Your Best Fundraisers Don’t Work for You

How To | April 20, 2015

Everyone wants something in the world to change. And everyone has something to give. If these two statements are true, or even partially true, the marketplace for charity is even bigger than our donor databases suggest. So why don’t more people engage with charities?

Because most charities make it too hard for people to help them.

To begin with, many people don’t know how to get involved, or even where to start. Why?

  1. Because people can’t easily discover charities that match their interests
  2. And when they do find charities, it’s not intuitive or easy for them to help.

The first problem is the big one. Existing donors and passionate advocates of your cause can be a big part of helping you solve this problem, but your organization must also have two things in place:

  1. A mindset and strategy that embraces external fundraisers
  2. Easily accessible and open tools that enable your external champions to raise money for you.

If, from your website, it isn’t super easy and obvious that people can give to, fundraise for or share your charity with their networks, you’ll need a good reason why not. Tools that help charities manage and amplify their fundraising efforts are plentiful and inexpensive, so access to the tools you need is not an issue.

Here’s why you need a mindset and strategy to embrace fundraisers who don’t work for you.

Why Fundraisers Who Don’t Work for You Are a Great Asset

People will fundraise for your cause for the same reasons they donate money to you: because someone asked them to. And because they care. Your external champions have three things going for them that professionals don’t have.

1. Scale

Traditional fundraisers grow their prospect lists in all sorts of ways, including networking, distributing marketing collateral, grant writing and giving presentations. It may be necessary work, but it is slow, laborious and expensive, and it can only progress as quickly as their limited time and resources allow.

Fundraisers who don’t work for you have their own lists of family, friends and co-workers —  people with whom they’ve already got strong connections. By empowering them to fundraise on your behalf, you give yourself the opportunity to meet some of these connections without having to do all the traditional legwork.

2. Genuine Relationships

Getting access to new people is great, but only if they give you some of their time and attention. And we tend to give our time more readily to people we already know.

So when the ask comes from fundraisers who don’t work for you, instead of from you, the chances their contacts will pay attention is much higher. Leveraging the genuine relationships of fundraisers who don’t work for you gets you in the door with more people more easily.

3. Low Cost

You could never afford to hire dozens or hundreds of fundraisers to work for you. And the beauty of leveraging external fundraisers is that you don’t have to. By empowering people to fundraise for you, you enable them to amplify your results in ways you simply can’t do on your own. Multiply each champion by dozens (or even hundreds) of connections and that’s a powerful and cost effective way to spread your message and ask.

The Way Forward for Professional Fundraisers

Although social fundraising is proving more effective, less expensive and more scalable than traditional in-house fundraising, that doesn’t mean it’s time to dump professional fundraisers. What it does mean, however, is that it’s time to update their job description.

With social fundraising facilitating access and scale, professional fundraisers can be more strategic with their time and shift their role to include:

  • Customer Success: Empowering fundraising champions to be informed about the cause and the campaign, and providing them with content and basic strategies that have worked well for your charity in the past.
  • Thanking and Encouragement: Fundraisers who don’t work for you need to be thanked and encouraged, just like your other donors. Treat external fundraisers like donors.
  • Data and Talent Management: Understanding who your fundraisers are and why people fundraise for you is as important as understanding your donors. Fundraisers love donor data, but these lists should not be restricted to donors. You’ll be smart to keep tabs on your best social fundraisers as well.

Whether charities like it or not, people are fundraising socially for causes they care about. But social fundraising is still very young, and there’s lots of room to start experimenting with what works best for you and your champions.

By embracing and encouraging social fundraising, you empower donors and champions with more ways to support you. Social fundraising, when properly executed, will expand your fundraising network and results by leveraging the genuine relationships of your supporters.

Every fundraising strategy you develop must consider how you are going to engage and leverage social advocates and crowd fundraisers.

John Bromley is the founder and CEO of, and the co-founder of Benefic Group. He facilitates benevolence full time by helping people, companies and charities plan, execute and track the charitable impact they aspire to create.

Originally published at Hilborn.

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