Fundraising can be easy or it can be hard. I know because I’ve done them both ways.

When it’s easy, it’s fun and effortless. When it’s hard, I dread it and find ways to procrastinate. (I bet you understand that!)

Successful, easy fundraising is built on two things that are so important, you should be working on them every day.  The two cornerstones of fundraising are trust and attention.                               Easy Vs Hard Way Road Sign

Everything you do in fundraising should build trust with your donors and prospects. People need to feel they can trust you before they’ll make a gift. After all, they want to know you’ll do the right thing with their money.

Once they make a donation, they need to feel good about that decision. Trust plays a HUGE part in creating that experience.

In addition to building trust, you must pay attention to your donors and prospects. Too many nonprofits work from their ego.  Their communications are inwardly focused and boring. They talk about what they’re doing: “We served 500 people last month. We offer 4 programs. We’re the only certified center in the Midwest” And on it goes, blah, blah, blah.

Even though lots of people think they can multitask, they can really only pay attention to one thing at a time. That means we all have dozens if not hundreds of things begging for our attention and we can only choose one at a time.


[tweetthis url=]In our world of overscheduling and time deprivation, you’re competing for a donor’s attention, not their dollars.[/tweetthis]


Seth Godin wrote

“The two scarce elements of our economy are trust and attention. Trust is scarce because it’s not a simple instinct and it’s incredibly fragile, disappearing often in the face of greed, shortcuts or ignorance. And attention is scarce because it doesn’t scale. We can’t do more than one thing at a time, and the number of organizations and ideas that are competing for our attention grows daily.”

What can you do to get your donors’ and prospects’ attention? When you get it, will you have something worth their time?  And once they decide to make a donation, what can you do to build trust with your donors? How can you make sure that you help them feel really good about their decision to give to you? It’s worth the time to think about and plan for.

Answering these questions will take time and will be very worth it. Once you’re clear on how you’ll reward your donors for their time and attention, you’ll be positioned to become their favorite nonprofit. And that will bring a deluge of rewards all by itself.

  1. This is so true Sandy. In a post I just published yesterday, I share that the word “fundraising” is unfortunate because it places too much emphasis on the ask for money. You’ve hitting the nail on the head with trust and attention.

    For what it’s worth, my post addresses the procrastination issue you reference here and how to overcome it:

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