Unconventional Look at Fundraising

The GIVE (Part II)

In Donor Development, Donor Relationship, Fund-raising, Fundraising, God, Jewish Federation of Pittsburgh, Philanthropy, The Giving Pledge on October 1, 2010 at 1:00 am

Should we do some counting (or maybe accountability?!)?  No, No, I am not taking you to the next GIVE.  This is not about accountability – not at all, at least – not at this point. I just want to make sure you know that we have already covered GIVEs previously in Blog #8 and are about to approach the next round of reasons to WHY donors GIVE. Reading this, you may feel that some of these GIVEs may already be part of you now as the reasons you yourself GIVE, these (reasons) may have been part of you for some time or some may have just evolved within you.  Don’t be troubled by how I use the concept of GIVE.  As I wrote in my previous blog (that I hope you read), I am not trying to be literal when using the term GIVE… this is NOT about giving… this is about you getting used to a concept: “The GIVE”.

Before we move on to the next GIVE allow me to share with you another example as I typically do in many of these blogs.  One of the donors I have been closely working with is a very methodological business person, focused, detailed and a whole list of words could describe how closed and often isolated this individual is.  In my work with this donor in their philanthropy, something very unreal happens: again and again over years of work, whenever engaged with their philanthropy, this donor turns warm, open and engaging, and recipients of their philanthropy are literally warmed by their spirit and kind soul, as if something deep within comes into the daylight through their philanthropy.  I am not going to add to this point; I think I am providing enough guidance here to provoke thought.  Lastly, on this point, I have seen this in more than one donor in order to make the case that philanthropy makes people shine… (PS: that may include you too).

Our next and fourth GIVE is quite different from things we touched in previous GIVEs. And “touch” is a word I would like you to keep in mind as I move forward to describe the next GIVE so that you get the utmost from it and again not get steered in the wrong direction.

Personal or Family Connection to the organization or cause is our #4 of GIVEs.  You could be reading this and say “Wait, is this about giving because a family member works in this organization?”  This certainly is an option, one of million, but not the one I am referring to.  The more obvious one is that an organization or a cause has “touched”… made a difference in the life of you or of someone else you know and that causes the GIVE.  Another beautiful option is that you have a family member who comes home and cannot stop talking about an organization (as in my case) and through that family member you become more and more familiar, engaged and literally “fall in love” for that organization and cause.  Do you now see this fourth GIVE?!  I am sure you do… this GIVE is what works so unbelievably well for… did you jump and say it?  Yep… the universities.  Without going into analyzing their fundraising strategy… when they call us every year, their graduate, to make sure they have their records of us right, whom they know will often feel connected to their Alma Mater and will have that personal link that they would like to connect to since they made a difference in your life.  Then it’s time for us to use #4 and GIVE so that they can change the lives of more students like they did ours. 

Our next GIVE takes us from the practicality of family connection, and the word family makes me smile – you will see why in a sentence or two, as we make a 180⁰ turn.  The next GIVE, to my mind, is one of the most phenomenal of them all.  If it was up to me, I would dedicate the whole blog to this one GIVE!  That is to say that I have seen this GIVE unfold so many times, in so many different ways, shapes and choice of words in donors that I have realized how significant and beautiful this GIVE is.

Now, I am going to do something unusual, which I have not done in previous GIVEs… caution you on the title of this next GIVE. The title of this GIVE is an effort on my behalf to bring together many similar GIVEs.  I am NOT saying that they are all the same, but for the purpose of this blog I am combining them under one heavenly roof.  GIVE #5 is GOD.

I could have made it “softer” for you and called it religious affiliation (or “religion”) as I do in my donor development training, and it certainly has to do with a religious belief. This so vastly popular GIVE is used by so many of us when we feel that we have a “calling”, a “drive”, heavenly inspiration and many, many more such titles… something that commands us to do a good deed.  One of the most inspiring donors at The Jewish Federation of Greater Pittsburgh said to me, when I asked her how she got involved in a project which is one of the most successful philanthropic projects I have ever seen, that her late father told her in her dreams how important it is for him that she continues his legacy. 

I am quite aware that some of my colleagues may argue with me that I should, even based on the example I just gave, consider calling this GIVE “inspiration” or use other “terms”, and I will answer.  I have worked with enough donors to be able to claim to have developed the intuition to identify what it is that they are saying.  And while I am not claiming that “suddenly” everyone is a believer, religious or holy, I certainly do recognize the powerfulness of GOD in us as it pertains to giving.  Believe as much as you can, but I know… I have seen people GIVE joyfully, looking around and gazing upward when talking to me about the calling that drove them to it – and I am happy to share it with you.  So many donors call it “Calling” and I am not going to try and “package” it in any other way just because it may not sound popular.  It is what it is!  GOD encourages people to GIVE – and this (to my mind) is fantastic.

Our next in this series of GIVE takes us back by way of the Enterprise – “Beam me up Scottie!”  Remember why I started writing this series of GIVE blogs?  Because so much is written on the ASK – and so little on why people give.  Number 6 of the GIVEs is Because we are Asked!  There are many ways to look at and understand this GIVE.  Here is one way to view our number 6.  People are busy, so much on their minds, their plate, Facebook, email etc.  We are in the era where we start talking about the “too much noise in our life and how to get some space” (sounds familiar…) Too much multitasking going on, too many gadgets… you get the point I am sure!  And so since this is the story of this era – where is the place and space for “good causes”? How can they get uncovered with all the noise around?  It really requires a very unusual person, a one-of-a-kind to pursue a cause, often without a prior connection to the “future” donor.  The more typical way this will unfold is for the organization representing the cause to initiate a communication between you and me; otherwise we have so many other things on our mind and so on.  Nothing to do with the good-soul or good intentions we each have, just to do with the fact that unlike the iPhone or iPad– we can not operate endless Apps all at the same time :-)) we get distracted, we forget, and we also promised someone to do something else.  Or in other words: come and ask me so that you help me – help me help you because I want to and I just never get to it.

Moving onward and upward again and yes again into the heavens (but no – not into the heavens we already have been at before.)  This time we are visiting a place which is interesting by itself… the incredible and amazing brain we have. I know, you are asking, now what does the brain have to do with the GIVE?!

Let me get you there, if I may… we LOVE opportunities.  Number 7 of the GIVEs is Tax Benefits and other breaks and opportunities.  This one is about the structure of how our tax system is put together, but more importantly, how it keeps changing.  Oops, this is something I don’t know if you thought about.  Tax benefits you know about and as such some around the world question this as a “legitimate” giving reason.  Or in other words (as I have been asked when traveling outside the US): Are you giving because you care or because of the tax benefit?  I am not going to go into this argument (nonsense!) as I have not even once met or worked with one single donor who did not care and gave only because of tax benefits.  What is important to understand here is the beauty of the profession and especially around the work done by and with foundations (and if you live in Pittsburgh check out the Jewish Federation of Greater Pittsburgh Foundation), because organizations that are foundations have opportunities such as tax benefits and tax breaks that we LOVE.    In other words… why spend more if you can spend less and at the same time you can make our world a better place.  And don’t we all like this concept… hence our smarts (brain!)

I am about to close this second in series of blogs about the GIVE, with a brief reminder. This is not about “them” (the donors).  It may sound at times as if it’s about them, but it is first and foremost about me and you, which leads me to the final note in this blog. Nothing here is meant for you to feel like it is “written in stone.”  Some of the 18 GIVEs (more to come in future blogs) will feel right, now; some may feel wrong, now.  Some you may now feel indifferent to and feelings towards these GIVEs may change as you move forward with your life and fundraising.

Think of giving (and asking) as pieces of a quilt.  Pieces which are each special and that throughout your lifetime you are connecting into something very, very special.  Think of that important quilt that you are creating and I would hope this blog encourages you to keep creating your own quilt and making it as beautiful as you are and as the causes you touch and that touch you.


Michael Steiner



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