We have a funny relationship with money in our society. Some proudly show off their wealth in obvious ways while others do all they can to hide how much they have. Still others live lifestyles that far exceed their capacity. There are lots of underlying reasons why people have different relationships with money, how they respond to it and what they do with it. But one perspective is fairly pervasive in our society, regardless of how you handle your own: we feel uncomfortable asking others for money. While it’s not actually taboo to ask for money, many have a strong aversion to asking others for it.
The interesting thing is that most people like to help others. Humans are social beings with feelings and emotion. Doing good makes us feel good. The trouble is, too often we let our own personal relationship with money get in the way of fundraising. Money is a means to the end game: the emotional payoff donors feel when they know they are having an impact. Raising money is about furthering a mission. It’s about finding new ways to fight cancer, feeding malnourished people, providing opportunities, solving problems.
Focusing on the impact of the gift lets you to take the focus off the money and shift towards inviting someone to make a difference. When you talk about the impact of supporting a project, you’re feeding the emotional need most people have. The dollars and cents are a critical part of getting there, but it’s not the lead story. It’s not what will inspire people to participate and stretch beyond what they might ordinarily consider.
The more we shift toward the emotional connection and distance ourselves from the emotional baggage we have with money, the easier it is to focus on the things we know will make us feel good. All the other details need to be considered, of course. Donors need to have confidence that your organization can actually deliver on the promise you’re making. That backup gives you the credibility to ask donors for their support and invite them to participate. But don’t lose sight of what will inspire donors to give. And regardless of a donor’s relationship with money, whether they want to give anonymously or have their name on a building, it’s the emotional connection that draws them in. Don’t let your own relationship with money get in the way.