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 #61 - The Successful Fundraisers are Men and Women of Ideas and Ideals


For the truly successful ones, their beliefs are lofty. Soaring aspirations.

Verities #60 - Trust Your Instincts


When is precisely the right time to call on someone? When is it appropriate to talk instead of listen? When do you know whether to launch something new? Try something different?  Make a change?

Verities #59 - The Most Successful Fundraisers Recruit the Strongest


Great fundraisers build the most effective people around them. Not only staff, but volunteers.

Verities #58 - No Pain, No Gain


Among the successful fundraisers, there is a willingness, even an eagerness and expectation, to pay the price— whatever the cost. They understand that to be successful in this field, there has to be sacrifice. No pain, no gain.

Verities #57 - Details are the Rudder that Directs Your Work


“God is in the details,” said Mies Van der Rohe. To be successful, you understand how essential details are to achieving the highest level of excellence. That’s what gets the gift.

Verities #56 - Surviving the Fundraising Challenges


You understand that just being able to survive can at times be challenging in our profession. Never let yourself get between a dog and a lamppost! That should be our credo.

Verities #55 - The Successful Ones Relish High Objectives


They reach for the moon. They know they might not get there, but they will grab a star on the way down.

Verities #54 - The Great Fundraisers Practice the Principle of Ready, Fire, Aim


Some in our field are guilty of spending all of their time preparing for an ask or a campaign. Or they spend all their time analyzing the most effective way to call on a prospect— instead of making the call.