Donor acquisition: Why friendraising and speaking engagements don’t work, and what does instead

If you regularly read this blog, you know that I steadfastly maintain that the best fundraising books and magazines and blogs are those that ostensibly have nothing to do with fundraising.

In that vein, here’s my latest fundraising-book-that-has-nothing-to-do-with-fundraising-and-is-thus-an-excellent-fundraising-resource book recommendation:

I was just reading last night in the book Unanticipated Gains: Origins of Network Inequality in Everyday Life by Mario Luis Small the following three insights that have real bearing on how nonprofits interact with potential champions:

1. “…[R]epeated exchanges between people reduced their mutual uncertainty, while…repeated interaction between two parties heightened their mutual affection.”

2. “[T]he more frequently two people interact, the closer they become and the more they trust each other.”

At this point, it’s all fist bumping and high-fiving among the “friendraiser” crowd. After all, it turns out that just showing up and not getting kicked out greatly increases the odds of someone giving to your organization!

But Small’s third insight is the eye-poke:

3. “…[N]ot all activities produced new ties in equal measure. Sociologist Scott Feld has defended the significance of ‘focus’, which he defined as ‘any social, psychological, or physical entity around which joint activities of individuals are organized.'”

Sum it up and say:

  • The “support raising” approach, wherein a missionary descends into a church like a UFO, gives a presentation, calls for shares, and then disappears, leaving nary a crop circle, violates basic sociology.
  • So does friendraising, which makes friendship the focus of the development relationship. Turns out this really is less effective for motivating action and involvement.
  • Sociologically, the preferred alternative involves the development officer/champion coach/missionary repeatedly interacting with potential champions in actual acts of service that correspond to how the nonprofit/champion coach/missionary serves in the field. Such an approach is far more likely to generate significant relationships and commitments to join together in service and ministry through the nonprofit organization.

Darn it if that’s not biblical, too. Funny how that works.

About Pastor Foley

The Reverend Dr. Eric Foley is CEO and Co-Founder, with his wife Dr. Hyun Sook Foley, of Voice of the Martyrs Korea, supporting the work of persecuted Christians in North Korea and around the world and spreading their discipleship practices worldwide. He is also the International Ambassador for the International Christian Association, the global fellowship of Voice of the Martyrs sister ministries. Pastor Foley is a much sought after speaker, analyst, and project consultant on the North Korean underground church, North Korean defectors, and underground church discipleship. He and Dr. Foley oversee a far-flung staff across Asia that is working to help North Koreans and Christians everywhere grow to fullness in Christ. He earned the Doctor of Management at Case Western Reserve University's Weatherhead School of Management in Cleveland, Ohio.
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One Response to Donor acquisition: Why friendraising and speaking engagements don’t work, and what does instead

  1. Pingback: How NOT to do friend raising « Transformational Giving

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