I was reading in a book the other day (of course it was a book on Fundraising), and something inside struck me with such profoundness that I felt compelled to post an article about it.  The passage that resonated with so much power was the following:  If what you want is advice, ask for money.  If what you want is money, ask for advice.  The best fundraisers do not choose between such alternatives.

Wow! How intuitive was that?  Imagine for a moment that, as fundraisers, we do not think about the difference between money and advice, but rather accept whichever we get, assuming that they ultimately go hand in hand.  The tragic mistake that many a fundraiser makes is to become over-zealous in the face of decreasing budgets, increasing funding requirements and the pursuit of the never ending fundraising goal.

The quest for the money…  The pursuit of the dollars… The fulfillment of the mission… The achievement of the goal…  Each admirable and, frankly, realistic.  That is why they pay us the big bucks! (LOL)  But what we miss is the notion that if you plot a course to the money, the relationship has to come first.  That’s the step that we skip the most.

It is relationships that lead to money, not asks.  It is the relationship that leads to money, not the brochure. It is the relationship that leads to money, not the website. It is the relationship that leads to money, not the gala. It is the relationship that leads to money, not the golf tournament.  And, I could go on… and on… and on!

If what you want is the money, ask for advice.  Well here is mine —

Make friends… lots and lots of friends.  Ask questions… people love to be heard and they love to give when they think and feel as though it is their opinion or belief that is going to make the difference in your organization.  Do not make fundraising about the act of giving money — make it about the act of connecting a person to your mission and your outcomes, get them involved, ask them their opinion, and then — and only then — can you expect them to open their checkbooks to your organization.

If what you want is money, ask for advice — and build a relationship.  That is the ask that keeps on giving, and giving, and giving, and giving!

Good luck this holiday season in your pursuit of your philanthropic goals and objectives!