Fundraising: It’s Not About the Money

Don’t get us wrong, as a scrappy non-profit committed to the Universal Principle of Thrift, we’ll always take your money and put it to good use. This #GivingTuesday, we embarked on the age-old (circa 2012) tradition of reaching out to our friends, family, alumni, and every dignitary we know seeking support for the work we’re passionate about.

Fundraising is challenging. Across the board, almost everyone struggles with this. We don’t have a blanket answer for success, but based on one of our latest favorite reads, we can summarize a few tips:

    1. Invite people in. Fundraising isn’t purely about getting money. It’s about inviting folks to be a part of your work. Asking for money is difficult, but the truth is, people should have the option to say yes or no. If you don’t ask, you take decision-making power away. Not asking due to an assumption of their financial situation becomes an act of injustice. That being said, if folks aren’t in a place to financially support, give them an alternative option: ask them to support you on social media, attend an event, or even a simple response letting you know how they’re doing.
    2. Fundraise together. On Tuesday, our office was filled with sporadic cheers, declarations of love, and reminiscing on fond memories as we saw your names materializing on our screens. Our Executive Director, three Programs Directors, our Board of Directors, and even former staff were in on the asks, interactions, and we can honestly admit it… the fun.
    3. Foster authentic relationships. Having the sense that you are part of a strong community is an incredible feeling. Thousands of wonderful people have crossed Break Away’s path, and we hold on to those relationships - not because they could be a potential source of money, but because we genuinely love and value the mutual sense of togetherness we’ve found in them.
    4. Don’t be afraid to try new tactics. If emailing friends, families, and dignitaries doesn’t seem like it’s working, try threatening one of your staff’s hair. Maybe you don’t have wonderful hair to threaten, but the point is to always seek room for development and improvement. Practice patience, prioritize persistence, and stay committed.   

In all, we are astounded and humbled by the incredible turnout we had this #GivingTuesday. With your support, we raised over $8,800 in less than 12 hours to invest in the work of fostering active citizenship. In January 2016, Break Away started moving forward a new three-year strategic plan and we’re in hot pursuit of actualizing our goals. In the next two years, we’ll be making moves to:

  • Support lifelong active citizenship by offering mini-grants to alternative break alumni who are cultivating small groups of citizens in join and lead efforts locally to address community identified needs
  • Commit to cultivating inclusive student leadership by offering scholarships for individuals to attend the Alternative Break Citizenship schools from schools where there isn’t the institutional or financial support to otherwise do so
  • Grow the national network by providing membership benefits to tribal colleges and universities and institutions committed to serving first generation students - supporting the development of alternative break programs in under resourced or emerging service-learning centers

We have big dreams and we are fervently working to achieve our vision of a society of active citizens. To those of you who gave some of your hard-earned dollars to support Break Away in 2016, you’re not a donor, a money-giver, or a philanthropist - you are a decision-maker for what this Movement is and will become. You are invested and committed to thriving communities. For that, we are with you and we thank you.