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Why You Need to be Just as Generous as Your Donors

August 15, 2017

By Emma Lewzey

As fundraisers, we spend a lot of time thinking and speaking about generosity. Often, the focus is outside of ourselves and on donors—their gifts, their actions, and their commitment to the work they are supporting. But what if our own generosity is equally important as that of our donors when it comes to fundraising success?

Certainly, none of us have the capacity to be making six or seven figure gifts on our nonprofit salaries! But generosity comes in all forms, and often has an interesting way of coming full circle.

Here are a few ways you can cultivate and practice your own generosity in your day-to-day work.  

Smash Those Silos by Helping a Co-Worker

While true generosity should be practiced without expectation of return, there is a most excellent side effect of being generous at work—nothing can build bridges between organizational silos quite like generosity!

How can you help a colleague in another department? What are they hoping to achieve in their work, what are some of the challenges they face, and how can you play a part in helping them reach their goals? These are just a few of the questions you can consider as you help to smash those silos.

Pitch In 

In smaller shops, we’ve all experienced the power of pitching in. I can’t tell you how grateful I've been to the non-fundraising colleague who’s helped out by cheerfully volunteering to write some donor thank-you cards, or stopped by without being asked to help with a mega-envelope stuffing job.

Share Your Gifts With Another Fundraiser

I never fail to be impressed by how freely many fundraising professionals support one another through the sharing of their expertise, ideas and resources. If you haven’t developed a network of fundraisers you can turn to for support (and support them in return), what’s holding you back?

Take a first step by finding a fellow fundraiser who may benefit from your special area of fundraising expertise, or by making an introduction to someone within your network who may be able to help them.

Give Back in Your Own Backyard 

We fundraisers are busy, busy, busy, often too focused on what is happening at our own organizations to lift our eyes to see how we can give back to improve our own neighbourhoods and communities.

Are you putting your excellent fundraising skills to work in your own backyard (or beyond) as a board member or other leadership volunteer at an organization you care about?

Serving on boards has been one of the greatest learning experiences of my career—and nothing helps a fundraiser better understand the nuances and challenges of good nonprofit governance like personally sitting on a board.

How do you work to cultivate generosity in yourself, as well as your donors? Do you have any plans to practice your generosity at work or home today? What’s your favourite way to be generous to other fundraisers? 

Emma Lewzey, CFRE, is an award-winning fundraiser, and the founder of Blue Sky Philanthropy. Emma has more than 20 years of experience helping nonprofit organizations build and grow successful, sustainable fundraising programs. She’s dedicated to working for change in our sector and is currently serving as chair of the AFP Fellowship in Inclusion and Philanthropy, a unique program that works to build a pipeline of fundraising leaders who reflect the diversity of our communities.


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