It’s a funny thing, and sometimes quite uncomfortable. I am talking about the feeling and expressing of emotions. On one side you have people who are in a constant state of tears and drama, and on the other side, those who find it difficult to express any kind of emotion.
You’ve seen both types of these people, I’m sure, and you know what it all means.
I’ve often wondered how a person who is more controlled in the expression of his or her emotions can actually work in fundraising, especially in the area of major gifts. This is not an occupation like that of a lab researcher, where duties can be performed just fine without deeply feeling the cause with which they’re involved.
Now, hang on a minute. If you are one of those folks who finds it more difficult to express emotions, believe me, I am not making a judgment about you in this post. I do understand where you are coming from. What I am trying to do here is consider the role of emotions and feelings in major gift work.
Jeff and I are passionate people. We feel strongly about all kinds of things. You should see us argue and debate– you would think it was an all-out fight. But after we have debated all the intellectual points of an issue, we always come back to the heart – to the human side of things – to how it affects individuals and their journeys, their hopes and dreams, their opportunities and quality of life – their happiness and fulfillment.
Which is what it’s all about, isn’t it? Isn’t this stuff we all are involved in – helping major donors find fulfillment in their giving – helping organizations secure the funds to do their mission – isn’t it really all about helping human beings reach their physical, emotional and spiritual potential and caring for our planet? Seems like that to Jeff and me.
And this journey, in our opinion, is, at its core, not only a journey of the intellect and its associated information, facts, systems, strategy and process. It is a thing of the heart. It is about a deep feeling for the human condition and for our planet.
I live in a beautiful place – Marco Island, Florida. I usually get up quite early, and when I do, I look out the window and experience a feeling which is always the same. It happens in a nanosecond, but it always happens. If I were to verbalize it, it would sound something like this:
“I am so thankful I am alive today, and I am healthy. I am thankful to have a wonderful woman, my wife, in my life, and I am grateful for her love and commitment. What a great thing to have a business partner, Jeff, who is real and passionate about his work and life and who wants to make a difference. And I am thankful for my associates and friends and family – and my dog, who I just love. I have so much. It is so good to be close to nature – to see all those plants and animals facing a new day and expressing, in their own ways, their uniqueness and creativity. I am so thankful to be able to do my part in helping others through the work I do. I am so blessed.”
And then I sit with my wife for a half hour or so, with a good cup of coffee, and we just connect.
That is how I start most every day. It is truly a heart moment.
Now, if you knew me well, you would know that I am about getting things done – about lists and priorities and objectives. I am a nut about planning and organizing and solving problems. So, the information, systems, facts – those things of the head – they are an important part of my work.
But it is the things of the heart that drive me. I want to make a difference in the lives of those around me, here at home, and in my work.
Which brings me to why I am writing about this today.
When you look at the essence of what you are doing – at the content of your work and your messaging – is it primarily all about facts, information and logic, or is your heart engaged as well? Stop and take an inventory.
- Does the messaging on your website convey mostly facts and information, or does it talk about changing lives and making a difference on our planet?
- If we were to read your brochures, see your videos or take a look at your annual report, would it grab our hearts or would our heads just be filled up with stuff?
- Are your proposals to foundations, corporations and individuals more like a research paper, or do they engage the reader with the great things they could do in changing lives?
- Are your emails, letters and phone calls just “taking care of business” or would I see your heart in them?
- Are your staff meetings a series of minutes where policies, protocols and problems are discussed – where information is dispensed so you can be more effective or efficient – or do they also contain at least fifteen minutes of heart-grabbing stories that remind you about why you are here and what is important?
Here’s the point: We have way too much information happening in our daily discourse. We have way too many clinical, sterile facts and figures that fill our heads and our messaging with process, systems, outcomes and logic. All of this is important, but where is the heart? If you do not engage the heart in your messaging – if you do not engage your heart in life, as I have explained above, then I fear you will lose your way.
This great journey we are all on is, at its core, a thing of the heart. The head just guides us to do the right things in the right way. Make sure you lead with the heart in all of your messaging today. It will make a tremendous difference in the quality of your life and you will immediately notice the difference in the positive reaction of others around you.