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I was emailed a really interesting question about fundraising in the wake of large disasters, and wondered, in addition to my own response, what you all might have in the way of advice.

I read your article, “Why Give to Victims of Katrina?”.  I am interested in your commentary from the perspective of a fundraiser. What, if anything, can you suggest for fundraisers in attempting to overcome some of the reasons why people will not donate.  It seems that ideology is getting in the way of humanitarianism.

On a personal level, I agree with the attitude that many of your friends are adopting.  But I am concerned for the implications these attitudes have on fundraising efforts.  Do you have any suggestions on how to overcome these attitudes?  What can we do, as fundraisers, to convince people to put their ideology, often political, aside?

- Stephanie Crispino


I’ve always felt that people donate to make themselves feel better. If they have mixed feelings or hesitation about donating to you, they’ll find someone they can donate to that gives them a better “good feeling,” something that’s more pure, so that they get a better result for their money.

That’s why children’s hospitals are better at fundraising than regular hospitals—because no one can object to healing a sick kid, but regular hospitals treat drug addicts and stabbing victims and smokers and CEOs who’ve had heart attacks in their hot tubs.

I think there are ways to make people feel like a donation to you is “more pure”—show them that money given will go directly to help those who ought to get it, not to alternative projects or middlemen or red tape. You can also help them understand your organization’s role and history— especially important if you’ve previously “allied” or intertwined yourself with a cause or agency that no longer is as pure as it once was.

For example, many people I met overseas thought that “FedEx” was a government service in the U.S.—that probably helped them win business, but could also prove a liability in certain countries.

I don’t think you’re going to get someone to put their ideology aside to give to you.  You need to show them YOUR ideology is not mis-aligned (at least to their way of thinking).



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“The sad truth is that most evil is done by people who never make up their minds to be good or evil.”

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“I play with variables constantly.”

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