It is Christmas season and while many know “It’s a Wonderful Life,” or “A Christmas Carol,” few have heard of the “The Bishop’s Wife,” a yuletide tale about a capital campaign to build a new cathedral. Star power of Cary Grant, David Niven and Lorretta Young aside, the plot is one that many might find far too familiar.

    A capital campaign is experiencing the dreaded “dip” – a slow down – and everything comes down to that one million-dollar-donor, Mrs. Hamilton, who makes unreasonable demands upon the project. The Bishop tries and tries to cajole Mrs. Hamilton into contributor compliance, only to realize the lesson so many of us fail to comprehend in moment.

    Focusing solely on your needs, denies the needs of the contributor. Turn your mind 180 degrees. Put yourself in the donor’s shoes. Set your needs aside for a moment and place yourself into the mind and heart of those who wish to give.  Think about their “why” versus your “what.”

    In the movie, an angel (Cary Grant) magically appears to save the day – and help raise the remaining funds.  But, the most important lesson for all of us is: never lose sight of the “why.” While Mrs. Hamilton was initially lost in the “what” (the bricks and mortar of the cathedral honoring her late husband) ultimately, once she reunited with the “why,” her contribution to feed and clothe the needy leads to a sacrificial gift to the campaign.

    What is what we build. But why is why we build it.

    With a Merry Christmas, we at DBD wish you all a blessed holiday season and a fantastic New Year. And we have a feeling … next year will be your very best!

    Posted by Danny Maier on Dec. 24, 2018
    Danny Maier

    Written by Danny Maier

    Dan Maier offers fundraising counsel and strategic management for local and national nonprofits, YMCAs, camps, medical and social service organizations. He offers invaluable support to clients and their volunteer leadership as they look to enhance their development campaigns, prepare for crisis communications, strengthen their boards and more.

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