Even in the best of times, fundraising can be challenging. Just ask any of the over one million not-for-profit organizations, associations, and foundations that depend on contributions to survive.
For many years Jerry Panas, fundraising consulting guru extraordinaire, has preached the benefits of designing, deploying, and sustaining a plan that targets those who are potential major gift contributors. No one can argue with his success. He has led the pack for decades.
Fred Holzrichter, a top level fundraising executive for over thirty years and presently a Chicago-based fundraising consultant, echoes Panas’ mantra and takes it a few steps farther. Holzrichter teaches that preparation, presentation and follow-up are essential. Holzrichter labels Resources, Reason and Request as the 3-R’s of fundraising.
Very simply, without the Resources – whether now or sometime in the future such as a Planned Giving Program – if there is not the potential to give, the obvious prevails and the opportunity to give is not present. On the other hand, if the means to give are present, then the opportunity is there.
Holzrichter adds that the greater the assets, then the greater the potential size of the gift. In other words, the first “R” is essentially a fundamental truth.
Knowing how to discover the potential of a targeted contributor is a challenge of the first “R”. Holzrichter states that there is wealth and asset research software available to assist the fundraiser in this effort.
The second “R”, the Reason to give, is also a fundamental truth, but much more compelling. Why? If the prospect is without a reason to give, then it is unlikely the gift will transpire.
Identifying, determining, designing, or creating a compelling reason to give may originate with the prospect, the fundraiser, or from both. The prospect may wish to fund a special project or service of the organization. The fundraiser may offer the prospect the opportunity to fund a special scholarship named for the prospect to assist young or new members of the association or foundation. The prospect and the fundraiser may work together to develop a new program or service using the prospect’s gift and name to encourage other major gift prospects to participate.
Once the fundraiser finds prospects with the Resources to give along with a strong Reason or interest in the organization’s cause, then what remains is the Request. In other words, the fundraiser must ask for the gift.
One would think that the third “R” is not only the most fundamental truth, but also the most obvious. Unfortunately, fundraising statistics and research consistently show that failing to ask for the gift is typically the number one reason the gift does not occur!
Like the 3-R’s of Education, the 3-R’s of fundraising are the basic skills.
There are plenty of potential contributors with the resources to give.
When a compelling reason is identified or provided, then the potential contributor becomes a probable contributor.
But only when the probable contributor hears the Request to give and responds affirmatively does the probable contributor become a contributor.
As the old saying goes: Ask and you shall receive.