Donor (And Solicitor) Burn-Out

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    Some time ago, I spoke to a community service club and gave my fifteen-minute “This-Is-What-Fundraising-Is-Really-All-About” speech, and a majority of the subsequent questions revolved around the concept/complaint of having to go to the same people for contributions every time the club wanted/needed to raise money.

    The “fear” I most often hear expressed by members of community service clubs is that those “same people” will start to avoid them.

    There’s no question that these service club members believe in and feel strongly about the causes for which they raise money. It’s just that, after a while, because they’re doing the same thing — going to the same people to buy the same tickets, it’s hard (for the club members and the prospective ticket buyers) to maintain enthusiasm for the process.

    As one of the attendees put it, “There’s lots of burnout out there.” And, what is left unsaid is that many of the club members are burnt out … tired of asking the same people to support another worthy program !!

    What was obvious was the need to expand their pool of prospective donors/ticket buyers to avoid having to back to the same people every time. It was also obvious that the people buying the tickets (to the dinner, the golf tournament, the carnival or any other “fundraiser”) were too often doing so to please the club member selling the tickets and/or saw the event as entertainment.

    Now, I’m not big on “fundraisers,” to say the least, but most community service clubs are not likely to change their cultures, their methods of fundraising. So, there needs to be a way for these clubs to raise money for all the causes they support, without burning out the members who do the fundraising or the people to whom they sell their tickets.

    It crossed my mind that the service clubs could create a separate nonprofit with 501(c)(3) status, and recruit all the folks to whom they sell tickets to be “members” of that organization. That organization, then, instead of having a number of “small” events/fundraisers during the year, could have one major event (at an overall lower cost) to raise more money than the “ticket buyers” would “contribute” during the year.

    The event would be a combination of education (about the causes they are supporting), recognition (of the people who are giving their dollars “to make it happen”) and cultivation of prospective donors.

    So, before I go banging my head against the wall trying to get these community service clubs to restructure their fundraising … What do you think ??

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    Have a comment or a question about starting, evaluating or expanding your fundraising program? Contact me at Hank@Major-Capital-Giving.com With over 30 years of counseling in major gifts, capital campaigns, bequest programs and the planning studies to precede these three, I’ll be pleased to answer your questions.