If you don’t like wealthy people, it’s time to think about a career change

Nobody gives when they feel the professionals working for an organization or institution dislike them.

I’m writing this today because I’m constantly befuddled when I see some fundraisers or nonprofit leaders post messages on social media (such as LinkedIn) that essentially complain about wealthy people.

Some of these posts insinuate that most wealthy people gained what they’ve got through ill-gotten means. Or, they lambast philanthropists for giving to one cause instead of another that the fundraiser believes is more deserving.

The reality is that most wealthy people are the first people in their families to make it big. And a tremendous portion are immigrants, first-generation Americans.

Yet, unfortunately, some fundraisers and administrators simply dislike organizational and institutional benefactors. They envy or resent them. They see them as dissimilar and, therefore, believe the raising of money should be an extraction process instead of a partnership.

They fail to look for what they have in common with these amazing people who accomplished so much. Instead, they focus on what they perceive as dissimilar, unequal, or unfair.

These fundraisers forget (or never learned) that the word philanthropy comes from two Greek words – philein, meaning to love, and anthropos meaning humankind. So, philanthropy is all about the love of mankind. All of humankind. Even the wealthy, no matter how they generated their wealth or what they do with it.

To be liked, you must like your supporters and donors, and your liking has to be real. If it’s disingenuous, your donors will sense it. They’re not stupid! And their experience in dealing with so many others in relation to their wealth has made them acutely aware and able to discern sincerity from pretense.

Sure, sometimes a fundraiser’s style or vibe just doesn’t resonate with a particular individual. When that happens, it should be recognized as such. It is what it is. Swap out that guide and facilitator for someone else and move on.

But, when the dissonance is driven by a fundraiser’s deep-seated disdain for the wealthy, that cannot be overcome. People won’t give if someone involved in the process makes them feel cold and prickly. They might have a hard time putting their finger on why they feel so uncomfortable. Nevertheless, their sixth sense will tell them to disengage from the process.

In other words, if you don’t like or love all people including wealthy ones, you probably should go find another career. You’re driving fundraising climate change.


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