Monday, July 23, 2012

Wining & Dining--All for the Cause

Fundraising for Dummies
I’m at that stage in my life now when it seems lots of folks are interested in taking me to lunch. We talk about business, we chat about politics, we often speculate about the business future of Indiana. And then my lunch companion shifts in his or her seat and begins the approach to the real heart of the conversation: the ask. With considerable experience both as a fundraiser and as a former CEO of the Lilly Endowment, I’ve been on both sides of the fundraising ask: I’ve asked others for contributions, and I’ve represented a major private foundation that distributed funds to other organizations when they asked. So I know what it means to ask--and to be asked--for money.
In fact, I enjoy those lunches when they are done well, when the fundraiser has done his or her homework, when the cause is something I care about, and when we share interests that make for an engaging lunch conversation. But invariably, when the time for the check arrives, the fundraiser reaches for it in a show of generosity. “Oh, no—“ he or she says, “This lunch is on me.”

This just happened a week ago. We get to the end of the lunch, and each of us starts to fumble for the check. My lunch companion said, ”Let me have this, I invited you to lunch.”

Then I say, “Gosh, I guess you haven’t read my book.”

She laughed and said, “No I haven’t. Maybe I ought to buy it.”

“If you’d read it, you’d know I suggest that when you're seeking money from somebody and the person you’re asking offers to get the check, I say let em.” She laughed and then handed me the check!

The reason I advocate this is that you want your prospective giver to know how frugal your organization is. Of course this means that over time, I get a lot of invitations to lunch.

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