Brace yourself, fundraisers are coming!: Why donor-centric philosophies are casting a shadow on our real priorities.

It seems that every meeting I have attended lately, be it a fundraising committee meeting, community conversation, and every piece of nonprofit marketing propaganda I have read is revolving around new event trends and how to appeal to the masses. Corporate giving, donor-centric cultivation models, prospecting for the up-and-comers, is constantly at the forefront of nonprofits scavaging for the latest and greatest way to give.  As development staff, we are always looking for the connector between our mission and a potential stakeholder in our community. How do we cultivate new allies in our community... without alterior motives from either party?

Ok ... what do I mean by alterior motives?! Giving is good, and people give because they have good hearts!! Cue the violins! 

Yes. I do believe there are individuals out there who cut checks because they love to give back, and are able. I also know there are many of the figurative "us" that are attending banquets, galas, happy hours, and other events because it is now expected ettiquette as a leader in our community. Our consituents are giving, not because it is driven by passion, first hand experience, or because they have read compelling research on how "<insert a percentage> of your dollars will be poured directly back into the community to sustain <some worth cause> for our future generations"...but because it has become social norm. 

Why complain?! Giving is a social norm?! Hooray!!!
This is why...


I miss the days of pounding the pavement waving your flags and survey results showing the impact of our work in communities. Trends rise and fall with fundraising and giving, but our programs need to last on. Albeit, I am a sucker for high attendance numbers at fundraisers, and love a good cocktail over a keynote speech followed by cheesecake and a side of annual appeal. However, this all-for-one  approach is not sustainable, and does not tell your organization's story. All the time spent on appealing to a market of individuals who are just looking for weekend plans is not the way to get your community involved to keep your organization around for those who need you.

Find the individuals in the community with the fuel to your flame (yes, sometimes the fuel is money). Find individuals who believe in your cause, and who want to do more than cut a check. Instead of posing for the cliche check presentation photo, get a group of employees together and have them volunteer for a day. Tell your corporate giving partners you want them to see the difference their contributions are making first hand. Only by changing the hearts and minds of our donors can we truly continue to make an impact.