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Once a week, one of 70 Fundraising Verities is posted from the best selling book, Born to Raise by Jerold Panas.

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The Verities — What Makes a Great Fundraiser?

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.  

You are at once struck with the great diversity among them.  They are tall and short, young and old, thin and not so thin, mellow and fierce, and from all parts of the country.  They certainly do not seem to fit any simple cookie-cutter mold.

It’s easy to define the qualities that are necessary to be an outstanding fundraiser.  And you would probably be incorrect!

When one of the supposed giants in our field complained to a friend about the shortage of really great fundraisers in the country, the friend replied:  “There’s probably one fewer than you think.”

When I finally got the list down to where I wanted it, there were 30 factors and qualities that I tested.  I discovered that the titans in our field often have a ravishing marinade of these skills and talents.

When I discussed the list with W.A. Criswell, he said:  “You can’t be a soul-winner, a builder, and a money raiser without all of these attributes.  They are all important.  It is hard to choose among them, and I wouldn’t know what to add.”

What makes some succeed and other fails? This is the issue that gnaws.  This is the overriding question.

What are the secrets, the mysteries?  What profound bits of wisdom explain why one person racks up one fundraising success after another.  While someone else lives out a humdrum career and existence?  Why do some simply never make it?

Here’s one quick and easy explanation that seems to sum it all up.  Success takes common sense, the ability to communicate effectively and easily, the talent to motivate people, a good memory, and the hunger to succeed.

The craving to succeed, the drive and determination to win, may be the most important of all.

Certain key factors seem to be consistent with the great ones I interviewed.  These elements and characteristics shine as a beacon for others to follow.

I spent a day interviewing the 50 great fundraisers— with a few, several days.  I have been around the slippery, greased track for many years— and have worked directly, one-on-one, with probably close to 1000 men and women in the field.

What I offer here are some observations and findings about fundraising and fundraisers— the verities of our profession.  Canons to work by.  Tenets you can count on.  These are truths and principles that will assure your being the best you can be.

It’s a potpourri.  I have listed these at random, with no order of priority.  Most of the items are of equal importance.  On a scale of 1 to 10— they’re all tens.  A few are elevens!  They’re off the graph.

Here they are, The Verities.  Sixty-three in all.  Each important.  Many, a virtual strike of lightning.  I will give you one a week for the next 63 weeks.

 — Jerry