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A few months ago, an acquaintance of mine, a fellow fundraiser, introduced me to a prominent business owner in Denver. It was a gracious gesture as we likely would not have met otherwise. The business owner and I connected deeply at our lunch. We talked at-length about family, politics, and faith.
Later that afternoon, I got a call from the fundraiser who had introduced us. He peppered me with questions: “How did it go, Chris? …what’s your strategy to get him to give to HOPE? …how do you plan on maximizing that relationship?”
I felt sick to my stomach when our conversation came to an end. Is that what fundraising is all about? Really? His comments had reduced that business owner to nothing more than what was in his wallet. It was not about who he was, what he cared about, or about who God had created him to be. It was about how much he could fork over if and when I asked.
An email I received today took me back to that memory. It was from the organizer of a weekly lunch for high-profile Christians in Denver. Apparently, several non-profit leaders had sniffed out the luncheon and had begun hitting up the lunch-goers for money. The leaders of the lunch heard that this activity was going on. Like an elementary school teacher who caught wind of recess bullying, the organizer sent out this note:

“Out of respect for our organization and the vast majority of our members, the leadership team requests that no solicitation of any kind take place among group members. We only say this because in our five year history together, many men we’d love to have still with us have dropped out because in their words they feel “worked” or pushed by some of our members. It saps the joy and ease for guests and members alike if they are made uncomfortable by someone obviously working an agenda…”

In any position, be it sales, fundraising, or pastoring, it is easy to view people by their capacity to give (be it their money, time or abilities). As soon we view people that way, we strip away their humanity. They are no longer people. They are just a checkbook. Or a skill-set. Or a Rolodex.  Once we reduce someone to what they can do for us, the prospects of developing a true relationship are very dim.