I love that song by the Bare Naked Ladies "If I Had a Million Dollars." It always gets me to think about what I would do if I had a million dollars to give away. I can think of dozens of charities worthy of that kind of support. I know which organizations I would support. But my purpose here is to pose the question: Who would you support and why? What charity drives your passion? What would you want to transform with that kind of donation?
I posed a similar question on the Tri Sigma Facebook page and within two minutes, there were dozens of responses as to what members would do if they could give $1 million to Tri Sigma. I am impressed with the answers. Our membership is far more aware of the pressing needs of the organization than our leadership realizes. Now, the goal is to find those sisters who really could donate a sizable gift to benefit our Sorority.
As development professionals, we are constantly seeking donations that make a transformation to our organization. We know what the needs are. We are not always as effective at sharing that message. But how many of us stop to ask what a donor would do if they could give us a million bucks? What inspires them? What would make them feel great about giving? Do we offer them the options to fuel their passions? Do we spend the time listening to donors about what their interests are or how they desire to make a difference and then work hard to find a fit for them?
What if the donation were less than $1 million? Shouldn't we give donors the opportunity to select what is most fulfilling to them, regardless of the dollar amount? Yes, we all have priorities and it is our responsibility to market those and share the need. We will find donors who believe in helping those. But for those who are not supporting us, could it be that we aren't asking the right questions? Shouldn't we ask more questions about what they want to help and why they want to help in a particular area? I think we would be impressed with the answers and we may find more loyal, devoted donors who give in one area...but then realize how many other ways they step up.
If the experience of giving is personal, powerful, fulfilling, exciting, and allows the donor to feel like they are making a change in an area of great importance to them, won't they in turn remain more loyal contributors and continue to help in other areas? I believe that answer is yes. It starts with asking the initial questions and then taking a step back to listen to their answers, not your own.