Follow the love lines to the gift

A fundraising colleague told me about her work with a major donor prospect over a period of more than six months. She had focused the possible supporter in the direction of the project that was at the top of the organization’s must-fund list – raising money for AIDS programs in Africa. In anticipation of the visit, she crafted a beautiful proposal, complete with touching vignettes, photographs, and statistics

But the donors wasn’t moved by the presentation.

Instead, the woman wanted to talk about her two grandchildren who had recently been adopted from Bolivia. Her face glowed as she described the joy that the little ones had brought to her family.

Following the donor’s lead, my friend said, “Would you be interested in hearing about our work with children in Bolivia?” The question led to a  wonderful, donor-centered conversation.

Upon returning to her office, my colleague prepared a proposal that focused on child health and education programs in Bolivia. It wasn’t what she had intended, but it was what the donor had in her heart. The development officer confessed to a tinge of disappointment at the donor’s decision. After all, she still had a goal to reach and she had hoped for a big gift to move her toward it.

Fortunately, my friend understood that when the focus is on the donor and God’s work in his or her heart, there’s no such thing as a disappointing ending. Every gift is a cause for celebration, whether it matches the agenda of the day, or doesn’t.

In God’s timing, there’s always tomorrow and that next visit.

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