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Fundraisers…the Great Equalizers

penny pie

There are so many reasons for fundraisers to feel good about our profession and the work we do. We have the opportunity and the obligation to represent worthy and important organizational missions and to enable philanthropists of all stripes to share their love of humanity in meaningful ways.

If this were not enough motivation to get us springing out of bed each morning in anticipation of another fulfilling day, let’s consider the unique times in which we now find ourselves. Never in America’s modern era has wealth inequality been greater. Never has the gulf between the wealthy and non-wealthy been as deep or as meaningful to our nation’s wellbeing.

As advancement professionals, we know that larger gifts from our wealthiest stakeholders enable us to make our fundraising goals, and by extension, enables our organization to fulfill its mission. And with few exceptions, those missions are oriented to helping the less fortunate, the less wealthy and contribute to the greater good.

Historically, the US tax system functioned to redistribute wealth for the greater good as it was defined at the time. Tax rates were higher and income inequality was less severe. Over the past 30 years, however, the function of the tax system has eroded, along with many public services, public resources and safety net supports… and the “third sector” has been expected to pick up much of the slack.

Regardless of your political position on such matters (everything has a political dimension these days) the facts are – small and smaller portion of the population have greater and greater wealth, and the need for the fulfillment of nonprofit missions is peaked.

Our role as advancement professionals is to comb the vast universe of “suspects” to find “prospects” in order to convert them into “donors” and to find among them the more affluent for greater attention and giving. We do this under the banner of our organization’s important mission in support of our “love of humanity”.

I, for one, am pleased to be a part of redistributing wealth through this thoughtful and dynamic process called philanthropy. But let us not abandon the obligation of government to be part of the solution as well. Much needs to be done.

Your takes:

1. Increasing wealth inequality needs to be reflected in your advancement strategy.

2. With increasing wealth polarization comes greater competition for finding and engaging wealthier donors.

3. Remember, you have an even higher purpose beyond contributing to your organization’s mission fulfillment.

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