Fundraising is hard work—but not what you think

If you devote any time to raising funds for your favorite charity or nonprofit, I’m sure you’ve heard the predictable reply whenever you mention your efforts to someone else. Something like, “That must be really hard (in this economy). . .” or “I can’t imagine doing that. .” As a labor of love, you know that fundraising is hard but it isn’t like that.

When someone says that fundraising “must be really hard. . .” what they are invariably inferring is that “it must be hard to twist someone’s arm hard enough for them to give,” or something like that. Fundraising does take effort, those of us who do it, know that. What our non-fundraising fellows don’t know is that we, as fundraisers, spend very little time with those who have no interest in our cause or are not charitably inclined. What our non-fundraising friends and colleagues don’t know, is that the effort is incurred in time and consistency, not enduring the derision and condescension of other more “elite” mortals.

The effort incurred is endurance—the endurance needed to keep calling on everyone that will have an interest and ability to make a gift to our cause. For as fundraisers know, we can never call on everyone who may support our organization. Therein lies the “work” of fundraising, if you will. Philanthropy is truly elastic—the more that are approached, and the more effective the approach, the more that is ultimately raised.

Fundraising is about finding believers, not haranguing those that never will.

Larry C. Johnson
M. E. Grace & Associates