melancholyCan you feel the pain? Can you really feel it?
The pain of a person not able to make ends meet, or abused by someone else, or suffering an injustice.
The pain of a person who doesn’t have the opportunity to be educated – who lives in a world of not knowing, who lacks opportunity because she has few skills.
The pain of the music that wasn’t created or heard, the performance that wasn’t executed, the art that never saw the light of day, the culture that disappeared or was judged useless.
The pain of personal faith snuffed out, the expression of faith squashed.
The pain of the animal abused or hunted and killed.
The pain of the orphan who knows no mother, no father, no siblings – who has no one.
The pain of a forest that has been decimated, the lake polluted, the sky filled with toxins, the ground poisoned.
The pain of loss of health and vitality. The pain of sickness and death.
The pain of false information, of twisted facts.
The pain of a disaster or conflict that wipes out a family, a livelihood, a house, a business, a way of life.
Do you feel this pain? Do you feel the pain of the cause your organization is addressing – the need that you’re organized to find a solution for?
You need to feel that pain. If you don’t, you can train yourself to do it. This is why most of the time I’m a blubbering mess. Because when I see any of the situations I’ve described above, and the others that exist on the planet not listed there, it literally hurts my heart. And it does so because I’ve allowed it to.
I’ve developed empathy.
Empathy is defined as the ability to sense other people’s emotions, coupled with the ability to imagine what someone else might be thinking or feeling. And I’ve extended that to everything that’s on this planet – the living creatures, the environment, everything.
If you just let yourself sit with the situation and circumstances your organization is dealing with – if you just sit quietly and you take on, as best you can, the essence of the person or animal or tree or lake – if you just imagine being that and feeling what it’s like to need, to lack, to hurt, to die – if you can feel that it will not only make you a better person, but also a better fundraiser.
Do this. Find a time during the day – just 15 minutes, or 30 if you can. And go sit somewhere, like a park or a mall (if they are open) or an airport or a forest or beside a stream. Go there and feel what those living creatures (human and not) are feeling. What it’s like to be a part of the environment that is hurting. Humanize it. Feel it.
See if you can get in touch with these things. Then move your thoughts over to the cause your organization is addressing. Humanize it. Feel it. Then repeat this “training” frequently so your heart gets soft and your mind understands – so you experience empathy. It will make a huge difference in how you represent what you do to the donor.