Fundraising Reflections From the Ski Slopes
Watch for hazards, marked or unmarked. This kind of covers if all, doesn't it? On the ski slopes and in fundraising, we can do everything right and still get blindsided by an unforeseen situation. As much as possible, have contingency plans for things like the speaker at your event coming down with the flu the day of, your mailing being delayed by an overworked printer or your website going offline. Hazards are real, but expecting them can help you prepare and flex when you have to.
Take time to help and encourage others. From time to time when you're skiing, you ride up the chairlift with a child learning to ski or help an adult up who has taken a fall. That's a great time to encourage someone and help that person see the joy you have in skiing. As fundraisers, we have opportunities to encourage others. Yes, it's often easier to just do the work ourselves, but taking time to help others learn is far more rewarding. As I look back, some of the best "successes" in my fundraising career have been the people I mentored or trained who have gone on to be exceptional fundraisers, marketers or nonprofit leaders.
From time to time, get a fresh perspective. Several years ago, my husband and I took a lesson to tweak our skiing. The instructor said, "I can tell you two have been skiing together for a long time because you both do the same things right … and the same things wrong!" That's an easy trap to fall in with fundraising, too. "Every March, we mail this …" "Our monthly e-news has to …" "This is our signature event; why change it?" But bringing in a fresh perspective can often help you see things that could be done better. One organization I know of had a great annual event but suspected it was waning. So it encouraged the volunteer committee to come up with a new plan, and the result was a bigger, better event that raised more money—and re-energized the volunteers. Another organization does an annual event that has become routine; guests and vendor sponsors are losing interest. Yet, that organization keeps doing the same thing every year, despite declining sponsorships and revenues. In fundraising, be the one to encourage a fresh perspective, even when it hurts a bit to hear that others don't think your pet project is perfect.