Never Underestimate the Power of Giving
Whenever we make a presentation on fundraising services to a prospective client or share a talk on a fundraising topic, we close with a quote: “Never underestimate the power of giving. It shines like a beacon throughout humanity and brighten the lives of all it touches. One of life’s greatest rules is, ‘You cannot hold a torch to light another’s path without brightening your own.’”
Fundraising is an art and a science. It is an art because it deals with people. Everyone is different. I laugh and share that some of us are different day to day! It is all about shared values, vision, trust and relationships. It is a science because of the proven best practices—like the importance of major gifts and sequential fundraising.
So, as professionals, we drive campaigns to success and are looking at a lot of factors, such as the number of gifts needed, qualified prospects, gifts commitments in hand, visits being made and progress related to the campaign calendar, we can never lose sight of the high calling of our profession. It is a high honor to invite donors to change and save lives.
This past week I was visiting with a colleague who related a story. The relatively new chief development officer at a major university was remarking about a dinner and how many million-dollar gifts were in the room. It wasn’t about people. It wasn’t about vision. It was about meeting a quota. I was disappointed.
My colleague—and I had heard this from others—shared that they seldom heard this chief development officer talk about vision and opportunity. Even among volunteers, it was always dollars and goals, and even internal staffing and challenges in structure needed. There is probably good reason why this development professional, later on, had held two recent jobs for less than three years each. But it pains me for our profession.
We have to focus on numbers to achieve goals. But never lose sight of the high calling of our profession, the power of giving, the respect and honor we owe to donors at all levels, and the life changing invitation (for donors and those who benefit from our worthy missions) we extend.
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.