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Follow the Yellow Brick Road—no short cuts

Oft heard refrains from the leadership of charitable organizations are “we’re getting into ‘major gifts’” and “planned giving is what we’re focusing upon.”  Too often, however, such declarations are not connected in any rational way to these organizations’ fundraising programs.  The result is predictable, regrettable—and unnecessary.

Major giving—gifts of assets—and it’s close cousin deferred or ‘planned’ giving—major gifts that have a secondary objective—occur because donors want to make them.  And although actually asking for these philanthropic investments is a necessary precondition for receiving them in most cases, simply asking is never sufficient to achieve success.

Investments from a donor’s assets—whether current or delayed through some sort of trust or annuity vehicle—are the result of strong, multi-year relationships between the investors and the cause or organization that they support.

Relationships take time.  They take determined, focused effort to deepen and mature.  Rare is the man that will ask his date to marry him on the first date and achieve success.  Yet many nonprofits approach their fundraising in this disconnected, haphazard manner.

I like to say that it’s not about you—it’s about them.  Never is this truer than when building a relationship with a donor who can—and perhaps may—become a major investor in your organization.

For those organizations that take the time, make the investment and keep the course, those first-time small cash donors have a way of becoming major and planned giving donors when the time is right.

So the next time you hear that fundraising Oz is major and planned giving and all that is needed for success is to fly into the Emerald City, remember Glenda’s advice to Dorothy—“Follow the Yellow Brick Road.”

Larry C Johnson
Twitter:  Larry_C_Johnson
Facebook:  The Eight Principles

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