The Real Way to Raise Money

Do you want to know the real way to raise money? It’s not complicated. Provide donors with what money can’t buy.

Philanthropic experiences that money can’t buy include:

  • Sharing some of the opportunities you were given with those who weren’t
  • Witnessing altruism in action
  • Collaborating with kindred spirits
  • Putting your talents to a higher purpose
  • Providing a level of talent, skill, or service that nonprofits could not otherwise afford
  • Working with and supporting people who are addressing the grittiest of issues and helping those whom others have walked away from
  • Converting the pain in your life to a life force that reduces the pain in the lives of others
  • Sharing the values that guided your life to a better place
  • Transferring the wants that have driven you to succeed into the helping hand that alleviates the wants of others
  • Discovering how your benevolent side gives you more joy than your acquisitive side
  • To see the glimmer of the divine in others
  • To see the glimmer of the divine in yourself

Now, contrast those fundraising approaches that provide donors with what they already have in abundance, including:

  • Sumptuous meals
  • Fine wine
  • Merchandise
  • Hanging out in tony places
  • Lavish entertainments
  • Rubbing shoulders with the rich and famous.

Oh, I hear what some of you are thinking …. “but some of those things work.”

To some degree, for sure, but what money can buy won’t come close to what it can’t in creating life-changing donor experiences and inspiring genuine, breath-taking philanthropy.


Jim Langley is the president of Langley Innovations. Langley Innovations provides a range of services to its clients to help them understand the cultural underpinnings of philanthropy and the psychology of donors and, with that knowledge, to develop the most effective strategies and tactics to build broader and more lasting communities of support. Jim has authored numerous books including his most recent book, The Future of Fundraising: Adapting to New Philanthropic Realities, published by Academic Impressions in 2020. 

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