GROWING Networks for Fundraising

Consider the three types of connections you have with others:

  1. Personal connections (friends, family, acquaintances)
  2. Business connections (work)
  3. Group connections (civic organizations, networking groups, church, volunteer opportunities)

The goal with network fundraising is to bring people you connect with closer to your fundraising mission. The way to do this is to encourage them to become volunteers. We call the people volunteering for your fundraising program ADVOCATES. Today, you’ll learn about a system, which makes an advocate program within an organization stellar! We’ll talk about creating an adequate motive, which is step one.

Before we dig in you may be wondering – who is an advocate and what do they do? The short answer is an advocate is anyone willing to tell others about your organization. In reality their role is much more important than being a messenger because their involvement assists in growing the dollars you raise. The more people who know about you – the more potential donors you have.

Sometimes, people have a hard time putting their fundraising into the same category of building a business. Think of them as one in the same for this article.

Think in terms of three steps for beginning and maintaining an advocate program:

  1. Develop an adequate motive for people to join you
  2. Add value to people for their involvement
  3. Be consistent

Let’s talk about Adequate Motive because it is first on the list! It is the most important thing to think about. Many times this is where fundraisers feel they cannot bend, or in this case give back, because it takes away from people “loving” their mission.

Your mission is certainly a motive for getting people involved. You are doing great things in the world. Never underestimate the work you do because it matters! An adequate motive is when people gain something in return. It’s when you give back. People like recognition and appreciation. SOAR’s system encourages advocates to move up the ladder toward becoming a DISTINGUISHED ADVOCATE. There are three levels along the way, which are outlined in the coming paragraphs. An advocate chooses to be involved because they like how you’re helping others, and they like the way they are also being treated (Examples of benefits you can offer to advocates are listed at the end of this article).

A distinguished advocate is a person who has thirty-five (35) people (potential advocates) within their down-line. You may be thinking there’s no way I can get that many people to be involved. The good news is you don’t have to. It happens within your network. Basically, you invite people to be involved and then they encourage others to join them. Before you know it, the down-line under you has grown, more and more people are getting involved, and you are now distinguished.

Let’s look at the advocate levels from the top down because people like to reach personal goals. These are key to developing a successful network:

  • Once there are two advocates under an advocate he/she becomes a major advocate
  • Once there are five advocates under an advocate he/she becomes a progressive advocate
  • Once there are fifteen advocates under an advocate he/she becomes a competent advocate
  • Once there are thirty-five advocates under an advocate he/she becomes a distinguished advocate

In multi-level marketing this is often called having a “down-line” and we can say the same here. The difference is that advocates are not getting paid actual money. In reality you are offering opportunities for the growth of their mission (benefits), which have the tendency to bring financial gain. They share the word for you and you do the same for them.

Once an Advocate comes on board the goal is to get them to invite others to become advocates. This involves inspiring them to become a Major Advocate, Progressive Advocate, Competent Advocate and the highest level – a Distinguished Advocate. This is accomplished by providing benefits for reaching specific levels and then offering recognition.

This article focused on creating an adequate motive for people to be involved with your mission and to invite people they know to also be involved. There are trainings related to growing your fundraising program. Some are free. You can learn more through this link. 

Advocate Benefits – Examples:

  1. Reaching a higher level of advocacy (SOAR has 4 levels outlined)
  2. Being mentioned on social media
  3. Able to distribute marketing materials within the office
  4. Added to a “vendor” list
  5. Article about them in the organization’s newsletter
  6. A wall within the office where their bios are shared
  7. Participation in events you host

The ways advocates can be involved with your mission – Examples:

  1. Invite others to activities or events you’re hosting
  2. Share your mission with groups you want to be involved with
  3. Be an active presenter for an event you’re hosting
  4. Speak on your organization’s behalf
  5. Help with tasks
  6. Assist in finding sponsors for activities
  7. Open doors with people or companies


Gayle Gross is the founder of SOAR with Network Fundraising. Her methods help people raise more money – up to 169% has been recorded! 

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