My favorite thing about blogging is reader comments because they challenge me to look at information and opinions from a different perspective. I wrote a post for the Jolkona Foundation and received a thoughtful response for a reader, Bill.
Bill made the argument that is not always possible to measure donor impact (read his comment). I have heard this argument and been on his side of the table a number of times. I understand that we cannot always have direct 1-to-1 impact with donor giving because not every donor can afford to drill a well or build a building. But even those impacts are 1-to-“a specific number.”
I’m going to play the devil’s advocate. Bill mentions that the story of the Good Samaritan is an example of a situation where results oriented fundraising does not work. I think it makes the opposite point. At the heart of results oriented fundraising is not the cost of making a difference, but the value of seeing exactly what your gift did. The Good Samaritan had a unique opportunity to see exactly what his gift was able to do. How many of us actually drill a well in Africa and then taste the water?
But I think Bill makes a very strong point. Making a difference is not always cheap. We can’t say that feeding a homeless man and drilling a well is going to cost the same amount or that making a difference is only valuable if it costs less than a certain amount. Sometimes making a difference is going to be a very steep investment. When that is the case, results-oriented fundraising is important because it allows donors to make a decision about what investment is a good steward of their money.
Bill, great comment. I really appreciate your thinking on this. Thank you for challenging us to think outside traditional ROI that the business world asks us for and give value back to individual needs. Any other thoughts, agree or disagree, I’d love to hear it.