Fundraising: Not a Four Letter Word

Tonight I am taking my girlfriend to the party of all parties in Syracuse, New York, the SADA Charity Preview (Syracuse Auto Dealers Association).  While I am looking forward to all the great food, drink, music, friends, and shiny new cars, the primary reason I am going is to financially support David’s Refuge.  SADA is a fundraising event.  Fifteen amazing nonprofit organizations will raise thousands of dollars for their organization as people sip on a glass of Merlot, nibble on shrimp cocktail or Creme Brulee, and sit in cars they will most likely never be able to afford.  I am so thankful for the amazing organizers of this event.  All year long they work on raising the money needed to put on the evening, allowing every dollar spent on tickets to be given back to the nonprofit who sold the ticket.  Brilliant!

Fundraising is a fact of life for a nonprofit organization.  Without money, David’s Refuge would never be able to send a couple on a weekend retreat.  Without money, David’s Refuge would never be able to remind a single mom they are not alone by sending them to our Beauty of Mom event.  Without money, David’s Refuge would have to close its doors.  Fundraising is a fact of life.

So why do we sometimes get so weird about being asked for money or when we are the ones asking someone to give money?  We feel discomfort, embarrassment, and awkwardness.  It’s one of those subjects like sex, religion, and politics we feel we should never talk about.  It’s personal.  We are also inundated with hundreds of needs and asks every day, so we become numb.  So what do we do?  How do we choose who to give to?

Here are a few things that have helped Brenda and me:

  1. We spend time each year intentionally choosing which organizations we will support.  This allows us to unashamedly say, “No,” when asked by someone not on our list.  Sure, they are doing a great job, but they are not on the list.
  2. We look at the organization’s mission and ask if it “fits” who we are as a couple.  David’s Refuge mission is “to provide respite, resources, and support to parents and guardians of children with special needs or life-threatening medical conditions where they will be refreshed, restored and renewed in their role as caregivers.”  As you can imagine this mission resonates with us to the core.  Please note this doesn’t mean you have to be the parent of a child with special needs to be burdened by this mission!
  3. We ask are they making a difference?  What work are they doing?  Are they changing lives?  Are they allowing me to enter into a story that is bigger than ourselves?  I could go on and on as to why I believe in David’s Refuge.
  4. We ask how are they handling the money they are given?  We use a website called GuideStar,  Their mission is “to make impactful philanthropy easier for all by providing important information, ratings, and tools for donors and presenting charities with information that helps them operate more effectively.”

So the next time a flyer arrives in the mail or you are invited to a fundraiser like SADA or a development director wants to sit down with you to ask for money, don’t be embarrassed or uncomfortable.  Ask the following questions.  Are they on your list?  Maybe they should be.  Do you love their mission?  Are they changing lives?  Will they wisely and effectively use your donation?

So unashamedly and with boldness I ask, “Would you be willing to support the mission of David’s Refuge?”  If you do moms and dads will be reminded they are not alone, what they do matters, and they are loved by God and their community!

See you at the shrimp table!