Relationships are the Key to Fundraising: Make the Call!

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Dan WeissA recent conversation with a nonprofit Board member reinforced that relationships are the key to fundraising.

The check-in

This particular organization developed a plan to have its staff and Board members make “check-in” telephone calls to its stakeholders. These were not fundraising calls; instead, they were designed to inquire as to the physical and emotional well-being of past Board members, volunteers, and donors. The workload was divided in order for each person to have a limited number of calls to make.

One call was to the widow of a past Board member. She was so pleased to hear from someone, and she noted that it had been a long time since she had heard anything about the organization. When a fundraising appeal went out to her a week later, she demonstrated her appreciation by making a $500 donation.

It’s like magic, except that it’s not. It’s just how relationships are the building blocks of philanthropy.

Relationships aren’t built through letters to donors.
Relationships aren’t built through emails to donors.
Relationships aren’t built through development plans.
Relationships aren’t built by holding an annual party.

Sure, these can be effective elements of your philanthropic efforts, but without the personal interaction, there’s an essential missing component. It’s like dessert without chocolate — or orange juice without vodka.

What’s holding you back?

Many people are hurting right now, and the nonprofit sector is needed more than ever. Ironically, the opportunity is bigger than ever for the organizations that see it.

If your story is that competition for donor dollars is holding you back, you’re succumbing to the Myth of Competition. Philanthropy is not a zero-sum game. Think abundance, not scarcity.

If your story is that donors aren’t giving because they’ve lost significant portions of their investment portfolios, you’re engaging in “stinkin’ thinkin’.” Sure, that may be someone’s story, but it’s merely an anecdote.

History has demonstrated that our giving community comes to the rescue when times are tough, but you have to ask.

Relationships are the key to fundraising, and relationships aren’t built through inaction. Make the call!


Dan Weiss, founder and President of Counterpart CFO, leads a team of flexible, part-time CFO’s specializing in nonprofits.
To read more from Dan, follow him on LinkedIn or subscribe to his blog at For more on “check in” calls, view Dan’s video, Tips for Quarantined Nonprofits, part of the I3Digital initiative of the Gulf Coast Community Foundation.

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