December is a hectic month for fundraisers, but it’s worth pausing to remember just how important that fundraising work is.
It’s December, and so we celebrate the donors who fund nonprofits and make civil society function. Rightfully so, as the truth is that we need this funding to operate nonprofit organizations. As the Irish Catholic nun and philanthropist Catherine McAuley once wrote, “Very little good can be accomplished or evil avoided without the aid of money.”
While donors deserve our admiration and gratitude during the month that brings in nearly a quarter of all nonprofit giving in our nation, we should also be thankful for the fundraisers who work tirelessly to steward those donors. Through their commitment to their organizations, they give donors assurance and confidence that their gifts will be put to good use. They invite donors into their organizations and help them realize more purpose in their lives. In some cases, they help donors define their legacies.
It takes a lot to be an effective fundraiser. I have been fortunate enough to work in various capacities in the nonprofit world and teach college courses on the subject. I’ve met major donors, board members, nonprofit executives, and many academics who study some of the most nuanced aspects of philanthropy. Some of the most intelligent people I know are fundraisers. They need to be able not only to speak insightfully about their organization and its mission, but also to be knowledgeable about things such as planned giving vehicles, grant agreements, and nonprofit investment policies. They need to be intimately familiar with their organization’s current strategic plan, and also know a great deal about other nonprofits in their focus area. It’s a lot of knowledge to obtain, and it takes dedication and passion to do so.
At many organizations, fundraising can be a “what have you done for me lately?” type of role. And often, for fundraising professionals, December is a stressful time of year when they compete for the attention of their donors. Fundraisers work demanding jobs, and December is their busy season. Midnight on New Year's Eve is the final buzzer that will in many cases define an entire year of hard work and effort. As a society that relies heavily on nonprofits and the services they provide, we all owe a debt of gratitude to fundraising professionals. Cheers to all the fundraisers out there!