Can we really expect fundraisers to succeed without social capital?

Kathryn asks when we are going to begin having some tough conversations about the fundraiser’s experience? And, depending on where we find ourselves in the fundraising community, when are we going to ask whether we are contributing to or undermining their opportunity for success? Perhaps some of us don’t really care how successful the fundraiser actually is? For Kathryn, the answer to these questions is quite simple; whether we’re talking about boards or bosses, association leaders, consulting shops, direct response, search firms or wealth screening, the majority of us are curating a culture that has a creepy obsession with the numbers. From my vantage point, if we don’t learn how to measure at least something qualitative really quickly, the entire system might just collapse.

Kathryn insists that our professional community, like so many others, has bought hook, line, and sinker into a fallacy that permits us to make every decision based entirely on what the quantitative data can tell us and disregard anything it can’t. We have naively come to believe that success can be measured with three indicators: visits, solicitations, and dollars. Nothing else. After coming to grips with our obsession with metrics, the next question Kathryn wants nonprofit leaders to ask is how fundraisers are supposed to succeed without first creating social capital. While not especially easy to measure, the research has been done and social capital is essential for achieving the most meaningful and sustainable levels of support.

As always, we are grateful to our friends at CueBack for sponsoring the Fundraising Talent Podcast. And, if you’d like to learn more about hosting the Responsive Fundraising Roadshow in your community, email me at  

Reminder, you can download Responsive’s latest edition of Carefully & Critically here

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