“Everybody who donates to our organization is a friend to us. We make no difference in how we treat our donors.” It’s about a year ago when Eveline Aendekerk, executive director of dance4life, said this to me. At first I thought she shared this as her ‘vision on fundraising’ to me, as a lot of fundraisers do. But she went on and told me about the friends4life concept. And I learned that when Eveline talks about her donors as her friends, she means it literally.
It all started a few years ago, when Eveline received a hundred deluxe tickets to the Sensation White party in Amsterdam for free. Eveline: “We didn’t want to just give them away to our staff, donors or stakeholders, we wanted to do something special. So we created the friends4life concept.” dance4life decided to sell the tickets: € 1.500 for one ticket or € 2.500 for two tickets. As a buyer, you’re not only invited to the deluxe area of the Sensation party, but also to several other dance4life related events.
“We were not familiar with the expression back then, but it was through friendraising how we connected the first donors to our friends4life concept. I made a list of potential donors, and it were my own friends who I approached first with the ask to buy the tickets.” What had started with a small group of 10 close friends, ended up as a program with 125 friends4life (in three years’ time). Each friend donates at least € 1.500 per year.
Now, don’t be afraid. Friendraising doesn’t mean you have to approach your own friends and commit them as donors to your organization. Having said that, very often I experience that fundraisers struggle with the ‘friend’ part in ‘friendraising’. They often wonder how close they can or cannot get with donors if they start practising friendraising. And if they have to become real friends in order to be successful friendraisers.
I get that. The word ‘friendraising’ can be a bit confusing, and lots of fundraisers use different definitions to explain it. To me, friendraising is: building sustainable relationships (with persons, foundations and corporations), in order to get to know them better, and in order to both be satisfied with the relationship you’ve created. It’s about learning from the values you share in the relationship with your personal friends, and implementing them in your fundraising strategy. Like: being attentive, not acting selfishly, being in contact once in a while, and showing that you care.
These values are also implemented in the friends4life program. I asked Eveline for the secrets of the program’s success, and building personal relationships is the key ingredient, it appears. Eveline: “Being an executive director means being a figurehead of the organization. For donors it’s important to get to know this figurehead. At least, for our friends4life it is. So I make sure that there’s enough time to get to know each other better, to build a personal relationship. I visit each friend at least once a year, for example.” Next to that, she participates as a (paying) friend4life herself too. Eveline: “Some people are amazed by this. But to me it’s just the right thing to do. It’s my way of expressing that I really believe in the importance of our organization’s work. Also our board members participate in the friends4life program. And, as I think of it: everybody who works at dance4life supports the organization financially.”
During the 60-Minute session ‘Friendraising, what’s in it for you’ Eveline and I will give you more insights in the success of the friends4life program. But it’s not only about the program, it’s also about you. So, are you curious how friendraising can work out for your organization? Do you want to learn friendraising tips and tricks from experienced friendraisers? And do you want to know how you can start with friendraising right away? Then come and join our session on Wednesday October 16, at 17h30 (Boston 13)!
Often ‘friendraising’ is explained as the step you have to take before starting fundraising. As if it is about one technique following the other. As if it is the job of the fundraiser only. Well, it’s not. Friendraising is a way of life for all persons who represent an NGO. It is as important for the receptionist as well as the executive director, it is as important for a fundraiser as well as a board member.
Friendraising is building sustainable relationships with persons, foundations and corporations, in order to get to know them better, and to (co)create a wide variety of ways to support your organisation.
This session is aimed at fundraisers with the ambition to commit (prospect) donors to their organisation. We discuss what friendraising means to you and your organisation, and we share effective strategies. Moreover, you’ll be introduced to the friends4life programme of dance4life, an inspiring friendraising concept. The session is based on my ´Handbook Friendraising´ and will deliver both insights and practical examples.
Prepare yourself for an inspiring, fun and energising 60 Minute Session!
Vera is the fifth IFC speaker to contribute to the IFC Series 2013.
Check out HERE where you can see Vera present at the IFC.
101fundraising is proud to once again be the blog partner of the International Fundraising Congress 2013!