In 3 hours, I get to hug my cancer free dad for the first time.
This brutal journey he’s been on for the past few months is nearly coming to an end, and with a few more days of the expected painful post-surgery recovery process after removing it, he gets to heal with a new lease on life.
It has put a LOT of things into perspective for our whole family, including what’s a priority, what are wastes of time, and certainly spending an overabundance of time on thoughts of what our own legacy will be when we’re gone.
And inside my work with nonprofits, it has become crystal clear that I make sure everyone I work with or speak to understands that their job as a fundraiser and program creators is to help make communities better...no matter how long it takes.
Your long hours, your grind, and your storytelling that results raising more money is working.
My Dad HAD cancer. But funding for research on how to treat such things was made possible by money raised by incredible individuals who worked tirelessly on developing surgical processes, early detection techniques and immunotherapies that are filling the FDA pipelines to make it so that he no longer has cancer.
My family is a direct benefit of fundraisers and individuals who I will never know or meet. And yet, I owe them an incredible debt of gratitude that I get to see my dad today.
And don’t think for a moment that what you do, no matter the size, scale or scope of your organization, doesn’t matter.
Let me count the ways.
Your work to help fund research of autism therapies might not directly affect you, but you’re giving new hope and changing the trajectories of the lives of families who can finally communicate with their children for the first time through technologies. Your small fundraiser that introduced a high capacity donor with a rolodex of other individuals who will jump on board in the near future to help fund additional tools will be done with your hard work, research and execution. Know that you are invaluable to families you might never connect with. And they love and appreciate you without know you either.
Families who find themselves not being able to provide food for their kids rely on generous donors to help stock shelves at the local food bank. Your volunteer hours put in with your co-workers is more than just a “get-out-of-work” field trip. Its helping tip the balance towards hope rather than despair for more individuals that you can fathom. It may not seem like much, but it’s the world to those who don’t have anything.
Animals who are mistreated by owners and end up in city pounds are rescued, moved to shelters and are giving a second chance to live because of your efforts recruiting a few extra friends to a gala you think would be a good time on the weekend. Raising your hand for an extra few dollars during the fund-a-need might make you have a “donor high” for a fleeting moment at the end of the event, but that additional revenue provides food and shelter and dignity for animals who were otherwise considered garbage and waste by previous owners. Those providing medical care for abused pets won’t have to worry about supplies because of you and puppies you’ll never see and can’t possible write you a thank you note as they move to their forever homes.
Kids in schools receiving a backpack full of supplies they would not be able to afford or be able to acquire are filled with the same pride of having something “new” for the year because of that corporate donation your business gives. Sure, it might be allocated on your “marketing” budget and the small logo you get on a website or volunteer t-shirt might make a potential client come-a-knocking, but the real impact is the sense of relief a single mother might have by not having to explain to a child they have to borrow pens, notebooks or markers from their friends is real. Your push for more involvement or a larger check to organizations from your company’s leadership team may be seemingly insignificant to the bottom line, but may be the difference in a nonprofit’s ability to fully fund a program or service to individuals you’ll never have a conversation with, or converse with on a regular basis but never knew they might need extra help.
All of these projects and programs take money to run. We’ve all heard the old adage “no money, no mission” in your philanthropy trainings.
What you have to remember is that your nonprofit is WORTH funding. You might not see it. You might not get that immediate sense of gratification. But to those you serve, you are invaluable, needed and appreciated.
As a fundraiser, we might be frustrated by leadership needing to see results ASAP knowing that the seeds you are planting with donors may not bear fruit until you are long gone from an organization. As a nonprofit leader, your eye needs to be on a prize or result you can only imagine.
As hard as that can be – your patience and willingness to fund future results in things like research, program development or therapies – result in my gratitude to being able to do things you might think are simple: like giving my dad a hug.
Because you gave him a second chance with your fundraising work years ago.
And for that, I’m grateful for every one of you in the fundraising world.
You freaking ROCK.