Ahhh, summers in Boston; so much to love…the Swan Boats, Cape weekends, walks along the Charles, ice cream! And a few things to hate…traffic, Cape traffic, tunnel traffic, college move in/out traffic, middle-of-the-day-for-no-good-reason traffic. Check out this Boston Magazine article, “15 Things to love and 11 things to loathe about Boston” for a more complete list. I found it very accurate and relatable, and if you have spent any time in Boston, I’m sure you will too! It got me thinking about all the relatable things us as Fundraisers experience, so here is my, much more condensed, list of 5 things to love and 1 thing to loathe about Fundraising.
1. Fundraising Colleagues – Ok, so maybe this isn’t unique to just our field but can we all agree that the people we work with are nothing short of amazing? I have built so many life-long friendships with the people I’ve worked with; maybe it’s the shared moral compass that draws us to this line of work, or the fact that we must all be slightly crazy to be doing this, but my colleagues have become my closest friends. They have changed my life for the better and created a support system for which I am beyond grateful. Colleagues aren’t just colleagues in our world – they are mentors, teachers, travel partners, work wives/husbands, and therapists. By nature, people in this field always want to help, they are thoughtful, genuine, and kind. Sure, there may be a couple of bad apples in the bunch, but for the most part we are surrounded by people with a unique gift of truly caring about others.
2. Other Colleagues – I refer to these people as the ones who are really doing the work of the organization. They are the social workers, the therapist, the doctors, the researchers, the program directors – these are the people who make it all happen. It’s an honor to support their work with our fundraising. Their dedication and passion are awe-inspiring. They are often the most modest people we work with; they think nothing of the life changing work they do everyday. Talking with them and hearing stories of the patients/clients served makes our jobs as fundraisers easier. They are our partners in furthering the mission of our organization.
3. Our donors – This one is a no-brainer. Our donors are the most important part of our work but they are so much more. They are not only the lifeblood of our organizations but they become our family. We share a common goal. We share common interest in doing good. We get to know their family situation, their finances, and other very personal details of their lives. They trust us with their assets and we vow to be responsible stewards of their philanthropy. When I think of the most satisfying part of my work, it’s those relationships and bonds that I’ve built with donors. From long lasting friendships that crosses organizations or that quick thank you phone call to a loyal donor – their stories, their passion, and their love for the work we are doing is what motivates me to do better.
4.The mission – It’s so cliché but at the end of the day it’s the passion for the mission that keep us going despite all the challenges that come along with this line of work. Seeing the faces of those we serve and hearing the impact of our work is so special, yet we can take it for granted. It becomes a good communication piece or annual fund story, but when we step back and truly appreciate the impact of the work we are doing and how our collective efforts further the mission, it’s really spectacular. It’s easy to get bogged down in operating plans, performance analysis, data issues, proposal deadlines, but how often do we step back? When we do, we become re-energized and re-committed to our work of ensuring the success of the organization.
5. Making an impact – Supporting a mission that is important to you is good, but seeing the impact that your work is amazing. Cue the ‘Circle of Life’ montage. It’s the culmination of everything mentioned above…aligning wonderful donors with wonderful missions and doing it together with wonderful colleagues to truly make a difference to those we serve. Our fundraising offices often represent this beautiful symphony in the form of Donor Impact Statements. They are a powerful marketing tool and also remind us why we do what we do everyday. Those moments are what sticks with me – waving goodbye to a now healthy little boy finally going home after 7 months in the hospital to helping clean out the apartment of an elder who passed away peacefully and with dignity in her own bed after being homeless for 12 years – we help make a difference in the lives of real people.
And the one thing to loathe…how hard we are on ourselves. We always want to do more. We are our own worse critic. We want better systems, better databases, better donor prospect list, better grant opportunities, better collateral. Why? So we can do more, so we can raise more money, so we can support more staff…so we can help more people. I guess that’s not a bad thing.