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  • Writer's pictureFrances Roen

Embracing Humanity: A Human-Centered Approach to Fundraising

Updated: May 29

In the world of fundraising, it's easy to get caught up in numbers, goals, and strategies. But what if we shifted our focus from dollars and cents to people and their stories? What if we embraced a human-centered approach to fundraising?

A red heart on a brownish copper background surrounded by 6 hands at the top and 4 hands at the bottom.

Fundraising is, at its core, about building connections and fostering relationships. It's about understanding the passions, motivations, and needs of donors, volunteers, and beneficiaries alike. Yet, all too often, the human element gets lost in the shuffle of campaigns and appeals.

So, what exactly does a human-centered approach to fundraising entail?

First and foremost, it's about empathy. It's about empathizing with both those we serve and those who support our cause. It entails listening to their stories, comprehending their challenges, and celebrating their successes.

It’s Personal

Just as clients have diverse reasons and circumstances for engaging with our organization, so do donors. They may have a personal connection to an employee, recently received an inheritance, feel passionate about a specific project, or simply seek to make a positive impact in their community. Understanding their motivations and needs is crucial in fostering meaningful relationships.

It’s Meaningful

Effective collaboration with donors, much like with clients, is a two-way street. It's impossible to become partners in a mission for good without meaningful collaboration. And meaningful collaboration relies on open and honest communication. Share your organization’s challenges and potential opportunities as often as you share your successes. Just as you involve clients in conversation and decision-making processes, it's essential to invite donors to be part of the conversation and contribute in meaningful ways too.

It’s Impactful

A human-centered approach to fundraising is about more than just raising money; it's about making a tangible difference in people's lives. It's about measuring success not only in dollars raised but in lives changed (beneficiaries and donors). But, be careful! There is a thin line between informing your donors and funders of the good work they are a part of and exploiting those you are serving. We’ll delve into effective and ethical storytelling in our next post!

So let's commit to putting humanity at the heart of our efforts and see where it takes us. After all, when we put people first, the possibilities are endless.


Frances Roen is a Georgia girl at heart, and has been graciously adopted by beautiful, snowy Minnesota. She is a forty-something daughter, friend, mom, wife, and entrepreneur, and is always on the look-out for a perfectly fried piece of chicken.

Frances is a Certified Fundraising Executive (CFRE) with nearly 20 years of experience fundraising and has raised over $200M for nonprofits. She has held fundraising positions at The Bakken Museum, Augustana Care Corporation, and YouthLink and consulted with dozens of nonprofits clients across the globe. In these roles she has been responsible for all aspects of fundraising including comprehensive campaigns, major and planned gifts, annual funds, events, communications, corporate partnerships and volunteers.

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