Some professional fundraisers love “the chase.” Others pride themselves on their skill at developing longstanding relationships with donors who stay with the organization and grow their giving over time. We refer to these two types of fundraisers as “chasers” and “cultivators.” Similarly, some organizations need money now, from wherever they can get it. Others are busy fundraising in advance of their need, proactively sharing their vision and securing resources. Again, we use the terms “chasers” and “cultivators.” Is one type better than the other? We think it depends on your situation. What’s important is to know the differences in individual and organizational style so you can build a team that meets the needs of your organization now and in the future. Take a close look at your staff and volunteer fundraisers to see if you can identify which have the characteristics of a “cultivator” and which more closely resemble “chasers.”
Chasers love the hunt. They want to bring in big gifts and make a big impact. They like instant reactions and are not afraid of cold calling, believing that “if you don’t ask, they won’t give.” They are fearless and creative, looking under every rock for an opportunity. Some cultivators become chasers in a crisis. Others are “forced” into chasing by a boss who says, “so and so gave to the organization up the street, call them up and get a gift.” Chasers delight in instant opportunity and are not adverse to “twisting” the organization’s programs and priorities to meet those of a donor or funder. People can become chasers when there is a high need for funding, very little staff, limited infrastructure, and/or low volunteer support. When you chase, the costs can be low, but the risk of alienating potential funders can be high. This type of fundraising is often transactional with low transparency and accountability within the nonprofit. The fundraiser’s rationale is this: if it works that’s great; if not, we will keep moving. They feel pressured to pull a rabbit from the hat and save the day.
Cultivators pay attention to data management, recording interactions with donors and volunteers, and looking at giving trends. They plan their solicitations, conducting formal and informal research prior to asking. They work with a pool of qualified prospective donors and have determined an ask amount for each, along with the appropriate solicitation method. They believe that creating awareness for the organization is as important as asking, knowing that if people don’t “know” the organization their interest in giving can be limited. They focus on communicating how the organization meets a need, and they share the tangible and intangible benefits of giving, stressing the development of a mutually beneficial relationship.
Our question is this: how will you sustain and grow? For those who look at development and fundraising with an eye to balancing the short-term and long-term, you need to know where to put your resources when. Sometimes you need to chase; we believe that all times you must also cultivate.
Copyright 2022 – Mel and Pearl Shaw of Saad&Shaw – Comprehensive Fund Development Services. Video and phone conferencing services always available. Let us help you grow your fundraising. Call us at (901) 522-8727. www.saadandshaw.com.