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Charities must do more to engage donors, volunteers

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By Todd Cohen

Donors, board members and volunteers are their lifeblood, yet many charities take those investors for granted and fail to keep them connected to and excited about their vision and work.

Charities are businesses whose bottom line is fixing and changing our communities, and they should treat people who donate time, money and know-how as investors in their social enterprise.

And like any good business, charities should understand and cultivate their investors.

That means learning what motivates them, including interests that may change over time, and matching their goals with those of the charity, development experts recently told the Association of Fundraising Professionals chapter in the Raleigh-Durham area of North Carolina.

It also means engaging board members in the critical job of fundraising, they said.

“All board members excited about development will be excited about the organization,” said John Mitterling, vice president for development at the N.C. Symphony.

Asking for money should be a job relished with pride, not apologies, he said, and fueled by “million-dollar ideas” that inspire giving because of promise to save and change lives.

The key to identifying and cultivating a charity’s best investors, he said, is to keep them informed and involved.


Todd Cohen is the Editor and Publisher of the Philanthropy Journal.

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