Chances are that if you’re reading this, then fundraising is part of your work. But you probably didn’t identify this as a career path when were young. No kid said to their parents, “When I grow up, I want to ask people for money!” Few of us have actually become what our 10-year-old selves wanted. I’m obviously not playing for the Pittsburgh Pirates. I have, however, had many interesting and fulfilling jobs that I couldn’t have imagined in my youth — from lifeguard, wilderness counselor, pizza maker, and cookware marketer … to agency executive and mayor of a small town. The journey has been marked with lots of trial and error. While the roles seemed unconnected at the time, they’ve each contributed to the next, and have gone into the overall tapestry of my work and relationships. In each, I can now see that there was, at times, a sense of being both driven and called.
Fundraising is, at its core, about helping others. It is connecting the person in need of help with the person who wants to do the helping. We know that heroic human hearts can help heal the world. Whether through a formal setting or not, most of us connect people and resources together to provide solutions to problems. Maybe it’s providing a meal to a neighbor or giving blood, or perhaps letting a car merge ahead of us in traffic, holding a door open, or just giving a hug. These are all acts of helping, and there are countless others as well. But the man or woman who has elected to connect need with resources as a career has chosen one of the most meaningful paths possible — providing genuine purpose and exponential impact.
In his excellent book, Ordering Your Private World, author Gordon MacDonald writes about the difference between being called and being driven. He makes the distinction this way:
Driven people are usually abnormally busy, are preoccupied with attaining the things that symbolize accomplishment, are usually pursuing something that is “bigger” and “more successful” than their last endeavor, and often show limited or undeveloped people skills. People who are called seem to have an understanding of personal stewardship, know exactly who they are, exhibit an unwavering sense of purpose, and practice unswerving commitment.
When you consider these differences in the context of your own work in fundraising, where do you land? Are you called? Driven? Or maybe a bit of both? In more than 20 years of working with or for The Salvation Army, I have met people who seem to be very driven, and others who seem to be truly called. The Salvation Army — alongside those we serve and connect with — is most blessed when it identifies and celebrates the people who are called to this good work of fundraising.
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