Debra A. Gill
Ambassadors of Hope
Cheers to you, noble fundraising professionals.
There is no question that the last two years have brought unanticipated challenges into our lives. And from the looks of things, 2022 may be no easier. The reality is that we are in a new reality. One that is unpredictable and requires us to be adaptable and creative. The word pivot has become almost as annoying as the Ross couch moving scene. People have video fatigue, virtual event fatigue, work-from-home fatigue, and not-being-with-humans fatigue. All understandably so. Yet, there have been incredible bright spots, success stories, and victories. And I know why. Philanthropy professionals are notoriously hopeful and are very good at spreading that hope through their work.
When I wore the hat of chief development officer, my boss called me a perpetual optimist because I tried to squeeze lemonade out of every lemon. So, here’s the juice. Development specialists are by their very nature purveyors of positivity. You did pivot. You did effectively executive alternatives to events and in person meetings. You reached out to your donors in new ways and changed processes to make sure that nothing slipped through the cracks. You worked hard to stay in contact with colleagues, donors, volunteers, and friends. You were creative and you were steadfast.
While all industries have faced incomparable challenges, you stepped up to break through the cacophony and reach into the hearts and minds of those whose lives were detoured by the pandemic. You were tested on your ability to express empathy, solutions, and hope. You maintained your focus on strategic priorities while adding pandemic related needs to the endless list of giving opportunities. You retooled campaigns and special initiatives while fulfilling your role as Ambassadors of Hope – creating the space for extraordinary contributions to come forth.
Fundraising targets didn’t go away, in fact, they were accelerated. More patients, more people without shelter and food, more displaced students and families struggling to care for one another, more neglected pets, and more environmental priorities. If a pandemic wasn’t enough, layered on were fires, floods, storms, and drought accompanied by social and political unrest. It has been two years of unparalleled trials and yet, from the lemons has come lemonade.
Donors are contributing at unprecedented levels, connecting to the missions that tug at their deepest heart strings. The virtual space has eliminated geographic barriers allowing you to genuinely interact with your donors regardless of their location. Snowbirds can fly south, and you’ll be able to maintain meaningful connections because everyone has mastered video platforms. You’ve smartly transitioned away from special events into deeper relationships with donors. You are engaging corporate donors in inventive ways. Your leaders value philanthropy more than ever and are giving you a seat at the table to discuss strategic priorities. People are sharing plans for making their ultimate gifts to benefit your missions.
These are just a few examples of how you have buoyed philanthropy through one of the most tumultuous times in history. You make the world a better place. You can take a moment and bask in some praise and celebration. You deserve gratitude for successfully championing your worthy causes. Your thriving spirits are inspiring.
So, during the upcoming holiday season – Cheers to You! – the rare professionals who have the fortitude to pursue an enduring career in development. Enjoy a restorative Christmas holiday season and may the New Year bring you continued triumphs.
Alliance Philanthropy’s philosophy is to inspire staff, volunteers, and board members for all types of not-for-profit organizations to raise funds enthusiastically and passionately - at maximum levels - in support of their missions.