I’ve had a couple of weeks to digest all that I heard and saw at IOF’s National Convention. As I drink from my Proud Fundraiser mug, and reflect on the themes that jumped out at me, I find myself stuck on one thing.
One thing that really annoyed me.
Yep, I spent 3 days getting annoyed by donors. Or, rather, by the use of the word: “donors”.
Fundamentally, for most charities, our supporters are at the heart of everything we do. We simply couldn’t do our work without them. Our donors, to my mind, are a subset of our supporters.
Those thousands of people who raise millions of pounds running 26.2 miles for us at assorted marathons across the country are, in many cases, not donors. They don’t donate to us. They choose to support us in a different – and amazing! – way: by raising money from their friends.
Would they call themselves a donor? Our campaigners who lobby politicians and force the agenda in the houses of parliament, who challenge drug decisions, who call out corporates for their environmentally devastating behaviour – many of those people don’t donate directly.
But they help us achieve our charitable objectives.
But, more than that, at a time when we’re talking so much more about how we resonate, how we engage, how we find our emotional heart, how we tell stories and inspire, how crucial it is to understand attitudes as well as analyse behaviour – when we’re doing all this, how can we justify using such a transactional word?
I sincerely hope that no charity would address me as “Dear Donor” in a mailing – even if I had given them cash.
Personally, I don’t think I want donors. I would rather aspire to supporters; people who care about the cause, who are inspired to fundraise or to give or to petition or to do something, to make a difference in the way they can.
I’m not saying it’s not about the money – please, I’m a fundraiser, my primary function is of course to raise money – but isn’t it about so much more than that?