Maybe it’s the sun. Or the warm breezes. Or perhaps it is just the realization that yes, I am a very lucky woman. I am contented and while there are moments, I’m able to keep them just that: moments. I have come to realize how fortunate I am and I have decided to simply accept that. It’s not so much that I am who I want to be as much as I am ok with who I am. What that doesn’t mean, however, is that I’m okay with staying where I am. With not growing. With thinking that what I do is what I have always done and what I will always do.
Most of my clients are small nonprofits. Nonprofits that do amazing work with few resources. Nonprofits that are struggling. Nonprofits that seem always on the edge. All it will take is one grant not to come through, one larger donor to bail, one project to go over budget.
This is not the way to change the world.
And yet, too often, they seem to think that if they just keep doing what they have been doing, and not doing what they are not, somehow things will turn out differently.
We’ve all heard of Einstein’s definition of insanity. How it is doing the same things over and over again and expecting different results.
Different results come from doing things, well, differently.
Change takes guts. And it takes an attitude that says yes, we can do this.
My favorite clients are those who hire me to help them change and embrace the change. The change in this case is typically around fundraising—to make what they are doing more successful or to add a fundraising program like individual giving, major gifts, planned giving. And often, I get hired to help the board be more effective.
Too many of my clients think they want to do things differently, but somehow cannot make that leap. We work to develop plans; we have trainings….and then they continue to do the things that weren’t successful before!
I spend a great deal of time helping them to move inches at a time. What matters is that over time, those inches add up.
Recently, I got re-hired by an organization that I had fired two years before. I had despaired. They were never going to get where they needed to go.
And then, suddenly, they decided to try one thing. And it worked. So they tentatively tried another. And it showed signs of working. And so they brought me back to help them get on the track that they were now ready to be on.
Why now, I asked at our first (re)meeting. What was it that made you take that 2-year old plan and try something?
There was a collective sigh as the CEO, the board president and the development director looked at each other. “
I’m not sure,” the board president finally said. “But we were sinking fast. And then we remembered you saying that we needed to pick something, any something, and just do it. So we did. And when that worked, we wanted to do something else. And now—we are ready for change.”
That’s something I often see. Resistance, then reluctantly doing one thing. Which, alas, doesn’t always work. But it never kills. And so slowly, hesitantly, change starts to work its magic.
And suddenly, what was frightening becomes exciting and rewarding.