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 #29 - It Takes Rigorous Discipline


For the great fundraisers, there is a huge reservoir of will, drive, and determination. Most of all, there is discipline. Meticulous attention to details is the discipline floss to being a successful fundraiser. You may not like it, but you know it’s good for you.

Verities #28 - You are Results-Oriented


Your entire focus is on the strategy, the solution, and the outcome. You struggle. Just like every tree that struggles to reach the sky. You come from the Try-Harder School.

Most of all, the great fundraisers focus on setting high objectives— and reaching them.

Verities #27 - Memory is Monumental


Most of the great fundraisers I interviewed have extremely well organized offices, a clean desk, and work by rigid schedules.

There is something else, however. El Dorado is Spanish for, “Place of Riches.” Time is the great fundraiser’s El Dorado. And there’s never enough of it.

Verities #26 - The Great Fundraisers are Charged with Energy


There is vigor and vitality that is undeniable and indefatigable. The great ones seem to be able to endure a staggering workload, hour after joyous hour.
Forget everything you learned in high school physics about the definition of “energy.” In fundraising, the definition of energy is, success. Energy breeds success.

Verities #25 - Research is Important, but Action Prevails


Knowing precisely the proper strategic approach to a major potential donor is not at all a tidy process. The great fundraisers understand that.
It takes an intuitive sense and feeling, it takes common sense, and it takes all the research possible.

Verities #24 - There is never enough time. Never!


Even though I don’t know you as well as I would like, I am aware you have a serious problem. It gnaws on you every day. It’s unrelenting.
You don’t have enough time.

Verities #23 - Wait to Worry


It’s probably the best advice you can follow in life— from both a personal and a professional standpoint.

The great fundraisers are concerned about everything in their professional life. The quality of their work. Their relationships with donors and prospects.  And meeting high objectives.

Concerned, yes! But not worried.

Verities #22 - You Work Hard


You work hard, think big, listen carefully. Ben Feldman says there are only three things that count in being successful. He should know!
There are more than 1600 life insurance companies in America. Ben Feldman, by himself, has written more insurance than a thousand of those companies.