Fundraising Is Not ...
It's not uncommon to read an article explaining what fundraising is. After all, many of us have made that our lives' work. Yet we still find ourselves explaining what exactly it is that we do to family at the annual holiday get-together. To take a different look at this noble profession, here are some things that fundraising is not:
Fundraising is not easy
If it was, the 1.5 million nonprofits in America would all be flush with cash, and our counterparts on almost every other continent in the world would also be enjoying unlimited funds to carry out their missions. But given the competition, economies that make "disposable income" an elusive dream, unique missions that aren't widely known or understood, and just human nature in general, fundraising is not easy. And yet …
Fundraising is not rocket science
Over the course of history, we have learned (intentionally or serendipitously) some techniques, words and practices that can improve fundraising. There are courses we can take, degrees we can earn, resources like Who's Mailing What! where we can see what others are doing, case studies to study, other colleagues who are more than willing to share their learnings and free newsletters like this one that are full of helpful trade "secrets." The challenges can be finding time to do the analysis that is needed to make fundraising the best it can be and sorting through the vast amount of information — some good, some not-so-good — that is on the Internet.
Fundraising is not for the morally deficient
As fundraisers, we have an obligation to not step over the line of honesty. Presenting our cause or the need as something other than what it is may reap short-term gains, but the long-term ramifications can hurt us, the organization — and the larger fundraising community in general. Anyone who has been involved in nonprofit fundraising for any length of time probably can recall a time or two when backlash from some other organization's scandal hurt our efforts. We owe it to the nonprofit community that is doing so much good and important work to always make sure we represent it in a way that brings honor, not shame.
Pamela Barden is an independent fundraising consultant focused on direct response. You can read more of her fundraising columns here.