Putting the fun in fundraising

Paraphrasing a couple of recent conversations with fundraisers:

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“A major function of what a high-end fundraising software program does is track the productivity of the fundraising workers. How many calls, how many visits, how many follow-ups. In many situations, like an alumni development office, the pressure is such that the developers can’t go on vacation without being told to make a few calls on the way. ‘Going to Florida for a week? Be sure to visit prospect X in Miami while you’re there.'”

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“We’re scrambling. It is ten times harder than it was a couple of years ago. There are more people in the fundraising game, and they are getting better at it, so the competition for grants is much greater. With federal cut-backs whole programs are closing up shop.

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“There is an amazing amount of public-domain information out there about prospective donors. The other day, I was actually given a diskette from a town clerk that contained all the property records and valuations of everyone in the town. Before, I could get this data by looking at printed real-estate records. Now it is either available directly on the Internet, or the towns are required by law to distribute this information electronically.”

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“The trick of course, is to use such information with sensitivity. You don’t want to call a prospective donor and say…’Hello Mr/Ms. Jones, I see by the latest property assessment that you are living in a home valued at $450,789. By our calculations, you could afford a donation this year of $12,250 to our program….what do you think?'”

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