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The Essential Art Of Fundraising And Nonprofit Management Revealed takes a unique look at how we can apply the boxing strategy of Muhammed Ali to fundraising and nonprofit management.
“Float Like a Butterfly, Sting Like a Bee”
I can’t resist quoting my all-time hero, and how his philosophy on life influenced my fundraising career. I’ve been a Muhammad Ali fan since he won Olympic Gold in 1960 (yes, I am old enough to remember that). I was even more impressed by his fight against Parkinson’s Disease since my husband also had PD. When I went to visit my husband in the nursing home after Ali’s death, I shared photos and videos, and we both cried at this great loss to the world. I bought us both Ali T-shirts which we wore proudly.
But, you ask, what does this have to do with nonprofits?
We can learn from the words I think we’ll all remember him for: Nonprofits need to combine the science (being as precise as a bee sting) and the art (floating like a butterfly). For years we’ve heard fundraising is both art and science. But have we really practiced that? Let’s start now. Even if you are not a fan or boxing or of Ali,
The Art of Fundraising
We need to understand our organization’s mission, vision, and values—to feel as passionate about it as Ali felt about everything he did in the ring and out of the ring.
We need to stand up for what we believe in, even if it isn’t always popular. If we want to be successful with donors, we need to understand what they believe in and make sure their values match our organization’s values. We can’t be afraid to declare our values, and we must never compromise them.
If you don’t feel that passion and can’t defend your organization’s values, please find another organization that lights a fire in your belly! Ali often said his boxing career was a means to an end, It made him the most popular sport figure in the world for decades, but to him the more important thing was that his fame gave him the platform to share his philosophy on life. You must also feel the passion for the organization for which you are raising money,
The Science of Fundraising
As much as Ali was known for his famous dancing in the ring and his colorful, passionate personality, he wouldn’t have been “The Champ,” the “King of the World,” if he didn’t have the scientific precision to get the job done. His career showed he never gave up, never stopped learning and analyzed his opponents’ every move, so he could respond appropriately.
In fundraising, we need to know the science, too—the tried-and-true smart practices need to be blended with the innovative and new sciences to produce the best results.
We need to know how to use metrics to measure success. You must be able to measure it to manage it.
We need to stop wasting our time on unproductive methods and on unfounded strategies. Spending your time chasing donors/funders whose values do not match yours, who are not qualified major donors, or who have too many danger signs to make it worth your while to get a gift from them, is the downfall of many fundraisers.
So, take a lesson from the “Greatest of All Time”, and learn to fundraise like a butterfly and manage your fundraising with the precision of a bee.
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