Office of the President

April 1, 2014

Finding fulfillment in fundraising

Michael K. Young

For university presidents, a significant measure of our success is the amount of money raised for the university. Thus, I am very fortunate for the many enthusiastic and generous supporters of the UW, whose passion for and commitment to their beloved institution often translates into a pledge of financial support.

For some in academia, the idea of “dialing for dollars” holds little to no appeal. But a New York Times article I read this weekend provides a compelling argument for why fundraising can be quite fulfilling, both for the funder and the fundraiser. It echoes something I have been saying for years. Our main goal is to help people who want to do good with their resources do precisely that: good!

In the article, Arthur C. Brooks, president of the nonprofit American Enterprise Institute, writes, “Donors possess two disconnected commodities: material wealth and sincere convictions. Alone, these commodities are difficult to combine. But fund-raisers facilitate an alchemy of virtue: They empower those with financial resources to convert the dross of their money into the gold of a better society.”

This is something people want to do because it makes them, and those who benefit, happy.

Brooks continues, “…research confirms that in terms of quantifying ‘happiness,’ spending money on oneself barely moves the needle, but spending on others causes a significant increase.”

For anyone who occasionally dons a fundraiser’s hat—this makes clear what good you do.