Monday, January 7, 2008

The Core Ingredient for Success

Without hesitation, she pulls over, leaps out of her car and runs across four lanes of freeway traffic to save a lost and frightened dog. Why? Because she’s a champion for her cause; she knows nothing else . . . compassion runs through her Canadian veins and keeps her heart beating.

For Robbin Rae, former director of development at the Progressive Animal Welfare Society, to live any other way would be soul crushing. It doesn’t surprise anyone that she tripled the income of one of the most respected animal causes in North America in her short time there.

Robbin’s passion makes her a tremendous communicator. Raising money is a matter of life or death; it’s her conviction that stirs spirits to the remarkable. This approach to life and cause is the core ingredient that helps her gain instant rapport with people and is a guiding light to the marvelous life that awaits all in this sector.

As fundraisers, we need to keep our fire burning by staying close to the mission, i.e., the people our charities serve. Listen to their incredible stories; let them break your heart and, I promise, success in fundraising will chase you.

Imagine the unimaginable

Philanthropy captured my heart during the Ethiopian famine of 1985, where mothers gave their lives for the mere possibility of food for their little ones. Imagine you haven’t eaten for several days because, sacrificially, you’ve fed your remaining food to your two emaciated little girls. You hear of a man-made oasis of hope that will care for your girls, so you leave the only home you’ve ever known and begin the three-day walk across the desert with your children strapped to your back. Most assuredly, this is your family’s last chance for life. Only love can grant the resilience necessary for such a journey.

Then, as you stand in a mile-long line for several hours, with one of the girls just minutes from death, you cry out in desperation. Imagine having to choose which child eats and which one goes without simply because there isn’t enough food for everyone. How do you ease the pain . . . pain that challenges even God to kiss away—of a distraught mother who must choose between life and death for her two children? My eyes still swell today as they replay these visions of how a famine destroyed the soul of a nation.

Vital questions

Ask yourself, “What would people say about me?” Do your friends approach life with enthusiasm because of your attitude? Will those around you tell us about a person who gives his or her heart to the cause and inspires them to greatness? Has your thoughtfulness sprinkled joy in the spirits that surround you? Will we hear how you’ve motivated many through your life story? Did you follow your compassion to lend a hand? Will people say you gave generously of yourself, your time and money? Have you listened to charitable hearts to facilitate the discovery of their purpose? Were you able to restore your integrity and character to those you’ve disappointed? Have you forgiven the most difficult people and most importantly, forgiven yourself? Will people tell of your humility and gentleness?

When we read your words, will we be persuaded to perform as champions? When your journey comes to an end, will you be confident you’ve held nothing back and therefore it will be said that you had passion?

Your organization must have a story that drives you and challenges every soul that hears it. Its energy must take our collective breath away with a rush of passion and inspire us to dream even though we are awake. It must convey imagery that transports us to places in our minds where we’ve never been, and bring us to the heart of your mission.

Embrace it

There is a movement happening, and you have a vital role. There’s something extraordinary you must do that only you can do, and there’s no one else waiting to take your place if you decide to leave our effort. So, please consider greatness over fame and fortune by giving all entrusted to you. Give of yourself and feed the hunger within that drew you to philanthropy. Live out your organization’s mission and experience the metamorphic change to be a champion for your cause.

Passion causes action . . . get it and you’ll be unstoppable as a fundraiser.

As philanthropic guru and author Harold J. Seymour said: “Every cause needs people more than money, for when the people are with you and are giving your cause their attention, interest, confidence, advocacy and service, financial support should just about take care of itself; whereas, without them in the right quality and quantity in the right places and the right states of mind and spirit, you might as well go and get lost.”

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