I remember driving to the Bay Area to meet with a rescue mission director there one recession ago. It was right in the months after the Internet bubble popped, and suddenly their fund raising program popped as well.
In the phone call in which he had invited me up, the director had said to me, ‘Our budget is going way down. Nobody’s giving money away these days. We’ve got to figure something out—some way to weather the storm until the economy improves and people start to give again.’
(If you find yourself thinking this way, you need to get in on next month’s Radical Fundraising In Radical Times seminar, in which we talk about how the current recession is changing donors permanently. Time to get ready for the New Normal. But I digress.)
On the drive up from LA, I just happened to be listening to KGO Radio from San Francisco. The newscaster read a story about a kid who, tragically, had been mauled by a dog who someone had left off a leash.
What was so amazing about what happened was that as the afternoon went on, the newscaster noted that people had been calling the radio station—unsolicited—asking where they could send money to help the child’s family with medical bills. The station worked with the family to hastily set up a bank account and an address and, during the few hours of my drive up the 101 to the mission, without a single ask, over $15,000 had been raised.
Too bad no one was giving money away those days.
While this kind of spontaneous vision sometimes happens by chance, your role as a fund raising professional is to help it happen on purpose. Fund raising is not about raising support for ourselves and for our organizations. It’s about recognizing that fundraising is about helping others make meaning.
You don’t have to wait for a dog to bite or a fire to burn or a hurricane to strike. Those things cause people to adopt a spiritual vision spontaneously, which is a wonderful gift. But the world is filled by people yearning to hold a spiritual vision in their heart, if only someone they trust will share one with them. As we talked about in the previous post, Peacemaker Ministries’ donor/champions had all previously thought to themselves, ‘Why is Christmas so hard and un-peaceful so much of the time? Seems like there must be something we could do…’ 60,000 calendars later, they had done something – and the PM vision was imprinted on their hearts for life.
By inspiring champions with your ministry vision, you can use the raw power of your champions and your network to self-organize—to create a network that pulls itself together spontaneously and in stunning ways to save children and fill sandbags and send teddy bears to 9/11 orphans – to do the good that your ministry started out to do, before it got caught up in an endless race to extend the donor file.
In the next post we’ll talk more about the power of Transformational Giving, and will look at the wisdom of Christ in seeing that what we lack is often more important than what we have.