Chapter Leadership Brief 7.18.19

By Gary Laermer, AFP-NYC President

There has been a great deal of hype and discussion surrounding Ray Dalio’s book, Principles: Life and Work. It’s a New York Times bestseller and I encourage you to pick it up if you’re looking for a career-energizing summer read. As I was reading it made me think that as philanthropy professionals, we could start our own book of guiding principles and start to gather our collective wisdom.  So, I thought I would begin with this list:

  • As a fundraiser, be transparent in thought and action.
  • Think for yourself, act for the cause you’re representing, and above all care for the donors you’re working with.
  • In organizations large and small there is often nothing too simple to complicate.  Keep the one big thing, the one big thing.
  • Keep in mind that no one should feel better or more proud about a gift than the donor.
  • An oldie, but still a good one: Ask for money, get advice; ask for advice, get money twice.
  • Needing money generally doesn’t attract it, impactful solutions to societal needs does.
  • Only you can decide for yourself what’s most important in employment: where you work or who you work for.
  • There are no small donors, only gifts you hoped would be larger.
  • When a prospective donor says NO, does it really mean not now? It’s OK to ask about the future.
  • Generally, a case statement is best presented by people.  If you’re waiting for the written case statement to start the campaign, you’re probably not ready to start.
  • If you’re confident that you have the right number of prospects to reach the campaign goal, you’re probably overconfident.
  • A campaign feasibility study can help predict a campaign’s future results, but who’s sitting at the table in the role of campaign volunteer leadership is the reality of what can be raised today.

I’m sure you have many of your own rules and principles too. They can be fun to write down and more important, review when you find yourself stuck on a project to help you to the finish line and to feel great about your achievement. What would you add to this list?

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