My Facebook feed was full of football talk early this week. I hear the Seahawks/Packers game was a doozy. (And the Patriots/Colts not so much.)
I’m not a football fan, so I wasn’t really watching. But obviously, the games are a big deal. People feel like they’re part of their teams. They love the thrill of winning. Even losing cements their loyalty and hope for next year.
Meanwhile, the commentators toss around stories and statistics. The numbers give fans context and something concrete to hold before the final score is known. The stories keep it interesting.
I spent time talking fundraising this weekend. And I noticed how we fall into the stats mindset. Like fans or commentators, we talk numbers, too. In fact, we focus on them obsessively. How much money has been raised? How many gifts? Are they new donors or returning donors? Who can we call for more money? How many calls can you make?
And when someone contributes a large gift, we do our own version of an end-zone dance. Fists are raised, high fives exchanged. Winner!
I get it. It’s human nature. And celebrating success is a healthy.
But let’s be careful. Fundraising is not a game. It’s not all about dollars and gifts. We risk losing sight of the real goal – building relationships. That’s what we should be working for. Because relationships create the community we need to accomplish our missions.
That first gift is just a transaction unless you work at building a relationship. Nurture the relationship and you have much more than some money. When you make people feel connected to your mission on a personal level, they become part of your team. They’ll be with you in good times and bad. And guess what? You’ll raise more money.
I’m not being soft-hearted and fuzzy-brained here. You must track your activities and your progress if you’re going to do a good job. The data is critical. It guides your decisions and lets you know if you’re on the right path.
But keep your eyes on the real goal. Fundraising isn’t about money. Fundraising is about people.