There are two citywide fundraising efforts in the works right now.
From my perspective, they are two totally different types of events. But from the public’s perspective, I worry about donor fatigue. “You want everyone in the city to give money now? Again?”
But I also worry about nonprofit fatigue, and this is something people sometimes overlook.
Accepting donations is just not that easy. Doing it right is a lot of work. I know that sounds silly to most people: So what if it’s a lot of work? Do the nonprofits want money or not?
First of all, I think it should be a lot of work. You’re asking people to give you something. The staff owes it to the mission of the nonprofit to cultivate a relationship with that donor and make it fulfilling and easy for someone to give again and again. Saying thank you in a meaningful way takes energy, but it’s worth it.
Secondly, of course nonprofits want money. But through trial and error and research, they’ve probably figured out who their donors are, the best way to ask them and the best way to cultivate relationships with them. And they don’t have the resources to spend on anything beyond what already works.
So to ask a nonprofit to encourage its donors, volunteers and advocates to participate in a citywide effort – rather than an effort just about their own nonprofit … well, the motivation to do that has to be really compelling.
I hope each of these citywide fundraising projects exceeds their goals and drives millions of dollars into local charity. If they do, I think it would be a watershed moment in the nonprofit sector. It would be the one moment in our philanthropic history when we worked together to lift the boat for for everyone; when we pooled our fundraising efforts not just for our cause, but rather for all causes. For all of Austin.
This means nonprofits need to be okay about it not being just about them. And the people organizing these fundraising efforts needs to make sure it’s not just about them either.
It will be a real test of the maturity of our sector, don’t you think?