Have you ever needed money for something? Had to fund-raise for some cause? Sell cheesecakes for cancer research or breakfast for baby needs? This week for my class, I have been assigned to write donor letters asking for either money or school supplies for the “School Supplies for Afghanistan” effort. Honestly, my initial reaction to this assignment was clenching my jaw and internally getting frustrated. I have never liked asking people for money or donations (especially people I know). I always believed in a kind of capitalistic way of thinking; people earn their money and have the right to do with their money what they want. If they want to donate to a charity they will seek it out. Right?
Playing devil’s advocate on myself I tried to recall the last time I donated to a charity. It was at Publix. At the register the cashier asked me if I wanted to donate a small amount of money to the Special Olympics, and because it was a convenient way to contribute I said yes. Well, do you notice the flaw in my earlier logic? I didn’t seek out this charity; in fact, would I have ever donated to the Special Olympics if this Publix employee didn’t ask me? Probably not. Next, I thought back to the time I donated to a charity before that and once again, it was because someone asked me (a father of a Girl Scout asking if anyone wanted to buy cookies to support his daughter’s charitable work in her troop). Truthfully, even though I find those cookies to be extremely delicious (have you tried those Thin Mints?) I would not go out of my way to find them at a store and support the Girl Scouts. This father asked me at the place I work, and because it was convenient I said yes.
The point I am trying to get at here, is despite my personal belief, it seems that “asking” and “convenience” are important tools for fundraising. While on some level I may feel like I am being annoying, if I can see past that and give a convenient opportunity for someone to donate to a reputable cause just by opening my mouth, well, that is a good enough reason to speak.
Before I end, I want to touch on a topic recently in the news. According to Robert Frank of The Wall Street Journal, many young people are in the accumulation stage of life as opposed to the giving point (read full article here). This may or may not be true, but one thing I can’t help but wonder is how often it is asked of the younger generation to donate? Perhaps, (as I found out in my own experience) asking younger people more often would result in more donations from them? Mark Zuckerberg, CEO of Facebook, argues that there is a big opportunity for young folk to be donating because the younger generation is already thriving on successful companies (found in the same article). Maybe he is on to something. After all, as Winston Churchill once said, “You make a living by what you get. You make a life by what you give.”
My asking of you this week:
Do you have some extra school supplies around your house? Click here. If you are a personal friend or coworker call me.
No supplies, but want to donate some money? Click here.
Ideas on fundraising? Comment below.