A Catholic Way to Specialize in Fundraising
Fundraisers tend to categorize themselves to a particular activity. For example, a direct marketing fundraiser specializes in mailings. A campaign fundraiser focuses on mass appeals. High-net-worth individuals are targets for a major donor fundraiser, while a trust fundraiser submits grant applications.
These are just a few specializations you can have when fundraising. If you look closely, you will notice that each one also ties in with a particular type of donation. A campaign fundraiser specializes in one-off/fixed-term gifts. A major donor fundraiser only looks to receive large donations. Meanwhile, a trust fundraiser just applies for grants.
I tried to find my specialty for about a year. I could never put my finger on it. In truth, I found the idea of segmenting myself challenging. I felt that by doing so, I would box myself into attracting one kind of donation. My purpose was to raise as much money as possible, so I could ignite my organization’s mission: not to segment myself and my mission.
“And I tell you, ask and you will receive; seek and you will find; knock and the door will be opened to you.” – Luke 11:9
Fuelled by a different perspective, I developed a way to specialize my fundraising that focused on the mission rather than on a donation type. Contrary to the way fundraisers usually compartmentalize themselves, I don’t limit myself to one type of gift.
Instead, I focus entirely on my mission because my Dream List allows me to do so. My Dream List divides into six categories, each of which represents an important factor of my mission. I explain what the six categories are below, but, in short, each contains the names of people who can move my mission to the next level. Each person on my list is, in fact, so influential that I would still see tremendous results, even if I could only attract five of them.
The 6 Dream List categories are:
1. Spiritual Leaders – Prayer is the fundamental driver for everything your organization thinks, says and does. As a result, you should identify the individuals or groups who can pray for your work. I recommend you develop personal relationships with them.
2. Specialists – These experts have the personal experience of overcoming obstacles and finding the necessary resources. Fundraising is not about finding money. It’s about connecting with the right people who can lead you in the right direction.
3. Connectors – Connectors have relationships with other individuals and groups that you’d like to get to meet and know (e.g. other people on your Dream List). Engaging with connectors requires a high level of care and attentiveness because you never know who knows who.
4. Volunteers – You are dependent on a core group of people who are willing to go the extra mile for you. They may not have the same funds or connections as other people, but what they do have are time and resources (e.g. venues, cars, material, facilities) which they can generously share with you.
5. Significant Donors – Money provides fuel for your Catholic organization, but only when it’s balanced with the other four categories that I’ve listed. When drawing up your list of significant donors, identify those you wish to develop a relationship with because they can provide substantial financial support to move you forward. You can include individuals, organizations, trusts or institutions.
6. Faithful Supporters – This category is different from the others because rather than listing names of individuals, you identify who your ideal fan is. If you look at your current donors, you will find common interests and characteristics. By determining your ‘ideal fan’, you can focus on how to find more faithful supporters.
Your Dream List should grow to contain the names of around 100 people: a manageable number which you can start with and increase if you want. Making this list may take some time, but, as you begin to identify these people, you can start building relationships with them.
You can also fundraise with more passion because (1) you aren’t only hunting for a particular type of donation, and (2) you know who you want as a donor. Yes, by being specific about your desired donors, you can be much more successful.
The goal, then, is not to ask these people immediately donate or become involved in your organization. The first step is to make sure each is a right fit. I recommend, as I always do that you build the relationship. It’s through learning who the person is that you will carry your Catholic organization forward together.
In conclusion, it’s very rare that God places a lump sum in front of us, but it’s common that He puts the right person in front of us. We just have to have faith, while also keeping our eyes and ears open.
When I started using a Dream List, I saw two outstanding results. Firstly, I was more aligned with my mission. Secondly, I was building the relationships that would move my mission forward in the long-term.
How you segment your 100 people is up to you. You may want to divide each category into 20 people at first, then adjust as you move along. The important thing is to get the names down on paper and start building relationships.
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Discussion Question: What is one way you demonstrate your value to people? Leave your comment below.