Putting the Fun in Fundraising: Op-Ed Presents Another View on Raising Money

A recent New York Times op-ed piece around fundraising is picking up some traction, and it’s very title challenges the deep-seated notions that many have about raising money—that it can be fun.

Arthur C. Brooks, the op-ed author, takes note of a link between giving money and increased happiness and accomplishment in donors. He points out that charitable giving improves what psychologists call “self-efficacy,” one’s belief that one is capable of handling a situation and bringing about a desired outcome. In other words, philanthropists feel they aren’t just giving away money—they’re helping to solve problems. Brooks’ describes his fundraising role as follows:

I have found that the real magic of fund-raising goes even deeper than temporary happiness or extra income. It creates meaning. Donors possess two disconnected commodities: material wealth and sincere convictions. Alone, these commodities are difficult to combine. But fund-raisers facilitate an alchemy of virtue: They empower those with financial resources to convert the dross of their money into the gold of a better society.

For those in the nonprofit world, from volunteers to staff to Board directors, fundraising is generally part of the equation. It can be intimidating; as Brooks points out, when teaching a class to aspiring social entrepreneurs who were planning to start nonprofits, not a single one of them was looking forward to fundraising. But when looking at fundraising as a way of pairing a donor with a cause they feel strongly about, it becomes not just about asking for money but about helping those donors create meaning—and that feels much better.

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