Fundraising for Nonprofits by Dr. Kat Ngaruiya

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Nurturing relationships in our social media enamored world is critical to the bottom-line of any social good enterprise

At its core, fundraising is “the seeking of financial support for a charity, cause, or other enterprise.”

Simple, right?

Well, not so fast. The seeking of support is a vast wilderness that new and even seasoned nonprofit leaders can get lost in. Between grant proposals, capital campaigns, donor calls, GoFundMe requests, Facebook Fundraisers and personal asks, the world of fundraising can get more than a little complex.

Luckily, one simple action permeates all types of fundraising— relationship development. Let me reiterate. Relationships. Are. Key.

Have you ever wondered why it seems easier to scroll past the nonprofit request for support in a developing country after an earthquake, but it is that much harder to turn your back on a friend who asks for support after the passing of a loved one?

While both scenarios inevitably pull on our heartstrings, they do not have the same tug on our purse strings. Why? Because the relationship with a friend that has been nurtured over time, tears and maybe even a few terse conversations, means something to us.

We feel something when we don’t give to a friend; like we’re letting someone down or shirking some responsibility as a social support. Whereas there is no significant loss associated with not giving to an organization in another part of the world, no matter how worthy the cause.

To be clear, giving is about feeling, rooted in relationship.

Nonprofits have to connect with people, and make them feel something— angry, sad, happy, or even inspired. For smaller nonprofits, constraints on operational capacity will likely demand more stringency with how you spend your time and social capital to build deep relationships. But even small nonprofits are not absolved from the critical work of relationship development.

So, for today, I dare you to cancel that fundraising strategy meeting, or put off streamlining your donor database. Instead, take time to reflect on where your relationships with supporters stand, pick up the phone, and start dialing.

Dr. Katherine “Kat” Ngaruiya has enjoyed a vibrant 15-year career championing multisector programs, projects and initiatives. She is passionate about expanding opportunity and improving outcomes for vulnerable populations in the healthcare and education fields. She is the owner of a Triangle-based consulting firm, Kakati Consulting Group that specializes in program development, fundraising and evaluation services for nonprofits and educational institutions.

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