Do You Practice What You Preach?
Yesterday morning, I stepped outside my office building to get a cup of coffee at the Dunkin' Donuts right next store. In the 10-foot walk, a young man, probably college-aged, had a stack of forms and asked, "Sir, can you donate a dollar and take a moment to help out [such and such cause]?"
I honestly can't remember what the cause was, because in my hurried, early-morning state, I had rudely passed right by this young fundraiser. And I came to the realization that it wasn't the first time I'd done this.
I'm not a fundraiser by trade. My job and the job of FundRaising Success entails highlighting the great work that fundraisers and organizations like you do, covering strategies, techniques, tools and news in the industry. While I don't personally call fundraising my profession, I am an active member in the sector, or at least like to think so. I give money to my alma mater. I'll buy Girl Scout cookies, hit up a student car wash. I even drop a few dollars in the donation basket on the rare occasion that I find myself in church. And recently, I pledged money to a co-worker who participated in the MS Bike Ride.
That's all to say that I like to think I do my part to help support the fundraising sector. But as I thought about how blatantly I ignored that young man, and countless others, I realized that I could do more. And just how tough of a job that young man has, that you have. Fundraising is hard. People are often too consumed with their own lives to think about the plight of others. And even when they do, in this day and age there's no guarantee that they even have funds to pass along. But that doesn't mean fundraising can't be successful. There are countless examples to prove otherwise.
People want to give. And you want people to give. What I realized yesterday was that it's a whole lot easier to ask for a donation when you take the time and effort to donate yourself. Giving is contagious. If I had simply stopped and given a dollar, maybe someone else would have too. Next time, I won't be so quick to move along. Dunkin' Donuts isn't going anywhere. And perhaps, if I had just taken one small moment, I could put the dollar I spent on coffee to better use.
As fundraisers, it's not only your duty to ask. It's your duty to give, too. Practice what you preach. Because if you don't make the effort to give to others, why would others bother to give to you?
Jeff Brooks, creative director at TrueSense Marketing and author of Future Fundraising Now, said it best: "If you don’t donate money to organizations yourself, then stop fundraising and go join an industry you’re willing to participate in."