A few weeks ago, I was talking with an Executive Director of a human rights organization, and she was expressing her hesitancy in asking for money right now.
With some of the recent Supreme Court decisions, she felt that there were competing interests and didn’t want to draw people’s time, money, attention, and other resources away from these causes.
“Remember it’s an AND,” I responded. “We can ask donors to support us AND them. People are generous and will give to the organizations that are important to them – aligning with their values. We don’t need to make those decisions for our supporters.” She thanked me for the reframe.
There is always going to be something going on that might impact our communities differently. The work you do is still very important to the people who support us and care for our communities. Our donors are not a monolith. They can support more than one cause, volunteer for more than one organization, and care about more than one issue. And in fact, if we have recommendations for who else they could support at this time, they’ll appreciate that information.
Back in 2009, when we were falling into the recession, I had a donor call me up and say, “Michelle, I just can’t support Legal Voice right now. I need to support my local food bank. My neighbors are out of work.” My reply was, “Of course! I understand, AND we’ll be there when you are able to come back to us.”
And she did, a few years later, call and literally say, “I’m back!” In 2016, I had a donor ask me to recommend some voting rights organizations and I gave her a list of ones that I respected. She didn’t stop giving to us when she started giving to them. The relationships with donors that are built on trust, respect, and values allow these conversations to happen.
As fundraisers, we have to keep the generosity mindset ourselves. Supporters give their time, money, and resources in so many different ways. We’re all in this together AND together we can make the change we need to make this world a better place for all of us.