Those who know us, know we are all about relationship building. When we met a decade ago, we didn’t know much about fundraising, but we knew what approach felt right (or more accurately, what didn’t). Charity didn’t feel like a ‘sell’ to us – it was an opportunity. To us, our field of work presented a chance to connect good people with good work - and guide donors in their pursuit to have a meaningful impact.
The relationship-centric fund development approach is one we’ve continued to pursue, often making us feel like outliers in a world of sales goals and metrics. In a chance conversation with a seasoned professional, we explained that our professional style seemed like a fringe approach – that convincing clients and institutions to trust the slow and steady relationship model was sometimes difficult.
We told her that despite this, we knew it was more successful and sustainable to put relationships at the heart of your approach, and the return on that investment is transformative. With a laugh, she told us we weren’t outliers, we were vintage fundraisers. Not new or novel - vintage. In the earlier days of fundraising, she said, all strategies were based on relationship building, where phone calls and meetings were the only choice – and the power of community engagement was at the center of the development plan.
Wanting to pursue relationship-driven, donor-centric fund development models was a nod to the past, not a rejection of newer, more data-driven approaches. In a world of donor fatigue and decreased charitable giving, it is increasingly important to connect the right people with the right cause.
We’ve built our business on the principles that brought us together: that a focus on donor relations is paramount to any fund development program, and authentic relationship building is the foundation of a successful development strategy. We are driven by our professional belief that this method works. Today, vintage fundraising means building a strategy that combines the always-effective relationship-centric methods with new, modern, compelling and results-driven campaigns.
Data, technology and forward-thinking aren’t in conflict with vintage fundraising – they are the perfect complement. Social profit organizations have to be nimble, adaptable and willing to take risks – all while serving the needs and interests of those who support them. This approach serves the social profit or sport organization in the long run with repeat, engaged and committed donors, and most importantly, it allows the donor to make meaningful and intentional gifts.
What’s at the heart of your approach? We’d love to hear if you’re a #VintageFundraiser too!
Robyn Tremblay is an entrepreneur + believer in the power of connecting good people with cause. She is a partner and co-founder of Relate Social Capital - Canada's leading Sports Philanthropy firm.