It was a little embarrassing to watch, because it made me realize how blessed I was and how much I had. I’m talking about this video that captures the generosity of one man and, more importantly, the tremendous effect a relatively small amount of money had in the life of a person.
See! I call $100 a relatively small amount of money, as if it were.
That’s why I had this strange mixture of feelings as I watched this story unfold. All at once I was deeply touched by the stories of the people helped and then, for a moment, I was reminded of how I had gotten out of touch with the fact that the majority of people on our planet lead quiet lives of desperation and need – lives that can be touched and changed with just a little help from the outside.
This story was good for me. I needed to start this new year with a grounded picture of real life. I pass it on to you for the following reasons:
- Remember what your work is all about. It is about healing the hurts, bringing light and understanding to a situation, creating awareness, and calling all of us back to this fact: in addition to caring for ourselves there are people out there who need our help, and there is our precious planet that requires our attention and care. Come back to that reality and get grounded in it. And from that place…
- Remember fundraising is mostly about donors. The major donors on your caseload want to make a difference this year. Your job is to help them do it. As a result, your organization will realize an economic benefit that will be used to make that difference. Notice the order of things here. You are primarily focused on helping the donor make a difference, not on getting their money. And that focus is resulting in money. Keep this focus and balance in all the work you will do this week – and next week, and throughout this year.
- Celebrate the difference that has been made. Work extra hard this year to tell your donors that their giving has made a difference. This one area is the Achilles heel of major gift fundraising – it is an area that is so poorly handled by most non-profits and MGOs that it results in thousands of good donors simply going away and taking their millions of dollars to other organizations. Make a specific commitment to constantly tell each donor on your caseload what their giving has done. It will bring them a lot of joy, and it will keep them as donors.
- At least once a week, let your heart be broken by the brokenness of others and the state of our planet. Jeff and I, on a regular basis, specifically seek stories and situations that will remind us of reality and call us back to the important values we are committed to. I am not asking you to spend your whole existence in some morbid dark place. I am asking you to stay in touch with reality. It is the very thing I need to do to be reminded that $100 is a lot of money and that $100 can do so very much in the life of another person. Why once a week? Because if you let yourself go any longer than that, you will begin not caring as much – you will start to believe your job is about getting money – your heart will grow colder and harder and you will drift away from the important place of truly caring about the important work you do and the valued donors you are meant to serve.
This will be an important year for you. It holds a lot of surprises and joy. It holds more difficult moments that each of us will have to navigate. But if you, along with Jeff and me, commit to the four actions above, I guarantee you will not only be properly focused in your job – you will also experience more happiness and fulfillment in everything you do. Try it.