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The Golden Rule of Fundraising

This will be a short post, because the Golden Rule of Fundraising is… really just the Golden Rule: Treat others the way you’d like to be treated. It’s simply a matter of applying that to one’s conduct as a fundraiser, and one of the best ways to learn this is to be a donor.

I do recommend that you read my post on The Spiral before or after this post, as that more deeply explains the journey that a good fundraiser SHOULD facilitate for donors. This Golden Rule for Fundraising is a material lesson in how that journey happens.

To learn to be a better fundraiser, give some money away

Sure, you’ve donated to a cause before, but be really conscious about it this time.

Give a little money away, and then pay attention to how you feel, and what happens next.

Does the org thank you, and how? How does the thanks make you feel? Do they engage in a way that makes your donation feel appreciated and valued?

Do you feel like you threw money away…

…or are you brought along the spiral with them?

Step Two: Give a little bit more money away

Give away as much as you would spend doing a little something nice for yourself. Depending on where you are in life and your tastes, this could be $50 or $500. Something nice but not huge. Again, pay attention to how that makes you feel.

Step Three: Make a SAPU gift

A SAPU gift is a gift whose monetary value could be put to a Significant Alternative Personal Use. (I made this term up mostly because I like saying “sapu,” go ahead and say it, it feels nice.) Making a SAPU gift is a genuine sacrifice for you – maybe you don’t save as much this month. Maybe you don’t get to take a trip you wanted, or get a fancy birthday gift.

So, think of an organization whose work is super important to you personally (here are two examples for me) and then make that SAPU gift. You can do it at a gala, you can make monthly installments, you can do it however works for you. But take that leap. Again, the size of the gift really doesn’t matter as long as it’s a lot of money for you.

And once you make that gift – you guessed it – pay attention to how THAT makes you feel. How do your experiences make you feel about the organization? And how do these experiences alter the way that you want to practice fundraising?

And that’s it. That’s the Golden Rule of Fundraising: Do for your donors what you wish organizations would do for you when you sacrifice on behalf of their cause.

For those who haven’t read it yet, follow up with the Spiral, and then check out the two other shapes that define our fundraising theory: The Web and The Cycle.

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