Effective Fundraising

Last month, Michael Chatman, maverick philanthropist and host of the Michael Chatman Giving Show, released his second annual list of “America’s Top 40 Most Effective Fundraising Consultants.” Alexander Haas President and CEO, David King, made the list as the only consultant in the top 20 based in the south.

I had the opportunity to speak with Michael over the phone last week, and I asked him how he compiled his list, and what criteria he was looking for in the consultants chosen.

“America’s Top 40 Most Effective Fundraising Consultants”

Chatman said as a result of the success of his radio program, which reaches a nationwide audience of 250,000 thought leaders, as well as leaders in development, he often gets asked for recommendations. So he went directly to the source – his audience –   and asked who they would recommend he include in his list of most effective fundraisers.

His listeners shared their experiences working with fundraising consultants, and who or what firm impressed them the most. Using an impressive in-house database, and compiling results from his radio show, as well as email, LinkedIn, and Twitter, he looked for those individuals or firms whose names were mentioned most frequently, and the list was ordered from there.

He has received very positive feedback from those named, and from nonprofit organizations looking for counsel, and plans to keep creating the list each year.

Additionally, Michael had a few helpful tips on fundraising and current trends in philanthropy:

What makes someone an effective fundraiser?

Since there is a broad spectrum from a one person shop to a large international firm, an organization should look for someone who best fits their needs and their goals. Effective fundraising requires relationship building and maintenance, and Michael maintains the belief that “people give to people.” Effective fundraising also requires more entrepreneurial skills, having the unique ability to make the right strategic moves, and identification with and passion for the organization’s mission.

Social media as an effective fundraising tool

For nonprofits, social media can play a major role for lower level gifts, and is a great way to start building your annual fund. Particularly with younger generations, for example, recent graduates from an independent school or higher education institution. Social media allows donors to contribute smaller gifts of $20 and $30 through their social networks. These donors can be cultivated into major donors as they get older and continue to support the organization.

Philanthropic Quest

Michael believes a growing trend in philanthropy today is the “philanthropic quest,” in which the development director takes donors on a transformational journey and commitment to the organization, building the relationship required to secure a large investment from the donor. Organizations are beginning to build programs around how to be a philanthropist, to take their donors to the next level of philanthropy – from simply giving money, to allowing their contribution to make an impactful change in their hearts and legacies.

What elements do you think are needed for effective fundraising? Share your experiences and tips in the comments below!

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