I, Deborah Peeples, raise money for nonprofit organizations. I am credited with raising millions of dollars over my decades-long career. When it comes up in conversation that I am a fundraiser, the most typical response is, “Oh my! I could never ask people for money!”
While I clearly have been deeply engaged in activities that directly result in the transaction of millions of dollars in charitable gifts, that aspect of my work -- asking for money -- is not how I think about what I do. Even though I am a “Certified Fund Raising Executive” – it’s not about the money!
So what is it about? What can be said of people who labor as nonprofit fundraisers and development professionals? Perhaps like me, most fundraisers understand that we are really matchmakers, dream weavers if you will. . .meeting wonderful people along the way, learning their stories and their vision and helping them achieve their passions.
My fundraising career has led me on many unexpected journeys. At times I have felt a bit like Dorothy Gale in the Wizard of Oz, tossed into the fast and furious pace of the nonprofit organizational workplace. So much to do, so far to go, so little time and resources. Fundraisers are a bit like Dorothy: ordinary people on extraordinary journeys. And like Dorothy, good fundraisers are passionate, caring, levelheaded and human, seeking a better world over the rainbow.
The Scarecrow tells Dorothy, when she reaches a crossroads and is uncertain which way to go…”well, you can go this way, or that way looks pleasant. If you haven’t got a plan, any which way will do!”
There in a classic children’s book is the recipe for fundraising success: A heart, courage, brains and a plan! And while the fundraiser’s journey can be fraught with wing-tailed monkeys, wicked witches and know-nothing wizards, in the end it is really propelled by many amazingly good and beautiful Glindas, who are always standing behind us. The Glindas are those extraordinary boards, fundraising and campaign chairs, volunteers and donors who pave the way for us.
So, the next time I am asked what I do for a living. . . perhaps my answer will be, ”I journey on the Yellow Brick Road helping nonprofit organizations realize their missions and creating a better world over the rainbow." Oh, and money…yes, it does follow along the way. Share your journey and your insights with me at firstname.lastname@example.org or contact me through www.PartnerswithNonprofits.org.
Guest blogger, Deborah Peeples, CFRE.
Yep, this is THAT Deborah Peeples, the one who said 20+ years ago, "Let's go be fundraising consultants." Since she left me for the big city, she has directed and led major gifts and capital campaign fundraising programs for national, regional and local nonprofit organizations and is a proven leader in the field.