The Reminder


Before your organization arrived in a donor’s life, their beliefs and values caused them to be generous, to believe in right and wrong, to care for people in their community.

In other words, they put themselves “on the hook.” They decided to take responsibility for some of the ills in the world and donate to help.

So if it ever feels uncomfortable to ask people for money, remember that the people you are asking put themselves on the hook. They are on your donor list or mailing list because they want to help.

So you shouldn’t feel guilty about sending out fundraising. You shouldn’t feel like you’re manipulating people.

Instead, be thankful and joyful they put themselves on the hook. Boldly ask them to put their money where their values are.

Fundraising doesn’t put donors on the hook. Fundraising reminds donors that they put themselves on the hook.

Fundraising is a Gift an Organization Gives


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.

A Generous Ego


If your organization wants to do more fundraising (which we obviously believe in) we’d recommend that you do so with what we call a “generous ego.”

You need to have enough ego to know that what you’re doing is important, that it matters, that your organization is making a difference.  You need to believe those so strongly that you want to share them with other people.

But you also need to be generous.  When you do your fundraising, you need to make the generous act of crossing the gap to your donors’ level of understanding. You need to make the generous act of asking more often than you think you can, on behalf of your beneficiaries.

When asking for support, make the generous act of focusing on your donor’s role, telling her how her gift that makes a difference.  When reporting back on previous giving, make the generous act of giving the credit to the donor, and directly telling her how her gift made a difference.

Too many nonprofits have a hard time being generous in their fundraising.  They make their fundraising all about themselves.  About their process.  About their programs.  About their staff.  About their volunteers.  About how they think about their issue.  They ask the donor to support their organization instead of asking the donor to help people.

Of course, what your organization does is important.  What your organization does makes the world a better place.  

Your organization should have a healthy ego.  Your ego should cause you to want to do more fundraising, because you know more good would be done if you raised more money. 

But be generous about it in your fundraising.  Be generous about it in your branding.

Generously focus on how your donors’ gifts will meet beneficiaries’ needs.  Do that, instead of raising money for your organization, and you’ll raise more money for your organization.