Yes, I said it. Stop doing it. Now.
Stop asking people for money.
How dare he! Tie him up and lock him away! Release the hounds!
When someone hears you are a fundraiser, they often say “I couldn’t do that, I hate asking people for money”. Here’s the big secret – so do fundraisers, at least the really good ones.
So if you stop asking for money, how will you raise funds? How will you support the very important mission your organization is trying to achieve? How will the programs, activities, research and services you support continue to go on, if no one is driving donations into the cause?
If it’s just about the money, it is a shallow appeal. It will only reinforce the stereotype of the beggar charity treating people as wallets. This type of approach may even work in the short-term, but eventually people will get tired. Don’t try to secure a donation in 30 seconds, have a dialogue instead. I believe that “donor fatigue” comes from receiving too many asks for money, not from too much good fundraising.After recently reading The Zen of Fundraising by fundraising guru Ken Burnett, where he makes a similar appeal as I am in this post, it became even more clear to me how much fundraising is not just about the charity, not-for-profit or do-gooder organization. Although you do have a very important job.
So what are you doing then?
You are inviting people to make a difference. You are facilitating the marriage of interest and opportunity. You are navigating the space between a person’s desire to achieve something big and the places in the community, country or world that would allow that to happen.
Anything but asking for money. The day I realized this was the day I truly embraced fundraising.
Ok, yes – technically you are going to be asking someone to provide a donation, and if you are not confident and skilled in asking, and are not willing to learn how to do better, you may have a really hard time achieving success in the field. But fundraising is a learned skill, and a solid foundation of confidence comes as much from the passion and desire you have to help donors achieve their goals, and for your organization or cause to achieve the mission as it does from your mettle as a fundraiser. Experience does count, sure, but so does the right mindset. Think impact first.
The point is to make fundraising about more than just money – because it is!
Constant Questions: How have you made fundraising about more than money? If you’re not asking for money, how do you define what you are doing? If you’re not a fundraiser but you’re a donor, what conversation do you like to have about your giving? Is money the root of all evil? Isn’t that a bit harsh? Come on, be nice.
Maybe closing with this O’Jays video is obvious. Or maybe not. It’s ironic that this song is often used in a sensationalist context of people that are rich or looking to get rich, when it’s actually quite outspoken about how focusing on money in and of itself can be really problematic. As they say – with money, “do things, good things with it.”
It’s the “things” that we really should be talking about as fundraisers.