Which Song from Fiddler on the Roof Describes a Nonprofit Fundraiser’s Job?

Matchmaker, Matchmaker, Make me a Match!

While you might be tempted to guess “If I were a Rich Man,” that’s not it.

Because that would be making fundraising mostly about money.

And, actually, fundraising is mostly about love.

So the correct answer is “Matchmaker.”

That’s right. Your job is to make the perfect match between the values your organization enacts and the values your donor shares.

Because when people connect, and care about one another, our world tips ever more slightly back into balance.

Right now we live in troubling times, where the world seems wildly out of whack and people seem further and further apart.

Philanthropy provides a perfect opportunity to bring people together.

And who knows the most about making people fit together?  Matchmakers!

And today’s matchmakers have more tools than ever before at their fingertips. Hence the success of online dating services. Though it would’ve been easy to assume matchmaking is such a personal endeavor technology could never touch it, that’s not the case at all.  Because the digital revolution means people today are more connected than ever. Successful matchmakers don’t eschew technology; they embrace it. So should you.

Emulate These 6 Things Matchmakers Do

1. Matchmakers help people find their soul mates.

They strive to connect folks based on shared values. They use technology to facilitate this and keep track of people’s preferences.

2. Matchmakers strive to build relationships that will be long lasting and mutually satisfying.

They do this not with gimmicks, but with consistent delivery of value and meaningful engagement. Successful matchmakers, both offline and online, have found the opportunity to become relevant in new channels and networks, earning consumer attention and helping folks form meaningful alliances.

3. Matchmakers respect the preferences of their customers.

They use customer affinities as a guide to create offers their clients won’t want to refuse. Just like online dating services use technology as the glue to bring like-minded folks together through surveys and question-and-answer, so do fundraiser-matchmakers learn as much as possible about their supporters. Once interviews are conducted, or forms are completed, good matchmakers don’t waste their clients’ time by offering them opportunities that don’t match with their interests and needs. 50-somethings who want to date folks their own age are not offered 20-somethings as potential dates. Nor should you offer appeals to care for seniors to folks who consistently earmark donations for children’s services. Or proposals to fund research to donors who’ve indicated they prefer to fund scholarships. And so forth.

4. Matchmakers don’t use “push techniques” or try to convince folks to meet people they don’t want to meet.

They’re focused on fulfilling their promise to bring meaning into their customer’s life. They put the customer in control, helping them find the “fit” that’s right for them. It’s not about what you need, or what you think they need, so much as it’s about what they most desire and yearn for.  Your job is to find the problem — what keeps them up at night — and then offer a solution that brings meaning, purpose and joy to their life.

5. Matchmakers offer and celebrate choices.

They don’t squeeze everyone into the same mold. They don’t insist on pushing only for “unrestricted funding.” which is the very opposite of donor-centered. They respect people’s right to choose. Donors want autonomy. Philanthropy enables the giver to use their money for soul-filled purposes.

6. Matchmakers offer friendly and prompt service.

They’re customer-centered, supportive and caring. They endeavor to bring people joy — especially the warm glow that comes from giving. This requires prompt, personal and repeated expressions of gratitude, as well as reports on impact. Follow-up is ongoing, and as personal as possible.

Take These 6 Matchmaker Lessons to Heart!

They’re exceedingly simple, yet you’d be surprised how few organizations really do this well. If you do, your constitutents will notice — trust me! — and because they’ll feel taken care of, you’ll be well ahead of the game. If you think you don’t have the bandwidth, consider how technology can act as your assistant, making it possible for you to easily bring folks together in a shared, common space. There are more and more online solutions sprouting up, many using Artificial Intellingence (AI) to fuel timely and appropriate cultivation for mid-level, major, capital campaign and legacy gift prospects. [Check out these resources: Momentum; Gravyty]

CAVEAT: This is still a human-focused business. Use technology as an assist, but do not ignore the heart and soul of these lessons. People connect with, and give to, people. Bringing people together is not enough. Once you’ve arranged a meet and greet — be it a house party, online conference, volunteer activity, one-to-one coffee, or whatever — be sure to follow through with next steps. And more next steps. I often say if you set up a visit, you’re 80% of the way towards getting the gift.  But that final 20% is critical, and you can’t farm that out. Good matchmakers check in to see how the dating is progressing. It’s not about single transactions. It’s about developing a growing engagement that, ultimately, grows into a proposal and marriage.   Technology is a helpful tool.  But you’ve also got to strategically wield that tool to foster genuine relationships and deliver authentic human connection.

Organizations must learn how to dedicate resources to listen, learn and adapt the processes, systems, experiences and prevailing culture that will entice and nurture consumer engagement.”

— Brian Solis, writing about the Laws of Attraction and Affinity post digital revolution.

Want to Learn the Fundamental Pre-Conditions for Effective Donor Engagement?

7 Clairification KeysOver time I’ve developed 7 rules of donor engagement. If you want to attract and keep donor-investors, you need a firm handle on each of these things. I call them the 7 Clairification Keys to Unlock Your Nonprofit’s Fundraising Potential. It includes easy-to-follow worksheets and exercises to get you – and your supporters – on the path towards more meaningful engagement.

As always, feel free to contact me!

If growing competition for donor dollars is getting you down, it may be time to recognize that success won’t come simply by building awareness and becoming well known.  Today you must build relationships to become well owned. You’ll learn how to:

  1. Clairify your Values and lead from passion, not need. Assure everyone on your team is on the same page in owning these values.
  2. Clairify your Stories and share them; make your donors heroes. Recognize and reward community participants; give to get.
  3. Clairify your Brand and listen for offers; seize opportunities. Know your vision, what you stand for, and why it’s worthy of affiliation.
  4. Clairify your Social Channels and meet folks where they are. Don’t sit by passively waiting for them to come to you; help them find where they “fit” within your mission.
  5. Clairify your Support Constituencies and be accountable to demonstrating relevance and fulfilling on your promises..
  6. Clarify your Engagement Objectives and measure actions against desired responses.
  7. Clairify your Resources/Systems for creating positive customer experiences.

Image: Courtesy of Flickr by Monika Blatton


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