Fundraising as Sacred Exchange

People who give money to a cause expect a return.  Something good will get done.  Something important will happen because I gave.  At first glance, it seems like the basic contract. But look at the fine print.  Much more is being exchanged that just money for a good deed.

Different currencies change hands in a single donation.  In addition providing a charitable service, a wise donor will require trustworthiness and competence from an organization. There may also be an expectation that respect or social status will be delivered along with a tax-deductible receipt.

Corporate donors may expect added business or customer referrals and endorsement of their product to be part of the exchange. A photo opportunity to enhance the company’s image or recognition in the nonprofit newsletter may also be part of the deal.  Rarely explicit, these added benefits are often part of an unspoken agreement.

Charitable organizations may also ask for more than just money.  There may be a need for technical assistance or intellectual capital in the form of demographic information and research.  A nonprofit group may also benefit from association with a trusted corporation that is known to give only to worthy organizations, encouraging others to give as well.  The expectation that a gift will continue to be supplied in coming years is sometimes only acknowledged when it is not renewed.

It is the trust and good will involved that makes an exchange between charities and donors sacred.  Will strings be attached or hidden agendas be promoted? Is a promise conditional? In the language of Adam Grant (Give and Take: A Revolutionary Approach to Success), is each party a giver, taker or matcher?

With lines blurring between for profit and not for profit organizations, desired outcomes and resources may be shared by donors and charities. Communication networks, workspace and equipment, legal or marketing expertise may be used by both.  Until existing laws are updated and contracts are clarified, mutual respect and trust is needed to insure fairness and efficiency in the work we do together…

Unless the sacred trust of partnership produces a better relationship and outcome than measured transactions.  Maybe the positive regard, confidence and readiness to give more on both sides is able to create a good that goes beyond our best strategic plans.

When something beyond what is approved by our lawyers and accountants is born, a life greater than our own may come to be. A new creativity and collaboration may lead us into a sacred future we aren’t able to imagine when our giving is limited to a safe 50% that requires personal benefit before giving more.

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5 Reasons to Reform Social Network Marketing

1. Our social networks are being targeted, tapped, and stolen.

Corporations are very intentional about entering social networks with word of mouth and social media marketing tactics designed to gather customers through personal relationships. This is already happening.  “Buy one, refer 3 friends and get it free” is a common offer that places our social networks at risk.  When friends begin to target each other for personal gain, relationships change.

What once was a just a party, night out with the girls, parents association meeting, kids ball game or neighborhood bar-b-que becomes an “opportunity”.  Friends know when they are victims of a sales program. Sales training about how to be more effective and persuasive just make things more uncomfortable.

But it’s already here.  Since it can come through any individual without permission or warning, it can’t be ignored.  The force is too strong and variable be eliminated with rules or regulations.  It needs to be reformed to serve the common good.

2.When we recognize the value of our social networks, we can secure the funds we need for doing good.

Corporations that are investing millions of dollars in social media network marketing among friends are willing to invest that money in nonprofit organizations that produce the same results for the company- more customers. The same corporations that invest in FB, twittering among friends, followers of a youtube star or word of mouth referrals will gladly support a cause we share as customers.

When we are conscious as a social network, we can shift the flow of finances used for marketing into a common purpose to do good. When those who support a common cause agree to cooperate for community benefit, everyone can win.  Transparency and integrity can take away the weirdness and suspicion about hidden agendas or being used.

Agreement up front about a good product with a good company that supports a good cause through our cooperative effort removes the pressure that can be divisive in a social network or cause people to fall away. Only invest your social network for a good cause if you are investing in your network at the same time.

3. Relationship marketing is about RELATIONSHIPS.  If done properly, relationships can be strengthened.

When used blindly, any kind of marketing can destroy relationships.  Even with good intentions. When marketing becomes a campaign, friends become customers and quotas are to be met, we begin to fear opening the next email or answering the next phone call from certain friends. The spam filter doesn’t work and a “gotcha” contact chips away at goodwill, respect and trust.

With awareness and commitment to relationship ethics of respect, freedom, honesty and justice, bonds can be created around the common good. When resources are shared with equity and transparency, everyone benefits and the joy of economic well being generates hope.  Mutuality in fair exchange between friends teach us that an alternative may exist to the win/lose marketing game we’re accustomed to playing.

As we consider what is best for the environment and the disenfranchised and those with special needs among us, the value of social marketing allows us to direct commercial profits toward doing the greatest good. Cooperative effort that creates financial support for creating and sustaining common space and a common purpose creates a true partnership. Everyone contributes and the volume of markets created brings shared power for consumers to support work that provides the most social benefit.

4. Integration of money with relationships develops character by testing motives and revealing values.

Free choices about how money will be spent for essential products and services create a voice from consumers about what companies will receive loyalty over time.  We can promote healthy sustainable products and services that are safe and contribute to a better quality of life.  Sharing a concern that everyone’s children do well, not just our own creates a caring community and encourages corporations to give attention to multiple benefits and consequences beyond the financial bottom line.

Cooperative intentional buying  and selling requires an openness and communication that builds authentic community.  Self determination and self sustaining organizations open the door to deeper belonging and positive identity. Shared pride that comes from working together helps reinvent the world as a more peaceful and satisfying place to live.  Accountability becomes a personal choice more than attempts at forcing compliance.

5. The next generation needs and deserves a better economic structure.

A more equitable economy allows everyone to participate according to the same rules of distribution. That doesn’t mean that everyone will experience the same benefits, but everyone will have opportunity.  Hard work and contribution to the common good will be rewarded. Our acceptance of privilege makes it difficult to visualize a system where more people are able to secure their own welfare, but when serve more than our own interests, we find an abundance that is not easily recognized in a culture where scarcity is assumed.

Short term interest in quarterly reports and weekly balance sheets give way to future studies that include our great great grandchildren.  We can spend our income in ways that influence a course of events and create systems to combat unintended negative consequences of current decisions.  We can learn to sacrifice today that which makes a way for the best to emerge through us all for generations to come.

The profit motive alone will never accomplish these five objectives. With courage and collaboration we can bring reform to a faulty economic system revolving around greed and self interest. Through agreement to experiment with new forms of exchange, we can discover a better stewardship of all that is given for us to share.