Why Do We Fundraisers Do This Job?

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Written by Alex Comfort, CFRE

Naturally, the easy answer is that we help our agencies accomplish their mission, pay employees, and strive for greatness.

While this is very true, I can illustrate our purpose with a true story.

Once, when I was conducting a large campaign for a church denomination, I held 27 meetings at churches in four states over a stretch of 33 days. Each night, I trained solicitors to visit their members and leave campaign materials. The next day, I would go on to the next city. 

I received a call about one visit once it was completed. An accountant and his wife, a paralegal, made an appointment with a couple they didn’t know for 5:30 p.m.  So still dressed for work, they began to drive. It was a very long way out, and the road turned into a dirt path. The path led them to the most run-down trailer park either had ever seen.

They asked each other if they should really do this visit, and both agreed that the appointment had been made so they should just go ahead. During training, I told them that if they encountered indigent members, they should not ask for a set amount but instead for a gift, if possible. This is my normal practice, as is telling people to use their own discretion during visits.

The couple found the correct house number. It was a terrible looking trailer, but they knocked on the door. A man in a dirty t-shirt answered and invited them in. He and his wife had arranged a place the four could sit down, and the man said: “Both of us appreciate you coming. I know how bad this trailer is, and both of us live on disability and we don’t have much. But my wife and I grew up in this church, got married in this church, and it will always mean a lot to us. We cannot get out much, and we do not have nice enough clothes to ever go back to a service.”

The accountant was very gentle and told them that the goal was to treat everyone with respect and to try and tell the story of the campaign to everyone. He went ahead and explained the materials and said he understood that a gift wouldn’t be possible from them. However, the man gave him a sealed envelope and said that this was a small way to explain how much the church meant to them. They parted warmly.

At the end of the road they couldn’t stand the suspense and they opened the envelope.

Inside was a check for $1,000.

We fundraisers touch lives for the better. We give people the opportunity to invest in something bigger than themselves. We open the door to grace and redemption in so many ways. We do good work.

*This is one of many stories from an upcoming book on Alex Comfort’s professional adventures over 35 years. Stay tuned for more information on how you can get your copy.


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