Ever since the Fundraising Effectiveness Project results came out showing that major gift revenue was down for the first time in over a decade, we’ve been getting inquires and I’ve been hearing commentary from non-profit leaders about what to do.

And, of course, as you read in my recent blog posts about it, the solution is that you need to have the proper structure and management for mid-level and major gifts so that you can build authentic relationships with your donors.

But that doesn’t seem good enough for some reason. Many non-profit leaders and managers want a quick fix like a shiny new strategy, or a fancy technology that can turn revenue around immediately. We want the money now and we want it to be easy.

Unfortunately, the reality is, fundraising is not easy. It takes hard work. Building relationships with donors takes time.

It’s putting in the hard work, the daily slog of little by little connecting with donors, reporting on impact, building the relationship, thanking properly, getting to know donor’s passions and interests… day by day by day.

There are no loopholes, no shortcuts.

Before we start working with a new client at Veritus, we make sure leaders realize that it’s going to take at least 12-18 months before seeing solid results. And to see the full impact of this new structure, closer to 24 months. Now, sometimes we see impact much sooner, but setting the expectation at two years is necessary so that leaders understand the patience it requires.

Often, leaders and managers don’t want to hear this. Fine. Then we cannot work with them.

It’s essential that the culture of your non-profit is focused on building relationships with donors. The revenue will be a RESULT of how well you built those relationships.

Once you’ve created the right structure focused on relationship building, and the right culture to support that structure, you will fully see those results within 24 months. The beauty is, after that, you will continue to grow each year as new donors move into this effective and efficient structure that has now been created.

It’s very much like building a planned giving program. Unwise non-profit leaders fail to create and build a planned giving program because they won’t see the benefit for 10-15 years. So, they never start one. But to ever realize planned giving revenue, you must start sometime, right? Then, that revenue will flow in year after year. Mid-level and major gifts work the same way, but you’ll realize the revenue after 24 months.

Do you have the necessary elements in place to succeed in relational fundraising?

I’ll ask you the same questions I ask our prospective clients:

  1. Do you have a culture at your non-profit that values building relationships over “getting the money”?
  2. Do you have the patience to allow your fundraisers to build those relationships, knowing how long it takes?
  3. Will you support your team with the necessary resources and the proper KPIs to help them flourish?
  4. Do you believe money is the result of building authentic relationships?

If you can answer yes to all four of these questions, your organization and your fundraisers will be wildly successful.