Ethics is the Best
If you’ve been a fundraiser for more than five minutes, someone has said the words “best practices” to you. But, what does that really mean, and are some more important than others? “Best practices” simply describes the most desirable set of activities, attitudes, and actions that fundraisers pursue with the highest professionalism, expertise, and impact. And yes, some are more important than others.
Take Ethics in Fundraising, for example. It is the highest best practice for a couple of reasons. First, your ethical conduct outlives you. Like many other things in fundraising – a thoughtful membership program, planned giving, and sustaining valuable relationships – the largest, most impactful results of your work will likely come long after you have moved on to another job. Your strong ethics will bolster your organization’s reputation as a “good charity” for decades to come. And, your reputation as someone who prizes ethics will follow you from job to job – or maybe even lead you as employers and recruiters seek you out based on your reputation. You want to be THAT charity, the one your donors tell their friends about. “The leadership there is really strong, and they’re genuinely nice people who are so fun and interesting.” “They really maximize my gifts to them – they do big things with my contributions.” “They’re great at keeping me updated on their activities, and specifically on the programs and projects I have funded. I always feel like I know what’s going on there.” “I love the opportunities they give me to meet the people/animals I’m helping – to see the work in action and the results of my gifts.” “I trust them.”
At the very heart of all of it, the donor has to trust us – as organizations and as people. This leads us to the second, and arguably more important, reason that Ethics is the Best Best Practice: all other best practices are grounded in it.
Build Genuine Relationships
At the core of successful fundraising lies a genuine relationship among you, your organization and the donor. A GENUINE relationship. One governed by mutual respect and a shared desire to improve the world in some way, rather than by the moves management tracker in your database. Build your relationships with integrity and honesty, and they will be genuine and productive.
Bring Joy to the Donor
Work with all diligence to find contributions that meet the donors’ hearts, that make them feel pride in having a significant impact in one or many lives. Help them achieve what they can only achieve with your organization. Don’t pressure or guilt them into giving to a project that YOU care about at the expense of a project THEY care about. If you help them live out their dreams whenever you can, they will help you live out yours, as well.