Fundraising VeritiesWhat Makes a Great Fundraiser?

Founder and Executive Partner Jerry Panas gives us his treasured insights on what makes philanthropy work with a series he calls, What Makes a Great Fundraiser. Jerry gives us his 70 Verities from his best selling book, Born to Raise.

The Verities

Is there a “fundraising type”? Outgoing, people-oriented, backslapping, extremely well organized, goal oriented, brilliant. This magnificent creature probably doesn’t exist.

It’s really hard, perhaps impossible, to know what makes an ideal fundraiser. If you were designing the perfect fly-catcher, you probably wouldn’t design it to look like a frog!

I interviewed nearly 50 men and women I consider to be among the greatest in the country— each, the ultimate fundmeister. They are all winners.

blue rule

Verities #37 - They Love Calling on People


One of the questions I often ask at my Seminars I lead is: “How many here really enjoy calling on people?” Out of a group of, let’s say, two hundred, a sprinkling of hands will tentatively go up. I would perhaps expect this among volunteers. They can, however, with the proper coaching be very effective solicitors. And when it’s done well, they love it.

Verities #36 - Status Quo is an Abomination

The term is not in the vocabulary of the great fundraisers. It’s repugnant. Repulsive.

Verities #35 - There is a Great Concern for People— Compassion, Deep Affection

The feeling is so strong, it is nothing less than ministerial in its approach and commitment.

I spent hours with Bart Giamatti. He was President of Yale University. It was a fascinating session.

Verities #34 - There are Twelve Characteristics Most Important to Success


I know all of the great fundraisers I interviewed for my book. I worked with all of them. I believe I know what makes them tick.

The characteristics I’m going to identify resulted from a study that George Gallup Jr. conducted among 1,000 men and women he considered to be, “the most successful in their field.” I’ve seen that list of 1,000, and I just can’t imagine I could add anyone to that roster.

Verities #33 - The Greatest of Fundraisers They Might Have Been


They were going to be all they promised to be. Tomorrow.
None would work more effectively, you’d see. Tomorrow.

Verities #32 - The Great Fundraisers Don’t Put Things Off


Carpe Diem is an ancient Latin phrase which means, “Seize the Day.” That’s their credo— Seize the Day.

The great ones don’t put things off. They believe in the dictum of TNT— Today, Not Tomorrow.

Verities #31 - High Degree of Self-Confidence


All of the great fundraisers have a high degree of self-confidence. They are as assured, as the saying goes, as a Methodist with four aces. When they pray for rain— they are so confident, they take an umbrella with them.

Verities #30 - There are Soaring Spiritual Values


Somewhere in the background of the great fundraisers, in their early childhoods, there was a value system. Every single one spoke to me about this.