Why aren't you asking your staff if they want to donate to your cause?

monday moviesAs many of you know, I am a big fan of 501 Videos and Chris Davenport, who is the producer of Movie Mondays for Fundraising Professionals. Yesterday morning, I woke up to another wonderful video waiting for me in my email inbox. This week’s video interview was with author and fundraising consultant, Susan Howlett, and the video was titled “Simple strategies for finding new donors.”
Susan covers a lot of ground in her interview, but at one point she makes a strong case for providing your agency’s staff with an opportunity to consider contributing to your annual campaign.
Listening to Susan took me back in time almost 10 years to a time when I was a little skeptical about asking front line staff if they would like to fill out a pledge card. Don’t get me wrong. I did it because it was a best practice. However, I wouldn’t describe myself at the time as a true believer until I met a staff person by the name of Eddie.
Here is a thumbnail sketch of the man, who at the time, changed the way I thought about the staff campaign portion of our annual campaign:

  • 21-years-old (or at least in his early 20s)
  • alumni of our agency’s program
  • working part-time (approx 25 to 30 hours per week)
  • earning $9.00 to $10.00 per hour
  • obviously living paycheck-to-paycheck
  • if my memory serves me right, I think he was also a soon-to-be father

After doing the staff solicitation, we were processing pledge cards back at our administrative offices. As you can imagine, there were a number of $5, $10, $25 and $50 contributions, and then we came across Eddie’s $250 pledge.
At first, I thought there must have been some kind of mistake. So, I did what seemed logical and went looking for Eddie to clear the whole thing up. Little did I know that I was about to become the recipient of an amazing gift.
Here is what Eddie told / taught me:

  • He confirmed that it was indeed his intent to make a $250 contribution
  • He spoke passionately about the agency’s mission from an alumni perspective
  • He talked about his desire to “give back” to a program that he said “saved his life
  • He didn’t feel obligated or guilted, but he felt good about being able to give back
  • He explained that he couldn’t write one check for the full $250, and reminded me of the power of monthly giving . . . in his case his contribution came out to $9.62 per paycheck (which was the equivalent of approximately one hour of work)

I walked away from that conversation vowing NEVER to be so arrogant and presumptuous as to assume who should give and at what level they should give to any fundraiser that I organize ever again.
So, this morning I want to thank Susan Howlett and 501 Videos for taking me back to that fond memory. I also want to publicly thank Eddie for providing me with one of the more valuable resource development lessons that I’ve ever learned.
Have you clicked through and viewed the video yet? If so, did it spark any lessons learned that you wish to share? Please scroll down and share your thoughts and experiences in the comment box below. We can all learn from each other.
Here’s to your health!
Erik Anderson
Founder & President, The Healthy Non-Profit LLC

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