Two Sides of a Coin: Salespeople and Fundraisers


When it comes to fundraisers, we try to differentiate ourselves from the cliché salespeople that we all know and loathe. However, as much as we can dichotomize the two professions, we have to understand that there are some strong similarities within both fields that we simply cannot overlook.

In an interesting Harvard Business Review piece titled, What Makes Great Salespeople, I could not help but correlate the two professions. Whether it is from the operational side or from the internal visions, salespeople and fundraises work are simply two sides of the same coin. While the end goal for each job may be different, the mentality and work ethics involve is incredibly similar for both positions.

Let’s start with customer engagement. As a salesperson, their job is simply not just to sell their product to their customer, but also to engage with their customers on various factors. This includes educating the customer on their products and services, talking with the customer, interacting with the customer’s account, and last but not least evaluating and researching the customer’s campaign. Similar to salespeople, we as fundraisers look to provide strong customer engagement in both educating them about the service and what their funding can do for our particular cause. In addition, fundraisers look to engage with our customers both short-term and long-term so that we can establish a stronger relationship for future philanthropic campaigns.

Outside of customer engagement, another trait both salespeople and fundraisers share is large internal network. For salespeople, they look into three different categories. The first is a more general aspect, which includes the overall number of relationships within the company and the time and effort spent interacting with their colleagues and their network. Their second refers to their support resources. This includes the set of metrics that focuses on relationship building within the support staff and sales specialist. Last but not least of course deals with management, where a set of metric concentrates on relationships built between the heads of the division and the salespeople on the floor. Similar to fundraising organizations, fundraisers look to have this general, supportive, and managerial relationship built to allot for successful donor campaigns. This allows fundraisers and the overall company to streamline various content so that their donors can better understand the process and the service that the organization is providing for their causes.

Last but not least, both salespeople and fundraisers require a strong amount of energy and passion in both their communication with their customers and donors. When asking for money, whether it is for a product, a service, or a charity, the public on the other end want to talk to someone who is incredibly enthusiastic about the vision and goals of their business. This allows for stronger customer services, well-developed visions, and long lasting customers

From these three principles’ alone, we can clearly see the similarities and resemblance that both professions share in order to be successful. While there are many more traits that we can compare, we can thoroughly understand that in order to be a strong fundraiser, you need to be a strong salesperson. Only then will you be able to see the success necessary for your cause to grow.

Fundraising 101: How to Write a Fundraising Email


Raising money online can be an incredible deal breaker for your fundraising campaign. Most charities use their websites, emails, or some social networking properties to both ‘reach out to’ and ‘stay in touch’ with their donors. But one of the biggest overarching problems with these campaigns is that they are not raising any significant revenue that they would like to with these online platforms. To go even further, many organizations feel that they are investing a large amount of time, money, and effort for only a small financial return.

To prevent this from happening, I have listed FIVE huge tips to help aid your online fundraising efforts through email. While it many not be easy, it will give you the opportunity to optimize your chances in developing that impact that you would like to have as if you were talking to them face to face.


1. Create an Impactful Story

In your email, the first thing you need to address is your story. Whether it is through a short five-minute video, a small slideshow presentation, or a quick and detailed paragraph, your story will be the cornerstone and foundation for launching an efficient and effective fundraiser email. In your story, you want to make sure you are highlighting the problems and your potential solution. Remember, the most impactful stories are those that pull at the heartstrings of their readers/viewers. Try sympathizing your story enough to get them to listen. Once you have them listening, you will be that much closer in reaching your fundraising goal.

2. Talk About Them

Once you have discussed the overarching story, start making the email about them. Use the second-person narrative of ‘you’ such as ‘you can’ or ‘you will make,’ as the sayings of your email. This will allow them to understand how much of an impact they can have with just a simple donation. For this to be effective, continue to pull on the heartstrings about how transformative of a change they can have by donating to your cause.

3. Talk about the Logistics

When it comes down to it, many people appreciate a quick and easy service. This should be duly noted in your email. Here, be sure to iron out the overall logistics. Whether it is the amount you are looking for or how they can donate, all of this information should be noted for people to follow. If there is at any point in the email where you think people can get lost in the detail, continue to simplify it. Remember, you do not want to make it hard on them. Do whatever it takes to make it a pleasant experience as possible.

4. Discuss What the Money will be used for

When it comes down to it, you want to note what a donor’s donation will be used for. Whether it is for production or for research, make sure you note that! Many people want to know that their money is going to something impactful and life changing. By discussing what each donation will do, you will be able to reassure them that their decision to donate is the right one.

5. Ask Throughout the Email

As a marketing aspect, you want to make sure you the concept of ‘donating’ is in their minds. To do this effectively, make sure you ask three times in your fundraising email. Do not do this by just repeating the same phrase over and over again. Instead, give them options such as visiting your site to donate or learn more about donating. In addition, spread it out throughout the email where the person can see ‘donate’ at least once in the beginning of the email, middle of the email, and end of the email.

Three Main Goals You Should Know for your Fundraiser

o-GOAL-SETTING-facebook The world of fundraising and charities has long been shrouded in obscurity. While many of these foundations will boast of their transparency, it can oftentimes be too difficult to see whom the funds are for, where they are going, and what impact that they can have on the actual cause. We saw this back in 2010 with Mark Zuckerberg’s generous $100 million dollar donation to Newark Public Schools. I’m not saying we should stop donating. Instead I am saying that fundraisers, nonprofits, and charities need to be more visible and informative for the why, where, and what questions people will ask when donating for a cause.

At the end of the day, donors like to be reassured that their generous donation is making an impact on an individual’s life. That being said, below, I have laid out three main goals an organization should know for the betterment of its future. By internalizing these goals, you will be able to communicate and translate those numbers to understandable concepts for donors. Remember, the more informed they are, the more comfortable they will be to donate to your cause.

Know the Total Amount of Money Raised and Why

This is usually straight forward, but at the end of the day, you want to translate those numbers to something more understandable and comprehensive for the public. To do this, think backwards. By backwards planning, knowing your goal amount and creating steps to get there, you will be able to not just strategically plan for your goal, but also explain why you need that specific amount to various donors. At times, you will be looking for more lucrative donations. For this to happen, you need to be able to discuss why you need that amount and what that amount can do for your organization. We see this in shows like Shark Tank or on social media with GoFundMe promos. Make sure you know the desired amount and what it will be used for in the future. The more detailed you are the better.

Know the Number of Donors and Renewed Donors

The success of your fundraiser depends on just on the financial aspect, but also on the donor side. Make sure you know the number of donors who donated. You can do this monthly, quarterly, or yearly. Either way, you will be able to tract the overall system and progress your fundraising is doing and translate that back to the customer. The higher the donors, the better your charity looks to the public.

Know the Number of Renewed Donors

In addition to knowing the number of donors, make sure you are also aware of the donor retention rate. If you find that your retention rate is high, then that is definitely a fact you can capitalize in closing a deal for potential donors. One thing to note, renewed donors often increase to the cause. Many people find that type of commitment important before making donations on their own. Know this information and utilize it to its fullest.

The FIVE Failures of How to Lose a Donor


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Have you ever wondered why people donate to a particular cause or organization? What about why they continue to donate each and every year? Usually, those moments to donate are often unplanned and unscheduled within your life. Regardless of the cause, when a person donates, the gift itself is meant to be bigger than the purchase. So what compels people to donate, especially those who donate year after year?

The answer is simple. People give because they want to be bigger than themselves. They see these donations not just as a way to give back, but also a way to impact another life. As a fundraiser, it is your responsibility to provide that donor with excellent customer satisfaction, especially one that they will remember. By providing this great experience, you will be able to reaffirm their decision to continue their generous relationship with your organization within the future.

However, many charities and nonprofit organizations seem to lose out on the opportunity to retain previous donors. This can be extremely problematic if the trend continues. Think of this as a leaking bucket full of water. No matter how much you put in, there will always be an X amount going out. To grow, you need to treat your organization like a business. I am not saying that you have to run the industry like a Wall Street banking firm. Instead, you need to treat each donor with high quality customer interaction. Below, I have shared FIVE of the biggest mistakes an organization can make with their donors. Make sure you do not fall within these pits. Any of these mistakes can be a huge red flag for your organization and loss opportunities.

1. Failure to Communicate

One of the biggest mistakes an organization can do is not reaching out to their donors. Failure to communicate to these individuals can capitalize your relationship with them in the future. Keep your organization in the front of their minds by updating your sites, sending emails, and reaching out to them in any other appropriate manner, you will be able to stay in constant contact about how their donations are truly transforming the cause for the better. In addition, try and be personal in the emails. Yes, this can be meticulous, especially if you are dealing with a large number. But the more personal you are, the strong your relationship can be in the future.

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2. Failure to Thank Them Well

There is nothing worse than donating to a nonprofit or charity and never being thanked. Many people donate to these causes because they either value your beliefs or bought into your vision. Because of this, it is vital that you reach out to every individual and provide him or her a strong thank you letter. Make sure you are personal. The one big mistake big charities and nonprofit organizations make is that they usually send out a very generic thank you email. When writing your email, go a little bit in-depth of their reason and what you will be expecting to see from their donation.

3. Failure with Efficiency

In any organization, the logistics and efficiency need to be on point. Every meticulous detail from the way your employees talk to a customer to the way the donor’s donations are handled will be vital in attaining and completing the transactions. Oftentimes, people will donate because it can be a simple and easy process. Make sure this is exactly that. Any barriers or hoops a donor will have to jump through will usually end with them being frustrated or worse, them canceling their donation. As a manager or business leader in your nonprofit organization, take a look of the day-to-day procedures of how people handle calls and donations. If you can find an easier way for the transaction, try implementing it within your system.

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4. Failure to Pay Attention

In order to keep that retention high, make sure you get to know your donors on a personal level. Know the live events that are happening and plan accordingly. In addition, be either sensitive or aggressive with that campaign. Depending on who they are, he or she may be an individual who likes to get monthly updates. If you do find these overly enthusiastic donors, make sure you are reaching out to know. Get to know their reasons, beliefs, and stories of why they are so passionate and try and find events or opportunities in which they can spend their time being involved. By doing this, you will be able to build a strong and sustainable relationship that can last for years to come.

5. Failure to Reach Out Again

Oftentimes, when asked, donors need to consult with their families or their financial planners before making a decision to continue. Make sure you reach back out to the donor if you have not heard back from them within a week timeframe. It is your duty to follow up and engage with them about continuing their impact. If they do seem hesitant, remind them why they gave in the first place or switch them to a lower tier package. At the end of the day, it is not about the amount, but about the relationship you can continue with your donor.

The Four ‘Knows’ Before Fundraising


There is no perfect formula for fundraising. But like any business, it is absolutely vital that you and your colleagues are well prepped in the logistical information in order for you to reach your big goal. For many people that goal can be a couple hundred dollars. For others that goal is a couple million, maybe even billion, dollars. Regardless of the goal, the determination to succeed all comes down to the prep work.

Below, you will find four things a person must know before they start fundraising. While you make tackle this in your own way, following these lessons can give you that leg up you need in raising money for your organization.

Know the Product

There are many passionate and personable presenters out there. But regardless of who they are, if you do not know your product, you will not get that support or for this situation, that donation. In other words, it helps to know and communicate your product or mission in a clear concise manner. Many people call this the elevator pitch. To an extent, this is just the introduction. When you talk about your product (or your organization), it is imperative that you know the founders, the background history, how the company or product came to be, why it came to be, and of course future goals. Having this as an introduction to your pitch shows that you are not only informative about your organization, but also passionate about its mission. In addition, the best way to grab someone’s attention is to answer all of his or her unanswered questions. Make sure you are to deliver that level of knowledge before you ask for their donation.

Know Your Market

When setting up various venues, meet-and-greets, or phone conversations, it is important to have an understanding of the overall market. Similar to knowing your own product, make sure you know and understand the people you are talking to. Knowing your market, or audience, has a strong advantage in how you approach each pitch and each donation. This fundamental practice gives you enough insight in how to integrate your cause for your organization. It also gives you a complete understanding on the donation you are looking to receive. For fundraising, we often find two types of investors. The first are the ‘impact investors,’ individuals who are invested in the organization’s or venture’s mission and business model. These investors measure the success of their investment and look to see the overall organization as a whole thrive. The second type of investor is what we call a ‘financial investor,’ an individual looking to partner with your business or organization to increase his or her own ROI. This type of investor is usually found with entrepreneurs or businesses rather than nonprofit organizations.

3. Know Your Numbers

This is probably the breaking point in landing a big investor or donor. Having a strong knowledge of the overall numbers for your organization can strongly affect and persuade a person in giving you money. This applies to both for-profit and non-profit organizations. Just like knowing your product, you need to really understand the numbers of the organization, the industry, the market, the customers, the products, and the overall operations. Taking that into play, knowing how to handle donors money and where it can be optimized and leveraged to its fullest can ease every investor in why they need to donate. This type of easy-yet-knowledgeable communication is something people want to hear and what to see. At the end of the day, these donors want to know that they are having an impact. So show them through the numbers.

4. Know Your Pitch

Mark Twain once said that, “twenty years from now, you’ll be more disappointed by the things you didn’t do than the ones you did do.” Whether you realize it or not, the minute you speak about your organization, you become the face of your product and your cause. Spend time crafting your emails and changing your overall online presence. In addition, make sure you practice your pitch. At times this can be tedious, and frankly time consuming, but at the end of the day the amount of work is worth it. You want to be able to get to a point in which you can adapt and leverage your speech in specific ways for your audience. The key here is to not simply memorize your speech, but to internalize it in a more optimal way.