Methods versus Principles

Whenever someone talks about “doing fundraising” they are almost always making a reference to the methods, the mechanics, of raising philanthropic revenue.

Action is essential. No doubt about it.

Yet. . .

Action alone. Action disconnected from the controlling principles.  Action without reference to context.

That’s when things go astray.

Last week, I was speaking with an executive of an established, well-respected organization.

During our conversation, I learned a lot.

First, that their fundraising program was currently focused on only one-segment of their potential constituency.  And they were employing one primary method of outreach.

They want to grow and expand their reach.  They want to raise a LOT more funds which are sustainable.  To do so will require significant retooling of their current efforts.

This is where it gets dicey.

They’re in the process of making a couple of major technology platform decisions.  But. . . they’ve not yet determined just what they want their long-term outcomes to be.

The assumption is that the technology will get them there and “sort things out.”

Uh, no.

If you remember nothing else, I say, remember this:  technology platforms and other tools are just that. Tools.  They are never “solutions’ despite how they are often presented.

Principles trump methods every time.  Methods and tools should always be chosen with an understanding of the principles operating filtered through the particular paradigm of your ministry.

Yes, there are principles that govern philanthropy.  Truisms that never vary.  Neither time, nor place, nor situation.

I call these The Eight Principles®.   Every high-performing fundraising program operates tightly within these.  Even if they don’t know they’re doing so.

When you know and live the principles in your organization, choosing methods and tools becomes straight forward.

Culture—healthy or otherwise—trumps methods/technology/tools every time.

When your nonprofit has a culture built on the principles, you experience transformational growth.