Institute for Charitable Giving

Surviving the Fundraising Challenges

You understand that just being able to survive can at times be challenging in our profession. Never let yourself get between a dog and a lamppost! That should be our credo.

The reward of energy, enterprise, and success-— is surviving for another year. At times, there can even be a pink slip-— even if you’ve had a great year. Our tombstone should read: “I was expecting this, but not so soon.”

You understand about survival. At times the secret of keeping your job is to keep the five guys who want to fire you away from the five guys who haven’t yet made up their mind. But something constructive is always born out of adversity.

It doesn’t seem fair at all, but no one said life was fair. “Nothing so focuses the mind,” says Dr. Samuel Johnson, “as the knowledge that one is to be hanged the following morning.”

Even if you achieve your high objectives one year, you are measured by the next year. Board members remember the past, but they relish the present gifts and cherish the future fundraising.

Victor Hugo tells the story of the sailor who is commended and given a medal for extraordinary heroism in securing a cannon rolling around loose on the deck of his warship. Then he was hanged for his negligence in allowing the cannon to become loose from its moorings in the first place.

You may not be pleased with this day-to-day surveillance. But you understand and you accept this type of accountability as part of your work. You are expected to meet high objectives, most often each new year more than the year before.

It is imposed and impressed on you. Every day you perform agir di morte (an act of death) on the high wire. And without a safety net. That makes the dare worth the doing.

Keep in mind that when the Chief Executive Officer tells you, “Don’t worry about what others are saying about your work,” start worrying.


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