Winning the Lottery

| by Shannon Williams

I have never actually played the lottery, but I have daydreamed a time or two about what I would do if I won it. Admit it, you’ve done that too!

Of course, I know it is just a dream (especially since I don’t actually play). Unfortunately, I have encountered a few organizations lately who are applying this daydream to their fundraising.

For some reason, these groups seem to think that phantom donors outside of their traditional donor bases will be the heroes that step forward to support their organizations in significant ways during a challenging time.

Don’t get me wrong, I definitely believe in expanding your donor base, but I also believe in being realistic.

New donors to your organization are rarely your largest donors. They simply don’t know you well enough to invest deeply. Deep investment takes time; it requires a meaningful relationship.

So, when an organization faces a challenge and needs unexpected support, it will naturally turn to its most loyal donors. Honestly, there is nowhere else to turn. Sure, there may be some outside support—most campaigns have surprises, but the majority of funds will come from the organization’s family of supporters. They are the ones who care the most; the ones who feel the impact of the challenge most directly; the ones who feel most compelled to help.

We all like to daydream about winning the lottery, but when it comes to fundraising, daydreaming won’t get you very far. If you have a challenge and you need to raise funds, start by bringing your supporters into the loop:

  1. Communicate the challenge clearly with all stakeholders
  2. Keep stakeholders apprised of the plan to address the challenge
  3. Invite stakeholders to give meaningful input into navigating the challenge
  4. When you have done all of these things, invite your informed and engaged stakeholders to invest financially in eliminating the challenge
  5. Celebrate with your stakeholders that the challenge has been overcome!

Intentionally working in partnership with your family of supporters will ultimately yield better results than hoping for phantom donors or daydreaming about the lottery! 

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