Eastern philosophy has been making its way into western culture for sometime now, and many of us are now seeing things like science, medicine and world events through a more holistic lens. We've started to incorporate some of its practices into our everyday lives.
Concepts of Buddhism are especially commonplace. Mindfulness, mental wellness and spiritual health are now a part of corporate health programs, and hundreds of Buddhist meditation centers have popped up across America.
If you grew up in the 60's and 70's (as I did), the concept of practicing mindfulness and compassion, balance and wisdom were quite foreign. Could you ever picture an All In The Family episode that featured Archie and Edith Bunker escaping to a weekend meditation retreat for much needed recharging? Of course not.
But back to Buddhism and its rise in today's culture and workplace. I believe there's a space to incorporate some of its basic principles into the nonprofit world. I also think if the Buddha led your fundraising team, you'd be in pretty good shape for the long haul! His eight-fold path to (fundraising) enlightenment would yield wonderful results and here's how:
* Principles 1 & 2: Right View and Right Intention: this covers the 'why' of your whole existence, or why a donor should pay attention to you. You want to eradicate poverty? I'm on board with that! You have my attention and it's down the path we go.
* Principles 3, 4 & 5: Right Speech, Right Action & Right Livelihood: how are you communicating your story to your donors? Does your appeal letter express your passion for why you exist? Are you taking appropriate action to cultivate healthy, long standing relationships with your donors? Do they feel in their gut that their donations are making a difference in the lives of others? Great! You're on the right path and are headed down the home stretch.
* Principles 6, 7 & 8: Right Effort, Right Mindfulness & Right Concentration: some mental discipline is required here, as you must stay the course of tending to all the details and activities that fuel your entire organization. Make concerted, ongoing efforts to keep your donors top of mind. Concentrate on building that donor pyramid to establish a strong, sustainable base. Reach out on a regular basis to say 'thank you' to the donors who are loyal and committed.
Could it be that Buddha's eight-fold path is merely another way of pointing out that good intentions, carried out ethically and with authenticity - over and over again - is a formula for fundraising success (or success in any other walk of life)? I think he'd give us Westerner's a resounding "thumbs up"!