Top Ten Reasons to Hold an Annual Campaign
Even Though Your Y Just Inherited a Million Dollars
(Sample TALK-AMPHILREV Communication)

Note: This e-mail message appeared in Talk-AmPhilRev on May 5, 1997.

So the Y inherited a million and the fundraising staff think maybe they should give up fundraising? What a delightful problem to have. But a very real one. Here are some tongue-in-cheek and simultaneously very serious reasons to keep fundraising.

  1. A million is never enough. The excitment of having the money leads people to develop creative ways to invest that money in the community. Soon the volunteers, the staff, and the neighbours discover the community has enough opportunity for good work that it could use two million. Or ten. Wyman's law of budgets: Good works expand in proportion to always exceed the funds available.

  2. The million will eventually be all gone. It may be a year. It may be a decade. But it will not last forever, no matter how wisely invested. Sooner or later you'll need a campaign again. If you haven't done any fundraising in the meantime, you'll forget how. You'll have to start all over again to find friends, volunteers, donors. That will be hard. In Canada we have many charities that were 100% government funded for ten, twenty, thirty years or more. They are now losing some or all of that government money due to cutbacks. It's like watching a junkie try to quit. Don't get addicted to easy money -- it's the worst drug!

  3. An organization that does not fund raise is a dead organization. The outreach, the contact with the community, the debates, the demand for accountability, the activity are life's blood to a real community group. The world has too many dead churches, sustained by endowments, going through the motions to the last elderly parishioner dies off -- and then there is a trust fund looking after the cemetary in perpetuity. "Better to give the money away then die rich." This is not only good organizational sense, it is one of Carnegie's principles of philanthropy.

  4. A million means you can invest in proper fundraising, building a campaign with true long-term vision, instead of the short-term panic to make enough for this month's bills. Too many groups are scrambling for cash and offend donors because they don't take time to say thank you and build strong relationships.

  5. Money attracts money. A million now will be like honey to the bears. Fundraising will never be easier, provided everyone knows what the money will do for the community. Potential donors might decide that if someone believed in the Y enough to leave them a million, there might be a good reason.

  6. Fundraising is never just about money. When people give they feel ownership. If they don't give, it is disempowering. The bad old image of fundraising is of the white-gloved lady bountiful from the rich part of town dispensing little blessings on the poor little crippled children. Yuk! No wonder people with disabilities rebelled. And so are many other people once portrayed is needy and pitiful. What's needed is self-help. And that includes asking people to give whatever they have (time or money) to their own organizations, like the Y.

  7. Fundraising builds leaders. That's part of the Y's mandate. People learn how to think, how to speak, how to organize, how to overcome shyness. People make new business contacts, and new friends. Fundraising campaigns are a community service to many of the volunteers.

  8. Fundraising builds communities. People discover they can get money, and feel empowered. They learn to work in teams. They go on to tackle other problems.

  9. People need to give. Stewardship means we all have something to give, and if we don't use our gifts, we are poorer for it. The people who use the Y need to know they aren't getting something for nothing.

  10. Fundraising is fun. Especially when you are not frightened that failure has terrible consequences. This cushion means people can enjoy the ride.

Source : Ken Wyman, CFRE, Trainer/Coach/Consultant in Fundraising, Volunteerism and Communication, 64B Shuter St. Suite 200, Toronto, ON M5B 1B1 Canada; phone: (416) 362-2926; fax : (416) 352-3039; e-mail:

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