Why Fundraising is Fun

We all know the recurring challenges in our profession: 

  • Development staff turns over every 2 years. Check.
  • Leaders who don't want to fundraise? Check.
  • Hesitant presidents, executive directors, and board members? Check, check, check.  

We have to adapt. Fortunately, there is strong evidence to suggest that if we learn to think about fundraising differently -- that is, if we shift our perspective to focus on what we can bring to our donors -- we can have heightened and sustained success, and truly love our jobs more in the process. 

The Donor-centric Approach

In this Article from the NYT, Arthur Brooks offers several insights into this way of thinking:

"I have found that the real magic of fund-raising goes even deeper than temporary happiness or extra income. It creates meaning. Donors possess two disconnected commodities: material wealth and sincere convictions. Alone, these commodities are difficult to combine. But fund-raisers facilitate an alchemy of virtue: They empower those with financial resources to convert the dross of their money into the gold of a better society."

The Moral Dimensions of Philanthropy

For another take on donor centrism, check out Philanthropy and Relationships by Jim Hodge. He raises a number of important points about it, and backs them up with quotes by noteworthy thinkers.  

"How do we explore the “moral dimensions of philanthropy,” as Paul Schervish contends is the true purpose of our work? Seen as a spiritual exercise, philanthropists create their own moral biographies, according to Schervish. But are professionals in philanthropy trained to be “moral biographers,” asking crucial questions and entering into dialogues that significantly shift philanthropic conversations from money to meaning? Schervish has observed that “most wealth holders will benefit from engaging in what I call extended archaeological conversations with trusted advisors, including development officers.” Attending to benefactors’ needs requires building genuine relationships based on trust."

Try to find a few quiet minutes to kick back and read both these articles in full.  They are worth it. 

Happy holidays! Here's to good holiday cheer and inspired work in the coming year.