Not About the Money—really?

Recently, there have been several published reports which describe how fundraisers are “breaking the rules” and inverting “conventional” wisdom as they seek gifts from donors. Reading a little closer, you learn that since the economy has been so soft, some fundraisers are being encouraged not to press donors for a gift but to focus on the relationship. What a novel idea. This is seen as unconventional and “breaking the rules” by these commentators.

Following that logic, the “rules” of fundraising must be that one should ask—even insist. Press for the gift; get the money. I disagree. So do donors. The results of the most recent Cygnus donor survey confirm—once again—that the number one negative for donors is being asked too often and/or being asked inappropriately. Is anyone listening?

If it has taken a down economy for some fundraisers to learn that philanthropy is not about money but relationships, then something truly positive has emerged from the economic wreckage of the past few years.

Let’s hope that the “rules” of fundraising, as they were called have been rewritten in the minds of fundraisers to place their focus where it should have always been—on building the relationship with the donor. If so, the money will take care of itself.

Larry C. Johnson
M. E. Grace & Associates