Using program Staff as Expert Witnesses

February 8, 2019

I have maintained that fundraising is a team sport — it involves many different people (if done correctly). Your program delivery staff are integral to a winning equation.

Remembering that fundraising is merely a means to an end itself, the program staff will be able to answer your donors’ questions, assuage their concerns and truly inspire them. There is the expression that “seeing is believing” and I couldn’t agree more. Whether it is a behind-the-scenes tour of an emergency room (or even a knee replacement surgery for the strong-stomached) to a tour of a homeless shelter, your donors will come away with a heightened appreciation for the programs you showcase.

The program staff are also integral in helping to steward the donors. Who doesn’t like a handwritten thank-you note from the Chief of Surgery or a counselor at camp? It is so very important to utilize these colleagues on a regular basis.

You (as the fundraising professional) could start off with a visit to the team’s regularly scheduled staff meeting. You will find out from the front-line staff what challenges and opportunities face them, both in the near future and farther down the road. They will be able to help shape a tour so it is impactful. I have also found that the staff associated with the programs that are featured on a tour become even more committed to your cause. (Because you are, after all, helping them.) Often times, we are too busy to stop and realize just how big of an impact we are actually making. Additionally, most of the tour participants are grateful for the behind-the-scenes access and they tell your guides just that. And a little thanks goes a long way.

It would be impossible for the fundraisers to know all of the program nuances for the myriad of programs that they raise money for. That’s okay. They don’t need to. All they need to do is inspire a prospect long enough so that the prospect asks the program professional. A match made in heaven!

This is usually a fundamental shift in an organization’s thinking — everybody is responsible (for some part) of fundraising. It is not just the fundraiser on their own.

L’chaim folks