Claire Axelrad, a leader in the nonprofit sector, discusses the role of a philanthropy facilitator and the importance of shifting the focus from fundraising to philanthropy. She explains that philanthropy, which means “love of humankind,” involves leading donors on a transformative journey towards self-actualization. Claire emphasizes the need for engagement experts in the nonprofit sector who can guide donors and help them find meaning in their philanthropic endeavors.

The conversation digs into the negative connotations associated with traditional fundraising and highlights the importance of building relationships with donors based on trust, dignity, and respect. Claire suggests that nonprofit organizations should adopt a gratitude mindset and focus on emotionally moving donors by acknowledging their impact and expressing genuine appreciation. She encourages organizations to develop formal gratitude programs and donor love and loyalty plans to foster long-term relationships with donors.

The interview emphasizes the significance of listening to donors and understanding their individual journeys. Claire stresses the value of curiosity and asks generative questions to uncover donors’ motivations and passions. By doing so, nonprofits can align their purpose with that of the donors, creating a symbiotic relationship where both parties feel fulfilled and empowered to make a difference.

Claire also discusses the need for ease and convenience in the giving process, highlighting the importance of user-friendly websites and mobile-responsive platforms. She encourages nonprofits to put themselves in donors’ shoes and ensure that the giving experience is seamless and accessible.

The interview concludes with a reminder that philanthropy facilitation consists of two parts: embracing the love of humankind and making the process easy and accessible. By embodying these principles and prioritizing gratitude and engagement, nonprofits can create meaningful connections with donors and inspire them to continue supporting their causes.

Quotes from the Show:

“I often call development people engagement sherpas… Sometimes you need a tour guide. Sometimes you need somebody who stands by your side, gently guides and supports you.”
“The best fundraisers are these engagement experts… You imagine strategies that are going to influence donors to stick with you, to join that journey.”
“If it’s not good for them, the donors, it’s not good for you. And conversely, if it means a lot to them, it will mean a lot to you.”
“You have to understand that fundraising mostly is about the donors. It’s not about the money.”
“Asking somebody to invest in a cause that they really believe in, that is going to really help them feel good about themselves, is the biggest gift that you can give someone.”
“Effective donor acknowledgement and philanthropy facilitation emotionally move your donor, making them feel like they are more important to you than they even thought they were.”
“You have to energetically do the woo… You gotta keep wooing the donors.