Set Your Charity on Fire

Philanthropy is complicated.

When people give away their hard-earned money to a cause or organization, it can be for any number of reasons. The big ones are usually that they have big hearts or to affect change or even sometimes because giving is often trendy.

Really smart nonprofits and charities are often working overtime to try and keep a finger on the pulse of their donors and those specific reasons they donate. But sometimes you need to actually ask why.

My advice? Ask a very simple question:

If my organization was on fire, and you could rush in to save only one specific part of it, what would that be?

Be diligent. Invite them to pick only one thing. Just one.  Just for the exercise. Just for the conversation.

It can’t hurt and in fact, moreover it will truly help you help locate the motivational epicenter of their relationship with you. Anyone can say “I love your mission” but asking what they’d pull out of a fire?

That takes us far past philanthropic bumperstickering.

Knowing a donor’s motivational epicenter also allows you to talk with them in depth about how to deepen and strengthen the relationship. Its the gift within the gift giver. And who doesn't want that? 

But seriously? Take this advice. Use this question. Just do me a favor and don’t actually set your organization on fire. I’m not kidding. I will claim no responsibility. I will pretend I don’t even know you.

[ ben bisbee ]

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