Why Nonprofit Friends are Better than Donors (At Least to Start)

I often hear nonprofit fundraising professionals, CEOs, and board members say, “We need more donors.” Perhaps that’s true for you as well? I suggest that rather than looking for donors, you focus first on making new friends for your organization. These friends may become donors in the future but think about establishing a friendship to start!

According to Dictionary.com, ‘friend’ means 1) a person attached to another by feelings of affection or personal regard and 2) a person who gives assistance. 

Photo credit: Sarah Skeen

Photo credit: Sarah Skeen

Consider the value of your own friends. They hang out with you, they listen to you talk about your interests, they care about you and they want to help you when times get tough. Friends of your organization will be “attached by feelings of affection” and will want to help when times get tough.

Focus on attracting friends, not pursuing donors. Doesn’t that sound more pleasant, easy, and genuine? This is a significant distinction for board members who often feel intimated when tasked with “find more donors and raise more money.” You and your board will simply invite folks to learn more about your organization’s work and mission. No pressure, no hard sell – just friendship!

Your organization’s new friends may become donors. People start out being friends of your organization, and then, down the road, as you get to know them and they learn more about your organization, they may become donors. The foundation of friendship is a great place to start cultivating a deeper relationship

Not all friends will become donors and that’s okay. Fundraising is about connecting people to the causes they care about. Not everyone will care deeply about your organization’s mission—but you already know that. The magic happens when you make a true connection and one of your new friends decides to support the work of your organization. Hurrah!

What are your thoughts on friends vs. donors? Let us know in the Comments box below.

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