Like Buying Stock


Charitable giving ought to be like any ordinary investment in that you buy the whole company.  When you buy 100 shares of McDonald’s you can’t specify that you want to invest only in the french fries. Ditto when giving $100 to a good cause.”

One way Gonser Gerber serves clients is by helping maximize a campaign effort through conducting a campaign readiness study. The study occurs during the planning phase prior to the launch of a campaign. And a key element is receiving input from 40-50 of an institution’s top prospective donors through confidential interviews. The quote above is from a recent interview I conducted with a prospective donor on behalf of a client.  

At face value, the sentiment is right on. And yet it is so misleading.

We want all constituents to think this way. Accordingly, our tendency might be to lift up this quote as an example and repeat it as an encouragement to prospective supporters.

But what led this donor to say these words? Did he immediately adopt the “like buying stock” mindset when he became a donor?

No. He evolved into this conclusion.

His evolution occurred thanks to someone who took the time to meet with him. To discuss more deeply the institution’s mission. To share “mission in action” stories. To highlight ways to become involved. To connect him to those who benefit from the mission. To call him to serve with other like-minded people. To encourage him to publicly advocate for the cause. To invite him to give to an aspect of the mission that touches his heart. To show him how his philanthropic investment helps further the mission. To share examples of what other donors are doing to enhance the institution’s effectiveness.

The “like buying stock” mindset is one of trust built over time. It can be your end goal for each constituent you meet.

But don’t expect immediate adoption. It usually takes time. It takes involvement. It may even require constituents to learn what it means to be generous. And it may take giving to something specific or narrow, initially. It takes many steps.

And it takes help from someone.

Someone like you.

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