Bargains and Philanthropy

It doesn’t seem likely that the meanings of the words “bargain” and “philanthropy” would be confused.  And yet that is what many nonprofit organizations do every time they reach out to prospective donors.

There are many reasons for this confusion and most of them revolve around how nonprofit leaders view their relationships with those that provide critical financial support for their organizations—their donors.  Parsing these reasons is a subject for another time.   For now, let’s just get the respective meaning of the terms clear in our heads.

If we are clear on what philanthropy is and on what a bargain is, we will be ready to implement a unique fundraising idea:  fundraising clarity.

Philanthropy is built upon the notion that by giving of our financial means we receive something far more valuable—the realization of our personal values and the fulfillment of a common vision with the organization we support.

Seeking a bargain is the task of finding something of value and then purchasing it for less than its commonly understood value.

Nonprofits routinely pose bargain hunting as philanthropy when they engage responders through that time-honored fundraising method of the auction or gala.  Getting something for less.  That’s the draw.  That’s the appeal.   There is definitely nothing unique in this fundraising idea.  Quite the contrary, it’s far too common.

The unique fundraising idea is to focus on philanthropy.  Appeal to your prospective donors through what they value most—their values.  The charitable gift in this scenario is simply a physical expression of something far more valuable.

We all know the end-game for bargains.  They just get cheaper and cheaper.  Philanthropy scales.  Bargains go to zero.

Principle 7 of The Eight Principles of Sustainable Fundraising® is Renew & Refresh.  Renew your donors through an expression of their values.  Now that’s unique fundraising idea worth remembering.

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