How are you building your universe of donors?

milkey way

by George Rattin, Associate Vice President, HUB Philanthropic Solutions

I went to the movies recently and saw the new Matt Damon Sci-fi movie, The Martian.  While I thought it was a great movie, the reason I bring it up here is that I thought it was very instructive for Development work.  In the movie Matt Damon is part of a group of scientists sent to a Mars space station to explore and see if Mars might be a place suitable for sustaining human life.  I will not give away the plot, however, things do not go as planned and our hero, Matt, must summon all his wits and creativity to make it back home.

As I reflected on the story, I was struck by how so much of this movie mirrored what I tried to do in my development work as I tried to expand my donor base or engage new constituents in the mission of my organization.  It was not too long ago when I was trapped on the planet of small donors (indulge the space references please!).  I needed to bring in other types of donors who were engaged in different ways.  So we had to explore new areas and then once we found a promising program we sent multiple test missions to see if that “planet” could sustain life.  Ok, lest I lose you with all the space imagery…we needed to develop a major gifts program to go along with our passive, mostly mail-based annual fund.  At the time, this organization needed to prepare as if looking for a new planet, and once found, testing if it could sustain life.  We developed a concept, tested it with a select group, gained early adopters and worked to expand membership.  What the movie, The Martian, reminded me of was this is always the process of development innovation.  As we work to provide successful results for our organizations, the universe is ever-changing: from government regulations of fundraising, to crowd funding, the rise of the cell phones (and demise of the home phone?).  We are called to be the explorers, or bold pioneers for our organizations bringing innovative results that meet our constituent’s needs.

So, don’t lose hope if it feels you need to find a new planet, explore away and great things will happen.


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