Fundraisers, stop asking for money

Yes, I said it. Stop doing it. Now.

Think they sell these at Home Depot?

Think they sell these at Home Depot?

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.

You are one with the donation.

You are one with the donation.

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.

6 Reasons Why You Shouldn’t Volunteer

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If you’re like me, life is perfect exactly the way it is and you wouldn’t change one atom at the risk of your world crumbling like a house of cards in the wind. That is why volunteering is no good – it’s too disruptive and has way too many drawbacks, including but not limited to:

1) You will have too much fun

Life is too exciting these days. Volunteering will be too stimulating and will make time pass way too quickly because of the amount of fun you will be having. You don’t need all that.

2) Your network will grow too fast

Are you tired of having too many well-meaning, smart, socially active people in your network? Then volunteering is definitely not for you. The amount of energetic, community-minded, well-connected do gooders you meet is too much to keep track of. Better to retire in solitude to the Batcave.

3) Your community will benefit too much

Our society doesn’t need any help. There are no issues around poverty, isolation, domestic violence, education, obesity, terminal illness, politics, environment, health or public apathy. So why put any energy there? What we really need is more reality TV. That industry is suffering.

4) You will be too inspirational to others

Imagine, by volunteering, your actions will cause others to take notice and perhaps push them over the fence to do the same, creating an amplified tide of goodness and enhancing the world around us. Unconscionable.

5) You will gain too many valuable skills

If you have so many skills that you don’t know what to do with them, you shouldn’t be volunteering. Learning about governance, finance, marketing, communication, community outreach or fundraising is of no use if you are already a certified dojo master in all of these areas.

6) You will become too fulfilled

The last thing we need is to feel connected to something bigger than ourselves. We’ve already answered the question “What is the meaning of life?” back in 1974, so the pursuit of higher purpose is officially overdone.

April Fools! If your sarcasm meter hasn’t exploded yet, of course I’m messing around in the interest of making a point. I’m heavily pro-volunteering because it has made such a magnificent impact in my life, and I want the same for you.

The Challenge:

If you don’t already volunteer: There’s still hope! Volunteer for one hour a month with an organization of your choice, serving any cause in the public good. Check out the video below for some first steps.

If you already do volunteer: Good for you! Now share this post with others and inspire and influence just one new person to begin volunteering.

Read more about volunteering and standing for something in this other post.

Constant Questions: What benefits have you personally gained from volunteering? What do you feel is currently stopping you from volunteering more or at all? What would make volunteering a more meaningful experience for you? Do you see a difference in donating your time versus your money? Is time money? Is it still cool to say things are “money”?

This video about volunteering is excellent – it talks about why, but also the “how”. Great way to get started! The website itself is only useful if you live in San Francisco, but the rest is gold.