How can we ask for money?

People unfamiliar with the resource development profession wonder how we have the courage to ask for money.  Assumptions are made about the kinds of people we must be that we are completely comfortable holding out our hats in supplecation, and in fact, are shocked that we’re actually proud to do this.

This is because they believe the following myths:

1)  We’re asking money for ourselves. 

If you had a friend who was in need, would you have a problem asking others to help your friend?  Probably not.  You would probably be very passionate about making the case, and you would probably easily persuade others to help your friend.  Are you being greedy?  No!  You’re not asking on your own behalf. 

This is how fundraisers operate.  We’re not asking for ourselves.  We’re asking on behalf of organizations that we believe in enough to either volunteer for or take employed positions with.  And no, we don’t get a commission on donations.  This violates the ethical principles of our profession.  (AFP Code of Ethics)  If you’re ever solicited by an organization that pays its staff bonuses based on a percentage of gifts raised, print off the ethics document & mail it to the organization’s executive director.

2)  We’re begging.

If we have to beg, the cause we’re begging for must not be very compelling or relevant, and we’re wasting our time.  We’re asking.  There’s a difference between begging and asking.  We have to ask.  Our causes are too important to not ask.  You can say no.  If a fundraiser starts begging you, tell him or her to bugger off, and report him or her to the organization’s executive director.

We’re offering an opportunity to make a difference.  We’re offering something good. 

I had the privilege of attending the AFP International Conference on Fundraising in Baltimore this past April.  The highlight of the week was attending the keynote speech delivered by Archbishop Desmond Tutu.  He said that we are in a very noble profession.  We do noble work.  We alleviate hunger, build hospitals, bring families out of poverty, allow people to pursue their passions, enable all forms of art to be accessible to those who hunger for it, and more.  (That last sentence was mine, not Tutu’s.)

How can we ask for money?

How can we not?