Need—or is it vision?

Whether you see fundraising as meeting a need or funding a vision has a lot to do with how you see donors. People who are shopping for groceries are looking to supplant a need. On the other hand, individuals who are making investments are often thinking of a vision they want to fulfill. So what does it matter how you see your donors, as long as they give?

How it matters is whether you are raising money for a short term specific need that can be meet through small, one-time transactional gifts or you’re seeking to build a new facility or expand the base of service of a worthy charity by developing long-term relationships with donors. The former is selling groceries. The latter is fulfilling a vision.

Donors who give expansively—even sacrificially—and repetitively, are interested in visions, not needs. An irony of fundraising is that the grander the vision, often the more generous the donors. Thinking small, and keeping your time frame only in the immediate actually suppresses fundraising.

If you want to raise a little money once—think groceries. If you want donors who will be your investors—your partners—who will give generously, over and over again, show them a vision and how they can be a vital part of making it real. Now that’s philanthropy.

Larry C. Johnson
M. E. Grace & Associates