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Let’s Outsource #Fundraising

June 22, 2010

Read an interesting post by Peter Haas, Executive Director of AIDG, where Peter brings up the idea of outsourcing AIDG’s fundraising to someone with experience raising “$50-100 million for a big org.” He describes a fundraising contractor with contacts who could take a cut of the fundraising for his/her salary while enabling Peter to concentrate on the business strategy and vision.

In response to his idea, Nell Edgington, President of Social Velocity, and Sasha Dichter of Acumen Fund, wrote the following posts, respectively:

I’ve long said (OK, perhaps not said but thought) that our current system of funding and fundraising is broken. Not only is government funding broken, but fundraising in the NGO world is also unsustainable. There is only so much money to go ‘round and more and more entities are wanting a cut. Nothing is adequately funded because all of us are only getting a portion of what our donors give to the growing list of entities asking them. In my mind, if we don’t develop even stronger and more meaningful relationships with our donors, we will only get less and less. And despite social media, developing those relationships only gets tougher when we are being stretched in so many directions and being asked to produce funds more quickly.

I expound on this somewhat in my response to Nell’s post:

Nell, I agree with you and Sasha. What Peter describes is very transactional, more akin to a VC cash infusion or perhaps political fundraising.
I’m also trying to picture this “gun for hire” carrying his/her Rolodex of donors from city to city calling these contacts to now please give to their cause of the week. “Oh, and please remember, good friend and donor to all my causes, a small 10% fee will be taken out for my salary. Thank you.” I know of companies that provide fundraising services (I interviewed for one once but did not want to leave my family for weeks and months at a time), but what they do is still not what Peter describes.
I see what we all see that fundraising, taxing, issuing bonds, and all the other ways we help raise funds for services and non-profits is becoming unsustainable. Non-profits were created to provide services our governments could not or would not provide. Donors were happy to support them. Now, however, the government can’t afford to provide the services it’s supposed to provide. Society now has to help them make up the difference. Where a donor was able to give some money to the church and perhaps a non-profit or two, they now have to give to their child’s public school, their public university, their local police department. etc.
If our tax rolls (government-mandated fundraising) cannot adequately support government services, our fundraising “rolls” (that percentage who give/donate/support) will never adequately fund all our religious, educational, charitable, and other NGO’s.
There has to be a better way. I thank you, Sasha, Peter, and all my colleagues toiling to find it. It’s this kind of discussion that can uncover disruptive initiatives and transformational ideas.

How do we continue down this road of inadequately funding anything, anywhere. It seems to me, we need to get governments and NGOs and our taxpayers/donors around the “table” to discuss how we more efficiently and adequately fund necessary services for our populace. The needs are only growing while the funding base gets thinner and less deep.

What are your ideas?

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