Fundraising is a game. I know this because I receive emails from nonprofit networks that tell me so. I get invitations to webinars on how to write a subject line that will guarantee people open it, I get told you have to ask seven times before someone will give, I get told that pictures of little boys get people to donate more than pictures of little girls.
Well, I’m sick of it. I’m not good at playing games with people’s emotions. I hate the subtle manipulation of heart-strings that tries to inspire donors to give without coming right out and asking. And I hate asking. I just want to talk to our supporters like they were sitting right in front of me, but all this fundraising game-playing is a wall between us.
What would happen if I broke down that wall?
Here’s what I’d really like to tell the supporters of the JHC-CDCA:
Remember us? You built houses after Hurricane Mitch/sat on our porch in Nicaragua with a group of students/met me when I spoke at your church/found us online and were so impressed with our projects. Remember?
You’ve been busy. You get a whole inbox of emails every day asking you to sign petitions, donate now, watch this video, read another joke about growing old. I know, I get them too. You’ve got a lot on your plate – your family, your job, your finances, the good work you do in your own community – you’re overwhelmed. I know, I am too.
You don’t have time to play games, and I don’t either. You don’t want to be manipulated, and I don’t want to manipulate you. I just want to tell you one thing:
I believe in what we’re doing at the JHC-CDCA.
I get up in the morning and I’m excited to get to work. I honestly can’t believe all that we’re doing:
- 3,000 farmers have good markets for their crops thanks to our work
- 20 people are working full time processing organic cotton thanks to our work
- 8 women got treatment for early stages of cervical cancer and dozens more have got a clean bill of health just this year, thanks to our work
- 35 new moms have the support they need to breastfeed their babies and keep them healthy thanks to our work
And we’ve got so much more in the pipeline. I go to sleep at night dreaming of all we can do.
We’re doing it together with the community. One of the few rules we live by in our work is that we don’t tell the folks we work with what they need, we ask them what they need, and help them work to reach their own goals. Today, we’re in better communication with the communities we work with than we have been in a long time – they are better organized, more motivated and they’re keeping us on our toes. It’s working.
It’s not perfect. It never is. We have setbacks. We spend a lot of time waiting. Some things just plain fall through. But I can promise you one thing: when it all goes to hell in a hand basket, we’ll tell you about it. We’ll talk about why it didn’t work, and we’ll try not to make the same mistakes twice (not when there are so many new ones to make!). I want you to see us for who we are, warts and all.
We can do so much more. Every day we get requests from people that we can’t fulfill. Every day a new possibility to do good arises, and most of the time we don’t have enough money to do the good things that need doing.
It’s not always sexy. Here’s something that nobody wants to hear, something that kills a good fundraising mood: we just have to do some things that are absolutely boring. Pay the electric bill. Put toner in the photocopier. Change the oil on a car. Fumigate for mosquitoes. Repair a washing machine. I can’t fundraise for that. I can’t make it exciting. But unless we do these mundane things, we can’t do all the sexy things that look good in glossy photos.
Here’s the truth: I know you don’t have much. But you might have a little extra. If you do, we surely need it. We will not waste your money. We will stretch your dollar further than just about anybody else can.
You can help us do good.
We need your help.
Please give us everything you can spare, and then some. Thank you. – Becca