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The Six P's of Successful Friend-Raising

Fundraising isn't just about asking for money—it's about committed relationships, and the conscious effort it takes to start and sustain them. That's the idea behind "friend-raising," an approach that GCN's own Chris Allers walks you through in his latest helpful how-to. 

If you don't get to know people well, it is hard to ask them for money. Conversely, if you establish friendships with individuals, they will share many other gifts in addition to money. Building strong relationships is the universal truth of fundraising.

This is why it’s so effective to think in terms of “friend-raising.” In friend-raising, the relationship is a sustainable practice of genuine care and concern—each party involves itself for the benefit of the others, thereby representing and reinforcing the community.  The goal of effective friend-raising is ensuring an outcome that benefits the community as a whole—meaning all parties are mutually committed to seeing that effort succeed.  

“When we recognize that a better word for fundraising is ‘friend raising,’ we open limitless doors to creativity in support of our causes.” - Sue Vineyard

As author and fundraiser Hildy Gottlieb writes: “The only road to sustainability is to engage the community in your work, to turn that community into an army of friends achieving something amazing together, spreading the roots of ownership of your mission and vision throughout the community, so the community would not dream of letting that mission die.”

Over decades of work in the Georgia nonprofit community, I have learned that there are certain qualities prospective friends (and donors) want. I call these the 6 Ps:

Passion

People are drawn to something that you are passionate about.  Author E.M. Forrester wrote, "One person with passion is better than forty people merely interested." But there is a difference between passion and hysteria: passion is about the good that can be done and the benefits of the work you do. Be careful not to define your passion in terms of your fears over the consequences of failure.

Purpose

Nineteenth-century activist Dorathea Dix once said, “In a world where there is so much to be done, I felt strongly impressed that there must be something for me to do.” Yes, friends of your organization need to know about your “true purpose”; more importantly, however, they need to know what role they can play.

Plan

Personal-success pioneer Napoleon Hill advised, “Create a definite plan for carrying out your desire and begin at once to put this plan into action.” People know you are serious about translating passion into purpose, and purpose into action, when you have a thoughtful and clear plan for improving the community.

Praise

All people need to know they are appreciated. The ones who say they need it the least, in fact, are the ones who most appreciate it when praise is sincere and heartfelt. Nobel-winning writer Pearl S. Buck warned, however, that “Praise out of season, or tactlessly bestowed, can freeze the heart as much as blame.”

Polite Persistence

People with much to give are busy by nature. If you wish to friend-raise, you must prepare to be persistent over time. Great friendships don’t happen overnight. It will take time and dedication to forge productive and sustainable friendships.     

When utilized cumulatively and correctly, the 6 Ps of friend-raising will create a more sustainable funding platform for your organization. And with Georgia Gives Day and year-end giving fast approaching, it’s time to reshape your approach. Now go out and make some friends! 

Chris Allers, Ph.D., is Executive Vice President at the Georgia Center for Nonprofits.

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