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  • Writer's pictureHillary Frances

When a fundraiser is asked to donate, what happens?

Updated: Jun 2, 2022

Fundraising professionals are excellent at inspiring generosity in others, but what are we like as donors? If we give, how generous are we? For some, the answer is--very generous.

Some of us have made a commitment to be generous, maybe for the sake of karma or simply because we are in this work because we believe in the power of a generous spirit.

But there’s another level of generosity that’s harder to commit to on the donor-end of the relationship. That’s the commitment to missional relationships.

We’re professionals at building missional relationships with donors, but are we any good at reciprocating on the relationship side when it’s our turn to respond?

I recently gave a couple $25 donations to the Denver Rescue Mission. Each time, they called to thank me. The call went something like this:

Hello, this is Hillary.
Hi Hillary, this is Joanne from the Denver Rescue Mission.
Hi Joanne.
Hi. We just wanted to call to thank you for your recent gift to the Denver Rescue Mission. We appreciate you (something something). We also wanted to see if there was anything going on in your life that we could lift up in prayer?
Um, let me see (thinking through easy prayer requests that I could quickly explain to a stranger), no nothing I can think of right now. But is there anything I can lift up in prayer for you guys?
Just pray for our friends who are sleeping outside on these cold winter months, that’s mainly what we need prayer for right now.
OK, absolutely, I will.
Thank you, Hillary. Thank you for asking, and thank you again for your gift.
My pleasure, have a great night.
You too. Bye, Hillary.

I’ve had this conversation twice now with Joanne. After the second call, I’m beginning to wonder why I’m hesitant to offer up a prayer request. If I want anyone holding my prayer requests it’s my grandma and the people who work at the Denver Rescue Mission. I believe God turns down his music to hear what that crew has to say.

I’m hesitant to offer a prayer request, because I have never practiced engaging in a missional relationship as a donor. Each time Joanne calls, I’m given an invitation to take a step closer to the organization, to have my prayers lifted up, to be known. And yet, I believe it’s safer on the outside, safer to be unnamed and uncommitted. I want to be able to take my money and split without anybody noticing.

Anonymity is liberating, but it’s also one of the reasons our culture suffers from an atrophied sense of community. Anonymity is the easier shortcut we take when we get a good look at vulnerability.

If we could only say ‘yes’ to each other when offered an invitation to engage, to set down our cooking utensils and say, ‘yes, I have a prayer request, thanks for asking,’ we will build the scaffolding for something that more resembles the kind of life we were after all along.

Before we can be the kind of fundraisers that inspire generosity, we have to be the kind of donors who are easily lured into deepening levels of vulnerability.

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