Years ago, I had lunch with a colleague (John Bordeaux). We had a lovely time getting to know one another. (We had both done the same job, many years apart and the organization is still close to my heart.)
He had many interesting things to say, but one really stuck with me. I think you’ll like it, too.
(John graciously agreed to help me put his idea in writing. So from this point on, I can only claim partial credit as the author. The funny parts are totally John’s.)
John explained that in fundraising, there are two kinds of people: there are magicians, and there are farmers.
Magicians arrive in a flash of light. They have people oohing and ahhing. They claim to perform miracles. They use misdirection, fun, and tricks. Everyone loves a magic show.
Then there are farmers. It’s pretty boring to watch them work. Lots of the same thing, over and over. It’s hard to tell on a day-to-day basis if they’re making progress. Worse, they may even ask people to jump in and help from time to time.
After a lot of hard work, the farmer serves up a bounty – a cornucopia, a thanksgiving dinner. And the well-tended fields will yield again.
So which are you?
Some of the most important work gets done quietly. (Think keeping data in order.) But the less glamorous stuff matters – a lot.
Magicians disappear in a poof of smoke. There’s nothing left but glitter and an orphaned bunny.
So be smart. Build for tomorrow. Think about the long-term – especially when it comes to relationships. Be a farmer.
PS: John points out that if we fundraising folks are going to use our own terminology – “cultivate,” “steward,” etc. – we must acknowledge that these come from farming/animal husbandry backgrounds.