Five Fundamental Questions of Fundraising

1.  Is your Fundraising transactional or transformative?

2.  Is your Fundraising driven by the mission or the budget?

3.  Is your Fundraising an integrated core value of the organization or is it the bank account that pays the bills?

4.  Is your Fundraising ‘developing’ the organization or is it raising funds?

5.  Is your Fundraising about money or about philanthropy?


Answer these five questions about your fundraising – for yourself, your team, your organization and your leadership, and you have your focus.  The answer to these defines and describes how you move forward in your work and establish a plan to accomplish your goals.


There is no ‘correct’ answer.

Taking the over-arching thought of transactional (based on money/total dollars) vs. transformational (mission-driven, transforming the org, the community, the beneficiary, the donor and everyone involved), measured in terms of actual goals, both approaches will raise money.  Sometimes even an equal amount of money.


But the distinction is critical to make.

Indeed, it is most likely the primary source of conflict between the fundraiser and the rest of the organization.


You can, as a fundraiser, adhere to all ethical principles and a fair amount of ‘best practice’ and be budget-driven, transactional in nature and be ‘the money source’ while still raising money.


But is that what you want?

Is that who your organization wants to be?


The true transformational fundraising happens when it is donor-centered, driven by the mission and not the budget and is recognized as a core value of the organization.

The money doesn’t come first and then the programs happen.  Nor do the programs run until the funding is in place.  This is a symbiotic dance of mission and dreams and values coming together to change the world.  It is aspirational, it is bold, it is a little scary . . . and it is life-changing.


One approach is not necessarily better than the other in terms of raising dollars.

But one will take you, your organization, your beneficiaries and your donors to un-imagined heights.

One transforms.  The other hits a goal.

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