I’ve been in non-profit fundraising for the better part of a decade, a job I refer to as “sales with a conscience.” As I think about what I want to be when I grow up, I still get drawn to private sector sales.
What I have generally found, however is that recruiters don’t see a connection. They are sure I can’t prospect or cold call, or make a close. Well, here’s some food for thought about that.
- Fundraising is closer to selling a service. The donor doesn’t take home anything at all, except a good feeling, and maybe a tax deduction. There’s no WIFM statement that works to close a major gift.
- Individual donor prospecting is the same process as B2B prospecting. Sometimes you have a warm lead – they’ve attended an event or made a small donation, but you still have to find out WHY they want to give. They may not have a pain themselves, but for some reason they relate to the pain you are trying to solve, be it a disease, hunger, or education.
- There is little lead generation (sales 2.0) opportunity in non-profit fundraising. Instead of hosting a webinar on how to best manage data or lead scoring, development professionals tell stories of lives affected by their work. There’s not a white paper to register for and download to share with colleagues – just a warm feeling of making a difference.
- E-Mail Marketing and lead scoring are the same in the private and non-profit sector. Perhaps not so many non-profits use email marketing and lead scoring as well as B2B companies, but there’s definite potential, and some savvy non-profit organizations are now seeing this. I’d love to see more non-profits look at their site stats and score prospects by more than just a traditional wealth overlay!
- Closing is closing. Whether your customer is buying a car, implementing a learning management system, donating cash for a new wing of a hospital or a new literacy program. The program is probably the hardest of all three – like a service – there isn’t that tangible. I’d at least get to cut a ribbon and eventually see my name on a hospital wing in a capital campaign. It comes down to the fact that people want to be asked. It’s why they give – be it blood, cash or participate in a webinar. Having done both, there is as much, if not more more anticipation, timing and yes, fear asking a donor for a five or six figure gift than asking a Fortune 500 company to buy your new SaaS.
Skills are transferable – if the person with those skills can relate to the values of your private sector organization.
And for the requisite shameless self promotion – my skills are very, very transferable. I can prospect, cultivate and close in any industry. I’ll sell you a car, a mentoring system, or get you to help end childhood hunger. Let me show you.