This article first appeared earlier this year after a series of violent incidents in the U.S. We are again experiencing challenging times, ones which are at best unsettling for some and for others seen as potentially world-rocking.
What is a fundraiser to do in such challenging times? I suggest that we have the opportunity to be harbingers of hope. Fred Rogers, aka Mr. Rogers, once said:
“When I was a boy and I would see scary things in the news, my mother would say to me, “Look for the helpers. You will always find people who are helping.” To this day, especially in times of “disaster,” I remember my mother’s words and I am always comforted by realizing that there are still so many helpers – so many caring people in this world.” Fred Rogers
When I penned my e-book Fundraisers Channeling Fred Rogers this quote didn’t leap to mind. However, if you are a fundraiser you are a helper.
Yes, I know that your ED or your board might not understand your work. You face the hurdles of competition, donor fatigue, and burnout. In particular, a year-end you wonder if you will make it to the holidays (and not all fundraisers do as per my friend Jennifer Harris’ comment posted in the Chronicle of Philanthropy:
“We walk into organizations that, in our mind, are designed to do good,” says Harris, whose consulting group, the JH Collective, is based in San Diego. “There’s an assumption that the people working there are also designed to do good. And that’s not always the case. Organizations don’t always value their employees.”
The discussion, she says, should be “a lot bigger” than whether it’s inadequate leadership that leads to stress, burnout, and turnover.
“In our field, the boundaries are blurred between our head and our heart,” Harris says. “People who are called to this work have a higher calling to purpose.”
As a supervisor once said to me “we are doing god’s work.” You may not be religious or believe in a god, but you are, as the great Jerry Panas might have said, in a position to raise funds to change and save lives.
And you don’t just change the lives of those that your organization serves. You change the lives of donors. Remember you may be a harbinger of hope as much for a donor as for a client of the nonprofit that you serve. Like you donors seek to believe in a brighter, better future (see Jim Langley’s post Star of Wonder, Star of Light). When you are working to meet a mission that matches a donor’s hopes and dreams fading hope can be rekindled.
If you need some inspiration here are 45 Quotes from Mr. Rogers which was posted by Inc. If you need people to talk with reach out to others we’ve trod the paths and are willing to listen and assist.
Most of all, don’t lose heart, you are a helper, someone who can be a harbinger of hope!