The decision to make a “stretch gift” is driven, many times, more by the donor’s psyche and her beliefs about giving than by the value of the institution or the program. I’ve listened to donors long enough to know this to be true – and I’ve seen it at work in my own life.
Here are some typical beliefs about stretch giving that your donors hold:
“I’m not rich, I can’t give enough to really transform this place so I’ll be a regular, annual giver.”
“When I get more money (or, when I’m a certain age, etc.), I’ll be in a position to make a stretch gift.”
“My “big” gift will be in my estate. Until then, I’ll give what I can.”
As development professionals our job is to encourage, to inspire, to educate, and to provide opportunities for our donors and prospects to give meaningfully. We don’t do this because we need to meet goals for our institutions. We don’t do this because we want to raise more money. Fundamentally, we do this because we believe that giving is a large part of a healthy human experience and we feel called to facilitate these expressions of generosity.
To do our work well, we must believe – deep down believe – that giving points each person toward their higher angels. We must believe that when we give, we gain more than does the receiver. And we must believe that when we really stretch our giving, our return is amplified.
If you hold these beliefs let me invite you to re-think your own giving. Consider making a stretch gift – a real stretch gift – to your institution, an organization of choice, your church, wherever. I don’t know what the amount of a stretch gift might be for you. Only you will know the appropriate amount for you and your family. But let me encourage you to do something bigger than you’ve done previously. Something that, for you, is meaningful.
We regularly ask our donors to consider a “stretch gift.” Let today be the day we make the same consideration. We’ll be better people and development professionals when we do.