This page describes Why This Way's practices on Fundraising, including both our own practices for fundraising as an organization, and our views of which practices in general are healthy, and which can have unintended negative consequences.
Our organizational policies contain some practices on fundraising. One of these, accepting only unconditional contributions, relates to our principles for handling money and is important for maintaining the consensus-based nature of our organization, and not letting money influence the group in ways that could compromise its values. The other principles relate directly to our beliefs about the healthy state, and can be summed up as us wanting to avoid creating any sort of pressure for people to donate.
Persistent or aggressive fundraising
Being too persistent can alienate people. Our organizational policies specify to only contact people regularly or repeatedly to solicit donations, if they have expressly consented to being contacted, and at whatever time intervals they have consented to being contacted for this purpose. This policy allows us to contact people in this manner who wish regular contact, while keeping us from annoying or alienating people who do not wish such contact.
Giving gifts, such as address labels, with the intention of influencing people to give money, can also come across as pressuring, because people's natural tendency towards reciprocity can make them feel a pressure to give a gift that they would not otherwise want to give.
Desperation or urgency and fundraising
A state of desperation or urgency can produce a pressure for people to donate money to an organization, as people may feel like there is a desperate or urgent need to donate to a group. One problem is that this desperation can be exaggerated or misrepresented by organizations in the interest of raising more money than they otherwise would. This sort of pressure can also lead to people donating more money than they would normally be comfortable donating, which can take money away from other places they would spend money.
Another problem with desperation and urgency in fundraising is that it can be hard for people being solicited for money, or people considering donating money, to know with much certainty the degree to which financial desperation is due to financial mismanagement or unwise use of resources, vs. the degree to which it is due to factors beyond the control of the organization in question. The assigning of cause in these circumstances can be complex and subjective. It is possible though that desperation is a result in part of factors like mismanagement, which would make donors less likely to give.
We wish to always avoid a sense of urgency or desperation (real or perceived) in fundraising. We wish to manage our organization in a long-term, proactive way, so that we avoid urgent financial situations, and we want people to give to our organization not because they feel pressure based on a perceived or real urgent need, but because they see our organization as being managed effectively.
Communicating our policies to potential donors
In society at large, people can sometimes hold expectations that large donors are given some degree of extra influence in an organization. In Why This Way, we expressly prohibit this, specifying that we only accept unconditional donations. Donors are free to participate in our group and have the full input that any participant would have, but they are not given any special status: people who have not given any money are given the same consideration.
It is thus important for us to clarify our policies to all potential donors before they give money.
Use of funds for fundraising
The use of funds for fundraising expenses can be seen as a form of administrative overhead, money that is not being used directly towards an organization's goals. We thus want to minimize these sorts of expenditures.
This goal is also related to our prohibition against regularly soliciting money more often than people consent to be asked, and our prohibition against giving gifts with the intention to influence people to give money. Both of these practices can cause an organization to incur costs.
We have considered it a good and natural thing that people are skeptical of donating to organizations which seem to be spending a lot of money and resources on fundraising. We wish to have our organization spend minimal money on fundraising, and have this, combined with our financial transparency, to encourage people to give money out of their own self-motivation.