Successful fundraising often requires assuming more confidence than you actually feel. I got a new insight into that while leading a workshop last year. The workshop, on how fundraisers can build a major gifts program, was one that I had presented many times before. It focused on six elements of success: a willing board, a charismatic executive director, a compelling mission, individual donors, prospects, and a plan for low-pressure donor cultivation.
The morning of the workshop, I woke up realizing that a very important question was missing: how does it feel to be an agent of change at your organization? So I scrambled the agenda and inserted the question.
How does it feel to be an agent of change at your organization?
Everyone in the workshop gave variations on the same answer: I have to be bold and step into my power. One participant said, “I have to be bold, but I am too young.” I was able to assure her that youth has great advantages: it’s easier to get away with mistakes, and it’s easier to sign up to be mentored by a donor. Another said, “I have to be bold, but I am too far down the organization chart.” Earlier in the workshop she had talked about calling donors to thank them for their gifts, so I was able to assure her that she was already acting as a leader.
No matter what your role is in the development operation, you have opportunities to make an important contribution to your organization. So think about where you can have an impact, be bold, and step into your power.
Paul Jolly is the founder of Jump Start Growth, Inc., and, as of March 2016, major gifts officer for Earthworks. His clients include advocacy and religious organizations, social services, community arts, and education nonprofits.