What Fundraisers Can Learn From Peyton Manning
I cannot believe that Super Bowl 50 could be Peyton Manning’s last game on the football field as a player. Many seasons before this one, as his NFL career began in Indianapolis, I had the honor of working with him. I directed a capital campaign to build the St. Vincent Children’s Hospital, later to be renamed the Peyton Manning Children’s Hospital at St. Vincent. He was the honorary chair of this successful fundraising campaign.
I noticed early on that Peyton always was prepared for every meeting, interview, event and activity. He was all business and knew his role. You could tell he had a soft side and cared about others, especially children. He gave 100 percent effort at every turn and indirectly influenced you also to be on top of your game.
One of the highlights of my fundraising career at St. Vincent was having a Monday Night Football dinner with Peyton and my son in a private restaurant room. We sat at a table eating and watching the game. For more than three hours, I had the unique opportunity to listen to Peyton talk about preparation and execution on the football field. I was amazed at his knowledge of every football situation. When a team lined up on offense and the defense was set, he knew which play should be run for maximum success. If there was a mistake, he would note why and how it was made. He also talked about preparation on and off the field.
No wonder he is a Super Bowl-winning player and soon to be Hall-of-Famer. Rarely have I met a player who is also a coach at the same time.
It seems that many of us wing it at times. When we do, we wonder why we see inconsistent results. The results of our performance should be predictable. Not only do we have to be consistent in performance, but we need to be totally prepared for any situation.
Peyton described what each day of the week entailed in his practice routine. Are we following the same general methodology?
For example, in a five-day work week, are you dedicating each day to different functions, such as prospect research and strategy, making calls and seeking visits, visiting prospects, working with internal operational staff to determine priorities, creating visit data entry sheets, and thanking donors, etc.? How often do you meet with your fundraising staff to debrief and inform? Where are you and your team with respect to annual fundraising goals? These are all the X’s and O’s of preparation that must constantly be followed over and over again.
Peyton is all about winning football games and supporting the communities he serves via philanthropy. As nonprofit pros, we are veterans at fundraising-goal scoreboard watching. In a sense, it is also about wins and losses. If we are not disciplined, we will fail in the nonprofit fundraising business.
We are all about data gathering, assimilation and processing. With focus, we should be prepared for any situation and learn from our mistakes. It also is as simple as talking on offense and listening on defense.
If you call fundraising or nonprofit management your career, you will have many seasons to perform. The reality is that, throughout your work journey, you also will represent a number of organizational teams. If you want to study excellence in preparation and performance, watch Peyton. In a game, if he cannot beat you physically, he will defeat you mentally. He is the master of X’s and O’s.
If you don’t think he has made an impact on fans across the country, just ask my little nephew in Kentucky who is named after him. Regardless of what happens in Super Bowl 50, Peyton always will succeed in life through his amazing preparation. We can learn this career lesson from him.
Duke has extensive experience as a nonprofit practitioner, author, lecturer and consultant. He has been a contributing author to NonProfit PRO for the last 11 years. He has been a long-standing member of the Association of Fundraising Professionals where he was previously named the AFP Indiana Chapter Fundraising Executive of the Year and has held the CFRE designation for many years.
He received his doctorate degree from West Virginia University with an emphasis in education administration, master's degree from Marshall University with an emphasis in public administration and a bachelor's degree from West Virginia University with an emphasis in marketing/management. He has also completed post graduate work at the University of Louisville.
He is currently executive director of development for The Salvation Army Indiana Division in Indianapolis, Indiana. Contact Duke at firstname.lastname@example.org or 317-224-1029.