The Fundraiser's All-Important 'Web'
I coach a 7-year-old-boys all-star traveling baseball team in the Indianapolis region called the Franklin Township Lightning. Before our game last night, another coach was placing the Lightning decal on the players' helmets as a way to motivate them. He also gave the players nicknames and placed the nicknames on the helmets. My grandson was nicknamed "Spider" because he is very outgoing and connects with each player on the team.
Earlier in the day, I had lunch with an advisory board member and learned a great deal about him and his family. The lunch gave me a chance to inform him about the latest activities of our program area. As I looked around the restaurant, I saw my development committee chair. He was talking to a potential prospect. As I was making the rounds to leave, someone said hello to me. It was the person who hired me for a hospital position 24 years earlier. I hadn't seen my former boss for almost 15 years. I rarely frequent that restaurant but was amazed at the connections on this day in that facility.
In our jobs, we interface with staff, boards, prospects, donors, community, etc., on a daily basis. We also engage with the families of these individuals. If you have had a long career, the calculator begins to add at an amazing pace. You begin with one appointment and end with hundreds of contacts. In every case, you "pick up" where you left off with the individual relationship. In some special cases, you interact with the same people as you move from job to job.
In each relationship, make each interaction meaningful and memorable. Make those around you feel special, and appreciate their friendship. I thrive on meeting new people and engaging old friends. In development, your reputation is everything. In the six-degrees-of-separation world, be consistent in thought and messaging and be true to yourself. Life is short and as you age, so is the span of one's career. Look back and say to yourself that you gave 100 percent to help others. Is there no better feeling in the world?
As a spider, don't you build a web that grows over time? The common threads of interaction and relationships make all of us spiders. Each web grows over time and is very strong and complex. We hope to maintain people in our web forever, and in many cases, we develop relationships with generations of the same family. I am a firm believer that every development professional should attempt to build his or her own web each day.
I wonder if I can get a helmet with a spider decal on it like my grandson's.
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 email@example.com or 317-224-1029.