“To give away money is an easy matter and in any man’s power. But to decide to whom to give it, and how large, and when, and for what purpose and how, is neither in every man’s power nor an easy matter” -Aristotle
Helping individuals and organizations make difficult decisions concerning their resources – who to give it to, how to ask for it or both is not as simple as it may seem, particularly in these challenging economic times. But there are ways to create better-informed grantmaking decisions – on both sides of the coin.
Good development work is both a science and an art, and a vital segment of each non-profit’s mission. At its core, fundraising is about relationships. Most efforts take place behind the scenes to identify and nurture these relationships. Such projects require knowledge, skill and creativity. In today’s landscape it seems as if the focus of fundraising has shifted away from endowment to more pressing needs and how organizations try to broaden their base of support and may even delay major campaigns. Careful stewardship and clear communication are critical for success.
Now, more than ever before, charitable organizations must identify what a donor wants, and most of the time that means increased communication. The donor wants to feel good. Thoughtful, personalized attention gives the donor a tangible connection to the organization and will help keep that donor fully engaged or even move him/her to a higher level of commitment. Donors are not ATM’s. They need regular acknowledgments and have every right to say no.
The goal of fundraisers should be to transform donors into philanthropists. This requires attentive listening, discretion, thorough due diligence and regular reporting. Success with individuals, corporations and/or foundations is built upon this premise: the approach and message must be simple, the results unexpected yet concrete, the grantee must be credible, the connection emotional and the results communicated not only in numbers but also in stories.
Participating in the grantmaking process is a balance of wants and needs – from all participants. Experience with the process, is often the difference between success and failure.