Just finished tofu with black bean sauce at China Kitchen in Shepherdstown, about an hour from my home in rural West Virginia with three of my favorite fundraisers. Not everyone loves a fundraiser! We understand each other. Not everyone wants to talk about money, or knows how! We do.
Not everyone knows fundraisers have a life, a life of passion and service that is about far more than money–and just how much money can mean, and do, and help.
Today I was struck by the loving support at the table, the enlightenment experiences we’ve had, the intimate sharing about illness and death together, and our delight in our delicious meal! *
I founded the group about 18 months ago at the encouragement of one of our members. We’ve grown to about 12 souls, most of whom don’t come on any given occasion–and don’t have to, and don’t even have to rsvp. We are spread over three counties, and rotate restaurant locations.
For our model, I drew on the informal fundraisers’ lunch group of progressive national nonprofits I had loved in Washington, DC when I lived there. Some ground rules:
Share without giving identifying information about anyone but yourself. Take thought for how to accomplish this effectively, keeping interesting detail in and names of others out.
- Don’t strive to agree but take an honest interest in each other’s differences. This can be the single most valuable gift the group offers its members. Differences may include: how much or whether lunchers are paid; where we “sit” (staff, consultant, or Board); cultural differences; differences in training and expertise; and organizational differences from structure to culture to budget size.
- Don’t expect others will teach you; do ask for more that intrigues you!
- Making sure to respect Rule #1 above, share information, resources, and stories freely; be flattered when you’re imitated!
Meet regularly–we meet once/month–and keep meeting, without expectation. If folks begin to come and tell their friends, it’s working!
Create a fundraisers’ lunch group: you only have to want support in your work! Ask questions and offer suggestions for additional ground rules as comments to this post.
*I was also struck by the fortune in my cookie at the end of lunch: “A friend asks only for your time not your money.” Fundraising for a cause you love means never having to say you’re sorry about asking for either!