“Just a few words … can double giving and bolster wellbeing…”

According to a new report on Relationship Fundraising 3.0 by Adrian Sergeant, Jen Shang and Kathryn Edworthy, specifically identifying and developing a more communal and loving model of donor relationships generates both more income for the charity and a greater sense of connectedness and wellbeing for the donor.

So what is Relationship Fundraising 3.0?

The authors argue that much fundraising is transactional ie I’ll give you (the donor) this if you donate. I think they’re (unfortunately) right. We certainly see this in the proliferation of premiums and other gifts in fundraising packages.

But, they say, “Relationship Fundraising 3.0 is different. It eschews the focus on exchange and sees the purpose of fundraising as stewarding the human capacity to love.”

Lovely isn’t it?

Now that’s all very well, but how do you do that in practice?

Edworthy et al says it requires “a very different perspective that requires a detailed understanding of the psychological needs of the individual, their sense of self (i.e. who they are), their wellbeing (how they feel about being that “self”) and how they might best experience the giving and receiving of their love.”

In recounting the results of a series of carefully constructed tests and surveys, they show that “changing a few words in communications can double giving and bolster wellbeing”.

Their conclusion?

“We believe that there should be an increased recognition of the wider social role
that fundraising could perform and that fundraisers should be trained as stewards of love not just facilitators of gifts and support.”

Are you showing your donors the love?

NB As a practitioner of fundraising for more than 25 years I found nothing in the authors’ findings to be a surprise. If anything, it confirmed what I have learned over the years from both training and experience. Words count. Any fundraiser who is not using a highly skilled and knowledgeable writer is wasting money and missing opportunities to build deep and lasting relationships with your donors.