How we want to work (4/2013)

For three and a half years now, I am a volunteer for “tat für tat: malawi”. A small association, committed to a community center, House of Hope, in Malawi, with about one hundred regular donors and 10,000 Euro in yearly donations. This makes the association, I say it right away, certainly not instantly and easily transferable to a major “player” in the donor market.

But the relationship of donors, clients and organization still serves as a model for me. At “tat für tat: malawi” the groups merge and boundaries dissolve. House of Hope is “tat für tat: malawi” are the donors. Only together WE are a community and make a difference in the world (in this case the area 24 of the Malawi’s capital Lilongwe). Each deed (“tat”) is important, everyone is needed.

This is also reflected in the communication of “tat für tat: malawi”. A key tool is the Facebook page, which is taken care of by “tat für tat: malawi” and the recipient of the donations, the House of Hope. The donors directly participate in the life of the House of Hope and can post own stories or questions.

A little paradise? Maybe. But one with a vision for me. Isn’t this kind of “WE” not transferable to other organizations? Cannot social media be very helpful here?

And what about those huge national organizations? Why shouldn’t  they regionalize themselves more and establish local chapters to mobilize resources – close to and together with the people? The world’s largest fundraising organization, United Way of America, does not centrally collect their money, but through more than 1,300 chapters across the United States. Likewise, Catholic Charities, American Diabetes Association, YMCA and many others. In addition, a “We” feeling can also be achieved through consistent customer orientation – ie a fundraising, which sees its main task in satisfying  the needs of the donors. If this is accomplished by a company that produces lifeless tech products – I am talking about Apple -, then the organizations that “sell” happy people and a better world should accomplish this even more easily.

I meet very, very happy donors at “tat für tat: malawi”. Donors, who personally thank that they get the chance to provide this help. Donors are, I believe, generally much more mature than we think. We just have to really ask them. Openly exchange ideas with them. And offer them alternatives.

Remains for me the question of the role of us fundraisers for the civil society. I think a little modesty suits us well. In a society in which few have more and more, and many have less and less, we might make a little bit of a balance. But with every euro we collect for hospices, homeless organizations and museums, we also support this system and take the politics out of their responsibility. In this dilemma I have decided for the direct help that I enable as a fundraiser. But you can also take the opposite standpoint – with good reasons. We fundraisers should be confident in what we do, and humble in what we achieve.

Let us not go fishing for donors, but let us discover the ocean with them.

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