Rod Wilson wrote our Mar/Apr cover story on the meaning of money. He challenged us to reconsider the role of money in our lives. Wilson works with philanthropists to help them grapple with connections between giving and major themes like identity, spirituality, theology, community, and relationships. Faith Today asked Wilson to write a blog post for us, expanding on a theme around money. Here is an open letter from funders to fundraisers and the organizations they represent, asking them to remember 10 things.
by Rod Wilson
As you meet with us, send us material, ask us for money, and present the needs of your organizations, please remember:
· We take you and your organization seriously, but many people approach us on a regular basis. There are times when you all start to sound the same and we wish for a creative presentation, a unique request, an unusual spin. Don’t be afraid to step out and take a risk, moving beyond the standard ways of asking.
· We are noticing the proliferation of non-profit organizations and we wonder why there are so many of you doing similar things. Does your organization really provide a value-added dimension that makes you unique? If so, let us know what that is so you can address our fear that there is extensive duplication.
· We want you to listen to our passion, not just speak about your own. Fundraising is not sales in that you have to convince us that your product is something we need. We are motivated and inspired by particular ministries and people groups and the key issue is whether our passions mesh with each other.
· We do not give money in order to receive thanks but we like to hear gratitude in response to a gift. If you spend an inordinate amount of time on the ask and very little on the appreciation, we begin to wonder if our giving met your sense of entitlement and you are not grateful.
· We know you and your organization believe you have a worthy cause but as we listen to you we are trying to make that assessment ourselves. Remain open to the fact that your organization’s self-evaluation or the merits of a particular project may be quite different than our own.
· We are not always convinced that ‘need’ is the best category for requesting funds. Sometimes your perception of ‘need’ sounds more like a wish, want or desire and when you frame your ask as a ‘need’ we wonder if your organization has become too insular and is not putting your so-called ‘need’ in a wider global context.
· We do not find writing cheques to be the most appealing aspect of giving money. We value relationship and transformation where we do not simply give from our financial base but give ourselves, and in the process have a sense of being part of your community as well as impacted by it.
· We are not always able to give to everyone who asks us or not always able to give the amount that is requested. Just as you want us to listen and understand you when you are making an ask, please remember that when we say ‘no’ or ‘not now’ it is not personal and not a statement about our relationship.
· We do not want you to emphasize what you do but rather how you will impact and change the world. We understand that you find your ministry to be significant but that is not what we find most appealing. A description of ‘what is’ does not capture our attention to the same degree as ‘what might be.’
· We are concerned that ministries are lean in their financial model and human resources, culturally attuned in their understanding of the contemporary world, and globally aware in all that they do. Great projects may not be funded if one or more of these concerns are missing in your proposal.
God bless you in your important work as we ask Him to do the same in our own. It is reassuring to know that we both pray to the Creator, Sustainer, and Owner of all.
Rod Wilson is the former president of Regent College, and now works with a number of organizations including A Rocha International. His new book, co-authored with Peter Harris, Keeping Faith in Fundraising, will be released by Eerdmans in 2016.