Are You a Troglodyte Fundraiser? 3 Ways to Leave the Cave

Man crawling out of cave

Get out of the cave. It’s stunting your growth!

In case you don’t know, troglodytes are hermits who live in caves. There are 3 ways I’ve found that folks in the development profession fit this description.  Are you a cave dweller? If so, here’s how to get out more.

  1. Get out from behind your desk.
  2. Begin to embrace social media.
  3. Think outside the cave.  

1. Get out from behind your desk. I know your office is comfy, but you’re not doing your job if you’re not getting out there and regularly meeting folks in person.  Nothing beats face-to-face for building personal connections. Whether you’re the executive director, a major gifts officer or a direct mail specialist, everyone can benefit from getting out in the field more. It’s not just about asking.  It’s about learning.  Check out the photos on your prospect’s desk.  Notice the objects on their mantelpiece.  Engage them in conversation about what’s important to them.  Hang out. Spend time. Woody Allen is attributed with saying: “90% of life is just showing up.” Whether he said it or not, it’s insightful.

BONUS: Getting out from behind your desk is also good for your health and effectiveness as a manager.

2. Begin to embrace social media. I know it’s scary, but it truly will pump up your fundraising and make you stronger. And it’s actually perfect for those of you who can’t manage to get up out of your desk chair.  It allows you to get out there virtually.

Sometimes the best way to reach a donor is through a text message or even a direct Tweet. I hate to be the bearer of uncomfortable news, but… the way folks communicate today is vastly different than it was five years ago. We’re truly in the midst of a digital revolution that is fundamentally ending business as usual. If you want to stay in business, you’ve got to join today’s conversation. You’ve got to be practical. As Dr. Linda Gravett said in the Huffington Post:

Many boomers are not coping well. I’ve had so many boomers say to me, I’m not going to learn how to text, I want to talk to someone face-to-face doggone it and I’m going to track them down till I find them face-to-face,” she said. “I say, you have to learn that if you want to communicate with people across all age groups then learn how to text, learn how to instant message, get out of your comfort zone and your rigidity that every kind of communication must be either by letter or email or even face to face because that isn’t necessarily practical.

Social media is a killer engagement tool. Anthropologists believe the use of tools had a large part in our evolution. Now is no time to stop evolving! Use social media as a door opener with folks you don’t know all that well.  Relationships truly can be built online. No one knows this better than the online dating sites, which are huge business and one of the primary ways folks get matched up these days. Fundraising is all about matchmaking, so why not take advantage of this tool? Begin the relationship online; then move on to an in-person meeting.

I’m no social media expert. And that’s the point. I’m writing this for non-experts to encourage you to get in the game.  You don’t have to be an expert. You can hire one.  Or get an intern or a volunteer to help.  Just learn what the different tools can help you accomplish.  Then pick the tools that meet your particular needs, and layer them on top of your tried-and-true strategies.

3. Think outside the cave.  Imagine your way into the future. Try to get over the “but we’ve always done it this way” or the “we tried that before but it didn’t work” mentality.  What worked/didn’t work yesterday is old news.  Dare to change it up.

The quality of the imagination is to flow and not to freeze. — Ralph Waldo Emerson

Business has become social and you must adapt to survive. Innovation is what takes you to the next level – generating more awareness, getting more people interested in you, creating greater engagement and involvement and, ultimately, boosting investment in your cause so you can continue to fulfill our mission.

Bottom line: The most effective fundraisers are builders of relationships. You can’t do much of that from inside your cave. Leave the cave and carpe diem!

If you’re ready to leave the cave, check out my free webinar A New Era in Nonprofit Marketing: Why Winging It with Social Media No Longer Works.  It’s Tuesday, June 4th at noon PDT. Register now!  Did I mention there’s no charge? Such a deal.

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About Claire

I’m Claire and I want to help you raise more money, reach more people and build long-lasting relationships with your supporters. Take a look in the archives.


  1. […] Visit your donors virtually every chance you get.  It doesn’t mean you give up on the face-to-face or voice-to-voice visit. Nothing beats that.  But we all know how difficult it is to get those visits.  Even when engaging in the very best practices, it can be a frustrating challenge.  All too often, we simply give up and that prospect’s card is put into the pile to “try again next year.” Now, it doesn’t have to be this way. We can steward and steward and steward… then, when we finally get the visit, the time will be ripe for the all-important ask! […]

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