It is fashionable in fundraising these days to say that fundraising is not about raising money. Instead, fundraising is about relationships, engagement, and this thing called “donor-centricity”, which in itself often means something different to each and every person working in fundraising today.
At many fundraising conferences, you are almost guaranteed to be served up a keynote address titled “Fundraising is not about money”. There are half a dozen consultants flying around the world these days giving the same speech whether it’s in Auckland, Amsterdam, or LA.
There’s something a bit Orwellian about the idea. After all, the word fundraising is a compound of the noun “Funds” and the verb “To Raise”. So the slogan “Fundraising is not about money” sounds like a classic example of doublespeak if I’ve ever heard one.
Various forms of this argument often venture into the comical…literally. One prominent “international fundraising consultant” starts off her version of her “Fundraising is not about money” presso by showing comic strip images in which fundraisers are the super heroes and money is the villain.
And this is why I cringe whenever I hear someone going on about how fundraising isn’t about money. Dismissing, ignoring and minimizing the role money plays in your fundraising “strategy” is an intoxicating idea, but it can also leave a nasty financial hangover.
When you buy into the mantra that fundraising is not about money, what happens is that you start paying less attention to your money. And like any relationship, if you don’t pay attention to your money, it will go away and end up in the hands of someone who cares about it more.
If you pay attention to your money, keep count of it, if you know where your money is coming from and where it is going, if you care about it, you will attract more money to you. That is why, as a fundraiser, money should sit at the centre of your relationships with donors. You should know exactly how much you have raised from each donor and a good idea about how much more you can raise from them in the future. Along with their name, you should have a monetary value affixed to every donor. Seriously, there’s nothing wrong with that at all. Most of the time, it is exactly what you’ve been hired to do in the first place.
Pay attention to the money you raise. Care about the money. Think about it. Count it, every single day. The more attention you pay to your charity’s money, the more you will raise. I guarantee it, or your money back.