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What You Can Learn About Fundraising From Jeff Bezos

Pamela Grow

Nonprofits need the best and that’s why we turn to NeonOne’s ecosystem of partners for expert advice. Today we’re hearing from Pamela Grow, whose specialization is donor-centered fundraising.

Typically I’m in the middle of reading two or three books at once. Right now, I’m almost finished with Brad Stone’s book, The Everything Store: Jeff Bezos and the Age of Amazon. It’s billed as “the revealing, definitive biography of the company that placed one of the first and largest bets on the Internet and forever changed the way we shop and read.”

If you’re a long-time Prime member like me, you may have already read it. Or maybe you haven’t, but you’ve heard about what Amazon’s persistent cutthroat culture looks like. Throughout the book, this characteristic is plainly inescapable. So you should know that The Everything Store is not a pretty read. What emerges here, and what this book is great at, is unfiltered honesty. And as a result, Bezos emerges as one of the most ruthless individuals on the planet.

But that’s not my primary takeaway. Not by a long shot. What’s coming through to me, clear as glass, is his utterly relentless commitment to customer service.

“We’ve had three big ideas at Amazon that we’ve stuck with for 18 years, and they’re the reason we’re successful: Put the customer first. Invent. And be patient.”

It’s so simple yet so real. And that’s how Jeff Bezos grew Amazon from a tiny startup to the monolithic “everything” store it is today. You’ll notice that putting the customer front and center is the first idea of Bezos’ big three.

When it comes to your fundraising, are you relentless?

Do you lead with a sharp eye toward customer donor service and put your donor front and center?

Getting a handle on your organization’s fundraising is more critical now than at any time in our history. The latest Blackbaud report, Vital Signs: Monitoring Giving Patterns in the Donor Marketplace, reports that in the “past 10 years, the number of nonprofits has increased by 23.4%, but the value of individual giving has increased by only 3.4%. That’s five times the rate of growth in nonprofits than the rate of increase in giving.”

It’s time to wake up and smell the coffee.

The upcoming years will demand more from you. To say that you’ll need to go the extra mile is an understatement, but that doesn’t mean you aren’t capable. You will, without question, need to double down on your commitment. You will not only need to double down on your focus, you’ll need to hone it. To be successful in your fundraising, you’ll need focus on the right things. What are “the right things?” The basics. Your storytelling, your case for support, and your willingness to step up to the plate and lead.

And above all else, you must have a steadfast commitment to your donors. You won’t survive without one.

For the love of god, stop thinking tools. The future of fundraising is not about Facebook.

Start thinking systems.

  • What system do you have in place for a first-time donor?
  • What donor communications systems have you implemented?
  • What’s your system for turning a loyal donor into a monthly donor?
  • What system do you have in place for turning an event attendee into a donor?

And what are the select tools that will actually benefit you and positively influence your fundraising efforts and results? The main tools you need to be giving serious consideration to are your organization’s CRM and making it as easy as humanly possible for your donor to give online. That’s it.

Pro-tip: Read our top tips for choosing a nonprofit CRM.

This will never be an easy path. Fundraising is rife with additional challenges. The landscape is blighted with circumstances beyond your control.

Not only that, but your distractions are endless. Bright Shiny Object Syndrome will have ample opportunities to throw you off track and off your a-game…

  • Your colleague will be telling you about the $100k they raised this year via #GivingTuesday.
  • A board member will be sharing how another organization she works with netted a celebrity endorsement.
  • Or you’ll see how an organization “like yours” crushed it on GoFundMe and raised over $1 million.
  • What about that new free webinar that *almost* sounds too good to be true?
  • What about that new tool that will ramp up your Facebook visibility and get your page an influx of new likes?

Every week, there are more “have to have” tools, and *free* webinars, and more distractions than ever before. But don’t let BSOS grab ahold of you. When you know what it looks like you can be on the lookout for it. And if you’re aware, you can focus in on what really matters and stand more than a chance in this chaotic, uncertain, sometimes fearful world that we live in.

Remember, when our sole focus is on the immediate bottom line, when we don’t set out, as an organization, with an unwavering commitment to donor care, we aren’t just failing our donors. We’re failing our organization and our very mission. Stay true to your goal and committed to your donors. You’ll be starting out on the right path and laying the groundwork for the future.

Need a fundraising system that has it all?

Showing 2 comments
  • Toudjidoum
    Reply

    Kélo English Center has long experience about the running of Educational structure on administrative plan, financially, and pedagogically lasting his twenty learning experience.
    As regards Nonprofit we already established our annual budget which will be accompanied with the monthly budget from January to December.
    Then we have our annual report from five existence years like Kélo English Center.
    Therefore all these documents will be put into our partners’disposal in order to explore thank to our website .
    Obviously to make sure our donors we opened our account bank for our financial movings vith our partners. All realizations will be justified and put into the partners’disposal thank to our website.
    In addition we engaged to make our work more visible thank to our technological system that you are implementing for us.

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