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Why Good Friends Make Good Fundraisers

Think about how often you’ve asked a friend for a restaurant recommendation and then trusted their pick without even looking up a review. When that friend has had experience with a nonprofit’s mission and endorses it, especially if you both have similar tastes and interests, you are likely to quickly trust that nonprofits work and reputation. Just as trust among friends can lead to a restaurant pick, so too can it be transferred to a nonprofit.

Daniel Kahneman and Amos Tversky, two giants in the field of behavioral economics, would call these trusted relationships a mental shortcut -- and that shortcut establishes trust that would otherwise take years to establish. Relying on relationships to create that trust shortcut helps a nonprofit efficiently build support among a broader base of individuals.

New donors are often introduced to a nonprofit’s mission by a friend, whose deep involvement in the organization as a board member, volunteer, or longtime supporter inspires generosity.

The “trusted relationships" shortcut only takes you so far, however. It wears out quickly. Once you have a donor on board, a nonprofit should be working very hard to prove that their mission’s worth by demonstrating impact, showing good financial governance, and being transparent. Or your first-time donor will become an 'only-time' donor.

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