I work in the fundraising industry. Not the cool fundraising industry, for politicians and charitable organizations, but the lame one. The one that you use when your baseball team needs to buy more bats, when your Boy Scout Troop doesn’t have enough tents for the trip, when the dance squad’s pom-pom’s aren’t pomy enough. You probably participated in one of these for your elementary school. Annoy your family into buying things from you, ignore them rolling their eyes, dreaming of the cheap and horrid prizes you deluded yourself into thinking you could get. (You wanted the spinning disco ball, don’t lie.) That’s the fundraising industry I work for.
And it is completely bizarre.
Let’s get this out of the way upfront: no one likes to fundraise. No one. The only reason people do it is because the people in the organization refuse to support it just by tossing money at it. They want other people to toss money at it. Given that, is it really a huge surprise that the fundraising industry, as a whole, is a really creepy place? Stop and think about it: as an employee of the fundraising industry your job is to find people who want to sell your crappy products to other people so they can keep a (usually) small portion of the profit. Doesn’t that just scream pyramid scheme? The marketing doesn’t really help that image either.
“Sell our products and keep over HALF the profits!”
“Don’t worry about product delivery, we do that for you!”
“The more you sell, the more you earn!”
“We’re here to enable you to sell!”
I suppose those don’t seem all that bad on their own, but stop and think about a typical fundraiser. Who sells these shitty products? Children. We’re conditioning children from what- 10 years old? younger?- to be good little members of a consumer society. And that’s sort of creepy.
But that’s a really minor part of the general creepiness of the fundraising industry. Did you know that I’m an anomaly in the fundraising industry? Not because I’m a white male, I wish it was because of that, but because I am below thirty. Thirty! That’s the age threshold to fit in the fundraising industry. Everyone else I work with is pushing 40. At least. No wonder the fundraising industry is dying a slow death, who wants to work with an industry of ideas that were perfected in the glory days of the 1980s? My company is on the forefront of the fundraising industry by providing an online store for a fundraiser. Whoa, Nelly! Don’t go off the rails of sanity there, we sure as hell can’t embrace new technologies too quickly! We need to wait to embrace change until our entire industry is irrelevant due to inflated call-centers and inefficient distribution methods!