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Event vs Process

By January 5, 2010March 30th, 2014Development, Fundraising, Withisms

A few weeks ago, Seth Godin had a short blog post about the use of social media in nonprofits. His post was titled: The reason social media is so difficult for most organizations

His answer: It’s a process, not an event.

And further he went on to say: “Events are easier to manage, pay for and get excited about. Processes build results for the long haul.”

I’d say the same about fundraising v. fund development. Often organizations I work with or encounter are looking for the “quick fix.” They invest in the transaction to obtain contributions. They send a letter in the mail and assume I’m going to keep giving forever, no matter how much they do or do not tell me about their work. No matter if they keep me “in the loop” or not about what’s going on with increases in demand for service or the cost of providing their amazing service.

I’m often asked at a 1st or 2nd meeting with an organization to make a financial contribution. There often hasn’t been any thought put into the invitation. They have simply decided they like me and THEY want my support. The “ask” almost feels like now that I know more about them – I OWE them or something. Hmmm. That may be the wrong thing for me to feel, but it’s true.

Development efforts are about the process. My definition of development: Gentle conversations (in person, on the phone, via email or printed mailings) over time that allow both parties to feel as though it’s a mutually beneficial thing to be connected via contributions of time, dollars, advice, in-kind services and so on.

In an effort to “get the job done” and show the board or CEO that we are good at increasing the number of or size of gifts, the development process is often shortened or ignored.

As you set your plans for this new year, I encourage ALL organizations seeking to raise solid, ongoing financial or other kinds of support to invest in the development process. The “getting to know our investors” kind of work that will ensure support in good times and bad.

Fund development takes longer, has a plan and engages more of the staff and board to produce better long-term results.

Oh, and yes, invest in the process of social media too. Combined, both social media and true fund development work provide astounding results.

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