Fundraising is a dirty word.
I came across a quote once that read “Fundraising is the noble art of teaching people the pleasure of giving”. That certainly resonated with me.
Far too often people think of fundraising as a necessary evil — something that is done in the shadows and maybe even something that someone needs to apologize for. (“I’m sorry to ask you, but…..”) Nothing, in my opinion, could be further from the truth.
Fundraising is about transformation — addressing an issue and trying to find a solution for it (the money is a means to an end, not an end in and of itself). Fundraisers are trying to cure cancer, feed the hungry, shelter the homeless, educate the next generations, etc. Every day I remind myself how lucky I am to be part of a process that is changing people’s lives.
That is one side of the coin (pun intended). The other side of the coin is that I get to help donors fulfill their philanthropic dreams. Nothing is more satisfying to me than when a donor thanks me for helping them to reach their philanthropic objectives. It has happened more times than I would have ever dreamed of in my career.
Fundraising sounds very transactional to the masses, but in truth, it is much more about relationships. Those fundraisers that are successful have spent years fostering genuine relationships and trust with their donors. Perhaps it is the word “fundraising” itself that seems to give the impression our profession a dirty word as it doesn’t truly reflect the breadth of what we do. Maybe we should adopt some nomenclature from the business world and look at relationship managers, etc.
That being said, when fundraisers feel “dirty” it may be because they have lowered their relationship with the donor to be just about money — and have missed the opportunity to help the donor reach their personal objectives.