To every new fundraiser…

“The struggle for justice is a marathon, not a sprint. And the biggest contribution that any one of us can make is maintaining a lifetime of involvement until we win those struggles.”— Kumi Naidoo, former Greenpeace International ED; via Reinier Spruit, 101Fundraising blog


Successful fundraising is hard work.

Even unsuccessful fundraising is hard work.

There are no quick answers; as you already know or will discover.


Fundraising is the hope business. You need believers.

“Does it have to be this bad?” the potential donor whispered. (This is what a true believer sounds like.)

“No!” the fundraiser assured her. “There is real hope … if we have your help. Will you join us, just to see? You don’t have to stay. But please give us a try.”[1]


Without fundraisers, the work of most worthy causes—big and small, from human service to medical research to the arts—would, in fact, end. Just stop.

We live in a suffering world … despite abundant comforts here in the developed world, where I received my education and now reside.

I seek the safety and predictability of those comforts.

But my eyes and ears are open: we live in a suffering world.

It’s gruesome. It makes you want to vomit and tear your hair. Yet, if you have some extra cash, you can do something about it, with your gifts to various charities over the years.

One qualified observer estimates there are now more than 10 million registered nonprofit organizations around the planet, with 1.8 million tax-exempt organizations in the US alone.

That’s how big the hurt is.

Perspective is what changes you

Astronaut Mike Massimino wrote, “Leaving the planet is unlike anything else … you realize that we’re very lucky, that we’re living in a paradise.”

Mike might have also said: “Most of us are barely subsisting in the midst of what could be a paradise.”

At least 80% of humanity lives on less than $10 a day.

Ninety-eight out of 100 people today are poor around the world. Poor, powerless, vulnerable in ways my world can hardly imagine … to disease, corruption, exploitation, desperation, lack of education.

Most nonprofits exist because somewhere a small group of people—caring, deeply pained people—learned about some form of horrific suffering and could not abide standing by any longer, pretending to be aloof.

They were sad. They were furious. They had drive. They would not quit. They tattooed a solemn purpose on their souls: “Somebody’s got to do something about this. Looks like it’s up to us. Who among you will help?”

Good luck, my dear fundraiser.

You’re already a hero for even trying.

Ignorance is your enemy.

Knowledge is your friend.

[1] Some groups — in the arts maybe — might object that they’re not “in the hope business.” E.g., “We don’t have sick kids!” I think “selling hope” does apply to you, and you need to figure out how.
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