BY PENNY COWDEN, MPA, CFRE, FAHP and President of Philanthropy212
One of the jewels in Jerry Panas’ Fundraiser’s Creed is: “I spend my life lighting fires.” As I’ve progressed through my career as a development professional, that deeply meaningful phrase has stayed with me. I’ve spent a lot of time thinking about my own impact on philanthropy. We are in an industry with a 14-month turnover rate. What are we doing to stop such an alarming trend? Are we providing the ongoing education, support, leadership, and inspiration that our gift officers need? Are we teaching them to light fires in donors? Here are some questions and thoughts to consider.
1 Do you motivate donors or inspire them?
Do you light a fire under them or IN them? Motivation is incentive based while inspiration is dream based. Are your gift officers ensuring donors can embrace a dream for a bright future or are they just motivating donors to support the organization’s needs?
2 Does your organization actually have needs?
Or, does your organization exist to meet the needs of the communities and people you serve? Do you truly put the donor first? Would you give up a gift if it wasn’t right for the donor?
3 How do you talk about the profession?
Fundraisers often say things like “Let’s hit him up for a donation,” “They have deep pockets,” or “Let’s twist her arm. Are you silently dishonoring your donors if you let these go unchallenged? Are you silently dishonoring yourself?
4 Do you use inspiring language?
Do words like transformational, possibilities, investment, meaning, vision, etc. find their way into your conversations? Or, are you more likely to talk about problems, money, motivation, needs, etc. in donor conversations? Do the words you use really make a difference?
5 Do donors care about your organization’s goals?
Or, do they want to invest in the big idea and partner with you to make a difference? Are you sincerely bringing your donors opportunities to see and feel the impact of their philanthropy?
6 Do you demonstrate commitment to your profession?
Should you get a certification? Does certification communicate your respect for ethics and best practices? Does it communicate your dedication to life-long learning?
Mahatma Gandhi’s inspiring words, “In a gentle way, you can shake the world” sum up the above quite nicely. As philanthropic professionals, we have the power to gently shake the world and change it for the better. That’s a really powerful role. It’s an even more powerful legacy.
Learn more about Philanthropy212 and find out how Blackbaud can help maximize your fundraising team.