It's Not About the Money … Why Fundraising Is a Mystical Experience
Twenty-six years ago, I started my first job in fundraising. I worked for a small nonprofit in Philadelphia on the third story of a dilapidated building. We were so small, not only did I write the appeal letters; I also folded them, put them in envelopes, licked the stamps and took them down to the post office.
I got really good at stuffing envelopes … like scary good.
The one part of that job that I really miss today was opening the return envelopes. Yep, I was also the one-person caging operation. The reason I miss that task was that I got to see and touch a tangible expression of a donor's gratitude.
Gratitude? Yes, gratitude.
I remember opening the mail and reading the little comments from donors on the reply device about how they were so happy to help. I remember looking at the scribbly handwriting on a $5 check that was surely from an old woman who wrote in the memo section, "So happy I could give this to you ..."
I remember thinking how long it must have taken her to write that check.
At 23, I don't think I totally grasped the wondrously mystical moment that really was. However, as I've grown older and reflect back on this, it is precisely where I learned that fundraising really isn't about the money. It's really about an exchange of labor and values.
And, it's about love.
What? Why are you getting all mushy about this, Jeff?
Well, think about it. When donors decide to hand you a check for your organization, what are they really doing? They are handing you their hard-earned labor in exchange for the opportunity to make the world a better place.
Yes, their labor. The same labor that puts food on the table, pays their mortgage and helps their children through college … they have decided to give YOU some of that.
Jeff Schreifels is the principal owner of Veritus Group — an agency that partners with nonprofits to create, build and manage mid-level fundraising, major gifts and planned giving programs. In his 32-plus year career, Jeff has worked with hundreds of nonprofits, helping to raise more than $400 million in revenue.