Sunday, March 9, 2014

“I’m not here to ask for money” named all-time greatest pitch at Fundraising Hall of Fame

The US Fundraising Hall of Fame has named “I’m not here to ask for money” as the world’s greatest fundraising pitch.
The Hall of Fame made the announcement at its annual induction conference and trade show in New York City. The pitch was one of ten nominated by a committee of fundraising experts, with the winner being selected by the Board of Directors of the Hall of Fame. “I’m not here to ask for money” becomes the first fundraising pitch entered into the Hall of Fame, which annual recognizes achievements in the philanthropic sector.

“We had a tough time picking the all-time greatest fundraising pitch. There were so many great candidates,” explained Hallof Fame CEO Dibble Brewer.

“I’m not here to ask for money” was created in 1903 by fundraisers at the University of Northwestern South Dakota. Brewer says the Hall of Fame was able to determine that the pitch originally came from the insurance industry, which in turn adopted it from the travelling snake-oil salesmen that roamed the American West at the end of the 19th Century.

“This pitch was perfected specifically for reluctant donors. It took the barriers they presented to making a donation and used them to the fundraiser’s advantage. It was the successful because it said exactly what the donor wanted to hear at the right time,” said the archivist’s write-up in the nomination submission.

The pitch has had a long life because of its many variations. Some notable examples are “I’m not here to ask for money, just to talk about the alumni association” and “I’m not here to ask for money, but to ask your advice about who would give to our upcoming capital campaign.” The Hall of Fame identified nearly 200 such variations, including “I’m not here to ask for money, just to ask about your horse” from 1904 to “I’m not here to ask for money, just to ask you about our new Facebook page” from 2011.

The Hall of Fame says the pitch has likely raised several billion dollars’ worth of donations in its time and still continues to be on the frontline of fundraising pitches today.

Fundraisers across the country hailed the selection as a milestone for the charity sector.

“That’s the first pitch I used when I started in this industry 30 years ago,” said VP Development Chris Snidely at the Big Honking University of Texas. “It kind of brings tears to my eyes.”

“If I tallied up all the times I used that pitch, I probably never asked anyone for money!” said noted US fundraising guru and author Turner Pitchfork.

But not all fundraisers are welcoming the selection. Many, like Sara Twofaces, CEO of Big Invoice, the largest philanthropic consultants in the US, say there were better alternatives.

“I certainly like ‘I’m not here to ask for money’, but there are better pitches that should have been selected. ‘Wouldn’t you like your name on X’ has probably raised more money in the health sector than anything else. That should have won.”