In the fund raising world, we sometimes spend a lot of time worrying about things that may never happen. Time spent worrying is time wasted. People who are successful are those who take action and rise above their fears. There are great rewards to be had when we can overcome worry and fear. Do you remember the fairy tale story of Rapunzel? I won’t go into the whole story here due to time and space, but you may recall that Rapunzel was forced to live in a tower, far in the woods, that was inaccessible from the ground. She had really long hair and whenever someone visited she let down her hair from the balcony so that the person could use it to climb up.
Skipping ahead, a prince, who fell in love with her lovely singing voice, asked her to ‘let down her hair’ and he used it to climb up and eventually marry her. Now, what if this prince was paralyzed by fear? This was a high tower – there was a degree of risk here. For example, what if Rapunzel had a weave? The prince could climb halfway up, her weave could come loose and he would fall to his death. However, the prince clearly felt that the likely benefits outweighed the potential risks. He went for it. Thank goodness he did, as he ended up marrying Rapunzel (after some other drama played out).
Now, you may ask, ‘what does Rapunzel and her possible weave have to do with raising money in small nonprofit organizations?’ I am glad you asked – I will tell you.
Just like the prince needed to look ahead to the goal, we must do the same. Our job is to give people the opportunity to accomplish their philanthropic goals. As such – we are doing them a service. Sort of like a “Philanthropy Consultant”.
I have had development officers tell me that they are hesitant to call a major donor to ask for a meeting because they “might be bothering them,” or the donor might not take the meeting. Well, it is true – the donor might not take the meeting for a variety of reasons. But on the other hand, they just might. However, if you do not invite them, the chances of meeting with the donor are almost nonexistent. Getting to know donors is a critical part of helping them to accomplish their philanthropic goals. However, there are some people who would rather not engage personally. They are happy to just send a check and get periodic updates via newsletter or annual reports. The key to success is to know each donor’s desire for attention and respond accordingly.
I have also consulted with an organization who told me that they do not apply for many grants. The process of application takes a lot of time and energy. There is also a significant cost when a contract grant writer has to be used. Many small organizations worry that they will not get their grant funded, which would render all of that work and expense as a waste of time. So, to avoid the hassle of having grants that are not funded they simply don’t pursue very many grants.
In my spare time I enjoy playing softball. As I get older, I find that I am unable to make some of the plays that I could make when I was in my 20’s. I am also unable to hit the ball quite as far as I could back then. However, every time it is my turn to bat I take my turn. Why? Because every swing that I don’t take represents a missed opportunity. If I never stand up at the plate then I will not get on base.
Don’t get me wrong, the work that we do can be scary. Those of us who work for organizations that rely heavily on donations must produce. If we do not, people do not receive critical services and staff can lose their jobs. So, we need to have a healthy respect for the role that we play. However, we must be able to rise above that and get it done on a daily basis. We must assume that Rapunzel does not have a weave and that our efforts are going to culminate in more revenue in support of our mission. When we focus on the goal and don’t allow worry or doubt to take a foothold within us, there is no limit to what we can accomplish while working in concert with our team members.
Have a great week,