by Dan Schipp
People have a lot of different names for what we do in fundraising. Many of them have a negative connotation. A few of these not-so-flattering phrases are: “getting gifts”, “collecting donations”, “holding out your hand”, “picking pockets”, “hitting up”. The first three phrases imply that there isn’t a lot of effort or thought or planning or strategy or time that goes into fundraising; it’s just a matter of “getting” and “collecting”. The second two expressions betray a view of development that has elements of deception, thievery and coercion.
I prefer more positive phrases for fundraising, like “seeking financial support”, “extending an opportunity to give”, or “inviting investment”. My personal favorite is the latter — “inviting investment.”
There’s a lot of meaning packed into those two words – “inviting” and “investment.” “Inviting” has the sense of offering an opportunity or asking one to consider an action, not forcing or coercing the action. It also suggests that there is some knowledge of or relationship with the one being extended the invitation. “Investment” implies taking a stake in an organization and realizing a return on that financial commitment. It conveys having a vested interest in both the present and future of the organization. Isn’t development, when it is done best, really about “inviting investment”? Isn’t it a matter of building relationships with prospective donors so that they want to become stakeholders in an organization, recognizing that their generosity will reap benefits for themselves, as well as the organization?
So . . . how are you approaching fundraising? Are you “hitting up” people or are you “inviting investment?”