- Thu, May 27 2010
- Filed under: Fundraising essentials
The Chronicle of Philanthropy had a fascinating chat this week with Molly Stranahan, a psychologist and heiress to the Champion Spark Plug fortune who speaks on the importance of giving to personal fulfillment.
The headline: GIVING IS ABOUT THE PEOPLE, NOT THE MONEY.
Here are the four most interesting lessons in my view, with quotes from Stranahan.
1. People aren’t philanthropists. Here is what Stranahan said about the term: “Ah, that term, “philanthropist.”! I think we have so many associations with it that aren’t appealing. I always envisioned rich, white men who give money to build wings on art museums or hospitals, and that it means that you aren’t doing anything useful yourself, wtih your time - you are only valued for your monetary gifts. In my experience, joy in giving comes from a feeling that I am making a difference. It is either because I can see the difference it is making related to an issue I care about, or because it is helping someone I care about do work that makes a difference to them.”
2. People don’t like being treated as philanthropists. “As a donor, sometimes I feel like fundraisers see me as only the funds I might give. I find I am attracted when I am seen as a whole person. Ask me questions about my interests, engage in a conversation about the overlaps between what your organization does and my interests. Let’s learn together. And let me see the impact of the work.”
3. People who give think of themselves as part of you - not your audience. “I like to think of the whole group of people involved in a charitable organization as a team - each providing a different type of energy to solve the problem at hand. Some provide their time (as staff or volunteers), some provide wisdom (often the the people affected by the problem), and some provide money. People like feeling connected to others, and if you help your donors feel like part of the team, you may be enhancing their happiness.”
4. Data has its limits! “I am also aware that we are getting hung up on ‘measurable outcomes’ that can miss the deepest impact of the work of a charity. With Needmor’s (organization Stranahan supports) funding of community organizing, the part that most affected me was seeing how the community members who became leaders had changed. They could no longer be oppressed in the same ways as before. That isn’t really that measurable, but it is the impact that most excites me… When you care about the people in the organization, you get more committed.”