Pallotta says donors shouldn’t praise charities for “keeping costs low.” Instead, donors should expect charities to have big dreams and to make progress toward those dreams, even when this requires spending more.
The fundraiser is the person who helps the donor see how her donation will help the charity reach its dreams. For what charities do you raise money? Your congregation? A school? Women of the ELCA? To help us in these roles, I think Pallotta would give at least two pieces of advice:
1. Don’t be afraid to say how your organization spends money. Instead, be ready to tell donors why the expenses are important. If hiring more staff or building new facilities is helping your organization change the world, don’t be afraid to say so. Otherwise, you’ll deprive your donor of knowing how her donation is making a difference.
2. Help the donor keep up. Pallotta envisions charities that will adapt, take risks and make changes in order to reach their dreams. This means that old ways of giving may become less relevant. The fundraiser should help the donor understand when her giving is less effective and invite her to change. The ELCA Malaria Campaign did this for Women of the ELCA, just a couple years ago.
The campaign has a big dream: to eliminate deaths from malaria. The churchwide women’s organization wanted to support this dream by donating half of our 25th Anniversary Appeal to the campaign. Yet, while many women were excited about donating for mosquito nets, the campaign knew that its big dream called for spending more money on education, to teach people how to use the nets and to help communities eliminate the standing water that breeds mosquitoes. The campaign’s fundraiser helped Women of the ELCA understand these needs and invited us as donors to direct our giving in a new direction, to education, water and medicine.
When you ask for donations, how are you helping donors to help the charity to reach its dreams?
Emma Crossen is director for stewardship and development.