To illustrate the deep impact that you have as a frontline fundraiser in matching your donor’s passions to the mission, I’d like to share a story.

I was sitting in my college classroom on the last day of class. There was a guy I knew a bit who sat on my left, Mark, and another acquaintance on my right, Jessica. They didn’t know each other. Both were not dating anyone, and I thought, “You know, these two are really cool people and they have some common interests. They should go on a date.”

So, me being me, in a break during class, I said to Mark and Jessica, “Hey, you two are both awesome people, I think you should go out on a date and see what happens.” Mark was blushing, but he said, “Sure, why not?” And Jessica was cool with it so they decided that they would go out for pizza after class.

A year later, I was at a restaurant in my hometown, and Mark and Jessica walked up to me, and they were just beaming. Mark said, “Jeff, we can’t believe we’ve run into you here. I just asked Jessica to marry me, and she said yes! And YOU were the one that got us together.”

I was in shock, because I barely remembered this, but then I was so happy for them. It felt like I helped two human beings find each other and now they were committing to be with each other for the rest of their lives. I mean, it felt so good that I was the one that brought them together.

You’ve probably had that same joy of connecting people, whether it’s with a colleague who helps another friend find a new job or helping connect a friend to someone else in your network that can help them with a problem or get them unstuck.

In your work as a frontline fundraiser, you are doing this every day and you may not even realize it.

I remember my first fundraising job – I was just 23. I wrote a fundraising appeal letter and sent it out to over 2,500 donors. About 10 days later, I started getting back the reply envelopes filled with checks. I remember one envelope in particular. I opened the BRE (business reply envelope) and took out the check… it was for $5. To be honest, I was a bit disappointed in the amount. But then I noticed there was a letter inside the envelope.

In the letter was a handwritten note by someone I was sure must have been very old by the shakiness of the handwriting. They wrote: “I know this is not a lot of money, I’m on a fixed income, but if I had a million dollars, I would give it all to your organization because you are making such a profound difference in the world. But, for now this is all I have to give today. Thank you for allowing me to support your good work.”

I remember reading that letter over many, many times and sitting in silence to soak this all in. Here this person was thanking me for allowing her to support our mission. And, what I realized was that I was not just sending out letters to bring in money. I was connecting people who have a passion to change the world with our mission to make it a better place to live.

I knew at that moment that this was the work I wanted to do for the rest of my life.

That feeling of being the person who helped connect a donor who has a passion to change the world, with a solution to address a real need, was a spiritual moment for me. It was like the feeling I had with Mark and Jessica, but even more amazing.

As a frontline fundraiser, this is more than just a career choice for you. And, yes, it is a career, but think about this for a minute.

Your work requires you to understand your donor’s passions and interests. That is no small thing. They have those passions and interests for a reason. You get to find out what that reason is. That reason is profound. It’s a big deal. You take that and you then connect that passion and interest to a solution that in some way redeems a problem, and in big and small ways, makes the world a better place.

That doesn’t happen without you as that bridge or connector. You are making that happen. Do you realize that? Do you see or feel the importance of your role in this moment? This is why Richard and I would say it’s a mystical or holy moment at the point a donor uses their resources to make a difference in the world. YOU are right in the middle of that holy moment.

Being a frontline fundraiser is not just a career. It’s a calling.