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Authentic Fundraising: A love story

I fell in love for the first time in grade four. David was in grade five.

My house was on 4th avenue at the top of the hill on the edge of a town called Cranbrook. My parents bought it for the spectacular view of the Rocky mountain range. There were floor to ceiling windows in every room. Wherever you looked the vista of the mountains was breathtaking.

I didn’t care about the mountains though, because David’s house was at the bottom of the hill. About six times a day I walked past David’s house with my best friend Lisa. Lisa lived on the same street as David. Everyday – even in the middle of a rocky mountain winter – I would walk past David’s house to Lisa’s house. Pick Lisa up. Walk back past David’s house. Go to the convenience store. Buy a hot chocolate. Walk back past David’s house again. Drop of Lisa. Finally, walk back past David’s house, one last time. Then home, back up the hill to my house. During the walks we could often catch a glimpse of David watching TV. On a really good day he might be in his front yard and we would get to say hello.

In grade six I got a new pair of rainbow jeans and I wore them everyday. David told me that they made my “butt” look good.

By grade ten Lisa and I were walking four miles to the hockey games on Friday night. David was the captain of the hockey team.

Everything I did, I did for him. I thought about him when I got ready for school. I thought about him all day at school. At the end of the day when I walked home I was constantly looking over my shoulder to see if he was walking home too.

In evenings when I did the dishes, I could sometimes catch a glimpse of David hanging his hockey equipment in the backyard.

When no one was home I bounced around the house singing to Air Supply’s“All out of love”, which I hoped he could hear down the hill. I was so lost without him!

My love affair with David lasted all through grade school and into high school. Thirty years later I tried to find him on Facebook because I wanted his permission to share this story at a fundraising conference. Sadly, I found his obituary. David had died at a very young age due to ALS. Yes – I cried. I still love him. It makes me sad to think that he is gone. He never knew how I felt.

I still think about what it would have been like to kiss David…just once. I had heard from Lisa that he was a really good kisser.

Aside from the insights of how incredibly insecure and boy obsessed I was, you may also be wondering why one earth I would share this story at a fundraising conference? Well, I believe that when it comes to putting our donors at the forefront of our organizations it is helpful to think about then the same way you would if you had a schoolgirl crush.

Everything you do as a development professional is on behalf of your donors. So you need to:

  1. Be obsessive

  2. Constantly put the interests of donors at the forefront

  3. Advocate for donors daily

  4. Serve donors in all we do

  5. Love them – like I loved David. With your whole heart.

I believe that now it the time to make a fundamental shift if we want to continue to serve our communities. We all need to raise more money. HOWEVER, I believe wholeheartedly that money is simply a means to an end. The end being mission delivery in order to improve lives.

As fundraisers we do so much more than raise money. We are servants of philanthropy and makers of change. As fundraisers it is our job to foster a strong culture of philanthropy our organizations.

When we work together to advance the mission of organizations, on behalf of the donors who love it, we will not only raise more money, we will also save lives, protect the environment, teach children to read, help the world’s most vulnerable people feel safe and so much more.

Our work is important, the world needs us to be excellent, our donors expect us to be excellent. If you would like to talk about how you can up your fundraising game, feel free to book a free 30 coaching session. I'd love to learn about your work.

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