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The 4 Ps of Being a Great Nonprofit Fundraiser

The Association of Fundraising Professionals (AFP) – Finger Lakes Chapter held their 15th Annual National Philanthropy Day Awards Luncheon on 11/15/16 to recognize local individuals and groups who have shown significant generosity and philanthropic leadership over the past year.

In 2015, GiveGab was honored to receive the Corporate Philanthropist of the Year award during the 14th Annual NPDA Luncheon.  And this year, GiveGab helped in nominating the recipient of this same award for 2016, Cayuga Radio Group.  To see the full list of award recipients and read more about the event, visit the AFP Finger Lakes Chapter website.

Among the various speeches that were given, there was a common theme that will be described here as “The 4 Ps of Being a Great Fundraiser”.

These are Passion, Persistence, Philanthropy, and People-Focused.


Starting with the opening speech given by the president of Ithaca College, Thomas Rochon, and supported by statements made by the award recipients, it became clear that passion is a primary factor in being a successful fundraiser.  One speaker went so far as to say that passion is the differentiating factor between those who are long-term fundraisers for an organization and those who “job-hop”.

To be passionate about your work means to have enthusiasm and a desire that keeps you dedicated and motivated to continue working toward its success.  As most fundraisers can likely attest to, fundraising is a stressful job with a high turnover rate, making it almost a requirement to be passionate about the work you’re doing.  Otherwise, one might find little benefit to the work and the stress would outweigh the gains.

As a nonprofit fundraiser, however, you’re raising money for a worthy cause and feeling passionate for that cause is what will drive you to keep going even when you “fail”.  As one award recipient stated, “The AFP should have an extra ‘P’ added to it because they’re ‘passionate’ fundraising professionals“.


To follow your passion relentlessly is to have persistence.  Thomas (Ithaca College President), expressed this in his story of the first time he had made an important ask on behalf of the college.  He shared that he was the newly appointed dean at the time and had traveled with the then president of the school to make a large gift request.

With the pitch prepared and well-served, the individual said no to the ask…  And continued to say no to every following request during that meeting.  Feeling discouraged after this meeting was over, Thomas asked his colleague what had just happened, and his reply was that he didn’t hear “no” but instead heard “Not tonight honey, I have a headache.”  In other words, he saw the situation as an opportunity to follow up later, to be persistent with his work, and to not feel defeated.


For successful fundraisers, wanting to give back to those in need and actually doing so isn’t something you expect from others without doing yourself.  If you’re asking others to give and to care but you don’t care and give yourself, you’re not practicing what you preach.

A big part of incorporating philanthropy into your own moral code is to instill a culture of philanthropy in your work environment.  You can learn more about how to do this in the article Creating a Culture of Philanthropy Within Your Organization.


Fundraising always comes down to the people and how you engage with them and show your appreciation.  This includes more than the people your nonprofit serves to benefit directly, but your supporters, your local community, and the world as well.  As was insightfully mentioned during this luncheon,

“Giving creates a ripple effect that impacts your local community and beyond.”

Do you have what it takes to be a great fundraiser?