How an “open” system approach bodes well for fundraising

In the new world of philanthropy, it is important to understand the differentiation between “open” and “closed” systems of fundraising. Transforming from “closed” to “open” can mean a world of better results.

Most organizations maintain a “closed” system of fundraising, recruiting donors through special events or direct mail and recycling donors already in its donor database without strategically thinking how to move donors forward to ever larger gifts.

In an “open” system of philanthropy, strategically identified donor prospects enter through a specific point of entry, deliberately renew their donations each year and are intentionally cultivated to providing annual major gifts.

Organizations that display these best practices in philanthropy are most successful. These practices reflect fundraising that is mission based and driven.  Too often, nonprofit organizations focus on fundraising, rather than philanthropy. In other words, focusing on activities that generate a net result, but that do not seek a long term, fluid relationship with individual donors.   Intentional philanthropy, those activities that seek to build inclination in specifically identified individual donors, represents best practice.

This represents a “sea change” for most organizations, and takes hard work to re-train and re-focus staff and volunteers on systems and processes that strengthen the organization’s ability and capacity to achieve their mission.