Hand Me a Blessing
My phone rang in the middle of the night recently. The caller was a remarkable young adult, a member of my newly blessed and blended family. He was distraught and needed to talk.
So we did. For an hour. It was an emotional conversation that brought us both to tears at various points. In the end, it brought him some comfort, it brought me more deeply into the fold of his side of the family and it brought us closer together.
When we hung up, my first reaction was to whisper a prayer, "Thank you for giving me the opportunity to help him."
When someone reaches out to us for help — for whatever reason — they're handing us a blessing. They're giving us a chance to commune more closely with God and the universal forces of good in nature than at any other time, and they're giving us the building blocks we need to fortify our own humanity. No matter what faith you practice or which name you call the Creator, it all comes down to the fact that loving/helping/giving is at the core of who and why we are.
As fundraisers, you are more keenly aware of this than most people. Or at least you should be. If not, you might just be going through the motions for the sake of a paycheck — like an omnivore who waxes poetic about tofu for high-end tips at an upscale vegan boite but sneaks off to McDonald's on his lunch break.
It can't last long. If you aren't aware of the blessing that is giving but you've chosen a career that hinges on you asking people to give, there could be a couple of issues at play. Maybe, deep down, you equate asking for donations with begging. If that's the case, you feel bothersome — maybe even embarrassed — just for doing your job. Eventually, it will show. The copy you write will lack conviction, or you'll overcompensate with over-the-top prose posing as passion. You'll dread making those phone calls to potential major donors and hide in the shadows at your organization's annual gala. Your job will be more of a pain than a pleasure.
Or worse, maybe you're arrogant, overly proud of your prowess at separating people from their money. You have that old "donors as ATMs" mentality — push the right buttons and the money will fly out of their wallets and into your organization. Don't make the mistake of confusing flagrant manipulation for relationship building. More and more, today's active donors expect respect, transparency and an open door to engage meaningfully with your organization. Donors aren't stupid. "Finessing" them with unfounded flattery and false claims will set you on a crash-and-burn trajectory and reflect poorly on your organization. Individual fundraisers, for the most part, are behind-the-scenes players, but the communications you produce can make or break your organization's image.
My profound hope for anyone whose lifeblood it is to raise money to fund important causes is that you realize and revel in the fact that by asking people to help fund your mission, you're helping them to honor their spirit and clear a path to wholeness. And that is, indeed, a blessing.