Fundraising or Not Fundraising, That is the Question

Sections of this topic

    Fundraising, as a distinct sub-category of income generation, includes those activities that get people to GIVE their money to non-profit organizations and, ideally, to get them to keep giving.

    It does not include raising money by selling things – T-shirts, light bulbs, candy, books, carnival tickets, seats at dinner, or anything else that has material substance.

    Although those activities labeled “fundraisers” generate income, because they are not based on “giving,” but rather on selling, they aren’t part of “Fundraising.” Income generation, “Yes.” Fundraising, “No.”

    People who buy candy or cookies from local students are (usually) looking to help the student or satisfy a sweet tooth, not necessarily to support the school activity.

    Frequently, people who buy tickets to an event (carnival or sit-down dinner) do so because of who’s selling the tickets and/or because they see the event as entertainment. Too often, attendees at dinners know little if anything about the organization the event supports.

    In many people’s minds, fundraising equates to “philanthropy,” another term that’s misused a lot. The origin (Greek) and original meaning of the word is “love of man,” or “love of humankind.” Today, the term is often used to label almost anything to do with fundraising.

    In fact, “philanthropy” is a subset of fundraising. It’s about giving, but (for the most part) it’s self-motivated giving. It’s giving in consideration of the needs of others, whereas much of the rest of fundraising is (as noted in my first posting) about the needs of the donor.

    Have a question about starting or expanding your fundraising? Email me at With over 30 years of counseling in major gifts, capital campaigns, bequest programs and the planning studies to precede these three, we’ll work to answer your question.