When we think of development, fundraising immediately comes to mind. Who can we ask for a financial donation to meet a specific need? But in reality, development should be as much about “friendraising” as it is fundraising. 

Friendraising is all about building relationships. It’s about making connections between a potential donor and your organization. It’s the difference between giving to something and being a part of something. 

think about it; we are far more likely to open our wallets for a cause or organization where we have a personal connection. Even if we wholeheartedly believe in a mission or a cause, we may not give financially to advance it. Why? Because there are only so many places where we can give our financial resources. There are many people who consider themselves pro-life or believe in the work of pregnancy centers. They support the mission wholeheartedly and think pregnancy centers do important work. But as long as they don’t have a personal connection with your organization, they are unlikely to take that next step to give.

So what does friendraising look like in practical terms? It looks like building connections and relationships with individual people, without always making an ask. It is being active in your community. It is being part of committees and community projects that may not have a direct correlation with your center. Why? Because you are building relationships – and relationships are the most valuable assets in development. 

If possible, the individuals who are doing development at your center need to be spending as much time outside the office as they are spending inside it – if not more. Why? Because as they work on that upcoming newsletter at the local coffee shop, they just might happen to bump into the pastor at that church you’re hoping will participate in your next Walk. Or they might interact with a donor who hasn’t given in a while and bring your center back to the top of their mind. Don’t underestimate the value of those personal connections.

The work of development is far more than submitting grant applications or choosing the theme of the next banquet. Development is all about friendraising, about building relationships, about establishing and nurturing personal friendships with those who are passionate about your center’s mission. Then when the time comes to make an ask, that foundation of relationship will be built and that connection you’ve made will see a return on investment. Spend some time friendraising today!

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