Nonprofit Leaders: Combine Your Talents With Your Passion
“Give it all you’ve got!”
That was the challenge of my late friend, mentor and fraternity brother, Claude McBride. Former Baptist pastor and chaplain of the Georgia Bulldogs would put on overalls and a wig, blacken out some teeth and emerge as a hillbilly philosopher, Happy Calhoun, from Possum Gap. After an entertaining presentation, Claude gave the audience that sincere and piercing challenge. Give life—and everything you undertake—everything you’ve got!
In our profession, I think this has great significance. We are trained and experienced nonprofit leaders; many of us specializing in fundraising. According to the National Center for Charitable Statistics, there are more than 1.5 million nonprofit organizations in the U.S.
For those of us in the nonprofit arena, there are multitudes of causes and organizations we can align with professionally. But in our field (be sure that in each organization and each position, you can head to work each day—or most days—excited), you can “give it all you’ve got.”
A few years ago, we conducted a campaign feasibility and panning study for a college. The president wasn’t engaged in the process. It became apparent because he had not seen the college’s top donor in over 1.5 years. The president had been at the school a long time and had overcome many challenges, but many remained. He didn’t have the energy for the campaign, and he and the board chair should have realized and addressed this. Both knew something wasn’t right. The president has since announced his retirement … in the middle of a campaign.
Recently, I visited with a prospective client—it could have been a big account. We always put our current clients first and never shortchange them trying to chase new business. This prospective client gave us a presentation date with very short notice. As a boutique firm, we don’t have a sales team. But the reality is that I wasn’t excited about the client, and we should not have pursued this, as it was not a client or project that would have gotten our team excited.
I think we all are tempted to pursue an opportunity that we are not excited about from time to time. However, that is a disservice to us and to those organizations. As you progress in your career, always ensure that you are passionate about the organization and the cause. And if you are at an organization and have lost that passion, know it is time to move along. You and the organization deserve better! Here’s to a passionate, successful and rewarding career serving nonprofits and raising funds!
Looking for Jeff? You'll find him either on the lake, laughing with good friends, or helping nonprofits develop to their full potential.
Jeff believes that successful fundraising is built on a bedrock of relevant, consistent messaging; sound practices; the nurturing of relationships; and impeccable stewardship. And that organizations that adhere to those standards serve as beacons to others that aspire to them. The Bedrocks & Beacons blog will provide strategic information to help nonprofits be both.
Jeff has more than 25 years of nonprofit leadership experience and is a member of the NonProfit PRO Editorial Advisory Board.