Fundraising vs Development

Sections of this topic

    It Can Be Confusing to Someone New to the Field….

    To review a basic concept, the terms “Fundraising” and “Development” are not synonymous. Development refers to the process of establishing, maintaining and enhancing relationships with individuals, corporations and foundations … for the purpose of creating/maintaining a giving constituency that provides ongoing support for a nonprofit organization.

    Fundraising, as a distinct sub-category of income generation, includes those activities that get people to GIVE their money to non-profit organizations and, ideally, to get them to keep giving.

    Fundraising does not include raising money by selling things; and, although those activities labelled “fundraisers” generate income, because they are not based on “giving,” but rather on selling, they aren’t part of “Fundraising.” Income generation, “Yes.” Fundraising, “No.”

    People who buy candy or cookies from local students are (usually) looking to help the student or satisfy a sweet tooth, not necessarily to support the school activity.

    Frequently, people who buy tickets to an event do so because of who’s selling the tickets and/or because they see the event as entertainment. Too often, attendees at dinners know little if anything about the organization the event supports.

    In many people’s minds, fundraising equates to “philanthropy,” another term that’s misused a lot. The origin (Greek) and original meaning of the word is “love of man,” or “love of humankind.” Today, the term is often misused to label almost anything to do with fundraising.

    In fact, “philanthropy” is a (small) subset of fundraising. It’s about self-motivated giving – giving in consideration of the needs of others, as opposed to most fundraising, which is about the needs of the donor.

    In a broad sense, raising money is about getting people to want to give; and, whether it’s a Corporation, a Foundation, a prospective Major Donor or the recipient of a mass solicitation, they’re not going to write you a check if the process doesn’t satisfy their needs.

    Getting a Corporation to want to give to a non-profit organization is a simple matter of learning, understanding and acting on the needs of the corporation and those of its decision makers. Will giving to you help the corporation’s marketing efforts and increase its revenue? Will supporting you and espousing your cause make the corporate leaders look good?

    Foundations give based on their mission and the needs of the foundation leadership. Do you solicit foundations whose leaders feel strongly about your programs/activities and about the people you serve? Do you know who those leaders are and what is important to them?

    To get an individual (potential) major donor to want to give, you have to know that person well enough to know what is important to him/her. You have to know/understand his/her priorities. Why would someone make a gift if doing so didn’t satisfy his/her needs?

    Just because a NPO does wonderful things in a cost-effective manner doesn’t mean that potential donors will want to give to it.

    Getting people to want to give, and corporations and foundations are run by people, is about learning, understanding and appealing to their various needs.

    Have you heard about
    The Fundraising Series of ebooks?
    They’re easy to read, to the point, and inexpensive ($1.99-$4.99)
    This posting is a sample of what’s in the first book in the series – “The Basics”

    Have a comment or a question about starting, evaluating
    or expanding your fundraising program?

    We’ve been posting these pieces for the last five years,
    and we’re now at a point where, to keep this resource alive,
    we need your questions/problems to engender further discussion.
    Look forward to hearing from you.
    Comments & Questions


    If you’re reading this on-line, and would like to comment/expand on the above piece, or would just like to offer your thoughts on the subject of this posting, we encourage you to “Leave a Reply.” If you’re reading this as an email, and you want to comment on the above piece, email Comments to offer your thoughts. Your comments, with appropriate attribution, could be the basis of a new posting.