Why we should welcome new regulations

With new fundraising regulations on the way, Andrew Day explains why there’s never been a better time to focus on what breathes life into successful major gift strategies. It’s all about the people you know and your ability to reach them.

One of the universal laws of major gift fundraising is that people give to people. Understanding this fundamental principle enables us to cut through much of the hype around potentially restrictive, new fundraising regulations; inviting us to think again about the best approach to major gift philanthropy. There seems to be a curious level of anxiety across the sector about possible changes to data protection rules, making it difficult for fundraisers to wealth-screen mailing lists and pick off big givers. From our perspective, the new direction is a healthy one. A change in policy that encourages more thoughtful fundraising and champions best practice in person-centred philanthropy, is something we should all be in favour of.

Do you really know your prospects?

In our experience, the most meaningful prospect evaluations are unlikely to come from a flimsy rich-list with no connection to your organisation or project. Knowing your constituency as individuals and carefully assessing their commitment, is at the heart of any sustainable major gift strategy. You need to have a solid understanding of each key prospect’s capacity to give, their inclination to give and their anticipated interest in the project or programme you’re embarking on.

Access is everything

But generating long-term fundraising success, depends on the most important ingredient of all - an identifiable route to the prospects you’ve highlighted. Whether it’s your trustees, governors, or fundraising team members, there needs to be personal access to the individuals on your list of potential major givers. Simply churning out the stats and knowing how wealthy people are, won’t be enough. After all, there are lots of well-off people who give nothing. And plenty of those who aren’t so wealthy still make major gifts, often through their Wills.

So, yes there may be changes ahead, but the new regulations could provide a timely reminder that major gift fundraising is inherently personal. It works on the basis of trust and the strength of relationships that exist between people. Major gift fundraisers should have little to fear from tighter controls on mining the data of strangers.

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