Inspiration business


My bosses gave me a Ken Burnett book for last Xmas. It’s essentially a fundraiser’s why and why not book (as opposed to a how-to). Why do we raise fund? What is involved here? Why is it so? The book had been sitting on my desk for a number of weeks and I got around to reading it only last week during my vacation away from deadlines, emails tagged “TASK,” the office, funding organizations and their program officers.

If there is one thing I learned from this book, it is that fundraising is an inspiration business, the point that Burnett keeps getting back to throughout the book.  Fundraisers are not marketers. They are not brand managers. They are not always there to ‘sell’ and donors do not like to be sold to and manipulated by professionals to open their purses and checkbooks. Rather, fundraising is about good customer service and the role of fundraisers is to inspire people into supporting causes that are well-meaning and impactful.

All of this explains why I have been in an inspiration fatigue lately, and desperately needed a week off. Working in an emerging market is not easy. It is flexible but also extremely messy. The roles are not clearly defined, an arrangement with both pros and cons. Everyone reports to the top bosses. Deadlines among different teams are not strictly adhered to in a poly-chronic culture, so you need to constantly push/remind your inter-departmental colleagues in collaborative projects. Add the expat/local dynamics + language barriers, and you don’t know which communication route to pursue. Should I send another reminder? Or would that be considered inappropriate and even insulting? Beats me. The Burmese work environment is markedly different from the 120 Wall Street office where I first learned my ABCs.

I had been warned of all of this well before I signed onto this path. This pattern is present in not just my org but in many other institutions, both businesses and NGOs. At the end of the day, life is a marathon and not a sprint. Sit back, reflect and get inspired. Especially if you are in fundraising business.

Oh and no, I have nothing to do with the foundation. Just needed a beach tote.