is more challenging than ever before. We no longer have events, dinners, cocktail parties, or otherwise to uncover interpersonal connections the way we once did. Let's face it -- the most fun part of fundraising is sparking new and deepening existing relationships. So, aside from social media, how do we get back to the fun stuff while adding value to our organizations?
My favorite way to network is to start from within your organization.
Working remotely limits the in-person collisions (intentional or not) with various subject matter experts. But this sort of cross-pollination is at the roots of fundraising. Use LinkedIn or organizational charts to see what individuals you can make connections with that align with your prospects and donors' interests.
In the health care space, a fundraiser might make sure they are in touch with an oncology physician and understand the research and emerging treatments offered to patients. Whether that physician can speak directly to prospective donors or the results of their work and research can do the speaking -- that connection and knowledge transfer allow the fundraiser to deepen existing relationships and seek new relationships based on affinity.
If you are a fundraiser at a performing arts organization, perhaps you have a fantastic in-house costume designer. You may also know of some donors who have an affinity for fashion. Brokering conversations with that costume designer could be the inspiration needed to fund the department for a show or two. Nobody gives a plea for money quite like the ways the person who will spend it.
If we look at colleges and universities, know your professors. Many prospects have existing connections to favorite professors. Look into these connections, consider approaching that prospect through an introduction from their former professor. The inverse applies, as well. You may have an existing donor who wants to connect more to their alma mater – ask what professors inspired them and make connections to deepen relationships.
And, every fundraiser has a stable of donors with which they have good relationships. In more typical times, you'd likely talk with them about their networks to get a sense of whom they know. That's still appropriate, even though it may not happen over coffee, dinner, or drinks. Let them know you're always on the search for likeminded people. Ask them whom they know that shares their passion for your cause.
Never stop networking. Get a head start by looking inward at your organization. Are there subject matter experts, favorite personalities, or stars that could inspire networking by deepening relationships or opening new doors?
If you’d like to learn more about how artificial intelligence can empower your fundraising staff to act as 2-3x its size, personally reach new donors, and inspire giving at scale, click the button below and let's connect.