In the nonprofit fundraising world, we tend to take ourselves very seriously. I suspect that’s because the missions of our organizations tend to be serious and, therefore, our fund development efforts have significant, sometimes life and death consequences.
Despite the seriousness of our work, there are nevertheless times when fundraising is definitely a laughing matter. For example, I discovered recently that fundraising professionals can learn some powerful lessons from a one-minute comedy sketch.
On their Comedy Central television program, the comedy duo of Key and Peele presented a vignette that should be seen by anyone working for a nonprofit organization. It’s funny. It’s brief. It’s full of important lessons.
In the sketch, a man coming out of a building is stopped by another man asking for a donation to “save the children.” The solicitor tells the prospective donor that he can save a child for just one dollar. While handing the solicitor a five-dollar bill, the donor responds, “Who doesn’t want to help a child. I’ll tell you what, let’s save five children.”
[SPOILER ALERT: I’m about to summarize the rest of the sketch and give away the surprise. So, if you plan to watch the video, now would be a good time to do so; click here. Otherwise, continue reading for a detailed description of the scene.]
The solicitor then shouts out to his colleague who races an unmarked van over. The side door opens and five frightened children are permitted to exit. The van, full of additional children, drives away. The solicitor thanks the stunned donor and begins to walk away. As the ramifications of what he has just seen sink-in, the donor realizes he has another dollar and, therefore, he can save another child. The scene ends with him chasing down the solicitor to give him the other dollar.
This one-minute vignette contains many important lessons including the following six: