A Christmas Wish
Christmas just passed. I’m a Christian (Katrina) married to a Buddhist (Otis). I’m a peer-to-peer fundraising expert. He’s a social psychologist.
Spiritually, we concur on much. Professionally, we concur on much.
On one thing, we overlap completely: The path to joy is through service to others. That is our purpose. That is what our different spiritual journeys have taught us that we should do — serve our community.
We work with people, like you, who serve others every day. Sometimes we get confused and think we do this for a paycheck; sometimes we get confused and think we do this to hit a fundraising goal; sometimes we get confused and think we do this to please a boss. That confusion brings us no joy.
Sometimes we make choices that enable us to get a paycheck, make a fundraising goal or please a boss, but don’t serve the people we are supposed to be serving. We get confused by the pressure. We make short-term decisions that hurt our true purpose in the long run.
We know it, because those choices make us feel joyless and purposeless. We push aside the negative feelings and try to pretend they don’t matter. Over time, though, those decisions eat at us, diminish us.
Every religion and every social scientist who studies human motivation says the same thing: You will find joy and purpose through serving others. Even actuaries say it in their own special way: Stop working (lose purpose), and you will likely die. Usually, quickly.
The gift we wish for you this time of the year is the discipline to experience the joy that you deserve. We wish for you the discipline to focus your gaze on the people you serve — not your boss or your fundraising goal. Focus your gaze on the person with cancer, the person who is homeless, the person is hungry, the person is afraid. We wish for you the gift of experiencing the joy that you have already earned. We celebrate your choice to do this work. To serve. To have purpose beyond yourself. To love fully.
The path to joy is through service to others.
Stay on the path.
Katrina VanHuss is the CEO of Turnkey, a U.S.-based strategy and execution firm for nonprofit fundraising campaigns. Katrina has been instilling passion in volunteer fundraisers since 1989 when she founded the company. Turnkey’s clients include most of the top thirty U.S. peer-to-peer campaigns — Susan G. Komen, the Cystic Fibrosis Foundation, the ALS Association, the Leukemia & Lymphoma Society, as well as some international organizations, like UNICEF.
Otis Fulton is a psychologist who joined Turnkey in 2013 as its consumer behavior expert. He works with clients to apply psychological principles to fundraising. He is a much-sought-after copywriter for nonprofit messaging. He has written campaigns for St. Jude’s Children’s Research Hospital, The March of Dimes, the USO and dozens of other organizations.
Now as a married couple, Katrina and Otis almost never stop talking about fundraising, volunteerism, and human decision-making – much to the chagrin of most dinner companions.
Katrina and Otis present regularly at clients’ national conferences, as well as at BBCon, NonProfit Pro P2P, Peer to Peer Forum, and others. They write a weekly column for NonProfit PRO and are the co-authors of the 2017 book, "Dollar Dash: The Behavioral Economics of Peer-to-Peer Fundraising." They live in Richmond, Virginia, USA.