A letter to my friend

If you’re reading this email, this note probably isn’t for you. Unless you’re one particular person.

My friend,

I was glad to see you the other day. You’re at the top of the fundraising mountain. You did it. And I’m writing you this note because you’re thinking about switching careers.

95% of the people I know who are fundraisers think of it as a career (or even a job). It’s something they chose. But for you and I this is a calling. We were chosen to do this. And I don’t want to lose you.

We lose too many people. The best fundraiser I ever knew went back to law school. He was burned out, thought he couldn’t make a difference. Another one, a brilliant one, found a lobbying job. So many people get bored, get sad, get frustrated, get burned out. We have all the pain of the sculptor, but all the pragmatism of the accountant. It’s not a great combination.

These folks, the 5%, were different from the usual crowd. They were the consummate artists, and they moved millions of dollars towards the organizations they cared about. When they disappeared, resources disappeared too.

It’s not just that these important (often grassroots) groups lost funds. They lost strategic direction, a systemic process. They lost a shoulder to cry on. They lost leadership.

The greatest fundraisers I know (you are among them) are students of the human spirit. They have the motivation of Tony Robbins, the patience of the Dalai Lama, the discipline of Tom Brady.

Great fundraisers don’t give people fish, they teach people to fish. And when the teachers stop helping the organizations that need them, the world gets a little bit worse.

If you truly want to change careers, if you truly feel the universe calling you away, then I wish you the very best. We’ll miss you.

But if there’s any part of you that feels like you’re settling, that you’re trading the adventure of a lifetime for a slightly better paycheck and a retirement fund, then please reconsider.

I want you as my ally in this fight.

With genuine admiration,