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"What I learned from my daughter's COVID wedding" with Nneka Allen

Relationship building with donors can often feel like an overwhelming aspect of our job. What do I need to say so that donors will give? What needs to happen so that donors will renew? When and how can I ask?

The guest on our podcast today, fundraiser and writer Nneka Allen, wants us to forget about all these loaded questions and simply reflect on how authentic and long term relationships naturally happen in our lives. She shares some beautiful examples from her daughter’s wedding and her personal eureka moments.

Give this episode a listen, and take a step back to examine the alignment of the relationships you’re fostering with your donors and stakeholders.

3 myths that Nneka wants us to leave behind

  1. Reciprocity is about doing favours for each other. Reciprocity is a support network where both parties cherish each other and want to help each other. It’s not a cut-and-dry “you do this for me, and I will do this for you.”

  2. You have to hold on to your donors forever. You’re inspiring your donors to help provide what you need to solve a problem, and they’re on this journey with you. Instead of focusing on holding onto your donors for as long as you can, Nneka encourages us to focus on succeeding in solving the problem you set out to resolve, which would lead to a natural and happy ending of relationships with some of your donors.

Nneka’s tips on authentic relationship building

  1. Cultivate reciprocity as opposed to asking for benevolence. Don’t position yourself as someone that’s for donors’ good goodwillwill or for doing favours. Inspire your donors and find alignment with what they truly care about. Only when you and your donors mutually value and care about your relationship that you will be there for each other through ups and downs.

  2. Have honest conversations with your donors. Donors are people too, and if they truly care about your organization’s work, they want to know what is going on -- the success, the challenge, the vision, and the context. It’s ok to walk away from funders and donors that are not aligned with your organization.

  3. Shift away from scarcia ty mindset. The reason donors are not giving to you is not because of another charity’s existence. Every charity has a unique mission and will align with different (and sometimes similar) donors. Scarcity mindset pigeonholes our relationship cultivation approach and limits our ability to connect with our donors on a deeper level.

My favourite quotes from today’s episode

Post your favourite quote on our social!

“Reciprocity is a mindset and an environment we have to cultivate. There's never a moment in the cycle of reciprocity where one does not need the other. We're always in this constant needing one another. If we could apply that in our work in fundraising with our donors more consistently, I am convinced that our donors will exceed our expectations in response to the changes we want to make.”

“Gratitude forces you outside of everything that's just happening for you internally and makes you look at the things around you. It forces you beyond yourself.”

Resources from this Episode

The Good Partnership


Nneka on LinkedIn

Our Right to Heal

The Empathy Agency

The Small Nonprofit is produced by Eloisa Jane Mariano