Contributed by Melissa Irish, PRG Managing Associate
Most of us, especially those over 35, became fundraisers by accident. We may have worked for human rights causes in college marching in the streets with signs of protest, served abroad in third world countries administering basic health care, or led inner city youth on outdoor adventures to share our love of nature. By some strange and unplanned twist of fate, we realized that we could harness our passions for good and raise the necessary resources to help them thrive! Asking for money didn’t scare us, we loved working in teams and didn’t mind the pressure of an impossible goal. Rather we thrived on it. We got a dizzy thrill when hitting our targets, we liked networking and throwing parties. A fundraiser was born.
And what would we do without fundraisers? The fuel for our fires would wane, the resources needed to fight the good fight would go untapped and the abundance of wealth in the world would not be channeled for the greater good. In short, our collective dreams and vision for a better world would have no lift.
It is because of this, our final article of the year is an ode to development professionals, a special breed of smart, scrappy, lightening quick heroes. This year in particular, our courageous fundraising leaders faced unprecedented challenges and stood tirelessly to meet them. The world literally crashed around them, their organizations were thrown into disarray and the need for the missions became ever more essential or worse, put on the back burner while the attention of donors shifted to fight the pandemic.
Development teams and fundraisers had to figure out how to stay relevant, continue to be the consummate cheerleader, define and disseminate the ever-changing messages of their organizations as they responded to the awful realities of 2020. They had to reach out and listen to their donors, paying (virtual) pastoral visits again and again, absorbing supporters’ concerns and heart aches. They pivoted, pivoted and pivoted again, feeling like a twirling ballerina on steroids planning for virtual events, online major donor meetings, and ways to keep their staff motivated, productive and focused. This often while becoming full-time parents and teachers.
So THANK YOU to the hundreds of thousands of fundraising soldiers, the hungry, humble and hopeful warriors who kept our beloved institutions open for business- our homeless shelters, food banks, museums, schools, health care clinics, legal aid organizations and more – and provided the fuel to keep the fires of justice burning.
For this we applaud you, we are forever grateful to serve you at PRG and look forward to walking by your side in 2021 to make sense of this all, ruminate on lessons learned, and say good riddance to what we hope to never have to do again.
Fundraisers are amazing.
Photo by Samuel Regan-Asante on Unsplash