One of the biggest jobs in we in development have is being “keepers of the lore.”

So often our organizations are so focused on the presentbeing the best they can at their mission–and the futurestrategizing where they’re going and how they’ll get there–that they forget the pastthe very people and events that brought they to where they currently are.

As fundraisers, that’s our job. We get to:

  • remind the people in our organization of our unique history, and
  • let our donors and the others outside our organization know that we remember, and are grateful for, those that went before us.

In other words, it’s our job to be the storytellers of our organization, almost like the bards of old.

Organizations don’t have a personality. People connect to organizations by the individuals that work for them.

Just think back to your own experience in high school or college. Do your memories consist of brick buildings with ivy growing on them? Or are you forever remembering the wonderful times you recited your school’s mission statement? Of course not! Your memories center on your favorite teachers and your circle of friends.

It’s the same with our organizations. People don’t relate to our mission statement, they relate to the people fleshing that mission out.

This is one of the amazing privileges of being a fundraiser! We get to engage people that have long history with our organization. We get to find them and learn of their involvement and their interests. Hear their stories.

They have wonderful stories!

And then we get to tell these stories over and over again to the people currently working with our organizations, both employees and donors. By this, we’re “keepers of the lore.”

These stories remind us and those we work with that our work is part of something far larger than ourselves. It’s amazing to watch people swell with pride as they are reminded of this. The stories of success cheer us with their celebration. The stories of hardships remind us that our organizations have successfully weathered hardship before.

This listening and retelling adds stability to our organizations. It creates an atmosphere of hope. It may not completely recession-proof your fundraising, but it’s far easier to raise money in an atmosphere of hope, than in one of scarcity!

And stability and hope are sorely needed in unstable times like those we’ve seen over the last few weeks. And will likely see for many months to come.

So embrace your role as a “keeper of the lore“! Go out and harvest stories. And share that harvest with the people that care about your organization!

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