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What Fundraising and One-night
Stands Have in Common

by Sherri Garrity

Dear Non-Profit Organization,

I haven't heard from you in awhile and I admit, it hurts.

I find it hard to believe you aren't answering my letters or returning my calls. I thought we got along so well and we seemed to have so much in common.

I really hoped our relationship was going to be long term. I don't know how to put this delicately, but it seems like once you got what you wanted, you weren't interested anymore.

I know you're busy but I've detected a pattern. I only hear from you when you want more. I feel used.


Your Corporate Donor


The best way to raise money for your organization is to keep your existing donors connected and happy with the experience. Like a milestone first date, the relationship is tentative and vulnerable.

Remember, donors are looking for a mutually beneficial and rewarding relationship. Unfortunately some nonprofit organizations are guilt of relationship faux pas. Here are some examples.

Top Ten Turn Offs

  1. No thank you letter sent - the ultimate sin!

  2. If a thank you letter is sent, it contains spelling mistakes and appears to be a form letter with no impact statement or relationship to the specific gift.

  3. No follow up report or evaluation is provided despite this being a condition of funding. Give the organization enough detail to confidently portray your initiative. How was the money used? What was the impact? Were the milestone dates met? This will help the donor organization easily and accurately promote your project through its corporate public relations activities.

  4. Disregard for approval policy and corporate identity standards.

  5. Lack of notice given when requesting approvals on news releases, logo use, etc. Respect that a corporation receives hundreds of requests, and at any given time is working on existing projects, as well as reviewing new proposals.

  6. Worse than lack of notice, is not asking for approval before announcing the donation or sponsorship. Corporate funders request to review news releases and announcements in advance, not only to make sure they’re correct and consistent, but to make sure they have the opportunity to maximize communications. The organization may wish to post on its website, and may have reasons why the date might not be optimal.

  7. Providing too much, irrelevant information. This makes it difficult for a corporate funder to easily communicate the partnership in various vehicles, such as its website, speeches or annual reports. If a funder has to spend valuable time sifting through, it is simply easier to profile a different nonprofit organization instead.

  8. Sending photos with no index, identification or captions.

  9. Lack of coordination within your organization. If you are providing more than one point of contact for your project, ensure all of your team is on the same page.

  10. No followup. If you have worked together on a news release or event, ensure to send copies of coverage along with feedback. This is golden for corporate communications and public relations departments.

Relationship Rescue

If you see yourself in any of these scenarios, it's not too late. You can still have a chance at a long and mutually rewarding relationship. At the very least, you can still be friends!

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About the Author:

Sherri Garrity is a consultant and coach who specializes in helping organizations achieve greater results through better communications from the inside out. She is the president of Make It Count Communications and author of the Ready, Aim, Inspire! blog for nonprofit organizations.

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