Tuesday, April 8, 2008

Categorizing donors, Ashoka/CBI and Changemakers

A Small Change-Fundraising Blog has an interesting post on treating all donors as major donors. The comments are especially interesting. From Cal:
Giving to one organization or another has become terribly shallow. With auctions, luncheons, breakfasts, all these types of fundraisers have become a contest to see who can tug on people’s heartstrings the most. It’s no longer about the reality of what any given agency does as much as what can they show me at this moment to tug on my heart? I don’t buy your assessment. Your comments about “fully engaging at the most meaningful level”, well that to me is a load of hooey, yet I use that type of talk all the time in my job as Development Director. To be honest, I want so much to believe in this stuff, but I see the real world for what it is. I agree with your premise, but would ask what is REAL generosity? What changed it for me is seeing three small boys on the streets of Bucharest Romania. One boy ran up with a meager piece of bread, and the boys were obviously starving, thin and gaunt. They were elated with the older boy’s find. The oldest carefully broke up the piece into 3 equal pieces, gave one to each. The smallest, who was about 4 years old took one bite, then dropped his piece that landed in a large puddle of mud. He began to cry. The oldest boy then took his piece and broke it in half and gave it to his brother. That my friends is real generosity. . .

. . . So, as a professional, I write articles like this one above, but knowing inside that fundraising means “entertainment” (think auctions, events etc) and “recognition” (think annual report list of givers, names on a wall etc) and “tax deduction” — not exactly what giving was supposed to be back in deToqueville days.

I think about neighborhoods in poor parts of China, or Africa, where in the little villages, people who have nothing themselves share what little food they might have for their neighbors that have less. Then I remember, that I can do more, I can do better. I just wish others felt that way too.

Through the comments I discovered fasciniting sites on Ashoka's Citizen Base Intitiative:

At its core, a citizen base is a diverse group of people who support a CSO by contributing time, resources, or skills. They are the community behind a Changemaker.

What are some common examples of a citizen base?

  • Fans of a sporting team: They provide fees and sponsorships, cheer in the stands, and gain a lasting form of entertainment
  • Members of any club or union: They pay dues, serve in leadership positions, and receive the club’s support and/or protection.
  • Congregation members of a religious institution: They attend services, offer donations and/or volunteer time, and belong to an institution that responds to its congregants’ needs.

In each of these examples, the citizen base both gives to the organization and derives enormous benefit from it. As a result, citizen sector organizations that shape and embrace their own citizen base can build a healthy two-way relationship that improves the organization's operational efficiency and its community's well-being.

And Changemakers, where I found a lot of articles of interest, including this one on using drums to help children:
In Brazil, a country synonymous with samba, children are using music – one of their country's greatest strengths – to fight their country's greatest shortcomings: poverty, racism and police violence.

We have a lot of work to do to measure up to these organizations.

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