The Real Fundraising Heroes: Donors
As fundraisers, one thing you hear time and time again is how important it is to recognize the donor. Donors are the lifeblood of any nonprofit organization, the ones who support the mission with their financial contributions so the organization can invest in its programs and make the world a better place.
That message gets drummed into fundraisers' heads at conferences, workshops, and in publications and blogs that span the sector. At times, you may just want to raise your hand and say, "I get it already!"
But the importance of donors cannot be overstated. And two recent events have driven that point home for me.
The first hits very close to home because it involves my alma mater. As a graduate of Pennsylvania State University and a lifetime member of the Penn State Alumni Association, I've watched my university embroiled in a mind-numbing scandal that rocked not only the school and its alumni, but the community and the nation. The horrific actions of a pedophile and subsequent cover-up and lack of action from school administrators threatened the very foundation of Penn State.
Given all the controversy and the heinousness of the allegations and actions, it would be easy for alumni and donors to turn their backs and put their money elsewhere. However, the opposite actually happened. In the 2011-12 fiscal year, Penn State received $208.7 million in donations from alumni and donors, the second-highest gift total in university history. Donors saw the need the university had and responded, declaring their loyalty and support even in dark times.
The same can be said for supporters of the Lance Armstrong Foundation. With the news that the seven-time Tour de France winner was dropping his fight against the doping allegations, many media members and skeptics saw this as proof that Armstrong did, in fact, cheat to earn those tour victories, which have now been taken away.