I’d like to interrupt the regularly scheduled blog with a big idea.
We believe that fundraising is a gift that a nonprofit gives its beneficiaries, donors, and community.
Most people don’t believe that fundraising is a gift. They believe that fundraising bothers donors. Or they believe that fundraising is emotionally manipulative. Occasionally they believe they shouldn’t have to fundraise at all.
But having a core understanding that fundraising is a gift leads to a happier fundraising life and to doing more good.
A Gift to Three Groups
It’s easy to see why an organization’s fundraising is a gift to its beneficiaries or cause. The organization generously spends time and money – to multiply that time and money – so that more help can be given to the beneficiaries or cause.
Fundraising is also a gift to donors. Your organization’s donors care about your beneficiaries or cause, but lack the expertise or programs to do very much. So fundraising that gives a donor a chance to do something meaningful for beneficiaries or a cause that they care about. That sounds like a gift to me.
And as Henri Nouwen argues in A Spirituality of Fundraising, fundraising gives donors a chance to “put their money where their values are.” (That’s a gift too, even though it occasionally makes us uncomfortable.)
Finally, fundraising is a gift to the community you live and operate in. More people knowing the truth about what’s going on, and more people taking action to help, is good for everyone. Fundraising is an effective tool to make that happen.
Beliefs Drive Actions
Believing that fundraising is a gift causes reals changes to organizations and Fundraisers…
If an organization believes that their fundraising is a gift, are they fearful when they send it out?
Maybe a little nervous to see how it does? Sure. Maybe a little worried about a complaint? That’s only human. But the removal of fear from an organization’s fundraising life is a massive improvement.
If an organization believes that their fundraising is a gift, do they only ask donors to help a couple of times a year?
Because they aren’t afraid, and they know that donors love to help, they give donors more chances throughout the year.
If an organization believes that their fundraising is a gift, do they enjoy their fundraising life more?
Imagine never thinking you’re bothering or somehow manipulating donors. Imagine fundraising bosses saying, “Yes, let’s try that new idea of yours.” Imagine celebrating the gifts that come in and brushing away the complaints like you shoo a housefly.
Imagine your shoulders, but lowered. Imagine your breathing, but deeper.
And here’s the kicker: if an organization believes that their fundraising is a gift, do they raise more and do more good?
Yes! Because as they create their annual plans, and as they create each piece of fundraising through the year, they make a hundred little generous decisions from a position of strength. Those decisions give their donors more chances to say “yes.” Those decisions make each individual piece of fundraising more engaging for donors. So they raise more money and do more good.
When we work with a nonprofit and they immediately start raising more money, it can look like the tactics were the cause of the success.
But when we help organizations turn around their fundraising, or make “the leap” to their next level of income, it’s because we approach their fundraising with a different set of beliefs.
Because if you believe that fundraising is a gift – that the act of fundraising is a generous act – the fundraising you create will be more powerful than if you believe something else about fundraising.
Interestingly, in our daily lives everybody knows that if you’re more generous, people will be more generous with you in turn.
Turns out the same thing is true in fundraising.