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What’s At the End of the Rainbow Isn’t Necessarily Gold

In my Bridgeview, Illinois office I have a large picture window that affords me a wonderful eastern-facing view. One day in late August this past summer, a storm was winding down in our area. As I looked out my window, I saw a beautiful rainbow. I couldn’t help but think of the magical pot of gold that Irish legend says is at the end of every rainbow. The only problem is that the pot of gold is guarded by a leprechaun who not only isn’t at all fond of humans, but also guards the gold with his little leprechaun life.

The legend says that if humans could make friends with the leprechaun the pot of gold would be theirs. This is a legend that has persisted for hundreds of years.

But where is the story about the lucky human who found the pot of gold?

The problem with this magical, mysterious gold is that no one can ever find the end of the rainbow. Now, board members may very well say something to you like this: “What about Mr. X, the billionaire? He lives right here in our city. If we could just get him interested in in what we do, he could fund our whole campaign.” Or, “What about foundation Y? They have millions in assets. They don’t typically support institutions like ours, but my aunt’s sister’s cousin’s son is on the board there. If we could get to him, we could really be in a good position.”

The truth is that you can spend your time hunting for the end of the rainbow and that ever-so-elusive pot of gold or you can do the work needed to engage your own constituents to support your mission.

Successful advancement programs don’t waste their time chasing after pots of gold. They focus on their own constituents and build relationships which engage and encourage them to get involved and inspired by the mission, vision, and plans of the organization. They spend time learning what their prospective donors are passionate about and then work to match the passion with their goals. They do this because they know that they will be in a much better place if they work with prospective donors to fund objectives or campaigns to support their annual fund and to engage those donors in spreading the message about the nonprofit.

In other words, they create their own magic that results in healthy, well-funded institutions.

So the next time you find yourself wishing you had a pot of gold, remember, it’s the daily work you do of talking with prospects and donors, trying new annual fund approaches, and working with volunteers that sets the stage for the continual and dependable pot of gold which helps your institution meet its goals and carry out its mission.

And the great thing is there won’t be any little leprechauns keeping you from that pot of gold.

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