What holds fundraising back on larger, unrestricted gifts?

Caitlyn wants to know what is holding back some nonprofits back from asking their donors for more significant and unrestricted gifts. While Caitlyn knows these types of exchanges aren’t sexy and may not seem all that appealing to some of our donors, they arguably provide an organization with the most flexibility in advancing their mission. But suppose our understanding of how we arrive at such opportunities is flawed? Caitlyn has learned that investing in relationships that lead to more in-depth conversations is the path to discovering where these opportunities can be found.  Unfortunately, some leaders won’t encourage their fundraisers to venture down the exploratory path and, therefore, never connect the dots between the tight restrictions applied to a gift and their lack of investment in relationships.

Our conversation today raises the question of whether leaders understand what it takes to raise the expectation of more flexibly and generous gifts. With these aspirations in mind, we are talking about an exchange that is rooted in the relationship (an exchange of gifts) rather than the proposal itself (an exchange of commodities). Instead of asking how many strings a donor can attach to a proposal to ensure their confidence in what they’re “buying,” we should be focused on how much trust, rapport, and familiarity we’ve mutually invested in the relationship before we exchange gifts. Experience has taught many of us that an overly anxious board or boss is far more inclined to build restrictions into a proposal than the donor who is far more gracious and generous once the relationship has matured.

As always, we are especially grateful to our friends at CueBack for sponsoring The Fundraising Talent Podcast. And if you’d like to download Responsive’s latest edition of Carefully & Critically, just click here.

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