Fundraising, stonecutters and ignoring best practices

stonecutterWelcome to O.D. Fridays at DonorDreams blog. Every Friday for the foreseeable future we will be looking at posts from John Greco’s blog called “johnponders ~ about life at work, mostly” and applying his organizational development messages to the non-profit community.

In a post titled “All That Had Gone Before,” John gets philosophical. He points out how a stonecutter’s success is attributed to a series of chips just like your successes in the workplace is the result of the people who came before you. He says, “Our results today; our performance today; our effectiveness today; is not from what we have done today; but all that we’ve done before.”

I read this and immediate think of a recent fundraising training that I facilitated for a bunch of volunteer solicitors.

In my training, I talk about the 12 steps to making a successful face-to-face solicitation. If followed exactly without any corner cutting, each step is designed to quiet our “inner saboteur’s voice,” which is rooted in fear and the mistaken belief that we are “begging for money.”

I’ve conducted this training almost 100 times in my life (if not more), and it never ceases to amaze me how many people don’t want to slowly and methodically chisel away at their solicitations by following the 12 step process.  Here are some of the most recent things I’ve heard people say in the wake of this training:

  • I don’t need to make my own pledge before going out to solicit my friends. I know that it is the first step in the 12 step process, but I give my time and that should be enough.
  • If the donor indicates that they don’t want to meet with me, I’ll just solicit them over the phone. I know these people well enough so there won’t be a difference between a phone and in-person solicitation.
  • I know that I shouldn’t leave the pledge card behind with the donor, but I know this donor very well and they will send it in and everything will be fine.

These people used to frustrate me. After all, they don’t seem to understand these best practices were developed by countless numbers of volunteers and professionals before them. Ugh! However, after reading John’s blog post, I’m going to attempt to change my perspective.

From this point forward, I will simply look at these folks as inexperienced stonecutters who are trying to split that big rock in half with just one or two swings of the hammer. They choose to ignore all of the progress made by everyone who preceded them because they are simply apprentice stonecutters. Right?

As a non-profit and fundraising professional, how do you channel your inner stonecutter when working with donors? When working with fundraising volunteers? When working with your board? Please scroll down and share your thoughts in the comment box below. We can all learn from each other.

Here’s to your health!

Erik Anderson
Founder & President, The Healthy Non-Profit LLC!/eanderson847

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