The Power of One
Last night I attended a graduation celebration for this year's class of a regional leadership program. Lots of fun, and fellowship. But what had everyone captivated was the personal story shared by one graduate.
During the year, each class member gives a "three-minute moment." I love this! It is an opportunity to share something personal that has impacted your life. You really get to know folks this way.
Last night the graduate shared about her late husband. He was a teacher who died unexpectedly at school, only a few years after their marriage. She shared about his passion for teaching and changing lives. And about the hundreds of letters and emails that she had received about the impact of his life. Many of her classmates, and even baseball star R.A. Dickey, began to keep a baseball card featuring her late husband as a reminder of the power of one person to change lives.
In our noble profession, this is so true.
It only takes one person—and it has to take one person—to start a movement or an organization, to turn around a nonprofit, to take a university to the next level, to start or transform a fundraising program.
That is the spark.
We all know that major campaigns are increasingly top heavy. It is often one gift that truly ensures success or changes the way that others think about a campaign. In a recent campaign for a trade association it was the impact of our first $1 million gift.
It just takes that one board member to begin to talk seriously about board giving and to set the example that can change a board's perspective on their personal philanthropy and commitment to the organization.
In a campaign, leadership is key, and it only takes one person to create that excitement and energy—even if it is a quiet excitement and energy—that helps propel the campaign to success. Frankly, because everyone doesn't spark on every project, that is one reason we are big fans of campaign co-chairs. Often we have been grateful to have a passionate co-chair alongside a chair who just isn't fully engaged. The power of one!
I was recently coaching a fraternity president whose chapter has languished for years under terrible leadership and is on the edge of folding. My encouragement was: "It can begin with you, and a turnaround can happen. But it has to begin with you—and you have to make some tough calls and work very hard." The power of one. And the challenge of one!
Let's celebrate the power of one—the difference that we all can make. And let's accept the challenge of the power of one—that it is up to us, each day, in big and small ways.
Let's make it happen!
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.