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    Finding Organic Connections: The Key to Fundraising Success

    Guest Blogger: Jonah Halper


    In the dating world, most long-term relationships aren’t born out of pure coincidence — the connections and relationships occur organically. What this means is that if you are looking for a real relationship, then you probably won’t have the best odds of finding one at a bar or nightclub. Why? Because those venues aren’t conducive to deep, meaningful or connected conversations.  Instead of relying on random connections or the luck of the draw, you are much more likely to find a better match if mutual friends make the love connection. You trust your friends, and if they recommend someone to enhance your life, you are much more inclined to take their word for it and go out with their suggested match. This works both ways. The person of interest is also more inclined to say “yes” to you as a blind date knowing you share mutual friends.
    In the philanthropy world, the same rules apply. It would seem that common sense would dictate that a fundraiser should hob nob at charity events, the golf course, or any place where monied people go to hang out. You may get lucky, but not in any consistent or reliable way. The reality is that you should turn your attention to your existing relationships to identify and engage new supporters. Just like dating, asking for an introduction or getting introduced by existing contacts, provides a layer of credibility you could never accomplish on your own, and gives you a foot in the door that wouldn’t likely happen if you simply met the prospect at an event or conference with no advance introduction. Your best resource for identifying quality prospects come from those you already know well. They may be family, colleagues, or existing donors. They know you, and what you stand for, and asking your connections to open up their contacts to you will always be the most sure-fire method for expanding your reach and connecting with prospective new donors. This is why the board of directors of your organization is critical to the fundraising process. A successful development officer leverages the connections and relationships of the volunteers, donors and board members.
    Because your existing relationships are the key to your fundraising success, remember these 3 things:
    1. Find a reason for the intro beyond their wallet. No one will introduce you to their friend just because they are wealthy. Does the prospect care about special needs? The environment? Does the prospect own a particular set of skills or experience that would provide value to the cause? Do the research before you ask for an introduction, as it will greatly increase the odds of getting the referral when your friend understands why the introduction is meaningful.
    2. Reinforce your pitch with the role the common friend plays within it. Remember, your connection came through a common friend. Make sure you use that to your advantage. Opening a special resource room in your school? Tell your prospect how your common friend has been involved in that exciting experience. 
    3. Don’t aim for a one night stand. Asking the prospect for money on the first date is the equivalent of asking for a quickie. You may get some instant gratification, but it will diminish the odds of you getting a long term relationship. Your ultimate goal should be to make the prospect your partner, and that requires your ability to listen and learn so you can provide them with a meaningful experience. An experience of value TO THEM.
    To learn more from Jonah Halper, join him on Monday, April 28th at 2:00pm est for his presentation on Date Your Donors: How to Attract and Engage a New Generation of Philanthropists. For more information go to

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