A Winter’s Tale

What is it about a snowstorm that brings out the best in people? And what can we learn from it as fundraisers, philanthropy agents, and mission-driven leaders?

There are three things that really stood out for me this past week as I watched and listened to peoples’ reactions to Winter Storm Jonas.

1. Being in a storm together creates a common bond and shared purpose. Everyone is experiencing the same thing, and our shared purpose is to weather the storm together. For our donors, establishing common bonds and building on our shared purpose – enhancing and growing our mission together – can mean the difference between evolving as a sector and standing still (or even losing precious ground).

2. Friends, neighbors, colleagues, and strangers will all pitch in to help each other out. From giving a loved one a ride to the grocery store to shoveling the driveway of a neighbor whom we’ve never met, there is something deep inside that motivates us to go above and beyond or even “pay it forward” when a snowstorm is involved. Are you going above and beyond for and with your donors? Are you helping them to meet their own needs, and have you let them know how their philanthropic investments are having a positive impact?

3. We are willing to slow down, take a break, and let Mother Nature run the show. OK, so obviously we don’t ultimately have a choice on this one – snowstorms are a potent reminder that Mother Nature is always in charge of the weather! However, pausing to recognize this reality, and even embrace it, involves a mindset shift that allows us to pause and acknowledge each other. It also affords us the opportunity to let go of the controls (which we never had to begin with, even though we’ve become quite adept at convincing ourselves otherwise), and just revel in each other’s company. Sound familiar? It is, because with our major donors, the best thing we can ever do in F2F meetings is to (1) sit back, relax and enjoy the person across from us; and (2) let go of our own agendas and practice our best possible active listening to understand their hopes, dreams, goals and aspirations.

Posted on February 1, 2016 in Maven

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Martha Schumacher

About the Author

Martha H. Schumacher, ACFRE, CFRE, MInstF(AdvDip), is President of Hazen Inc. Hazen partners with nonprofits to provide effective fundraising solutions, with a special emphasis on major gifts and capital campaigns. From time to time, she will share her thoughts on issues that impact mega, principal and major gifts at your organization. Please send us your major gifts thoughts, challenges, questions or insights to @HazenInc or

Response (1)

  1. Suzanne BoyleName (required)
    February 2, 2016 at 3:17 pm · Reply

    Typically well stated! A good reminder when dealing with potential donors to stress the “as a group we can accomplish so much” reasoning and the power of a collective goal. As always, Martha, thank you for your insight!

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