Giving Compass' Take:

• Blue Avocado takes a look at the fundraising process for nonprofits and describes a system for outreach — Hand-Head-Heart — which appeals to both passion and practicality.

• Would this process work for your own org's fundraising efforts? What are the biggest challenges in asking for donations that this doesn't quite address?

Here's a look at the fundraising and why storm warnings should be downgraded — for now.

Individual donations provide the lion's share of support to grassroots causes, exceeding 80% of all non-governmental income. Yet many organizations struggle to successfully engage prospects because they haven't taken the time to see things from their point of view.

Nonprofits tend to look at gifts from this perspective: We have a worthy cause; we have financial needs to sustain the organization and advance the cause; we know of someone with money who can support this cause if we just can get to them.

By contrast, donors tend to look at gifts from this perspective: We have money; we have certain priorities that come from our values; we want to maximize our return on our investment and the impact we can have placing finite resources.

Marrying these somewhat disparate perspectives is the art of fundraising, but the caveat for nonprofits is that not all donors will prioritize or align with your cause; and the biggest No-No in fundraising is to put your cause forward without finding the connective tissue between the cause and the prospect. Casting your bread upon philanthropic waters and seeing what happens just won't cut it in a world where limited resources and changing tax laws are dramatically shifting charitable giving.

So, if tossing out your cause as your first move is not the smart play in fundraising, what is the critical first step to bring your nonprofit into focus for a donor? RESEARCH! RESEARCH! RESEARCH!

Visualize this: It takes three critical elements to close a gift — think Hand-Head-Heart:

  • Hand is the capacity to give;
  • Head corresponds to the interest in the field;
  • Heart is the desire to contribute.

Read the full article about the best route to approaching donors by Paula Golden at Blue Avocado.