The Joy of Giving

Blog Post by:Ashlee Meier, CFRE

I’ve often tried to put into words exactly why I so dearly love the dauntingly hard, yet incredibly rewarding work that is fundraising.  But, as I’m sure you’ve experienced, it’s difficult to explain on many levels, especially to those who don’t live in the nonprofit world, and especially now as we revamp and revitalize to accommodate post pandemic giving shifts.  

 As many of us are at the moment, you may be finding yourself on a fundraising precipice. Your organization NEEDS a resurgence in support and engagement, your event MUST have delightful items to offer, your clients DEPEND on your success over the next few months. And yet, out of an abundance of compassion, you are probably being exceedingly cautious, if not trepidatious, of approaching individuals and businesses that you could once request from with ease.  No pressure, right?

We get it. You want to be considerate of how the past 15 months have affected them. You want to be sensitive to how they have experienced pandemic chaos, which looks a little different to everyone. And you absolutely should be! You are also anxious to experience the thrill that comes with commitments and, of course, to meet the needs of your organization and the population they serve. So, now what?

Recently, as I was studying for my CFRE exam, I read a quote by Hank Rosso, founder of The Fund Raising School, that resonated in my soul. He said, “Fundraising is the gentle art of teaching the joy of giving.” And I think that is the most delicate and succinct way to describe exactly why I love our work… and it’s a great reminder if right now, you find yourself faltering at the finish line.

We are not asking our supporters to give with nothing in return. In fact, we are offering a wealth of otherwise difficult to obtain benefits, purely by opening the door for potential givers to walk through.  Research from the Gallup World poll surveying 142 countries representing 95% of the world’s population shows that volunteering and donating to charity is associated with higher well-being and better health, proving that even though giving away time and money means there is less left for the self, it does not feel that way. The paradox of generosity is that people feel happier, richer and healthier after giving their money and time to others! 

As fundraisers, we must remember to see ourselves as givers…not takers. We help to match people’s values with opportunities to give, and in doing so, those people are helping to feed the hungry, take care of the sick, share musical & cultural experiences, educate generations of students or whatever their selected cause might be. When we help givers give, we are quite literally bringing the givers more happiness and better health!

I encourage you to substitute pride for apology when it comes to fundraising, because we mustknow beyond a shadow of a doubt, that what we are offering holds incredible value – not only to the mission, programs and services of an organization, but in giving your donor an opportunity to align their passion and purpose in a way that contributes to something bigger than themselves and unite them with other like-mindedsupporters in action for the greater good. 

What we as fundraisers are offering is not a burden, it’s a gift. Isn’t that freeing? 

Here’s to you, teaching the joy of giving by reinvigorating your joy in asking!