On Fundraising and Fishing: Reflections on We Raise Foundation
In my day job, I run a community foundation, a charitable organization that encourages people to “give where they live.” I get to work on a daily basis with people who are excited about making the community they call home a better place to live. I have found that the donors I work with are usually also passionate about one or two causes that are near and dear to their hearts. Other charitable foundations focus on one or two issues and commit their resources to tackling these problems. I enjoy serving on the board of We Raise Foundation because of our commitment to some important issues: poverty, violence, inequality, creating education and work opportunities, and a hand up, not just a hand out to those who need it.
I’m sure you’ve heard the phrase, “Give a man a fish and he will eat for a day. Teach him how to fish, and he will eat for a lifetime.” Jesus was a fisherman; he was also a teacher. We Raise Foundation is committed to giving people the tools and support they need to become lifetime fishermen – able to overcome difficult situations and start down a new path with dignity and hope. We Raise supports organizations that teach literacy and employment skills, create work opportunities for the hard-to-employ, and provide a variety of social services to support those escaping lives of poverty and violence so that they will succeed. In addition to the concrete services our grantees deliver, they also provide a key ingredient to those they serve: hope. Hope that tomorrow will be better, hope that a difficult life’s journey will be redirected in a positive direction.
Carrying on the teacher/fisherman theme, We Raise is relatively unique in the Christian funding community in that we not only provide financial support in the form of grants but we provide leadership development and capacity-building in resource development for the organizations we fund. Our grantees help people “learn to fish.” We help our grantees “learn to fish” by enhancing and expanding their fundraising capacity. We review donor databases and identify new opportunities for fundraising. We develop specialized skills like grant writing and donor cultivation, help build the fundraising capacity of the board of directors, and provide platforms for crowdfunding. All of these value-added services greatly enhance the impact of our grant funding and help the organizations we support work more efficiently and effectively to fulfill their missions.
A donation to We Raise Foundation is thus leveraged in many ways: direct funding to worthy nonprofits working to pull people out of poverty, hope for those served, and capacity-building and support for the organizations we fund so they can grow and flourish to better fulfill their missions.
Anne Wenzel, We Raise Foundation Board of Directors
President and Executive Director, Western Colorado Community Foundation, Palisade, Colo.