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Make Money or Make a Difference

by Doug Nash

I have been asked by a fellow volunteer to write an article on the following statement: are we here to make money or to make a difference? I was quite perplexed that this needed an article or an explanation. To me the answer is as obvious as it is simple. However let us take one part of the question at time.

Yes, we are most times here to raise money; money can help but is not necessary to make a difference. Donations of time or donations of goods or services can be, at times, more important than cash. A simple act of kindness can, at the right time and place, be all that is needed to make a huge difference. Spending money is not always the right answer nor does it ever guarantee that the difference made is that which was intended or wanted.

Making a difference is what we are all about: be it at a school our children attend or on a much larger scale like trying to eradicate an illness, poverty or some other worthy cause. Comparing different fundraising reasons to determine which is more important is needless and a complete waste of time because all fundraising efforts have a place in our society. However individuals and businesses are being demanded to make this decision every day and this is forcing fundraisers into some very tough situations. Money is a means to an end, it not the sole purpose for our existence. I have to repeat often that the first three letters of what we do is "fun". The first thing you should as fundraiser is define as best you can what it is you want to do, i.e. what is the difference you want to make? This then is your guiding light when things are tough and will be of great assistance when things get a little confusing.

The biggest fact to understand and remember is that as soon as you get involved either by donating time or money you have made a difference. So you can make a difference before you raise a cent. By attending a meeting or making a written suggestion can be as important as raising cash and you have made an immediate difference. Your suggestion or idea may not be adopted, however a better solution or a new option may be the result and this is not to be dismissed too quickly. I can't begin to count the number of ideas and suggestions I have put forward that have been voted down but there have been a small percentage that have been adopted and adapted that have led to some very satisfying outcomes.

There is another facet of this discussion to consider, there is a large group involved in raising the money who simply disappear when it comes to where and how the raised money is spent. If you are involved in raising the money you have a right to have your voice heard when it comes to spending it. If you have made a difference in the raising of the funds you should make a difference in how it is spent. If you are involved in the spending of the funds you should go out of your way to make sure the thoughts of the fundraisers are heard and respected or the amount of money available may shrink or disappear altogether in the not too distant future. On the other side of the coin if you have not played a role in the raising of the money then you have no right to be heard when deciding how to spend it.

The aspect of this discussion that seems to surprise people the most is that it can be easier to make a difference than it is to raise the funds. By simply turning up to a meeting, giving a dollar or donating an hour of your time you have made a difference and maybe not raised any money at all, but what you have done is maybe made it possible for someone else to raise money. Now the difference you affect may not always be the difference you would like. So take time out to evaluate the difference you have made, while it may not be what you first thought it might be it does not mean it has not been valuable. You may surprise yourself to find out it was even more valuable than your original aim. Different outcomes do not necessarily mean bad outcomes or that you have not been heard nor had an impact. In some instances it may take time for your impact to be appreciated or seen.

The more you get involved, the more of an impact you can make or the more money you can raise. Not necessarily in that order. My personal opinion is that if needed, you should be there to do both as best you can as your circumstance allows. You don't have to be involved directly in raising money as there are other support roles you can fulfil, so others can perform this task. The choice is not one over the other, more like which will be more dominant .

In summary, I believe you are already making a difference. The choice to make is what kind of difference do you want to make? The choice has always been yours and will always remain yours. No-one can make the choice for you. Others may influence your choice and that's alright so long as the final decision is yours.


    About the Author: Doug Nash lives in Logan City in Queensland, Australia. He has graciously consented to share a fundraising idea with us every month. Although many of the ideas aren't new, each of them has a unique flair that comes from being developed and refined half a world away from ours. Visit his web site at for more fundraising ideas.

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