It was inspiring to see over 39,400 courageous individuals managing to complete the grueling 26.2-mile journey of the Virgin Money London Marathon from Blackheath to Westminster, making the 37th edition of the race the biggest in its history. Here, are the 4 key lessons I learned from London Marathon as a major-giving fundraiser:
- Patience and Training:
I came across this great quote from Just-giving:‘’Medals aren’t just earned on a race day, they are earned on early mornings, humid afternoons, and holidays when you’d rather sleep in.’’ Many people never ran in their lives but they trained themselves with discipline and patience. There is a deep message for major giving specialist, funds are not raised on the day we make an ‘Ask’ from our major gifts prospects, funds are raised early on, means how we engage our donor, the success of the ‘ASK’ is dependent on the effort and time we invest in understanding and nurturing the relationship with our prospect. Thus, the marathon was a great reminder for us that we must put real effort to build the rapport and we must be patient with that process. Sometimes, it takes months to get to the stage when you are able to even speak or meet with your prospective donor. Also, each time we go to make an ASK, we must rehearse and prepare well. Yes, you might think that you have made so many ASKs and perhaps don’t need to prepare, but trust me the likelihood of the better results will be much higher if you are prepared well.
Every marathon runner had an interesting story to tell that why they are doing, what they are doing. They all inspired their family, friends and their networks by telling a great story, by explaining their reasons for their participation in London marathon. Thus, we as major-giving specialists must be great at inspiring our teams and our prospective major donors by sharing the best story of our organization’s mission in other words, why our organization exists and what it does and how other people can join and play a part.
I believe that marathon is not just about fundraising, because if it was all about money then people wouldn’t have bothered to train for months and ran over 26 miles in few hours. Most of them would have simply donated money, whatever they could afford to their perspective charities without going through that much of hassle. I think the marathon is a great showcase of donor’s engagement and passion for the causes they care for. Thus, the marathon is a platform which creates an opportunity to invite people to join perspective organization’s vision and mission.
Almost every single runner has been sharing their stories online and offline to their networks. Which means that charity they are supporting as a runner is not only going to receive the money but a lot of publicity/awareness too. For example, the royal family has been campaigning for mental health during marathon this year and as a trustee of mental health charity, I understand that mental health has never received that much attention on a national scale as it did during the marathon. Here is a lesson for major giving specialists, any relationship we develop with any prospective donor we shouldn’t limit to ‘money’ only. Thus, there could be many other ways to involve and engage your donors than just money. For example, they might be able to introduce you to their networks or they might be able to offer a service which can be utilised to run the organisation or can be directly beneficial to your beneficiaries.