Everything you know about fundraising is wrong
If you think fundraising is merely raising about money, you really are missing the point. The inspired fundraiser understands her job is to foster greater generosity and gratitude in the world. Development is simply the building of valued-based relationships between prospective donors and organizations. Fundraising is a vehicle for donors to act on these values, bringing joy to themselves and others.
I'm going to let you in on a little secret. Truth is there is no lack of money for good causes. According to Giving USA, last year $295 billion was given away to nonprofits in the U.S. Over 83%, or $245 billion, came from individuals. All research indicates that individual can provide nonprofits with stable and flexible sources of funding, even in times of recession. The single largest barrier to raising money is your own lack of belief in yourself, donors and your good cause. The first step is healing your own negative relationship to money, power and privilege. If you are having trouble raising money from others, let me suggest you start by increasing your own donation.
It is also a mistake to think you must know rich people to succeed as a fundraiser. You already know everyone you need to get started. The fact is that low- and middle-income folks give at a higher percentage of their incomes than those of upper incomes. Successful fundraisers welcome donors of all levels. Statistically speaking the regular, small annual fund donor is the best planned giving prospect.
Too many of us have forgotten that the ancient practice of giving and receiving of gifts has the power to transform the lives of individuals, institutions and communities, and even connect us to what is divine in the world. Fundraisers can:
- Help those in need to break free of the cycle of poverty, violence and oppression they might face, reminding them there are those who still care.
- Help donors express personal values, developing a sense of abundance and generosity by learning they have enough to share.
- Reduce isolation in communities by connecting people who share common values, providing them opportunities to organize for social change.
- Create sustainable financial support for organizations that have strong community need, yet often little or no perceived for-profit market value.
- Through opening hearts to the cycle of giving and receiving, connect people to something larger than themselves, which is the core of every spiritual tradition.
You see, asking for help is one of the best ways you can tell someone they are important to you. If you decide to not ask, perhaps you think they are not rich enough or do not care enough about the issue. You may think you are protecting them. In fact, you’ve taken away one of their most valuable rights: their right to choose. The truth is, people only rise to the level of expectations we place them. To succeed as a fundraiser you don’t need to change donors, only your belief in them.
The inspired fundraiser provides donors an opportunity to put their values into action, to become the hero of their own life story, and to make their dreams for a better world come true.
So let me ask you. When you ask someone for a donation, whose gift is bigger: their’s or yours?