January 25, 2002
The fundraising process needs more attention now, due to a weaker economy, less government revenue, and a global war that may last for decades. The AIDS community will need to be more efficient in delivering services and advocacy, and in finding money for them.
In the U.S., individual donors give far more money to philanthropy than foundations and corporations put together. Most of the individual donations are to religious organizations. Church members usually have personal experience with the church they are giving to. But in AIDS, donations often go by default to a few big organizations with high-profile names, from donors who know little about their services. And much effort and expense goes into events like walks, rides, and other emotional experiences for donors -- an activity requiring very different skills from effective service delivery. Only large organizations can afford professional development departments -- and only a few can be largely successful year after year at two entirely different missions simultaneously (with the fundraising mission directly determining organizational survival, while the official mission does not). It is said that one can't dance at two weddings with one tush. But that is what we expect almost every service organization to do.
No wonder so many groups need technical help with fundraising.
Besides more technical help, we would like to see more focus on educating and involving donors in what is actually going on (in addition to seeking money through name recognition, or by producing donor events and experiences having little to do with the service or advocacy mission). We reluctantly believe that all these approaches are inevitable. Modern society has thousands of different worlds, and most people live in only a few of them. Those who do not need services are unlikely to understand them. Those who do are unlikely to have much money to donate. This disconnect makes it hard to raise money, and to deliver services well. But until there is a deeper commitment to making the world work, it may be the best we can do.
ISSN # 1052-4207
Copyright 2002 by John S. James. Permission granted for noncommercial reproduction, provided that our address and phone number are included if more than short quotations are used.
This article was provided by AIDS Treatment News. It is a part of the publication AIDS Treatment News.