Because I fly a lot, I often think about how different things look from 40,000 feet. From that altitude you see things that you just can’t see anywhere else.
The things that seem so big on the ground take on a different size and proportion in the air. What is dark under cloud cover is bright and sunny above, with sunrises and sunsets that can literally take your breath away. And what seems to be moving slowly is actually travelling at nearly the speed of sound.
Over the years I’ve come to appreciate that such a view contains a powerful truth:
Perspective changes everything.
There are a lot of life applications I could draw for you today that a right perspective can bring: problems aren’t as big as they seem… what may be a dark time can actually lead to something bright and beautiful… what may seem like slow going is actually moving more rapidly than you think, so be patient.
But what I want to focus on for you as a fundraiser in these early days of 2017 is the importance of pivoting from an organizational perspective to a donor perspective. Such a change of perspective changes everything.
- You live, eat, and breathe your organization and what it does. Your donors don’t – they have a life filled with distractions that keeps your mission from being top of mind.
- You care deeply about your programs and offerings. Your donors don’t – they care about the impact of those programs and offerings.
- You think your donors support you, the organization. Your donors don’t – they invest in what is important to them and the outcomes they help make possible through their support.
Yes, perspective changes everything. And if you begin to see your organization from the perspective of your donors, it will change your fundraising program for the good.
- Rather than talk about all that you’ve accomplished as an organization, you’ll talk about what the donor has accomplished through their support.
- Instead of asking for support because “we need,” you’ll pivot to talking about tackling the challenge together.
- You’ll no longer talk about “you” helping “us,” but rather how the donor can make a difference in lives through their investment.
- Your donors will begin to feel like an owner of your organization through the investments they make as you consistently feed them the stories of lives transformed through those investments.
Let me use another analogy.
In any healthy marriage, spouses learn to see things from the other’s perspective. Doing so helps bring understanding, insight, empathy, and communication that can break through.
So it is in donor relationships. Seeing your organization from your donors’ perspective can make all the difference in the world in creating communications that connect – that break through.
Perspective changes everything.
My one wish for you for 2017 is that you’ll have a more effective fundraising program as you pivot to view your relationship with your donors and your organization from your donors’ point of view.
Rick is a 36-year veteran in fundraising and organizational development for nonprofit organizations. After serving for eleven years in nonprofit management and fundraising leadership roles, Rick began his consulting career in 1989. In 2002 he founded Dunham+Company, which has become a global leader in providing fully integrated fundraising strategy for nonprofit organizations.
Today, D+C serves over 50 organizations in the United States, Canada, United Kingdom, South Africa, and Australia, providing integrated fundraising and marketing strategies.
Rick holds a BA from Biola University and a ThM from Dallas Theological Seminary.
He is an active member of the Direct Marketing Association. Rick also serves on the board of The Giving Institute and the Giving USA Foundation. In addition, Rick is a member of The Giving Coalition, the national voice for charitable organizations in the U.S.