Fundraisers are an overly serious and no fun bunch, too often. An absence of humor is sadly lacking in our non-profit endeavors, and scarce of late in our civic life. Last year was almost entirely humorless, overly full of moral outrage and generally sourfaced. Let’s close the door on it.
Want to see some uptight goings on in the non-profit sector? Drop in on a university central development office any given Tuesday and tell me I am wrong. Black suits and No-Fun-Having-Cause-Related-Marketing-God-Sent-Us-Here.
So, to start, let’s all lighten up a bit in 2015. Pull a prank on a colleague this week. Tell an amusing story about a donor. When I was a wee lad at the Zoo someone would call me every April 1 and ask for Mr. Lion. Hilarious.
So Chill out. That will be a good start to making this an impactful 2015. What else shall we do? How about this list as a start…
10 shalls to Putting the Fun back in Fundraising in 2015.
- We shall Display a Sense of Humor. See Above. I was CDO at a performing arts center and our great rivalry was the Symphony downtown. I would run into their CDO from time to time at a local lunch place where Fundraisers met with Old Ladies to win their support. He would scowl at me lunching up his major donor. I would wink. He would double scowl. Guess which one of us still works in the arts?
- We shall Show Pride in our Work. Non-profit professionals are some of the most bad ass people I know. Be proud of what you do. When asked, say, “Yes. I am in fact a Professional Bad Ass.”
- We shall Develop a Plan and Stick to that Plan. We are halfway through the fiscal year. How is your plan coming along? A wiser man than me said, “A bad plan is better than no plan” and that’s the truth. Fundraising is surrounded by Clever Ideas from Dummies who Know Very Little. You know who they are. The best teams I know filter out the Noise and circle round each other, focusing on daily, weekly, monthly accomplishment.
- We shall Encourage our Volunteers and Praise their Efforts. No one has that perfect board of well dressed, compassionate, responsive, well connected volunteers. It does not exist. But you do have some key people who will support your efforts. Focus on them and reinforce their accomplishments. Good things will follow.
- We shall Pick up the Telephone. Every. Single. Day. Don’t make me come to your office to explain this.
- We shall be Bold in our Asking. The economy is getting back to 90s Crushing. If you are too young to remember, well, awesome for you and pull up your pants, shave that beard, and teach me about Instagram. But there is tremendous capacity in the philanthropic market right now. It won’t last forever. What’s the Big Idea in your organization? If not now, when?
- We shall Fill our Calendar with Lunch Dates. Everyone must eat lunch. Please, please, don’t eat lunch at your desk. I will come down there.
- We shall be Creative with our Sponsorship Proposals. No, I am not interested in your $7,500 Associate Guest Soprano Sponsorship. Imagine you are competing against the best and brightest ideas and people for marketing investment. Quit imagining. You are competing against the best and brightest for marketing investment.
- We shall be patient and understanding of our Marketing Colleagues. Even when they have it coming. Even when they are deliberately provocative. Even when it would be fun to thump on them. We are Development. We are better than this. Well, if it is super fun, go ahead. Just this once.
- We shall not Micro-manage. Except where we need to micro-manage. Obviously, some people cannot be trusted to stuff envelopes and must be taught the correct method. For free I will come and show you how to stuff envelopes. Seriously.