Jan 12, 2018

It’s All about Relationships: Fundraising to Support Diversity Work

If you’ve never sat across from someone and asked them to make a gift to support your Action Coalition, the idea can be daunting. What if they say no?

That fear of rejection can be powerful, but it loses some of its power when we consider one of the most fundamental rules of thumb in fundraising: The #1 reason people don’t give is because they haven’t been asked.

You should almost never sit down and ask someone for a gift right out of the gate. The best fundraising is built on meaningful relationships, where you’ve taken time to understand what matters to your potential donor, and where they’ve had time to get to know your Action Coalition and learn more about your work.

The key is to build that relationship with authenticity and patience—whether you’re talking to a board member at your school of nursing who you know well or a foundation program officer you’re meeting for the first time. What you’re looking for is a deeper understanding of their goals and interests so you can see how those align with your Action Coalition’s work and the Culture of Health Action Framework.

There’s another rule of thumb that successful fundraisers rely on: If you want advice, ask for money; if you want money, ask for advice. It sounds pithy, but it’s a powerful way to build connection and discover mutual interests with a potential supporter.

As you think about fundraising specifically to support your diversity work, that might mean asking an insurer for feedback on your vision of a more diverse nursing workforce that can help under-served patients better manage costly chronic conditions—a goal for the insurer as well. It could mean asking a leader at your local hospital for suggestions for nurse mentors from diverse backgrounds; this allows you to share the program’s vision to support a Culture of Health through strong mentorship while providing the hospital leader with leadership growth and community service opportunities for their nurses. In these examples, position diverse nurse leaders as key to improving health, well-being, and equity – a Culture of Health.

Creating dialogue around these mutual interests forms the bedrock of a philanthropic relationship. It will begin to prepare your potential supporter to make a donation and build your own confidence that when you do ask for that gift, they will respond positively. In a future post, we’ll further explore how to “make the case” for your diversity work once you’ve established that strong relationship.

Sarah Anderson is the Director of Strategic Priorities for Campbell & Company, a national fundraising consulting firm. She has worked with the Campaign for Action since 2014.