By Carrie L. Hildebrant
Graduate Student, Center on Philanthropy at Indiana University
It is important to clarify both of the terms separately, before determining the combined definition. Philanthropic comes from the root philanthropy. Philanthropy can be described as charity, helping someone, giving to someone or a cause, or doing good. Philanthropy is not simply helping someone you know; philanthropy is also helping an unknown person. There are many ways to be philanthropic. A few ways are giving food to a food bank, volunteering at an animal shelter, or donating money to an abused-children's center. To be philanthropic, you must give of yourself without requiring something in return.
Fundraising, also referred to as fund raising, means collecting money for a specific reason. Fundraisers collect money for many different causes. Some of those causes are caring for people with AIDS, providing food for the homeless or purchasing books for a school library. Some organizations collect money for themselves, such as an office that collects money to purchase candy or soda for its employees or to buy t-shirts for their company softball team. Philanthropic fundraising is only that money which is collected for a charitable purpose. Organizations that have philanthropic purposes do not use the collected money for the gain of their own workers. They are called not-for-profit organizations because the money they collect goes to the cause-or mission-of the organization and not into the pockets of the workers.
Philanthropic fundraising has existed for many thousands of years. In classical Greece and Rome, citizens raised money to build huge amphitheaters, provide feasts for all citizens, and have Olympic-style games. Religious fund raising can be seen in all religions. In Islam, Buddhism, Christianity, and Confucianism money was raised to build places of worship and care for the poor. In America, fundraising is seen throughout history. During wars, Americans promoted campaigns, events designed to raise a specific amount of money to be used towards an immediate problem. These campaigns raised money for war veterans, for orphans of soldiers, and to provide relief to families without food and shelter.
Fundraising provides money to improve the quality of life for many people. It also allows organizations to operate that otherwise would not be able to afford to. Fundraising ensures that not-for-profit organizations will continue to exist in the United States and make it a more diversified and humanitarian place to live.
In 1997, Americans gave $143.46 billion to philanthropic causes (Giving USA, 1998). Fundraisers are one factor that instigate this large amount of annual giving. If people are so generous in their giving, why do we need fundraisers? The reason why fundraisers are necessary stems from the reason why people give. The number one reason people give is because they were asked to give. With adult donors, fundraisers are often those who ask for the gift. Without fundraisers asking people to donate money to worthy causes, many social service, arts, humanities, and educational agencies would not be able to provide their services and support.
Asking someone for money seems simple enough. However, fundraising can be complicated. Philanthropic fundraisers are not simply asking for money. They are asking people to support a mission that the potential donor feels is important. According to Duronio and Tempel, "fundraisers create the bridge between the mission and the marketplace" (9). Fundraisers must develop a system that ensures the nonprofit organization will be able to perpetuate its mission. Fundraisers must utilize many different methods of fundraising, such as: asking individuals to give, seeking foundation and corporate grants, hosting special events, and applying for government grants. Fundraisers must also be able to assure the donor that his or her money will be spent well and for the cause intended. Good fundraisers work at nonprofit organizations that they truly believe in and make personal contributions to, as well as asking others to do the same.
How can a fundraiser do all these things? Fundraisers must begin by creating a plan or strategy. They must forecast how much money needs to be raised (based on what they are raising the money for), who they can anticipate will give (past donors of their organization or people who give to similar agencies, foundations, etc.), and how they will ask people to give (using letters, telephone calls, personal visits or planning a special event). Fundraisers must have a concise plan that shows donors exactly how the money will be spent. Donors expect fundraisers to be accountable for the money that is raised.
It is also important to examine who fundraisers are. Fundraisers come from every sector of society. They are women and men of all ethnic, racial and religious backgrounds who support a variety of causes. Some fundraisers did not study philanthropy in school, while others may have earned a Masters or Professional degree. The typical fundraiser has a bachelor degree or graduate degree. According to Duronio and Tempel, 61 percent had master's degrees and 23 percent had doctorates. Today, most fundraisers being hired by not-for-profit organizations have been trained as professional fundraisers.
Professional fundraisers are people who have studied philanthropy and understand the importance of giving. They have studied the best methods for asking for donations as well as the appropriate people to ask. Studying philanthropy does not give fundraisers secret knowledge of exactly who will give to what cause, but it does teach the fundraisers effective methods for determining giving patterns and other valuable tools. There are also many organizations, such as the National Society of Fund Raising Executives (NSFRE), which provide expertise in the fundraising field.
Professional fundraisers typically work at not-for-profit organizations and are called development officers or directors since they develop the resources that the organizations will use to operate and ensure their futures. Professional fundraisers are not always staff members. Instead they may be volunteers who donate their time to help the organization raise money.
Volunteer fundraisers can raise money for a school event or drive. Selling candy bars, selling Girl Scout cookies, or collecting donations for a book drive are all examples of fundraising conducted in great part by volunteers. A fundraising cause may be to buy more books for the library, renovate the school, or raise money for a sport or activity. Many fundraisers are volunteers. Other ways to help an organization raise money include simple tasks such as helping mail letters to potential donors or selling tickets to a special event.
Philanthropy, fundraising, fund raising, development, mission, cause, volunteer, not-for-profit organization, nonprofit organization, donor.
Relevant Web Sites
This site offers a variety of information, including: the NSFRE Code of Ethics for fundraisers; a description of a firm that works on fundraising for unusual causes, called 'Exotic Fundraising' (example projects include mummy DNA, dinosaur research, rescuing historic, sunken aircraft); and the United States regulations of fundraising. There are also tips on the most useful nonprofit and fundraising resources on the Internet that will link you to a plethora of additional Web sites
This site is home of the Grantmanship Center and links to foundation and corporate sites of interest to fundraisers. It also has general information on fundraising and giving.
This site provides a 'top ten' list of charitable solicitation tips.
This is the site of the Philanthropy Journal Online. This site provides updated information on the not-for-profit sector, foundations, and fundraising.
Web Sites that offer information on ways your school can get involved in philanthropic fundraising:
This site offers a variety of fundraising products to be used by school groups. They sell such products as cookbooks, lollipops, pizza, and online fundraising services.
This Youth and Educational Services site features fundraising opportunities for school or community groups. It also offers motivational speaking and workshops.
This is an United Kingdom site on fundraising. It offers fundraising ideas and links to nonprofits and resources.
Critical Issues in Fund Raising (1997). Dwight F. Burlingame (Ed.). New York: John Wiley & Sons, Inc.
Fund Raisers: Their Careers, Stories, Concerns, and Accomplishments (1997). Margaret A. Duronio and Eugene R. Tempel. San Francisco: Jossey-Bass Publishers.
Giving USA 1998 (1998). Ann E. Kaplan (Ed.). New York: AAFRC Trust for Philanthropy.
Guide to Student Fundraising: 129 ways to raise money (1984). Carolyn Mulford. Reston, VA: Future Homemakers of America.
Principles & Techniques of Fund Raising (1995). Indianapolis, IN: The Fund Raising School, Center on Philanthropy, Indiana University-Purdue University.
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