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Fundraisers are activists! Don’t let anyone convince you otherwise.

on Dec 1, 2014

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You’d be hard pressed to find a fundraiser that doesn’t consider themselves an activist to some degree. Ours is a profession full of past and present idealists, campaigners, flag-wavers and the scrappiest advocates for the underdog you’ll ever meet.

I like to think I could be at least one of those. But, do my non-fundraising peers see me that way? Donors I meet? The board? My old university pals? My family?

I want the answer to be yes, but its probably no.

The most effective activist is one unafraid to ask for money.

I think that a career in fundraising sharpens your activist-edge, because deciding to donate is a line-in-the-sand moment. It’s your job as a fundraiser to coach people from their side to yours.

Before they cross that line, they may read and share articles, tweet, tell friends, attend a rally and change their profile picture for a day. It’s your job to say “hey that’s all great, but did you donate?

How did we let this happen?

Was it when our methods and strategies started to become more and more sophisticated?

Was it when we adopted the rule of dressing “one notch” nicer than we expect a donor to dress?

Was it when we started a language all our own with terms like annual giving, stewardship, and capital campaigns?

Was it when we formed associations like AFP, CAGP, AHP, CFRE, YNPN and many others?

I have no idea, and I don’t know that I would give up any one of those if it meant gaining a renewed public perception that fundraisers are shit-disturbing activists. Except maybe the rule about dressing up. I actually gave that up about three years ago and trust me, it didn’t work.

I’ve only got one solution, for now.

Here’s what we can do: let’s make sure our donors feel like activists.

Your donors want change, and they want it so much that they want to give up their hard earned money. Donors are paying your charity to go forth and disturb shit.

Don’t let your donors down!

Fundraisers are activists!


Unrelated side note – this is my first post back after a bit of a hiatus. It started when my laptop died and took a couple months to replace. I learned to play the banjo and I read some books. Now I’ve got lots of ideas for fresh new posts, and am hoping to recruit some great guest bloggers over the next year. I hope you’ll come back and visit a few more times.


This post was by Brock Warner. Hailing from Toronto, Brock works to foster and place value upon the act of philanthropy, no matter the size of gift. As a professional, he values the ‘how’ as much as the ‘how much’ and desire to see the fruits of my labour and energy be a catalyst for positive change. Connect with Brock on Twitter at @BrockWarner.

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