Last week I was in Denver meeting with the CEO and a board member of a client we are currently working with.  We were having lunch and I was explaining how important it is in major gifts to uncover the donor’s passions and interests, and then serve the donor by fulfilling them.
I said, “You know, if we do this right, the donor will experience tremendous joy and fulfillment.”  The board member leaned forward and said, “Another way to say that, Richard, is that he will experience deep gladness.”
I paused for a bit as the conversation rolled on, and thought about what he said.
Deep gladness.  There was something about those words that grabbed me.
So I asked the board member where those thoughts came from.   He told me they come from a statement by Frederick Buechner, an American writer and theologian.
Beuchner was talking about helping people find their place with the unique gifts, abilities and motivations they have.  And he said that the goal in that endeavor is to welcome people into a “more generous and humane image of vocation as ‘the place where your deep gladness and the world’s deep hunger meet.’”
Goodness!  That is pretty heavy and cool stuff….
A place where your deep gladness and the world’s deep hunger meet.
I suppose all of us are trying to make deep gladness happen in our lives in some way or another.  I know I am.  And I have discovered there is a direct correlation between my happiness and serving others. It goes up when I am giving myself away.  It goes down when I am focused on me.  It’s counter-intuitive, I know, but it’s true.
And that’s when it dawned on me that the “serving others bit” is really summed up in the idea in Beuchner’s words, the world’s deep hunger.  When my orientation in life is about identifying and meeting the “hunger” of another person, be it physical, emotional, intellectual or spiritual – or even the hunger of the planet – then something happens within and I experience deep gladness.
Jeff and I are constantly saying that this great effort we all call major gifts is not about the money.  And it truly isn’t.  It is about helping donors find deep gladness.  And how do they find it?  They find it when we help them meet the world’s deep hunger – not any deep hunger – but the deep hunger THEY are passionate about.
So, I ask you, with just weeks left in this year and during this very special time when donors express their deep gladness – I ask you, are you helping your donors find deep gladness or are you just going for the money?
Have you sincerely tried to find out what the deep hunger is for each of the donors on your caseload?  Do not say they don’t have one!  Do not say that.  Because they do.  You just may not have found it yet.  That is the situation, so look for it.  Then, find a way to help the donor’s deep gladness meet the world’s deep hunger.
I think you have discerned by now that in all of our writings, Jeff and I are trying to elevate the concept of major gifts from merely a fundraising activity, which it is, to a meaningful life-changing event, which it also is.  We really do believe that non-profits will experience far more success in fundraising if they treat their donors as partners and sincerely seek to help each one of them experience the joy and fulfillment of meeting the world’s deep hunger.
That is why we are calling on you this holiday season to experience deep gladness yourself in everything you do, and to help your donors do so as well.
Believe me, approaching major gifts this way will change how you work.  It will change the donor.  And it will change you.