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What is “relationship fundraising?”

At Pursuant we’re passionate about helping nonprofits connect donors to the causes that fire them up. That is the heartbeat of Pursuant and it’s what relationship fundraising is about at its core.

The concept of “relationship fundraising” is important but really, what do we mean when we say that?

What is “relationship fundraising?”

Relationship fundraising is a style of recruiting donors through building interpersonal relationships with them and keeping the long-term relationship top of mind. Relationship fundraising’s goal in building lasting interpersonal relationships is getting multiple gifts of increasing value, rather than a single large donation. The converse, transactional fundraising, focuses more on achieving the goal of getting a specific dollar amount. It doesn’t matter if a person gives more than once as long as the goal is met. In our research and experience, relationship fundraising is far more cost effective than transactional because of the increasing cost of impressions. With a relationship fundraising approach the initial gifts may be lower but a nonprofit ends up gaining more over time because it does not have the cost associated with recruiting new one-time givers.

The process of relationship fundraising is called “the donor journey.” A philanthropist embarks on this “donor journey” as she morphs from being a person who has an awareness of a cause to becoming a fully committed donor. Research and case studies tell us that the lifetime value of passionate, committed donors far surpasses the amount raised through a transactional approach. There are four clear stages of the donor journey:

1. Awareness. Make the donor feel something. Connect the donor with the beneficiary’s need.

2. Exploration. Move from intrusion to invitation. Offer donors choice.

3. Expansion. Deemphasize the charity as the middle man.

4. Commitment. Invite the donor to consider how future investment could make them feel.

These four stages are fleshed out in detail in the brand new relationship fundraising research conducted by Dr. Adrian Sargeant, Ian MacQuillan and the Rogare thinktank. The new research rewrites the rulebook on how to engage donors at every level of that donor journey.

Because we know that you may not have the time you’d like to read a full report, we’ve created an infographic that unpacks these four stages in the donor journey.

Are you issuing an RFP to find a partner to help take your fundraising program to the next level? We’d love to be considered! As an agency built by fundraisers for fundraisers, Pursuant has helped hundreds of organizations raise billions of dollars through our direct response, direct mail, digital, and analytics services. Reach out to a member of our team here or email us at info@pursuant.wpengine.com.