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 #21 - You Are an Innovation-Machine


You are an innovation-machine. An incubator of ideas. A problem solver. A game changer.

You understand that you cannot increase the size of the gift without enhancing the planning and the decisiveness of the strategy.Planning, innovation, and implementation are the seeds from which winning takes root and grows.

Verities #20 - You Must Stand on Tiptoes


The great fundraisers reach for the stars. Their sights are lofty and soaring. High expectations impel and drive their action. There is the enthusiasm, the inspiration, the passion. But always the drive to achieve high expectations. The joy and exhilaration of the challenge.

Verities #19 - You Are Intrepid


For the great ones, there is no goal they can’t achieve, no mountain they can’t climb. Nothing is a roadblock or a problem. The great ones understand when they come to a roadblock, they simply take a detour.

Verities #18 - Be a Positive Thinker


I’m flying high. I had an opportunity recently to meet with Larry Ellison on behalf of a client. Ellison is the founder and genius behind Oracle.

Verities #17 - Great Fundraisers Read

The great fundraisers read. They read everything in sight. They read incessantly and compulsively.

Sadly, when I talk with many of my clients and when I give Seminars, I find that too many development people don’t read. Part of the problem is one of having enough time. The other part of the problem is they don’t take the time.

Verities #16 - All of the Great Fundraisers Have Certain Success-Factors in Common

It is the thread woven through their entire fabric.

There is high ambition, a drive to achieve, and immense inner-motivation.

Verities #15 - Understanding Problems as Opportunities

You understand that every grand opportunity is simply masquerading as a problem, a mystery waiting to be solved. If you don’t understand the problem, then explain it to someone and listen to yourself discussing it.

Make certain you never state a problem in the same terms as it was originally brought to you. Studying the reverse always helps.

Verities #14 - Do You Have a Quality of Leadership?

Something quite distinctive is in evidence in everyone who is successful in the field. There is a special quality of leadership.

You sense it, you somehow see it, you can almost feel it. It is kindred to the characteristic of “presence,” but it’s really more than that.  Everyone spoke about it.

Father Hesburgh, former president of Notre Dame, came as close as anyone. “I’ll tell you what I feel leadership is all about. As far as I’m concerned, I bring a vision of where I want to go and I am able to communicate it. That’s what it’s all about.