How Are You Living Your Mission?
Recently, I had the opportunity to meet two sisters, trustees of a regional family foundation. I had applied for a grant from the foundation on behalf of a local client and a site visit was scheduled. It was an excellent visit—relaxed, friendly, plenty of great questions. And a simultaneous, unplanned—and totally providential—visit from one of the organization’s best volunteers truly painted a picture of the depth of this agency’s marvelous work in the community.
Early on, though, during introductions, one of the sisters remarked half-jokingly to me, “We hate development people—we like to talk to the program staff.” I responded that, yes, I did too. It was the only way for me to learn and effectively write about our programming.
Then I got to thinking about the whole divide between program staff and fundraisers.
I wondered if foundation funders, as a rule, shared the opinions of the sisters I had just met, so I asked a friend of mine, a senior program officer at a large grantmaking foundation.
Her response? “Yes. Development directors are viewed as 'sales people.' They know just enough about the program they are selling, whereas the program people live it.”
Is that you? Do you know “just enough” to write about your agency’s programs?
Maybe it’s time to start living it.
Heck, one of the first things that I did when I landed my first fundraising job, working for a regional ambulance corps, was to run with the ambulances for a few hours.
Talk about eye-opening!
Later on, I became certified at CPR. And, while I never became an EMT or saved anyone’s life, I did gain a first-hand perspective of the challenges and the phenomenal work of rescue workers.
You must remember that your job is not to go, hat in hand, begging for dollars. Your job is to inspire donors.
What steps do you take to fully acquaint yourself with your organization’s programs? Is there something that you could be doing that would give you a broader picture of your agency? Remember, you might be surprised—something as simple as answering the phones for an afternoon, monitoring your agency’s after-school program, or spending two hours calling donors can put an entirely new perspective on your work.
How are you living your agency’s programs?
Pamela Grow is the publisher of The Grow Report, the author of Simple Development Systems and the founder of Simple Development Systems: The Membership Program and Basics & More fundraising fundamentals e-courses. She has been helping small nonprofits raise dramatically more money for over 15 years, and was named one of the 50 Most Influential Fundraisers by Civil Society magazine, and one of the 40 Most Effective Fundraising Consultants by The Michael Chatman Giving Show.