2 min Read
June 10, 2016

Fundraising with values

Vu Lee, the powerhouse behind the fabulous “Nonprofits With Balls” blog, recently wrote an excellent piece titled, “Why Values are So Awesome And Sexy”. I’m totally down with Vu on this one.

Values are awesome and sexy because they create a decision-making framework that will help you create something new, fix something broken, or solve many sticky problems. Big Duck’s values are on our website, posted throughout our office, and regularly referred to in all sorts of ways. They’re also a core component of our brandraising work with clients.

Seasoned major gifts officers know that building a relationship with a prospect or donor is essential. But, in my experience, they don’t always see how their organization’s core values can help them do their job better, too.

Here are three reasons fundraisers benefit when they discuss values with major donors.

1. When you’re looking to create a connection that extends beyond individuals. Donors form real attachments to executive directors, senior development staff, or other specific people. That’s great at first, but over time, that attachment must grow beyond an individual and become about the organization itself.

Asking questions like, “Which of our core values resonates most deeply for you?” and, “Are there any values here that you feel less connected to?” can begin to surface deeper emotional connections that extend beyond any individual. If they’re asked by someone other than the person who is the primary focus on the relationship, they can also help the donor connect more deeply with other individuals on your team.

2. When you’re looking to create a connection to the organization, not just the program. Similarly, values can help you start a discussion about the  organization’s work overall, and see why they may care about other initiatives, too. Let’s say I’m particularly inspired to support your children’s initiatives. Understanding how your programs for adults are actually guided by the same values might help me identify and connect myself with those programs, too.

3. To inspire larger and/or unrestricted giving over time. Making an unrestricted gift is one way a donor shows your organization that they support your approach and want to see you succeed organizationally. Donors who share you values are more likely to trust that you’ll spend their money wisely because they can identify on a more emotional level with your work.

Of course, your values can’t be lip-service. Share them with your donors when they are truly alive and thriving in your organization. If they aren’t, consider integrating a module about values into your next strategic planning session, or give us a shout, and we can help.