“Spirit,” said Scrooge, with an interest he had never felt before, “tell me if Tiny Tim will live.”
—Charles Dickens, A Christmas Carol
In Charles Dickens’s holiday classic A Christmas Carol, Ebenezer Scrooge was a successful businessman whose cynical attitude and stingy habits made him a caricature of selfishness. Scrooge had never found a reason to be joyful or to give at the holidays. But, after he was introduced to Tiny Tim, he underwent a life-changing experience. Scrooge was inspired by Tiny Tim’s innocence, affection, and hope, and the charitable causes he had spurned before suddenly seemed important. He decided to give generously from his own personal resources because seeing Tiny Tim become healthy was a source of great joy for him.
Thankfully, real-life donors aren’t much like Ebenezer Scrooge. However, there are several lessons we can learn from this classic story.
Scrooge’s surprising philanthropic passions
Donors may be passionate about things that no one could have guessed—and, like Scrooge, some donors may not be fully aware of their own philanthropic passions. It is the privilege of development professionals to help donors identify those passions, positioning them to contribute to the causes that are most meaningful to them and enabling them to experience the most joy and satisfaction.
The power of personal stories
With so much need in our world, donors may feel that they are continually asked for gifts, which eventually leads to a feeling of fatigue. When nonprofit organizations are intentional about sharing individual impact through personal stories, they rejuvenate passion and ignite interest. You can leverage the power of the personal story at your organization to inspire even more meaningful giving.
Tipping points that influence decisions
As development professionals know, a lot can change in donor engagement, and many circumstances contribute to a donor’s readiness to make a gift. But, we don’t often consider that we can influence or even create tipping points. Consider the effect a personal visit, meaningful event, or powerful video can have on a potential donor who is assessing a philanthropic opportunity.
Giving through, not to
When Scrooge was asked for charitable gifts he “ought to” give, he wasn’t interested. It wasn’t until he realized what could happen through a contribution—made thoughtfully, to a worthy cause—that he understood how he could experience tremendous joy by giving. This is the joy we can provide to donors when we show them the impact of their contributions.
One of the best gifts you can provide donors is the opportunity to make a difference in an area about which they care deeply. This holiday season, focus on creating opportunities for joy in giving and remind yourself that your important work makes it all possible.