I joined twitter this week. Five or so years late to the party, I know.
Seriously though, check me out here.
One of the first tweets to pop up in my feed was this one from a consultant I really respect:
— Gail Perry (@GailPerrync) June 9, 2014
OK, I’ll bite.
Fundraising not about money! What!?!?
I thought, “Wait a minute; something about this sounds familiar.”
Truth is I once worked on a not-about-money fundraising team.
We definitely did plenty of fundraising “stuff.” We invited people to events, we sent out newsletters and appeals, we had a constituent database (and, like real fundraisers, we complained about it), and we talked a lot about how donor-centered we were.
But what we didn’t like doing was talking to prospects about money. We had plenty of fans, but few donors. Sure, some gifts were given. And if our efforts magically inspired someone to call us and offer a donation, you better believe we were ready to receive it.
Somehow we had taken the “fund” out of “fundraising.” *Wah wah* So, I suppose we were just “raising.” Raising awareness, raising people’s spirits, hell raising (maybe)?
Mostly we just missed opportunities.
So, sure, you can make fundraising about a lot of things. But if you’re not about money and more specifically, asking people to give theirs to you, your charitable mission is dead in the water.
See? Fundraising IS about money.
Okay, okay, okay. I don’t really disagree with Gail’s statement.
It’s meant to be provocative and a conversation starter. And indeed, it is both. I am truly a big fan of hers.
I hope you read Gail’s post. It’s pretty clear what she’s saying. And what she isn’t saying.
But part of the fun of the statement is you can interpret it on different levels.
Here’s how it works in my head:
The purpose of fundraising is not simply to get more money. Money is a means to an end – fulfilling your organization’s charitable mission.
However, the practice of fundraising necessarily involves money. Talking about it, asking for it, receiving it, putting it to work, etc.
Or, another way to put it is yes, by definition, fundraising is about money. But it isn’t only about money, and it isn’t ultimately about money. Big picture, it’s about something much larger; money is merely a way to get there.
So, to answer Gail’s question: I agree on one level and disagree on another. And I think she’d agree with me on both.
Fellow fundraisers, let’s heed Gail’s warning and be sure we aren’t making fundraising all about money. Let’s connect our donors to the great work and mission of our organizations.
And let’s heed my warning too. We need to care enough about our organizations to actually get out there and ask people to support them. With their money.