The Role of Money in Major-Gifts Fundraising
"What's more important, Richard," the major-gifts officer asked, "a relationship with my donor or the money the donor can give?"
Well, I couldn't answer that question easily. So, I didn't. Instead I started where I always start. And that's in talking about the role of money.
What is money? If you go with the classic definition, money is a medium of exchange. It has no value other than what it is exchanged for. When money didn't exist, I gave you two chickens and you gave me a sack of potatoes. Or I made you a door and some furniture and you put a roof on my house. We exchanged values. Hang on to these thoughts for a second.
How do people secure money these days? Through labor. (I know … investments, stealing, etc., are also other ways — but stay with me here). We work. We get money. We provide a real value and get value back.
This is the core reason why the use of money is so personal and emotional. It represents the core of who we are — our labor.
So, if money is a medium of exchange and I get money through my labor, then when I give money I am transferring my labor to get something done. If I send you my money it's because I want to get something done that you are doing.
This means that I must believe that you are doing what I want to do in a manner that satisfies me, my values and my expectations about the outcome, etc.
This is how the whole thing works. And it explains why donors join your cause (they want to get something done that matters to them) and why they leave your cause (they don't believe it is worth it to send you their money anymore).
If you’re hanging with Richard it won’t be long before you’ll be laughing.
He always finds something funny in everything. But when the conversation is about people, their money and giving, you’ll find a deeply caring counselor who helps donors fulfill their passions and interests. Richard believes that successful major-gift fundraising is not fundamentally about securing revenue for good causes. Instead it is about helping donors express who they are through their giving. The Connections blog will provide practical information on how to do this successfully. Richard has more than 30 years of nonprofit leadership and fundraising experience, and is founding partner of the Veritus Group.