Fundraising is not a waste of resources

There’s one nonprofit organization for every 300 people in the US. More than 1.4 million of them.


A recent article in The Christian Science Monitor asks the provocative question: Are there too many charities in America?


The article proposes a number of ways the nonprofit sector could operate more efficiently. But than it falls to the unfortunate common belief that fundraising is a drag on the real business of nonprofits:



… nonprofit organizations [should] develop revenue-generating ventures to help support their programs. No longer relying on handouts and wasting valuable service time on fundraising, more charities could launch their own ventures or partner with existing ones to become self sustaining.

Revenue-generating programs are a great idea. But fundraising is not a waste. “Handouts” are not a sign of failure or shame.


The money you get through fundraising makes you stronger than money from other sources, because it comes many different individuals — each one supporting you tangibly. The value of that goes far beyond the value of the revenue.


Beyond that, giving to you makes your donors better people in many, many ways: socially, emotionally, spiritually, even economically. Those gifts make the world a better place before they even start to support your cause.


No question, there’s some terrible inefficiency and redundancy among the 1.4 million US nonprofits. And there’s crummy and unethical fundraising that should not be happening. But let’s set aside the old belief that fundraising is something we should figure out how to abandon. We can’t afford to live in a world without fundraising any more than we can live in a world without nonprofits.


Comments

4 responses to “Fundraising is not a waste of resources”

  1. Don Tolep Avatar

    After reading a masterpiece called Family Wealth by Jay Hughes, I realize that it is the world of philanthropy/gift-giving that is the super-glue for enhancing families.
    Where else can you make a gift to help the world, get phyiscally, spiritually and emotionally healthier, teach your kids about giving back and receive a tax deduction all at the same time. Wow.

  2. Don Tolep Avatar

    After reading a masterpiece called Family Wealth by Jay Hughes, I realize that it is the world of philanthropy/gift-giving that is the super-glue for enhancing families.
    Where else can you make a gift to help the world, get phyiscally, spiritually and emotionally healthier, teach your kids about giving back and receive a tax deduction all at the same time. Wow.

  3. A. Tydeman-Solomon Avatar
    A. Tydeman-Solomon

    I agree – giving back and teaching our kids to do the same is a wonderful thing.
    What really bugs me about the Monitor article is the assumption that nonprofits can just hop to it and develop all these new “revenue generating ventures.” And that we can do this using less time/money than we spend on fundraising!
    I know these other ventures do sometimes work out. A lot of the time they don’t. For most of us, the proven body of knowledge around fundraising strategies is a much better place to go when we need to get more efficient in generating dollars for our causes.

  4. A. Tydeman-Solomon Avatar
    A. Tydeman-Solomon

    I agree – giving back and teaching our kids to do the same is a wonderful thing.
    What really bugs me about the Monitor article is the assumption that nonprofits can just hop to it and develop all these new “revenue generating ventures.” And that we can do this using less time/money than we spend on fundraising!
    I know these other ventures do sometimes work out. A lot of the time they don’t. For most of us, the proven body of knowledge around fundraising strategies is a much better place to go when we need to get more efficient in generating dollars for our causes.

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The future of fundraising is not about social media, online video, or SEM. It’s not about any technology, medium, or technique. It’s about donors. If you need to raise funds from donors, you need to study them, respect them, and build everything you do around them. And the future? It’s already here. More.

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Jeff BrooksJeff Brooks has been serving the nonprofit community for more than 35 years and blogging about it since 2005. He considers fundraising the most noble of pursuits and hopes you’ll join him in that opinion. You can reach him at jeff [at] jeff-brooks [dot] com. More.


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The future of fundraising is not about social media, online video, or SEM. It’s not about any technology, medium, or technique. It’s about donors. If you need to raise funds from donors, you need to study them, respect them, and build everything you do around them. And the future? It’s already here. More.

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Jeff Brooks has been serving the nonprofit community for more than 30 years and blogging about it since 2005. He considers fundraising the most noble of pursuits and hopes you’ll join him in that opinion. You can reach him at jeff [at] jeff-brooks [dot] com.

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