Transactional Nonprofit Work vs. Transformational Philanthropic Progress
Give me one moment in time
When I’m more than I thought could be
When all of my dreams are a heartbeat away
And the answers are all up to me
Give me one moment in time
When I’m racing with destiny
Then in that one moment of time
I will feel
I will feel eternity
These are lyrics from a Whitney Houston song I remember being sung at the Opening Ceremonies of the 1988 Olympics. Chills ran down my spine. The hairs stood straight on my neck. Cheesy, I know. But it got to me.
We all yearn for that one moment when we’re bigger and better than ourselves. Where we soar. Where we step outside our daily, mundane lives and exceed our wildest expectations.
The Olympics elevates us. Even for those who are not sports fanatics, the Olympics are something special.
At its best, philanthropy lifts us up as well. We can’t all be gold medal athletes, but we can all be gold medal philanthropists.
We should strive to give our donors the high of Olympians. We should addict them to us through the natural high of philanthropy.
What song will you play for your donors after they accomplish their mission of investing themselves fully and passionately in your cause? Will you lift them up and connect them to the broader picture? Will you help them to see the ways they’ve made a difference? Will you make them feel like they’ve just won a marathon… jumped higher than anyone else… swum so fast they’ve exceeded records… vaulted to a perfect “10”… and done it all in the true spirit of an Olympian — to build a peaceful and better world through mutual understanding, friendship, solidarity and fair play? Even though each of us is just one person, we are all connected to each other. We are not required to complete the task on our own; only to start, and to join others in the mission to strengthen understanding and friendship amongst all peoples, and to repair our world — one person at a time.
We all want to give the best of ourselves. Sometimes we don’t know how. We feel small and alone. We don’t think we can make a difference.
Our job as fundraisers and nonprofit professionals is to help our donors see the way to greatness. Our supporters want to make a difference. They want to pave the way and pass the torch to the generations to come after them. They want to be remembered. They want a destiny. They want a legacy. They want to feel eternity.
Our gift to our donors, and our responsibility as development professionals, is to give our donors their moment in time.
Each day I live
I want to be
A day to give
the best of me
I’m only one
but not alone
My finest day
is yet unknown