HINDSIGHT…DON’T LEAVE HOME WITHOUT IT. CONFESSIONS OF A VETERAN FUNDRAISER.
HINDSIGHT…DON’T LEAVE HOME WITHOUT IT. CONFESSIONS OF A VETERAN FUNDRAISER
After our summer hiatus, we’d like to welcome past and new readers to the next season of the ViTreo Provocateur weekly blog. The past two months have been filled with some of our favourite summertime activities - family, beach time and catching up on our reading - and we hope yours have been as well.
We’ve also been busy planning a 2019 - 2020 lineup of topics and trends to spark conversation and transformation in our ever-changing world of philanthropy, fundraising and nonprofits. The Provocateur will be weighing in on a range of critical themes for our sector: a deep dive into board best practices; diverse cultures and philanthropy; protecting your data in this era of hacking; the rise in digital giving and more.
To open this new season, we’re starting off with a blog most (or all?) of us can relate to - the mistakes we’ve made in our careers as fundraisers. You know the ones I’m talking about. The times where you walked out the CEO’s or major donor’s office, smacking yourself on the forehead when the door closed behind you. Hindsight - don’t leave home without it.
Here are some that ViTreo’s own Vincent Duckworth is ‘fessing up to:
Top Ten Mistakes I Have Made As A Fundraiser
Vincent Duckworth, ViTreo Group
September 10th 2019
Over the last two decades, I've experienced many successes in my fundraising career. I've also had my share of failures. There have been times when, after walking out the door or when considering how a meeting went, I realized I missed an opportunity. I didn't do my homework or I asked too soon, or (gasp) I didn't ask. Many of you can likely relate to this. Recently, the CEO at one of our client organizations challenged me to come up with Vincent's Top Ten List to open up my session at their board retreat. In the spirit of Brené Brown, I decided to be vulnerable. I compiled my Top 10 'mistakes' to share with them. They liked it so now I am sharing it with you, our blog readers. I hope you find some solidarity and maybe a bit of inspiration in my list. Happy reading!
1. Analysis paralysis. Needing too much information
Example: I need to know more about her network before we visit with her, I mean…everything!
2. Opinion v. fact. Making assumptions without first-hand evidence
Example: I don’t think they will give. They have never given. No… I’m pretty sure we are wasting our time asking.
3. Who are these people? Wrong people in the room, not enough people in the room
Example: What do you mean you want more than me in this meeting? And what do you mean by “someone with grey hair”?
4. Practice shmactish - who needs to practice? No advance preparation or briefing meeting for the prospective donor visit
Example: I’ll be fine, how hard can it be… we can figure it out in the meeting…
5. Ouch! When the “ask window” closes. Not enough listening for ask signals
Example: Missing clear cues (“I am waiting for you guys to ask”)
6. Prying open the “ask window”. Otherwise known as breaking and entering; asking too early
Example: “Hey, great to meet you. Will you make a gift of XX?”
7. The Kreskin ask. Not asking for a specific amount
Example: “Will you support this project?”
8. TMI (Too Much Information)
Example: I was so excited, I shared far too many gift details way too early.
9. I mean really! What else do they want? No ongoing stewardship
Example: I said thank you, we had an event… was there more?
10. It’s my project and I will pitch if I want to, pitch if I want to… pitching v. listening, sales v. fundraising (sung to the tune of the 1963 hit by Lesley Gore, It's my party and I'll cry if I want to…)
Example: We have a great project. Obviously. We know you will want to give to its greatness. Right?
And it should go without saying, if you don’t ask for donations, you won’t receive any.
Over this coming year we will have other top fundraisers, the people you admire the most, share with The Provocateur community their mistakes and what they would have, could have, done differently. Stay tuned!!
What about you? Have you been ‘guilty’ of making these same mistakes?
Do you have any you would like to add to our list - please share in the comments below! We would love to hear about fundraising lessons you’ve wished you’d avoided and what you wish you had done instead.
Tune in again next week when The Provocateur dives into the always provocative topic of Board governance.
If you enjoyed Vincent’s confessions, we recommend tuning into the BrainTrust Philanthropy Podcast for its two-part series on “Life and Career Hacks - What Would I Tell My 20 Year Old Fundraising Self If I Could Go Back In Time” how, in looking back, these fundraising professionals would have done some things differently.
ABOUT THE AUTHOR
Andrea McManus, Chair, Board of Directors, Partner
ViTreo Group Inc
Andrea McManus is a Partner with ViTreo with over 30 years’ experience in fund development, marketing, sponsorship and nonprofit management. A highly strategic thinker and change maker, Andrea has worked with organizations that span the nonprofit sector with particular focus on building long-term and sustainable capacity.