Bring back the joy of giving – it’s time to make donors smile

Stop for a moment. Forget any fundraising crisis.

This might be hard considering recent blogs which have included headlines such as: “When fundraising hurts” “Relationship fundraising: It’s complicated”  “Have we reached boiling point?” “The price we pay for losing sight of the donor”   Headlines to do your head in.

Fundraising is under the microscope; because fundraising was the focus and not giving. We have made fundraising complicated, when giving should be made easy.

Perhaps the job title of Fundraising Directors should be annihilated and changed to Directors for Donors.

To be great fundraisers, apparently, we need incredible insight, knowledge of psychology, a Diploma/Degree in marketing and/or fundraising let alone relationship fundraising and strategic planning – the list is endless. Perhaps we forget that most donors are happy to give and want their happiness to flourish without being told endlessly or thanked repeatedly. Perhaps they just want “Kiss and Tell” (Keep It Simple and Short and Tell them the impact – which does not mean another thank you or, God forbid, another please give more).

Most donors are bright, thinking donors with passion and personal experience of a cause. Their need for further information just does not exist. They just need happiness and joy –even humour.

Humour helps cope with difficult situations. It creates a moment of rest. Humour helps release emotions and cope with problems. Humour helps express feelings and creates warmth.

Studies into humour have been rampant since the mid 19th Century – my favourite being by Professor E  Boring (yes , really) in 1957 – “a history of experimental psychology”. Can you imagine his presentation? “Hello I am Boring”. Hysterical!

Happiness is defined as a mix of joy (the emotions which include humour) and satisfaction (the brain meaning logic and rational decision making). The latest crisis has totally focused on satisfaction and totally ignored joy.

Happy people give twice as much to charities than unhappy people.   Happy people are more optimistic.

Happy people have more imagination, are more likely to take a risk and will “forget” the past to learn again in the future. They are impatient to learn and their preferred communication channels are through images, captions and even animation. Their Motto is “life is unfair but let’s learn from it and move on.

Unhappy people are more defensive and likely to complain and will focus more on the past and have lower expectations. Their preferred communication needs are detailed and are led by words or instant dismissal Their motto is “Life is unfair”.

Happy people are more optimistic and ask “how” (are you making a difference and how can they)

Unhappy people ask “why” (are you needed and why could/should they help)

Happy people are more open to being asked.

Unhappy people are more closed to suggestion.

Let us all simplify the way we communicate with donors and tell them about the joy they provide to those they support/fund. That sense joy will result in more giving because we have given them the freedom to choose.

Many years ago when I chaired the International Fundraising Congress. I quoted George Bernard Shaw and said the mantra of fundraisers should be:

“I want to be thoroughly used up when I die, for the harder I work the more I live. Life is no brief candle for me. It is a sort of splendid torch which I have got hold of for the moment and I want to make it burn as brightly as possible before handing it on to future generations.

Combine that with Ayn Rand who said: “Happiness is that state of consciousness which proceeds from the achievement of one’s values

Print these two quotes and stick them up close to your desk, read them every day, and maybe we can all bring back the joy of giving.

 Richard Radcliffe 

Favourite part of his job: listening to donors (so far about 24,000)


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