Caring Not Cash - Fundraisers Warned
19 February 2015 at 11:17 am
Australian fundraisers need a dramatic focus-shift towards embracing the personal stories of their donors rather than the missions of their own organisations, a national fundraising conference has been warned.
During the opening Plenary at the 38th Fundraising Institute Australia Conference in Brisbane, keynote speaker and international guest Simone P. Joyaux presented an animated argument to over 700 delegates that fundraising and giving shouldn’t be about money – but about personal journeys through giving.
Joyaux, who heads Joyaux Associates, a consultancy specialising in fund development, strategic planning, and board development, said she wanted to “run screaming through organisations saying, ‘stop it! Stop it! This is not about money!’”
“Asinine financial goals” are “an insult to the [donor] and it’s a (expletive) way to raise money!” she said.
“Donors are not a means to fulfil your mission…great fundraisers don’t raise money, they make meaning with donors. Are you prepared to go back to get your boss and board to embrace that? Because if you don’t, I'm not going to give you money to advance your mission,” she said.
“[Philanthropists think] What am I trying to accomplish? What are my aspirations? To me that is what philanthropy and fundraising are about. I'm living my life, there are issues, I want to accomplish certain things…the question is, which organisations are going to help me accomplish what I want to accomplish? I give to you to fulfil my aspirations.”
Jouyaux spoke of how brands succeed because people love the memory of how that brand made them feel and it gives us a chance to love something about ourselves – whether that brand is a charity or soccer team or perfume.
Storytelling was at the heart of engaging with donors to achieve this, she said.
“Everything is a tale. What we believe, we we know, what we remember, and even what we dream…we only accept as true what be narrated,” she said.
“Everything in life is about people’s stories…It’s about my mission, it’s about my values [as a philanthropist]. And imagine this as a journey…the journey of the donor.”
Joyaux is a philanthropist, having bequeathed her entire estate to charity. She spoke at length about how fundraisers had effectively captured her own personal journey in giving.
Among her anecdotes was one of an emotionally moving experience she had upon discussing a bequest she was making with the recipient charity – and being given the opportunity to share her philanthropic story.
The act of asking simple questions like “How do you want to be remembered?” and “What was your family life like?” has the potential to open up engaging channels of communication with prospective donors, Joyaux said.
“We [Joyaux and her partner] were thinking about our philanthropic journey, stimulated by them!” she recounted. “They knew my stories…they knew what mattered to me," she said.
“If you haven’t experienced those things both as the donor and the asker…you are missing out on things. You have the right expect that a charity will do that…you have an obligation to talk with your donors this way.
“Giving is about the donor, whether that’s you, or that’s me. It’s about my life stories, and you are the means through which I fulfil my aspirations…it’s about the fight I want to fight.
“Until we embrace it, and until we accept it, we’re nowhere.”
The Fundraising Institute Australia (FIA) is the national peak body representing professional fundraising in Australia.
The annual conference continues until Friday and is the largest conference for Not for Profit fundraisers in the region, drawing 755 delegates for a series of keynote speakers and professional development sessions.