To Be a Great Fundraiser – Thanks Douglas Lawson

08/07/2010 at 09:05 6 comments


Continuing on my thoughts about being a great fundraiser, I have been inspired by a generous sharer Chris Brogan in the previous post and today by an icon in the nonprofit sector, Dr. Douglas M. Lawson, Founding Chairman of Lawson Associates, Inc.

I had the great, good fortune to hear Dr. Lawson speak about the art of being a great fundraiser. This is not the first time I heard Doug speak. I was fortunate to learn from him early in my fundraising career. I have a resource file and STILL have a copy of his article “The Artful Asker” published in Fund Raising Management, April 1996. It is one resource I have kept all these years because it stands the test of time. Doug writes about what makes a successful major gift fundraiser. And if you have not read his book, More Give to Live: How Giving Can Change Your Life, get it and read it now!

To follow up from my post on Nonprofit Fundraising = Confidence and Conviction – Doug shared his vast experience and inspired ideas about how and what it takes to be a great fundraiser. (Italics are my additions)

Doug shared what he thinks (and I agree!) are the skills needed to be a great fundraiser:

  • It’s helpful to have a humanities background
  • Some finance background is good – But can certainly be learned
  • Sales and marketing focus – We must be able to communicate our message effectively
  • Life of giving is necessary – This rule must start with us. How can we ask, train or empower others to give when we have not done so ourselves or can understand the power and feeling you get from making a gift that makes a difference?

Doug says GREAT fundraisers:

  • Listen more than they talk – It is ALL about donor interests and we need to find out what they are.
  • Participate in cultivation and solicitation process – As well as supporting, train and lead volunteers
  • Inspire and inform – Doug talks about offering opportunities – not about asking for a gift.
  • Experience the joy of giving – see above on a life of giving

Doug inspired and engaged me while he talked. He shared generously of his experiences, mistakes and successes. One of his many pearls of wisdom,

“Fundraisers don’t ask for money, we offer opportunities.”

It was like a lightning bolt – for many years I have said we (fundraisers) offer opportunities and education. NOW I remember, it was Doug Lawson who said the same thing at a session I attended when I was a new fundraiser many, many years ago. It stuck in my brain. At the time, I may not have fully comprehended what he was saying. Today, I know what it means, practice offering opportunity all the time and inspire volunteers, leaders and donors to do the same.

If you see Doug Lawson on a conference roster, hear about him speaking somewhere near you – run, do not walk, to learn from him! He is a great fundraiser and generous speaker. I have always been energized, excited and honored to be a fundraiser – Doug reminded me why.

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Entry filed under: A Better You, Resources You Can Use!. Tags: , , , .

Nonprofit Fundraising = Confidence and Conviction Gap in Your Fundraising Pyramid? – Three Suggestions

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