I met with an experienced Major Gift Officer recently who shared a story about a donor he’d been close to for many years. That donor had made a transformational gift to the organization he represented within his first 3 months on the job. The CEO, management team and the board were awestruck that this new guy magically pulled in one of the biggest gifts they’d ever received. The prevailing thought was, “Wow – this is what fundraising should be! Just find the rich people and ask them for money.”
What they didn’t see was the years and years of relationship building and trust that had been invested by this MGO. He understood this donor so well and so deeply that he knew this cause and this organization would be just the right match to her passion for making a difference in the world.
Our perceptions are sometimes that things happen “suddenly”. Now, sometimes lightning may strike, but more often we tend to see just the proverbial tip of the iceberg, and fail to comprehend the mass of ice under the water.
I recently read the book The Slight Edge by Jeff Olson. Its premise is very simple: that everyday disciplines can lead to massive success (or failure). Olson cites that the small and easy things to do, we also just as easily choose not to do. The difference between those who are massively successful and those who aren’t is making a conscious choice to actually do the easy things consistently over time without exception.
Our own health is one of the clearest examples of where this shows up. Eating that cheeseburger today or skipping my workout today probably won’t make much of a difference in the big picture. But when I choose to make smart food choices and sweat a little each day – in the long run that multiplies the long-term effect just like compounding interest in your 401k.
The same is true in fundraising. Let’s face it - It’s actually easy to pick up the phone and thank a donor in a heartfelt way. It’s easy to send them a relevant article about your cause. It’s easy to write a special personal note to them. But, those are all easy not to do as well. We have meetings, and reports and other “stuff” that needs to get done. Then we’re scrambling at year end to make an ask that is now much much harder because we haven’t been turning the wheel little by little throughout the year.
When we’re doing the work each day, it’s often hard to see the difference it makes. But when we add up that cumulative work and multiply it over time, something magical starts to happen. Big results occur. A transformational gift is made. A fortune is saved. Lives are changed. But…more often than not, there was nothing sudden about it.
So, what are the simple, easy things that you must do each day to lift you and your organization?