News & Insight
16th October 2018
Fundraiser motivation: how to keep the spark alive for you and your team
It can be difficult to ask people to donate to a cause you are not passionate about. Harder still if you do not have a true sense of how this money changes lives. An emotional connection to the people your charity impacts is essential if you are going to unlock your potential and that of the whole fundraising team.
When work gets busy and deadlines are looming, finding the time to visit your projects and get to know the people involved, can very easily fall off the end of your to do list. Here’s a very good reason to take that time and schedule it in: not only will it help increase your own satisfaction and sense of meaning in your job – it’s also likely to improve your results too.
There’s lots of fundraising research out there, but not all of it useful or practical for those who actually fundraise. We’ve done some digging and here’s one that is:
A study from the University of Michigan looking at the effect of ‘beneficiary interaction’ on fundraiser motivation found that fundraisers who briefly interacted with a beneficiary, as opposed to reading a letter only or having no exposure at all, displayed significantly greater persistence and job performance.
Telethon fundraisers showed 142% more phone time and raised 171% more money, than before the interaction. The impact of this emotional connection is relevant across fundraising teams, from major gift and trust and foundation fundraisers to board members.
However it is not always possible to directly interact with the people using your services, so here are some other ways to foster this emotional connection:
How you can make this happen
- Get to know your programme teams properly. It doesn’t need to be for the ‘feel good factor’. Join a programme team meeting (by Skype if need be) once a month, so you can listen in on the real ‘ins and out’ of getting things done – what do they struggle with, what works and what doesn’t? Bring the day to day work of your charity to life.
- Why not start a conversation with donors on social media and ask them what connects them to your cause? This can be easily incorporated into your social media strategy, simply select the best day and an appropriate # and get posting! #whydoyougive #MondayMotivation. This may already play a role in your existing marketing and engagement strategy and getting this feedback from donors can uncover remarkable stories to inspire your fundraisers and other potential supporters.
- Invite a few people who have benefitted from your charity’s work to consult with your team over Skype and find out directly how your fundraising efforts are delivering change. Keeping up to date with the most pressing issues in the area you work is the best way to communicate the urgency of your fundraising ask to supporters.
If nothing else, see if you can get a few internal communications circulating to keep energy up in your fundraising team. Most of us become fundraisers because we are passionate about the cause after all! As consultants and advisers we have the privilege of working with a range of compelling causes – and we align our consultants with causes that they feel strongly about.
Nothing beats meeting with people first hand. If that is something you can make happen within your organisation the benefits can be far reaching. The most successful fundraising goes beyond annual financial targets – it aims to bring people together in a common cause and inspire them to give whatever they can to reach your shared goals. It is amazing how quickly we can forget that amid the piles of proposals and reports. So start planning your next site visit today and reignite your passion for what you do!
Of course, please remember to read your safeguarding policies and speak to the programme manager before planning beneficiary engagement.
Read up on the study from the archives here