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The Second Shape: The Web

We’ve discussed The Spiral, the personal journey you take with a donor. Now we’re on to The Web: the second shape of three that will explain everything you need to know about fundraising theory.

The Web is the community that you form between individuals.

This is a web of life, a web of relations that nurtures the work you do and is also nurtured by that work. And it starts with a single dot: You.

The Dot

You are the steward of this particular web, and the primary one building it in your role as fundraiser. So… boop. We start with your dot in the middle.

The Spokes

Now draw a bunch of lines radiating out from your cozy dot.

Every spoke is a relationship with a donor, and in every line there is a Spiral.

The Complete Web

A bunch of spokes converging on one point is not a very stable shape in the end, is it? The web really becomes complete and stronger when you start forging connections between those donors around you. Not only does this become fun and rewarding on a personal level, but it also helps give your fundraising efforts more impact and longevity.

Below are just some of the many reasons that building a Web is a central piece of fundraising theory.

The Web Supports, Delights, and Protects

You will be the source of meaningful relationships for people, and that will be part of the drive to support you. Donors really enjoy meeting other people who share their values and priorities. Through my work as a fundraiser, I have introduced donors who have been longtime friends. I know three couples who have been taking an annual trip to a different part of the world for over fifteen years since I introduced them.

Now, this assumes that these are the right kind of donors. In another blog post, I will explain the concepts of Love Money and Narcissist Money, and why you should work on growing the former and not bother with the latter. Love money donors are the ones who really want these quality relationships with others, so it also becomes an indicator for who is bringing the right attitude and energy to your community… and who you may need to watch out for.

The Web Builds Buzz

If you do this right, people will talk about you in a good way. They will talk about you in good terms in their broader network, but–more importantly–among other members of the web.

For instance, when they talk with each other, they will share the ways that they want to support your work. One will say, “They need to raise a quarter million dollars for a project. We might do about $10,000.” And the other will respond, “I hadn’t been able to give it that much thought yet, but now that I know what you are giving…”

Donors will want to keep pace with each other. They will be proud of their association with you.

And let’s be frank: Things will get rough sometimes. No org escapes turbulent times forever. But when you have that strong Web around you, they will be comfortable talking about those difficulties and the ways that they can help see you through.

The Web Saves You Time and Resources

Remember in discussing the Spiral, I talked about how you need to invite everyone to take each step on that journey. Well, when people are connected on the Web, your invitations move people through the Spiral as a group. The encouragement and gratitude that you show to each can remain heartfelt and personal, but it has the greater impact and efficiency of a collective action.

This is partly because they will each be more ready to have these conversations with you individually. They already know the temperature of the room, because they are communicating with each other, and thus already thinking about their next steps.

In money-focused fundraising practice, there is an imperative to “warm people up” before an ask. When you build and sustain a healthy Web, your donors are always hot.