Letters to a Young Fundraiser: #GivingTuesday Ennui

My Dear Friend,

Thank you for your letter. Your deep and loving trust in my counsel truly makes it possible for me to do the work that I do. I can do no more than thank you. I cannot comment on the style of your year-end fundraising campaign; I cannot take on the role of critic. This is best left to your board, your director, your program staff, Facebook posters, Twitter trolls, and, of course, the otherwise kindly fellow who, upon receipt of your latest missive, alerts you to the missing serial comma in the final paragraph. It is almost always so among our kind and I will speak no more of it. You have made the inexpressible expressed in your ask and to the inexhaustible yearning — How much must I give? — you have said, Any amount that is meaningful to you. And you put this in the PS, as well. You can do no more.

But to continue, year after year, as I have, when the phrases once fresh to a yearling fundraiser, ring as predictably as the morning alarm. Having said these things at the outset, I now dare tell you only this: It’s only going to get worse for you. You wrote to me because you feel the heavy, herding step of #GivingTuesday. You feel an unintended consequence of so much caring that has been calendared months in advance, when each of our individual concerns, housed in the apparatus of our organizations, presented through The Individual Story, a chorus line of concern where your own shapely leg kicks out, but that draws attention more to its whole than some of its parts.

The only cure for this ennui is authenticity and this, my dear, dear friend is difficult to define. You must at times wait for The Angel to speak to you. Go inside. When you know why you must fundraise — it is who you are, it’s October and your year-end numbers are going to tank if you don’t get it in gear — you find your cause and write. And rewrite and show it early in the process to someone who will have to approve it anyway, and start over and then when you need for it to be done, you’ll redo it for the digital version. And #GivingTuesday.

With my sincerest devotion and respect,

IT

PS If you have an inexhaustible yearning to give, this is a very shapely organization that kicks a lot of ass.