Sounds like Life to Me

Have you ever heard that country western song by Darryl Worley called, Sounds Like Life to Me? As the song goes two people are sitting at a bar, one is sharing about how hard his life is. Instead of being empathetic, his friend tells him he has reason to celebrate and his troubles just sound like life. This reminded me of a comment Seth Bloom made a couple months ago.

For some nonprofit organizations, I think too many of their challenges are being attributed to the tough economy. Perhaps our tough economy should be considered a “wake up call” for many nonprofit organizations about their operations which donors may be scrutinizing now more than ever.

This New Economy has been the main topic of discussion across every industry and in every state. Recession is nothing new to America or the world. Every decade or so, we have mini recessions of some kind. Whether it is when the tech bubble burst or the rise in gas prices, we will continue to have peaks and troughs in the financial make-up of our world. What I like about Darryl Worley’s song isn’t that it makes life out to be easy, but assumes we are going to have rough spots and they are no reason to throw in the towel.

Seth’s comment reminds us this is nothing new. So we are in recession, well that sounds like life to me. Why should we reinvent the development wheel when it has been working for so many decades? Why not try and improve what we are already doing? We know the next several months are going to be hard, but why don’t we focus on building into our existing relationships and meeting new donors even if they can’t give right now? If we practice good donor stewardship, we will hold onto the donors we have and be in a good place when we get out of this crisis.

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4 Responses to Sounds like Life to Me

  1. Joe Garecht says:

    You’re absolutely right – too often, “the economy” is used an excuse when the real answer is “we don’t have deep enough relationships with our donors,” or “we don’t have enough breadth of donors,” or “we are special event, bake sale, or gimmick-driven.”

    Stewardship and cultivation really are key. Donors need to feel like they know your organization intimately. If they do, they will count you as family, and family doesn’t get cut off, even in a recession.

  2. I think we should look at this as a time of opportunity, not of throwing out the wheel as Jason rightly notes. It’s a time to get better at what we do, a time to really make the extra effort to get to know our donors, to build relationships, to thank them for support in good times and in bad times, to stick with them like we want them to stick with us, to spend more time giving them concrete examples of what their gifts accomplish, even involving them in the work. Nonprofits who put their shoulder to the grindstone to do the best job they can will be the ones best positioned with the market improves and gifts flow once more. They’ll be the first to get the first gifts, they’ll stand out as the ones who are the best investment. And make no mistake, when the donors come back they are more and more going to want to know how their gift is going to make a difference. I think by looking at the opportunities we can create and grow a positive energy that will sustain us and weed out those who probably weren’t that effective all along.

  3. Right on, Jason.

    The funny thing is that there is never a moment when anyone in fundraising says “wow, things are easy these days.”

    Fundraising is always hard. And certainly organizations need to be realistic about their goals.

    But that said, billions of dollars will be given away every year to someone. Those who push forward with resilience will surely do better than those looking for an excuse to give up.

  4. Brenna says:

    I agree with your post. Wake up and give a little!

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