Is Fundraising About Making Friends?

Nov 22, 2019Donors, Fundraising, Leadership, Nonprofits, Philanthropy, Relationships

is-fundraising-about-making-friends Donors Fundraising Leadership Nonprofits Philanthropy Relationships
Is Fundraising about making friends?

Yes and No!

Yes, friend-raising is an aspect of fundraising. In fact, it’s a huge factor. Fundraising is about building trusted relationships and turning those passionate about your cause into ardent supporters.

No, friend-raising is not all there is to fundraising. To succeed with fundraising, you must follow a reliable fundraising system and framework. Then work the system.

As a fundraiser, I spent a lot of time with people I enjoyed being with, had commonalities, cared about, admired, and considered a friend. Many friends of the foundation were raving advocates for our mission and supported us with major gifts. I did spend significant time with them.

On the other hand, I spent considerable time with people without the means to advance our mission in a big way. I was energized by their presence. They were lovely people who I called my friends.

Was that wrong?

No, not necessarily.

I bet you have formed many friendships in your position as a nonprofit leader at your organization. After all, to be a great fundraiser, you must be a people person, enjoy camaraderie, and value interacting with others.

But how many of those people with whom you spend most of your time are highly qualified to make a major gift?

Consider where you spend your time if you are the fundraiser for the organization. A program director, for example, would spend their time with people (i.e. volunteers) who bring value and expertise in an area. They may be major donors!

If you are trying to raise significant dollars, you must focus a significant portion of your time with those who can support you in a significant way.  That means limiting your time with those who don’t have the means to make a substantial financial impact. Consider why you were hired.

Here’s how to focus on bringing in the big dollars:

1 – Identify Your Ideal Major Donors

Use this three-point criteria when identifying your ideal major donors. This will help you be intentional when creating your major donor prospect list.

You ideal major donors are those who 1) have the means to give, 2) are passionate about your cause, and 3) have philanthropic tendencies.

Engage with them in meaningful and effective ways. See more about what motivates donors to give here.

2 – Decide How You Will Spend Your Time

Looking at the impact of major gift fundraising, studies by DonorSearch have shown that, on average, over 88% of all funds come from just 12% of donors. That 12% represents donations from your major donors. Given their impact on your fundraising total, it’s clear to see where you must spend the majority of your time.

Learn how to nurture relationships with donors.

3 – Adopt Daily Productivity System

If you are not using a daily productivity system, adopt one. Use a daily planner in which you write down your tasks. Yes, write down your daily goals with a pen or pencil!

To accomplish your biggest priorities and keep focused on what brings results, implement a productivity system. My all-time favorite planner is Michael Hyatt’s Full Focus Planner.

Trim what is not serving you.


Is Fundraising about making friends? Yes, but it’s more than that. Fundraising is about building trusted relationships and turning those passionate about your cause into ardent supporters.

Sure, you want to build relationships and friendships. You also want to be a good steward of donors’ investments. Start by evaluating how you spend your time.

You have fundraising goals and expectations to meet.

Does your board really want you only to build friendships? No. Certainly, they want you to engage in a professional and thoughtful manner with everyone. But they want you to spend your time wisely.

And that means focusing on what brings in the big dollars.

Your time is money.


As a fundraiser, let me know how to stay focused on what brings in the big dollars?

Nancy Rieves, Ed.D. is a fundraising coach. She provides executive and development directors with a roadmap to maximize and sustain major gift fundraising. She prepares leaders to be confident and successful in raising money. Reach her at nancy@nancyrieves.com.


Submit a Comment

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *

Nov-FB-Ad-Option-1-1 Donors Fundraising Leadership Nonprofits Philanthropy Relationships

Download FREE Major Gift Fundraising Plan Template to help you map out your fundraising for the year!

Receive weekly insights on major gifts fundraising and announcements of brand-new course offerings.

Be sure to add nancy@nancyrieves.com to your list of approved email senders! We’ll never spam you and rent or sell your information to anyone else, ever!

Most Popular Posts

Share This

Share this post with your friends!