By Guest Blogger Carmen Knowles

How do your funding relationships look at this point? Do you only interact with a foundation when youare submitting a proposal, at the required reporting period(s), or when you are thanking them for theirdonation at the end of a granting period? Do you interact with individuals only when you feel they havethe greatest potential to give to your organization?

Fundraising is about forming relationships, the perception you and the organization have in thecommunity, and the ability to effectively engage funders with the organization. So I challenge you andyour organization to begin to strategically change these types of interactions!

Even though fundraising is on a playing field that it has never been on before and the economy isaffecting giving in diverse ways.

Be encouraged! There is still money available!

You can still maintain organizational sustainability through learning to effectively engage your donors.What is and how do you engage someone in your organization?

Glad you asked! Engagement is any interaction a donor has with the organization. These areopportunities for them learn more about the organization and it’s impact. Below are some ideas I’vegleaned from informational interviews, working within the field, and research:

  • Be targeted. Have a purpose for reaching out. Be relevant with your informational updates andinvitations to your various donors.
  • Make it personal and impactful. This can be done through testimonials and stories from thebenefactors of the organization.
  • Keep it short and succinct. People are busy and probably aren’t going to read an eight pageletter from Sally who has benefited from the services of the organization.
  • Refuse to “suck-up” and play politics for funding. You have to realize that your organizationis doing a service for the greater good of the community and is WORTHY of funding. No funderis worth the dignity of the organization or yourself. If that’s the way they want to do things, letthem and keep it pushing! You organization may feel the sting of not having that funding sourceat the beginning but in the long-haul it will turn out to be beneficial.
  • Funders want open lines of communication with recipients. They want to get to know theorganization, the programs, and be able to see first-hand the impact their funding is havingon the benefactors of your organization. So let them in! You never know what other fundingsources they are aware of or whether they are able to get your foot in door with a foundationthat does not take unsolicited inquiries. However, DO NOT make this your primary focus. Or youcould have an individual who has given in the past and now they have first hand knowledge ofthe impact of the organization because they are using your services. This is the type of personwho will be an amazing spokesperson for the organization if they are continually engaged withthe organization!

Guest  Blogger Carmen Knowles is a nonprofit professional who has experience in program management and training in fundraising.  She is transitioning to more fundraising related roles while continuing to learn about the nonprofit sector. She can be found on Linkedin and on Twitter.