For those of you in my generation—and a lot of those younger than we—these words conjure up iconic images of Mick Jagger and The Rolling Stones. To the philanthropists among us, the lyrics of Sir Michael’s ballad could as easily be their theme of frustration as they seek to make a difference in the lives others: I can’t get no satisfaction, ‘Cause I try and I try and I try and I try. Why?
Well-meaning charities and nonprofits continue to entice their donors and prospective investors even as their supporters keep saying—by their actions and deeds—that they want engagement. Philanthropic investors don’t want “stuff”. They don’t want to be “sold.” They want to be invited to participate at the human level.
At a recent meeting of the Council on Foundations, Arianna Huffington spoke of the enormous hunger that people have for a sense of community; they crave involvement.
Far too often, however, nonprofit leaders are so focused on themselves—their needs and their programs all the while decrying the apparent scarcity of resources that they miss the point. It’s not about them—no matter how noble or urgent their cause.
Philanthropy is not about the money. It’s definitely not about “programs.” It’s not even about “solving problems”. It’s about changing lives—and not just those who are on the receiving end of philanthropic largess.
Principle 1 of The Eight Principles of Sustainable Fundraising® is Donors are the Drivers™. When our nonprofits fully appreciate and act upon that principle, the resource issue will slowly fade away.