At Wilfrid Laurier University – my alma mater, and the place where I got my start in fundraising – there was, and I think still is, a program called Our Community, Our Laurier. This is a fundraising program for staff and faculty of the school, and it’s my first reference point when I ponder the question in the title of this blog post: To be a fundraiser, do you have to give???
When I learned about Our Community, Our Laurier, I learned about the importance of staff giving. Why is it important? Well, of course, at the very base of it, staff donors are giving to your organization. More donors and higher fundraising totals = good!
…but of course it’s much more than that. Staff giving means something very important: your staff support your cause. If these people are spending (at least) 40 hours a week working for your organization, then you hope that they support the cause… you assume they support the cause… but when they give to the cause, their support is self-evident.
Staff giving results in a totally different culture at your organization. Everyone is behind the mission, everyone is putting their money where their mouth is; whether they’re administrative staff, professors (at a university), doctors (at a hospital), marketing and communications staff, or part of the fundraising team, they believe in what they do.
But it goes further than that, too, because it’s also a great thing to share with donors or potential donors. Being able to say (if I can dare to dream) that 100% of your staff are donors is a powerful message. It’s the same with having 100% participation from your Board of Directors; it tells your community that the family behind the organization – staff, Board members, Trustees, etc. – are 100% behind the organization’s mission… and you (the donor) should be, too!
But I’m talking generally about staff giving, whereas my question focuses on the fundraiser. To be in this position, must we be philanthropic?
I’m really curious to know what YOU think! I don’t know that we can say there’s a definite answer to this, but I’m willing to share mine…
…and it’s YES! I think we as fundraisers should be philanthropic. I’m not saying we should donate 20% of our pay cheque or anything like that, but the spirit of philanthropy should be within us.
I think we should give to our organizations, and I think we should give to organizations we are passionate about. I don’t think we need to give a lot, but I think we should give, and the reasons why, in my opinion, are twofold:
- We know how easy it can be! I’m a young fundraising professional and I don’t have a wildly disposable income, but I know that monthly gifts of $20, for example, can make a meaningful impact. It’s easy, it’s not too much money at any one time, but over the course of a year it becomes $240 and that’s a contribution I can be proud of.
- If our job is to ignite passion for our organization in our donors or prospects, then I think that job will be significantly easier and more meaningful if we actually give ourselves. I think it is our duty to support our organization in whatever capacity we can. It shows our confidence and belief in the mission… never mind the fact that it saves us if a prospect ever asks if we give… an awkward situation worth avoiding…
But once again, that’s my opinion. What’s yours??? Please leave your thoughts in the comment section. I’m keen to know what you think!
Written by Maeve Strathy
Maeve is the Founder of What Gives Philanthropy and has been working in educational fundraising for the past 6 years. Click here to learn more about Maeve.