Fundraising: An art and science

November 4, 2015

Last month, I had the opportunity to lead a fundraising masterclass at the III Jornadas de Fundraising y Mecenazgo in Vigo, Spain. Luckily, I was a Spanish major in college, and was able to conduct the majority of the conversation in the target language. This is never an easy task, especially when Spanish is not your mother tongue.

During the presentation, I had one slide that was discussed throughout the day among attendees. On the slide, I had a picture of the thought-provoking Spanish artist Pablo Picasso, next to the brilliant German scientist Albert Einstein. On the slide I said, “Fundraising is an art and a science.” What do I mean by this?

Like Picasso, fundraisers need to bring in different styles of art into the work that we do. Here are some examples of art styles:

Cubism – We must be bold and often think outside of the box, while conveying a concept that may be abstract at times.

Sculpture – Like a pallet of clay, fundraisers must mould the situation into something that is real and transformational.

Surrealism – Fundraisers need to understand what may be real to some, may be strange and peculiar to others. We face many challenges when dealing with people, places, and things.

Like Einstein, fundraisers are inventors. With that being said, we often need to bring in elements from the periodic table and move these items forward. An example of key elements include:

Oxygen – Often fundraisers need to take deep breaths and look at the entire picture in order to get our heads around what is needed.

Hydrogen – We need fuel and power to move ahead and face the challenges presented to us both internally and externally.

Gold – As fundraisers, we are searching for the gold, or that key donor(s) to fund a certain project or dream.

Both Picasso and Einstein were ahead of their times, which is often the way fundraisers need to think. Everyone has dreams and ideas – art and science is what puts them together. We need to paint the picture and develop a plan that works for them and their culture. When fundraisers combine the concepts of art and science often, new inventions take place.

For me, speaking Spanish is also an art and a science!

-Jeff Synder, Associate

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