Fundraisers, You’re in the ‘Yes’ Profession!
I think one of the greatest things about being a fundraiser is that it’s naturally a “yes” profession. What I mean is that, as fundraisers, our jobs are to say, “yes,” and get others to say, “yes,” as much as possible.
Think about it. Your whole job is to get others—colleagues, bosses, administration, program people, vendors, support staff—to say, “yes,” to donors. And that “yes” is so you can have your donor say, “yes.”
Do you have the greatest job in the world or what?
What makes a great fundraiser, whether you’re a major gifts officer, development director, consultant or you work in direct response, is the ability to approach “no” people and get them to say, “yes.” I’m not talking about manipulation, I’m talking about inspiring others so much they cannot help but say, “yes,” to you.
If you really are that bridge that brings donors and need together, then you are the “yes” bridge. There is no room for “no” people on the “yes” bridge. “No” people are mere obstacles to overcome so that you can get to “yes.”
How blessed are you to be in this profession? I don’t want to put any other profession down, but most of them are “no” professions, rules and regulations, policies that have to be adhered to, etc. Those are important and we need them, but goodness, how hard that would be to get up every day to say, “no,” to so many people.
And, Richard and I have to admit, even though we are in the “yes” profession, we see quite a bit of “no” people trying to slog it out in development. We will both admit that watching a “no” person working in a “yes” profession is a disaster. It’s a nasty situation when a “no” person tries to work in fundraising.
You may know some yourself. The people who always find an excuse not to do something. They are not proactive, they don’t plan, they don’t get out to see donors ... they are a mess. Quite frankly, Richard and I don’t get angry or upset with them. It’s just not in their makeup to be fundraisers. Not everyone can do this job. The best thing to do for them is to let them go and help them find their way somewhere else.
Believe me, over the years Richard and I have had to let many of these folks who tried to make it in our profession go. They were miserable, they caused misery and they just weren’t suited for our profession.
But you ... you, however, are a “yes” person! You are the one who gets up each morning and is grateful for your donors ... for the needs you meet every day, for your colleagues who lift you up. You can’t wait to figure out how to get one of your donors to fund a special project that will help change the world. You can’t wait to meet a need that someone on your caseload really desires. You can’t wait to report on results to leadership and give them a vision of where you are going. You always are conscious that you are the bridge ... the “yes” bridge!
Why, because you are in the “yes” profession, where you are helping change donors lives every day.
As one of my favorite mystics, Hildegard of Bingen, said, “Yes, and again I say yes!”
Jeff Schreifels is the principal owner of Veritus Group — an agency that partners with nonprofits to create, build and manage mid-level fundraising, major gifts and planned giving programs. In his 32-plus year career, Jeff has worked with hundreds of nonprofits, helping to raise more than $400 million in revenue.