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On 'Exponential Fundraising': A 'Flip' Chat With Jennifer McCrea, Senior Research Fellow, Hauser Center for Nonprofit Organizations

April 04, 2012

(This video was recorded as part of our 'Flip' chat series of conversations with thought leaders in the nonprofit and philanthropic sectors. You can check out other videos in the series here, including our previous chat with Big Duck principal and founder Sarah Durham.)

On Monday, the Nonprofit Research Collaborative announced findings from its latest report on charitable giving. Among other things, the Nonprofit Fundraising Study, 2011 (47 pages, PDF) found that 53 percent of the 1,602 charities surveyed saw donations increase in 2011, while 70 percent said they expect to see additional growth in 2012. Even so, the economy remains a concern for many nonprofit organizations, with about a third of respondents saying economic issues, nationally and globally, pose the greatest challenge to the success of their fundraising efforts in 2012.

Absent a tooth fairy or mega-millions lottery for charities, fundraisers in the nonprofit sector must use a variety of techniques to boost their organization's income in these uncertain times. Enter "exponential fundraising," an approach coined by Hauser Center senior research fellow Jennifer McCrea that aims to alter the buyer-seller dynamic that often characterizes donor-fundraiser relationships.

"We get very stuck in....this transactional mindset of 'what have you done for me lately', instead of actually having real conversations with people," explains McCrea. "Our work is so much more powerful if we can remove that buyer-seller dynamic and we can actually allow our passion for making a difference together shine through…."

For almost a quarter-century now, McCrea has worked to share her approach to fundraising with others -- most recently through a year-long course she teaches at Harvard's Hauser Center for Nonprofit Organizations, as well as on a one-to-one basis with nonprofit leaders from a wide range of fields.

(If you're reading this in an e-mail, click here.)

(Running time: 6 minutes, 41 seconds)

Do you raise funds for a nonprofit organization or charitable cause? What's working for you in this uncertain post-recessionary environment? And has anyone tried McCrea's "exponential" approach? If so, we'd love to hear what you found worked (and maybe didn't). Use the comments section below....

-- Regina Mahone

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