I tried a little experiment recently. On LinkedIn, I asked a simple question: what advice would you give to your younger fundraising self? A couple of dozen folks shared their best advice. Here’s a link to the article I wrote about it in case you want to check it out.
Their responses got me thinking. So I tried another experiment. I asked, ““What are the fundraising questions keeping you up at night?” and offered to answer as many as I could. Over the course of 3 online webinars, I spoke to over 100 fundraisers, program staff, executive directors and board members about all manner of fundraising questions.
When I think back to the early days of my fundraising career, I, at times, tossed and turned as I doubted my decisions or approaches. Had I overlooked something? Did I make things too complicated? Thankfully, I was able to meet mentors along the way who calmed my fears. They helped mold me into the fundraiser that I am today. Each of these individuals pushed me to be better, supported me on my journey, contributed to turning my job into a career and a career into a passion. I want the fundraisers of today to have the same mentorship experience that I had in the past – regardless of where they live.
Now, I’ll be the first to admit that technology is not my strong suit. I worried about the many things that could go wrong on a webinar. Fortunately, my team of technological mentors guided me through the process.
The questions came in hard and fast. It turns out that, as fundraisers, there is a lot keeping us up at night. As I looked through the questions, I saw commonalities. Participants were asking the same question but from different angles. A theme emerged. People who have worked with me know that there is one word that I am very big on when it comes to tackling issues. That word is planning!
Planning, Planning, Planning. While it won’t directly solve all your concerns, it will go a long way towards reducing them.
I was pleased that some of the questions challenged me to do research. Questions about rural fundraising made me pause. I am immersed in the world of urban, inner-suburban and smaller city fundraising but it has been a long while since I was tasked with raising funds in a rural community. Fortunately, timing is everything. Just as the question was asked, The Philanthropist came out with an issue on, guess what… rural philanthropy. https://thephilanthropist.ca/category/rural-philanthropy/. This article helped me organize my thoughts around how to answer the question. Check out webinar #2 to hear what I had to say about this topic.
What started off as a few questions in my head, evolved into an experiment and developed into a fun and successful few hours of sharing. I can’t wait to experiment with more digital offerings in the future.
I want to extend a huge thank you to everyone who joined me in my experiments. The LinkedIn experiment reminded me of the power of collective wisdom. The insightful questions from participants excited me and, maybe more importantly, the webinars pushed me in ways I didn’t expect as I challenged myself with this new format of digital mentorship.
To those who missed the opportunity to participate in the webinars – I have your back. I recorded the webinars so that you can still gain insight from others’ questions and the answers that I shared. And if nothing else, I hope you can use my experience as motivation to challenge yourself to try something new. In fundraising, mentorship or better yet – both!
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