Not The Pail, But The Fire

We often talk about “educating” our donors.  And education is a good thing.

But sometimes, the way we practice educating our donors is a bit misguided. It is easy to conceptualize the education process as the delivery of information or knowledge.  In this model,  we believe it is our job to teach, to convey, to describe our plans.  The job of donors, on the other hand, is to absorb, to gain better understanding, and, ultimately, to respond to our plans with generosity.

I enjoy the insightfulness of the following quote attributed to William Butler Yeats, the 19th Century Irish poet and Nobel Prize winner:

Education is not the filling of a pail, but the lighting of a fire.

When you fill your donor’s pail, you may get a gift.  But when you light your donor’s fire, you will transform your institution.

How will you go about educating your donors?


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