Ewwww! What’s That Smell?
I have never outgrown eighth grade. I still enjoy slapstick comedy — watching “Scrubs” and “Home Alone” makes me laugh out loud. Any bodily function that makes noise — whether it be burps or farts (or any armpit re-creation of them) — is an opportunity for a competition. And sexual innuendos will always bring a smile to my face.
Confession is good
Why do I feel the need to make such a confession? Now that I’m four times the age of the average eighth-grader, I no longer worry so much about what other people think about me. I also hope that these confessions can help many of my colleagues make their own confessions — and enjoy them as much as I do!
With this bit of confession out in the open, a good question arises: What is someone this immature doing in funds development? Actually, I’m pretty good at it. It seems many people — including some of our donors — never outgrew eighth grade, either. While I have learned to mute some of my childish preferences, others have been transformed into child-like behaviors that for some reason are endearing. It turns out that the more honest I am with people, the more they like me and trust me to help them.
When I first began this work, I thought I had to be a certain kind of person to appeal to potential donors. I picked this up from looking at my colleagues. It seems to me that many people in our profession have a tendency to be “plastic”; they dress in prescribed ways, talk in prescribed ways, and even live in prescribed ways that make them look more like Barbie and Ken than flesh-and-blood humans who burp and smell funny in the morning, who dream of making the world a better place and who use their humanity to make these dreams come true in at least part of the world.
The longer I do this work, the more convinced I am that what our donors really desire is “real people” they can trust. The deeper our relationships grow over time, the more likely our donors will see through any plastic coating and wonder why we’ve hidden the good stuff from them for so long.
Play your own cards
We play the cards we’re dealt. Because so much of what we do is based on who we are, I think it’s best to just admit who we are and learn how to be “the best me I can be” under any circumstances. Funds development is about relationships — genuine, caring, trusting relationships based on honesty.
By the way, what’s that smell? I heard that!
Bob Sheldon is the director of funds development for the Synod of the Rocky Mountains, Presbyterian Church (USA), helping Presbyterians across the Western Rockies to fund the church’s mission. Contact him at email@example.com.