I know professional fundraisers whose mental picture of donor goes like this: Donors give to us with tight fists and gritted teeth. Every time we ask donors to give, we withdraw from a limited pool of good will -- and every time they give, an even bigger withdrawal happens. Nonprofits subsist on a tragic irony: While they seek to do good in the world, they rely on fundraising -- which is a bad thing.
That's balderdash. Self-destructive balderdash.
Donors love to give. They love the organizations that create outlets for their generosity. The more they give, the more they're likely to give. (In fact, the top indicator of likeliness to give is recency of the previous gift!) They like being asked, and they like even more saying yes.
Furthermore, giving can lead to other forms of involvement: Volunteering, advocacy. And vice-versa.
It's called the Ben Franklin Effect. Because Franklin once said: He that has once done you a kindness will be more ready to do you another, than whom you yourself have obliged."
Seth Godin noted this in a recent post where he commented on a Yale alumnus who wondered why his multi-billion-endowed alma mater bothered to solicit from him:
. . . Yale wants Ben Stein's money so that Ben will be inclined to do the things that Yale really wants: send over great students, hire graduates, talk up the school and maintain its place in the pantheon of liberal arts colleges. And donors are far more likely to do that than disconnected alum.
That's the rich, wonderful ground you're on as a fundraiser: Giving begets love. Every time a donor gives, they grow more bonded to your organization. More likely to give again, more likely to give larger amounts. More likely to tell her friends about you. More likely to answer other calls to action.
Reality is directly opposed to the belief that donors are a non-renewable, zero-sum resource and that fundraising is a necessary evil.
(Read more about the Ben Franklin Effect here.)
A lot of the world of commerce is win/lose. One side gains at the expense of the other. Not fundraising. The only losers here (other than frauds) are those who don't join the circle, who hold back out of fear, who fail to see how much donors love what we do together.