How You Can Cause Deep Gladness in Your Donor
I was in Denver meeting with a CEO and board member of a client we are working with. We were having lunch, and I was explaining how important it is in major gifts to uncover the donor’s passions and interests and then serve the donor by fulfilling those passions and interests.
I said, “You know, if we do this right, the donor will experience tremendous joy and fulfillment.” The board member leaned forward and said, “Another way to say that, Richard, is that they will experience deep gladness.”
I paused for a bit and thought about what he said as the conversation rolled on. Deep gladness: There was something about those words that grabbed me. So I asked the board member where those thoughts came from. He told me they come from a statement by Frederick Buechner, an American writer and theologian.
Buechner talks about helping people find their place with the unique gifts, abilities and motivations they have. And he said that the goal in that endeavor is to welcome people into a “more generous and humane image of vocation as the place where your deep gladness and the world’s deep hunger meet.”
Goodness! That is pretty heavy and cool stuff…
A Place Where Your Deep Gladness and the World’s Deep Hunger Meet
I suppose all of us are trying to make deep gladness happen in our lives in some way or another. I know I am. I have discovered there is direct correlation between my happiness and serving others. It goes up when I am giving myself away. It goes down when I am focused on me. It’s counterintuitive, I know. But it’s true.
And that’s when it dawned on me that the serving others bit is really summed up in the idea behind the words of Buecherner’s “the world’s deep hunger” phrase. When my orientation in life is about identifying and meeting the “hunger” of another person—be it physical, emotional, intellectual or spiritual—or even the hunger of the planet, something happens within, and I experience deep gladness.
Jeff and I are constantly saying that this great effort we all call “major gifts” is not about the money. And it truly isn’t. It is about helping a donor find their deep gladness. How do they find it? We help the donor meet the world’s deep hunger—not any deep hunger—the deep hunger they are interested in.
So I ask you: Are you helping your donors find deep gladness or are you just going for the money?
Have you sincerely tried to find out what each donor’s deep hunger is? Do not say they don’t have one! Do not say that because they do. You just haven’t found it yet. That is the situation. So look for it then find a way to help the donor’s deep gladness meet the world’s deep hunger.
I think you have discerned by now that in all of our writings, Jeff and I are trying to elevate the concept of major gifts from just a fundraising activity, which it is, to a meaningful life-changing event, which it also is. We really do believe that a nonprofit will experience far more success in fundraising if they treat their donors as partners and sincerely seek to help each one of them experience the joy and fulfillment of meeting the world’s deep hunger.
That is why we are calling on you to experience deep gladness yourself in everything you do and to help your donors do it as well. Believe me, approaching major gifts this way will change how you work. It will change the donor. And it will change you.
If you’re hanging with Richard it won’t be long before you’ll be laughing.
He always finds something funny in everything. But when the conversation is about people, their money and giving, you’ll find a deeply caring counselor who helps donors fulfill their passions and interests. Richard believes that successful major-gift fundraising is not fundamentally about securing revenue for good causes. Instead it is about helping donors express who they are through their giving. The Connections blog will provide practical information on how to do this successfully. Richard has more than 30 years of nonprofit leadership and fundraising experience, and is founding partner of the Veritus Group.