Sunday, September 23, 2007

The best fundraisers are 100% mission, 0% marketing

I recently came across the Donor Power Blog's article, "The best fundraisers probably aren't fundraisers." This article resonated deeply within me, as I firmly belive in its core argument that program officers are far better fundraisers than development staff.

To put it into context, here is the vision of Central Dallas Ministries:
"To put ourselves out of business by removing the need for our services."

Similarly, I have put forth the following vision for my development department:
"To put ourselves out of a job by removing CDM's need for our services."

Yes, it is unlikely that either vision will come to be. The poor will always be with us, and the rich will always require that certain hoops be jumped through before granting their benevolence unto CDM....

But I do believe that we can dramatically improve our work by focusing on a "world without us", which would involve:

  • Donors who send checks without prompting,
  • Program officers who know what their supporters need, and who have the technical capacity and the "bandwidth" to provide them with this information,
  • Robust financial management that can easily and efficiently provide the level of transparency and accountability that both donors and non-donors would expect of any public charity purporting to work on behalf of their community's best interest,
  • Sustainable revenue streams that do not depend on giving trends.

I long for the day when my organization does not need me to focus on asking for money, and when I can spend my time simply telling the story of our good work at building community in the inner city.

Perhaps, though, we are all closer to that goal than we realize.

Perhaps the truth is that all of our complicated designs and overwrought machinations of wealth capturing are nothing compared to the honest moments when we sit down to listen to a donors dreams, and take the time to open our hearts to our own.