Looking through my bookshelf, I came across The Go-Giver by Bob Burg and John David Mann. I was gifted this book in my first few months as a fundraiser when a mentor of mine slid it across a coffee table in my direction with a credulous smile and told me there’s one contingency (you’ll have to read on your own to find out!) if I decided to follow its teachings.

I accepted the responsibility, and the rest is history. Little did I know, The Five Stratospheric Laws of Success were going to become the foundation of my belief in how we should approach donor relationships!

Although you will have to read the story yourself for the full context, here's how The Law of Authenticity can be used as a framework to build authentic relationships with new and prospective donors.

At face value, it’s evident all five of the laws are rooted in the core tenants of servant leadership. They encourage us to show up authentically with the intent to serve others first in everything we do. This mindset is the center of genuine donor relationships. A fundraiser should always ask themselves "How can I engage in the most intentional, thoughtful, and authentic manner possible?"

When engaging in a new donor relationship, it’s fair to have some nerves and a desire to make a great first impression. Maybe you've been in this scenario: You feel some pressure to make an ask and you plan out exactly how the conversation will go. You set the meeting, you direct the conversation, and land the ask. You leave the visit feeling accomplished having a direct outcome tied to your efforts and can’t wait to do it 100 more times this year! 

The problem with that scenario is it was transactional and entirely focused on what the fundraiser wanted. When building a new donor relationship, you must remember you are making a new friend. Of course, there should be some sort of agenda for any visit. However, all that is needed for the first visit is you! The win is the fact they took a meeting with you, not if you made an ask.

You may be thinking “Making the ask is my job, isn’t it?” Yes, it is part of your job. When you are building new donor relationships, your priority is to make sure they want to see you again. The ask will come with time as you build the relationship.

Think about it: if they know you are a fundraiser and they took your request for a meeting, they are expecting to be asked. The level at which an ask can be made is completely dependent on the strength of your relationship with them. A first visit is an opportunity for connection between people that share the same love for your organization’s mission. This should be the focus of the discussion.

According to Burg and Mann, The Law of Authenticity states the most valuable gift you have to offer is yourself. If you’re fretting over building new donor relationships, stop! You have everything you need. If you both love the organization’s mission and are committed to serving, a relationship is waiting to flourish! Diving into the shared connection will help you understand what you need to be asking for in the future!

This isn’t reserved for face-to-face visits; it applies to any type of engagement with donors. We must ask; how can we show up authentically ourselves anytime we are engaging a donor?

  • Maybe it’s picking up the phone and thanking a donor personally for their annual gift, instead of the automated email or post card.
  • Perhaps it's sending a handwritten note when a donor has a big life event like a new child or moving up the career ladder.
  • You might remember the donor has a grandchild who plays basketball at the local high school, and you attend a game in support.
To build genuine relationships with donors stop treating them like donors and start treating them like who they are, people with passions, hobbies, opinions, and interests. If you can take the time to learn and share the things that make each of you who you are, you will have no problems building authentic relationships. The possibilities are endless when you can consistently “go-give” your authentic self.




This month, DBD Group is sharing the lessons and insights we've gleaned from our reading. One of our core axioms is to never stop learning and as a team, we read a lot! Whether we're revisiting lessons from old favorites or diving into a new bestseller, we love to share what we learn. Let us know what you're reading in the comments section. We're always ready for a new read!                                                                    

Posted by Kennerly Benraty
Kennerly Benraty

Written by Kennerly Benraty

Kennerly Benraty is a Senior Consultant with DBD Group. He specializes in using data to understand the underlying story within an organization’s operations. His background as a visionary leader and coach helps him use both strategic analysis and inspiration to generate successful outcomes. His abilities as a speaker and storyteller helps him and his clients tell their own stories in a more powerful manner so that they can achieve their mission-driven goals.

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