Sitting on the screen porch and soaking up the view is a way to relax and allow my brain to roam. I find myself reviewing my work with clients and reflecting on the different approaches to raising major gifts.
This scene looks like a sunset with some nice color in the sky. In reality, it is the sunset, but facing east not west. If you looked to the west, you would see brilliant color, vivid oranges and reds, a bright yellow ball sinking beneath the trees. It is spectacularly beautiful and captures your attention. When you spend your time looking west at the setting sun, then turn east, this view doesn’t look as bright or eye-catching. But when you look east first, you see a quiet beauty that is very appealing.
Our constituents are often like that. There are the bright lights who glow with vivid oranges and reds and catch our attention. They are the ones we spend time with, who support our institutions spectacularly, and who make an important difference. There are other constituents who have the capacity to make a difference, but move quietly under the radar. We don’t see them because we are blinded by the splash that the glowing donors make. When we look at the quiet donors, they don’t seem as bright or capable of giving because our eyes are dimmed by the brilliance of the bright light donors. If we look first at the quiet ones and take the time, we can find donors who can make just as much difference, but might need a different kind of relationship with our institution.
I have to remind myself that philanthropic support wears many different faces, just as beauty appears in very different ways.