This weekend I took a little vacation of sorts. I ran a marathon. The Marine Corps Marathon in Washington, DC. Running a marathon is exhausting, but also, reflective. For you see, you run for 26 miles. That is a long time on your feet – sometimes, three, four, five, six, or even more hours.
Over the course over the weekend, there were approximately 3,000 marines – some of our countries finest armed service men and women. And, as I reflected on my experience, I was reminded of how important it is to take care of our donors. You see, the Marines took care of me while I was running.
They were there to welcome me when I arrived – how often do we welcome donors for their first gifts to us or even their second or third?
They directed me through the maze of marathon logistics – how often do we try to make our experience of being a donor easy for our donors? Do we point them in the right direction? Do we connect them with aspects of the charity that they care deeply?
And, then when I was running, those Marines were out there cheering me on as if I were the hero – how often do we cheer on our donors in their act of giving? How often do we make them feel like the superheroes that they are?
When the going got tough, they were there for me, telling me that I could do – when things get tough for our donors, are we still behind them cheering for them? Perhaps they can’t give us as much, do we abandon them as people? Or do we still treat them the same, cultivating the relationship?
And, at the end of it all – they placed the medal on me and made me feel accomplished – “Congratulations, Maam” – do we treat our donors like they are the real heroes, even though we are doing the actual work?
Interesting questions. I was awed and inspired by this display of honor at the marathon. The Marine’s know how to put on a good race. And, they also know a lot more about how to treat people. There are lessons learned here on how we should go about treating our donors.
Giving is MORE like a marathon than a sprint. It is about cultivating relationships with our donors over weeks, months, years – just like a marathon is about training for days, weeks, months, and years.
So, go out and run the race. And, even though it is your organization that is doing the hard work, take some lessons from the Marines and treat your donors like the superheroes that they are. After all, the Marines are making this sacrifice for our country, just as our donors are making another kind of sacrifice for our organizations.
So, here it is. I am laying this question and answer right out on the line. Especially now that we are coming to the year-end giving season.
I am asked time and time again, “Didn’t we just mail to them, won’t we be bothering them?”
No, no, and no. You can never ask enough.
Yes, Virginia, you can ask multiple times
Let’s face it. The decision isn’t ours to make. It isn’t. It is the donor’s decision to make. Only they are going to tell you, how much is too much. In most cases, if you are only asking once or twice a year, aren’t you telling them that you don’t need the donations to make a go of it? Donors aren’t naive. They know that you are a non-profit, and they know that you need donations to run your organization. Why do we believe that we must lightly tread when it comes to asking?
Donors are busy people. Just because they didn’t respond to your initial mailing, doesn’t mean that they don’t want to give to support you. In major gift work, if we don’t get the gift right away during our meeting – and in most cases, we don’t – we explore with the donor the reason for hesitation. Was it the program we were asking for a contribution? Was it the ask amount itself? Was it the timing of the ask? Why do we think that this is any different for the number of times we should mail to a donor? Perhaps the reason that they didn’t respond to your initial mailing is that it wasn’t an ask for the right project or the right amount, or it wasn’t the right timing. Maybe they had a big bill just come in that they needed to tend to or perhaps they were on vacation when the letter arrived in your mailbox. But, we won’t know this if we only mail to them once and then assume the donor will never give again.
And, I often hear clients question whether or not they should include a reply envelope in their newsletter because they just sent out an “ask.” Of course, you put an envelope in your newsletter. This envelope is a “soft” ask. Donors may feel so inspired to give after reading about your good works in your newsletter that they may want to give to support your work. How else will you capture this? And, a “soft” ask is exactly that, “soft.” We are not commanding, directing, or cajoling a donor into giving. If they choose to give using this method, then it is their choice.
Case in point, I asked a client to send out a second direct mail ask to follow up on all those who did not give to the first. And, lo and behold, the response has been tremendous. So enormous, in fact, that the client wrote back and said, “The results have been pretty unbelievable for us, believe me!
I once had a phrase that I would use quite often, “You must A S K to G E T!” And, that is true.
As we move forward into the upcoming holiday giving season, think about your strategy. You will be competing with every other nonprofit group who is sending out their calendar year-end direct mail piece at the same time. The competition will be stiff. How are you going to stand out? How are you going to assure that your donors will read your letter among all of the other letters? And, what is your strategy for follow-up? Will you ask more than once? What forms will that “ask” take? How will you leverage the December 31 tax deadline as an incentive to give?
I know one thing is for sure, this calendar year-end, if you only ask once, you are doing your donors an injustice. They want to give, and they want to give to you. But, your ask must be heard and, that it is the right ask, for the right project, at the right time.
Now, craft a plan that includes multiple year-end asks!
There is so much science behind fund development. You can study it, take courses in it, and read books on it. Campaigns have become honed regarding best practices; there are easy steps to put into place, materials to be created, and people to be engaged.
The one thing that I have come to realize, though, is that one part of fundraising is science and the other is art. And, what is that other? Well as a regional consultant, one thing that I notice that makes a tremendous difference is the culture of place. That is why I firmly believe that consultants need to adopt the old “in residence” model. They need to live and breathe a community and get to know and understand its nuances. Then and only then will a campaign be successful.
Currently, I have three different clients from three distinct geographic areas. One is for the Stamford area of Connecticut, one is from the Greater Providence area, and the other is from a rural village in Vermont. I could not stress the dichotomy between these clients and it all has to do with the culture of place.
In Connecticut, life is fast-paced and hectic. Projects move quickly. And, the population is so very significant that one tends to blend in with the community without being noticed. In Rhode Island, everyone knows everyone; it is the smallest state in the Union. There is a high degree of competition for funding from a limited donor pool, and people treat each other like family. It is all about who you know. In Vermont, very different. Life in a village is remote. The nearest store is 45 minutes away, sometimes up and over the mountain, you rely on and bond with your neighbor, and it is not about who you know, it is about what you know about those that you know.
Culture of place. If you don’t begin to understand it, you will not be successful. The culture of place is how fundraising art meets science, and the magic of campaign success happens. Ignore it and try to forge ahead without addressing or understanding, and your campaign is doomed to fail.
For those nonprofit organizations wanting to hire someone who works from a remote location and who will not commit to finding someone who can spend time “in residence” then think again. While all the degrees in the world, equate to know how it does equate to campaign success. An understanding of the culture of place does.
Development professionals probably have one of the most demanding jobs in an organization. There are so many expectations, and the work is full of deadlines that need we need to meet.
We work long hours on grant proposals, travel across the country to visit donors, and need to prepare budgets and outcomes for board reports and donor communication publications.
Just recently, I overheard a development professional say, “I don’t have time for that!”
My ears perked up. I turned around, and thought, when have we ever become too busy to stop and immerse ourselves in the mission of our work?
This type of behavior is unacceptable. Organizations have a right to dismiss those who are just “too busy” to engage themselves in their core work. The fundraiser should – no must – be the first one at the table saying, “I will be there” or “how can I help?”
We, as development professionals, raise money to fund our mission, and we can never say that we are too busy to immerse ourselves in what it is that we support through our organizations. We should embrace and relish these opportunities as moments that we connect with the soul of our institutions and better equip ourselves to represent our organizations to our donors.
It is our work. We can’t say we don’t have enough time, or we have too much to do. We can’t even THINK that.
In saying that we are acknowledging that we are too busy for those that we serve and for the work that we are doing. How can we do that work right, if we can’t make time for it and those we serve including best representing our work to the donors that we serve.
If there is anyone in an organization that should live, breathe, and exhale the mission, it is the fundraiser.
If you are too busy, perhaps you don’t belong at your “job” because that is probably all that it is. Non-profit work is a vocation. We are responsible for other’s lives and well-being. This type of work is not just simply a “job.” Without us, our clients and participants would not have the services and level of care that they do.
Shame on you, shame on us – that we have ever become that busy.
Interestingly enough, I met with a wonderful and highly intelligent gentleman this past week. As we were eating lunch, we started talking about systems thinking. It reminded me of a mentor who once said that we needed to be reading people like Peter Senge.
I could never really make the correlation between Peter Senge’s highly complex writings and my practical work as a fundraiser. But, during this recent conversation, the dots began to connect.
You see, Peter Senge outlines the whole concept of what systems thinking is and how to frame it within your work. It made me think of my clients.
Systems thinking, at its broadest level, believes in the interrelatedness of forces and seeing them as part of a collective process. Peter Senge notes that it was Professor Jay Forrester at MIT who outlined the nature of “system dynamics” or how complex feedback processes can generate problematic patterns of behavior within organizations and large-scale human systems. Think eco-systems, physical building systems, teams working together, etc.
For many organizations, they have the basic problem of not having enough. – enough resources, time, staffing, etc. For some reason or other, they just can’t seem to rise above the realities of this problem. They go on in endless circles always seeming to address the same issue. For many, the problem may be that they have been relying on grants and foundations to meet their budget, and they never seem to have enough, or a funding source suddenly stops funding them. For others, there fundraising has plateaued or even declined over the past few years. Others face continuing turnover in fundraising staff. I see these same problems over and over again in different organizations.
Truly, what we all must realize is that a fundraising problem is never really a fundraising problem. It is some other underlying organizational problem impacting how well an organization can conduct fundraising. We cannot begin to isolate a fundraising problem as just a fundraising problem. It is much more than that.
Organizations are living, breathing entities. One thing impacts the other which in turn impacts another. Everything in an organization is interrelated. So when, one is under stress, it has a direct bearing on the strength of the other. Nothing works in isolation.
Sometimes old models are kept in place far too long. Outdated and problematic mental models keep perpetuating cycles of behavior that impact the entire system.
Some systems that an organization should be looking at beyond fundraising itself:
The board of directors and its governance model.
Staffing patterns and their compensation and their incentives.
Deeply held organizational assumptions and beliefs.
Performance expectations both implicit and explicit.
Cultures within organizations.
Changing demographics within the community that an organization serves.
Demographic changes within populations of donors.
Marketing or lack of marketing efforts along with general overall perceptions of organization.
Physical conditions of facilities.
The overall financial and economic environment.
A savvy fundraiser and fundraising consultant will understand these dynamics. One knows in most cases that if a Board of Directors is managing the efforts of staff, then fundraising will be impacted. If employees are not given the tools or resources to be able to do their job, then fundraising is affected. If expectations are unrealistic, fundraising is affected.
When clients present themselves to me with a fundraising problem, I often dig deep with questions. Because often and in most cases, the solutions that the client thinks they need are the ones not needed. The answer lies deep below the surface, and it takes someone versed in the language of systems thinking to be able to conduct an appropriate diagnosis and to outline a roadmap for making that systems change possible.
The consultant or fundraiser must be skilled at this work, for one should not make a change just because they see a leverage point. The amount of change, the type of change, and the scope of the modification proposed can either create the needed change or in some cases further exacerbate the problem.
So, for that gentleman who I was having lunch with, thank you! It behooves us all to have such strong mentors in our work from a multitude of disciples beyond fund development. Broadening our scope of resources allows us to care more holistically for the organizations that we steward.
Good governance doesn’t end at creating a Governance Committee of the board or even of establishing processes for governance such as policies and procedures, or even developing new committee structures.
Governance has only begun. It continues with a well formed and crafted agenda for all meetings both at the Board and, most especially, at the committee level.
Do you put casual thought into your agenda or do your spend time carefully constructing the flow and feel of the meeting?
I say, don’t take the agenda lightly. It can indeed work to shift a culture from management to governance just by mear fact of the topics, the order of the items, and those responsible for reporting.
Agenda’s need to be carefully crafted and constructed to produce concrete action items. Poorly devised agendas will cause meetings to go astray, tensions to rise, and governance to quickly turn to management.
How do you begin to structure your agenda? Well, think about what topics are important for this group to discuss and what is the best use of their time.
Here are some suggestions for your next meeting:
Hold reports and updates to the end of the meeting or even consider eliminating them entirely so; that meeting doesn’t get mired in the muck.
Prepare reflective materials with statistics and numbers relevant to more strategic discussions.
Think about the natural flow of the meeting and adjust items to reflect that flow.
Prepare and circulate meeting materials in advance of the meeting. The expectation is that one comes to a meeting fully ready to participate.
Put standing meeting items i.e. strategic plan report or a fund development calendar update on each and every agenda and keep them “low” on the agenda.
Or consider moving to a “consent agenda” where routine items that the board would approve with little comments are encompassed into one single agenda item i.e. things like board meeting minutes, financials, program reports, CEO reports, approvals of contracts, etc., etc., etc.
And, you need an effective chair of the Board,of the committee, or the task force who can work with staff to set the agenda, keep the group on the agenda, and ensure that the tenure of the meeting supports good governance. The role of the chair is to be a facilitator regarding the meeting and the agenda, and an enabler of governance. The chair must know and understand what good governance is to serve in that role.
Meetings are that essential to good governance. Just as reorganizing the board, or reengineering committee structures, good meetings with purposeful and thoughtful agendas can create the magic of good governance.
You can take all the other steps, but if you meeting falls apart when the gavel hits the table of what use has that all the rest been?
Good governance has only just begun!
P.S. – Are you looking for more resources on good governance? And, you want to be successful? Get started with my Non-Profit Governance E-Book that includes a collection of my best blog articles on that all important topic. Email me to request your copy. I will share with you all the best tips and resources for moving your board from managing to governing.
We often talk about banning jargon when we speak to others about our organization. And, that is so needed. But, I would like to take it one step further, and say that we are not here to “educate” our donors about what we do.
They don’t care about the specifics.
There, I said it. Truly, your donors don’t. Just think about your experiences. When I call an electrician to fix an electrical problem in my house, I don’t want him to explain all of the mechanics of electricity or what is wrong with my particular situation. Right? Tell me basically what is wrong, how you are going to fix it, and how much it is going to cost. Don’t share with me black to black, and red to red, and copper to copper, I don’t want to know. It is actually beyond me.
So, when you have a particular project, do you think that donors want to know every little nitty gritty detail? I hardly doubt so. For the fact of the matter is, they should have a relationship with your organization before you even ask them to give and if they have a relationship with your organization, then they should TRUST you and TRUST that if they invest in you, you will know what to do with their investment. In fact, they believe that you are the expert in whatever part of the sector your serving. You can’t expect your donor to know all about the legalities surrounding domestic violence victims or child custody cases; they expect you to know and to do that.
So, when you are meeting with a donor and sharing a particular project or even your organization and what it does, spare them the details. Give them the picture of why you, why now, and for what? Otherwise, if you share too much, you will lose your donor in the process.
We get so carried away in our “internal” thinking that we fail to see a contributor as a donor as a person. We talk as if they are supposed to know what we are referring to; we use language and jargon to paint portraits of projects, and we go and on and on sharing minutia with them. It is time to stop and think about your experience with your mechanic, or your plumber, or your electrician, or any other expert that you have hired. What do you need to know, what do you want to know, and what is it going to cost you.
The adage “keep it simple,” reigns true here. Donors expect YOU to be the expert, not them. So, don’t shroud them in jargon and details and minutia. Just share with them what is wrong, how you are going to fix, and how much it is going to cost. Simple.
Ah, Board committees. Now, we get knee deeper into confusion. So, keeping the Board focused on governance is challenging work. Keeping the committees focused on governance seems at times almost impossible.
A few observations from the field.
Just like with Board of Directors, Board committee’s need position descriptions and expectations. Now, I won’t recommend specific committees because each organization is different, but the basics such as Finance and Governance Committees are essential.
Why a position description for the committee? Well, far too often, I have seen committees want to take over management types of activities. You know, they think governance is at the Board collective level, and therefore, they can focus on getting things done. Yes, to some extent, but with specific parameters in place. A committee also needs to be engaging in governance regarding examining trends and their implications.
Take, for instance, a Development Committee. Where does the line end between helping to establish a philanthropic goal, approving a fundraising plan, and then actually implementing the work and sometimes even circumventing staff efforts? Ah, yes, this does happen. And, it happens more than we like to think. Once you get down to the committee level, management seems to creep in. So, a powerful committee position description will help to create appropriate boundaries.
Now, I say, in the case of Fund Development, members as part of this committee work to engage their fellow Board members in the process of fund development. So, they may call upon a Board member to chair an event, or to help solicit funds, or to introduce the organization to a significant prospect. This fact does not mean that the manage the fundraising process. And, this is not to say that they manage staff. That is up to staff. But, even in all-volunteer organizations, when Board members must manage, governance comes first. Heck, you can establish a special event committee of the Board that works on event logistics with both Board and non-Board members. Governance rules.
Moreover, committees in no way, shape, or form make decisions for the Board. No, way. You see, the only people that make decisions for the Board is the Board collective. Committees can wrestle with tough strategic, governance issues, and make recommendations for actions at the Board meeting, but in now way does the Committee make a decision that is not vetted and voted by the Board as a whole. Again, clearly outlined position descriptions and expectations create parameters for appropriate behavior.
I know, I know, governance in small nonprofits. Again, governance discussions come first. Operational issues can be done by a task force or other such components. The Finance Committee in a large or small organization needs to look at economic trends in the overall community both locally and globally and make sound fiscal decisions. That does not mean that they get into the minutia. Yes, Board members do need to do management kinds of things in small non-profits, but they can also engage their membership or volunteers to assist in getting things done. So, while a nature organization needs to discuss trail maintenance and who is going to do it, they most importantly need to discuss which trails where, why, and how much is going to cost. What are the environmental impacts of a trail system, etc. They can always appeal to their membership or the general community to help clear brush.
So, again, clear, written, articulated in advance, position descriptions for the Board as a collective, individual Board members and the committees of the Board themselves are needed to create parameters and boundaries around keeping the Board focused on its significant role in governance.
I have been known to point out, “Would you see a Board committee of Pepsi-Cola engaging in supervising staff other than the CEO, or working in the factory bottling soda pop?” Even small, family-owned businesses, need to talk about things like, “there is a new competitor in town, what does that mean for us?” or “Our chocolate sales hit rock bottom, what is our cash flow over the next year?”
No, so what makes us in nonprofits think that we need to operate any differently? Just because we are “non-profit” doesn’t imply that our Boards of Directors should operate any differently. The difference being that for-profit Boards report to stockholders and our Boards report to stakeholders. And, yes, my friend, we can offer our Board compensation if we wanted to go that far.
Last week, I noted how all-volunteer and small staffed organizations must engage in governance at the Board level. I pointed out that one of the first steps is to secure commitment to change. Some groups may not want to change and need to wrestle with the question of “what does not changing mean for our organization?” You can read that article here.
Others on the other hand do. So, after they gain consensus and commitment to changing, one of the next natural steps to creating this cultural shift on the board level is to look at the Board’s position descriptions. Now, I must say, this is where the dialogue gets quiet for my me and my client. For you see, I find that many have some form of a Board member expectation outline, simple as they may be, but lack a basic Board of Directors position description.
How can that be? I am not sure. I think that sometimes, perhaps groups don’t understand the full role of the Board and therefore don’t design a position description outlining the roles and responsibilities of a Board. On the other hand, some Boards by design, especially smaller nonprofit organizations, create Board positions to assist in getting the day-to-day organizational work complete, and the Board mainly functions as a management/volunteer rather than as a governance focused Board.
Just like in the “real” world, we wouldn’t expect to hire someone or to take a job that does not have a position description. The case is the same here. Why would we expect a Board member to come on Board without outlining for them their duties and responsibilities and sharing that with them? The Board holds one of the largest, if not THE most important role within an organization. In fact, the “buck” stops with the Board. How do you assess and release Board members if they or you haven’t defined that role for them?
And, we wonder why Boards are not functioning the way we want or expect them to. We haven’t begun to identify the parameters of what that work entails. We expect Board members to come on board fully engaged and knowing of their responsibilities, and when they don’t, we get frustrated and upset with our Board’s performance.
So, after seeking consensus and commitment, an organization must move to defining what a Board member’s role is and formalize and adopt this position description outlining functions and responsibilities. From there, you can design, based on the culture and needs of your organization, individual Board member expectations regarding their participation in a wide variety of organizational matters including, most importantly, fund development.
We all know that there is a difference between a Board of Directors as a collective unit and an individual Board member, right?
Twenty-two years is an awfully long time. I can’t believe it has gone by that quickly. And, it all happened by pure chance or maybe little small choices all along the way. Now, I find myself a CFRE and have my Masters in Fund Development and Philanthropy.
Years, years ago, I got my start as a community organizer for a small, grassroots social justice organization. What they failed to tell me, was that I needed to raise money. Well, back in those days, many organizations had robust canvasses. So, I hopped in a car full of others and headed off to a neighborhood where the lead canvasser dropped us off with a clipboard full of information, and a stack of index cards.
You see, back then, we didn’t have donor records in the sky or even donor databases, we had index cards with handwritten amounts on them. We didn’t have fancy pitches or slick brochures; we had a clipboard with some mimeographed flyers. We rang the doorbell; we waited for someone to answer the door, and when they did, we had about five seconds flat to state the case of why we were standing on their stoop and what we needed. If they liked you, you may even be invited in off the stoop. If they didn’t, you probably got the door slammed in your face.
I call this fundraising by fire. Canvassing. What a way to start. But if I didn’t have that canvass experience each and every night, I think that I wouldn’t be as good a fundraiser as I am today. For you see, it took the whole giving cycle and condensed it down into one doorbell ring, and a few seconds to make a pitch. The rejection was nothing worse than having a door shut on you, leaving you standing there with your mouth agape. But, you realized soon enough that you needed to move to the next index card, the next house, the next pitch, and do it all over again for three or more hours each evening of the week.
We had lots of fun our canvass team. And, in the process, I learned everything I needed to know about fundraising – without sophisticated wealth screening tools, fancy case statements or scripted pitches and even without a computer. I was out from behind my desk, building relationships the old fashion way.
Twenty years – my so much has changed, particularly with fundraising. But, sometimes things were so much simpler, even with that. Perhaps we tend to complicate things too much, over think them, and stay behind our desks. Back then, you grabbed a stack of cards, you went off to some neighborhood, rang a doorbell, stated the case, and shook a few hands.
Twenty-two years is an awfully long time. So much learned and so many valuable lessons from a simpler, more laid back time.
Feeling listless, stressed, in a funk? Snap out of it!
I have been in the field of fundraising for a long time. And, I know that sometimes (maybe a lot of occasions), development work can be hard and draining, and sometimes you end up in a funk. Well, here are some great ways that YOU can get yourself out of that funk, and go on serving your donors and your organization.
So, there are hormones that contribute to our moods; you know things like endorphins, serotonin, dopamine, testosterone, etc. that regulate how you feel to get you up and running, we need to stimulate those hormones that will make you feel good.
Here are some ways that you can jumpstart that process during your day:
Pull out some old photos and take a walk down memory lane. Remember those times you felt on top of the world? Get those pictures out. Take a look at them on your break time.
Journal your proudest fundraising moment or the time when you got the most done. How did you feel? What was that experience? Why did you feel the way that you felt at the time?
Create a bucket list, and then take some action steps towards that bucket list. Why not create a summer bucket list and go out and do it. Just thinking about creating a bucket list and getting started, makes you feel good. That hope of getting started on a bucket list alone gets your motor running.
Get into a “power pose” you know the Superwoman, Rocky kind of pose. Stretch out your hands like you are crossing a marathon finish line. Do that for two minutes, and you will feel revved and ready to go.
Call someone or think of a person who makes you laugh or gives you good advice. Who is your “go-to” person that makes you feel connected? Give them a call!
Get your body moving, biking, walking, kayaking, running, dancing to your favorite song, etc. Get your heart going and get those endorphins going. You will immediately feel good.
Development work can be hard. And, sometimes, let’s face it, we don’t always feel up to par and on top of the word. I know, I have been there. Trust me; I have been there. So when the down times “hit!’ Take these quick and easy steps on your break or lunch time, and immediately trigger the chemical reactions in your brain that will start to turn the funk tide.
What are some ways that you get your fundraising motor running when you feel as if you are running on empty?
Let’s cut to the chase. I know, and you know that one of the biggest things that stop us from being effective in our fundraising is fear. Good old, heart pumping, nail biting, fear.
Recently, I had a conversation with some folks, and I asked them the question, “what is your number one concern around fundraising?” And, time and time again, folks responded, “fear of being rejected.”
Let’s face it; we just don’t like being told no. And, while no may not be personal, it sure feels that way, right?
So, then I have had to ask, are we projecting onto our donors and making assumptions about how they will respond? Meaning, are we projecting our fear of rejection onto them. I am sure that we have all thought at some point, “Oh he won’t give anything to support us, so why even ask in the first place.” Are we projecting our thoughts, fears, and assumptions on a donor, so that we won’t have to attempt to ask or even just develop a relationship with him or her?
There once was a very insightful book I read. It was Don Miguel Ruiz’s The Four Agreements. He spends a whole chapter on “Making Assumptions.” Here is a quote that I think will help you in your work with donors:
“The biggest assumption (in my opinion) is that we assume everyone sees the world and each circumstance the way WE do. We assume they think, feel, and even judge the way we do. This assumption sparks our internal fear of being ourselves around others we think they will judge, victimize or blame us; just as we do to ourselves. So before someone has the opportunity to accept or reject us, we have already rejected ourselves. The way to keep from making assumptions is to ask questions.”
I urge you to take a look at your fears before embarking on major gift work. Are you fearful of rejection personally? And, how is that fear allowing you to make assumptions for donors, just so that you won’t suffer the slings and arrows of rejection in the asking?
This question that I pose is a tough question to think about, but I am asking you to dig deep, not for me, for you, or even for your organization, but for all those in need that you can help by clearing away your fears and your assumptions.