John Dick’s A Small Change blog recently carried a post on “transformational giving” that I’d like to share and applaud. Read that and see what you get out of it. Looking at it again today I see potential for varying understandings of what’s going on both in the parable and the discussion.
To me, cultivation should “help the donor better understand their own reasons for giving and connect them to how they can be fulfilled and make a real difference.” Most cultivation errs in being “built around how can we get them to better understand what we do in such a way that they will want to give more money.” In today revisit, I could see a reader taking that as Dick’s point … or the reverse …or saw that he used the reverse to make the point above.
I fear that many organizations do indeed oversell themselves in cultivation. They spend too much ink and energy talking about what they do, rationalizing a gift, though giving is not a rationale process at all.
My giving is an emotional decision that is rationalized by emotions. Insofar as your reports and stories of your challenges and successes all evoke emotional responses within me, they play an important role in shaping my relationship with your organization.
But the value is in the affirmation of my emotional resonance with your mission. Not in the affirmation of an intellectual decision that I’m getting “good value” for my gift.
I’m giving not because of your “dollar need” but because of my need to help you with your mission.
Disasters demonstrate this, I think. After the tsunami in Japan, my wife wanted to send money to Red Cross. She’s not a “Red Cross donor” … not on their mail file. She just had an emotional need to help disaster victims and Red Cross came to mind as a channel.
Her gift fed her as much as it did the Red Cross.