As I sit here at Sarah Sims’ daughters tee-ball game, I realize that tee-ball and donor relations have stunning similarities. Here are just a few:
Keep your eye on the ball - Stay focused on the donor experience and don’t lose sight that the simplest things are the best things. Don’t get distracted by what some other organization is doing and focus first on your donors and providing them the experience they deserve.
You have to round the bases in order - Every now an again you might get lucky and steal a base but the principle remains, first thank your donors, then report impact, then engage and recognize them. If you do it backwards you’ll never get it right and everyone in the crowd will shame you publicly.
Everyone needs a little coaching - Even the best have people to guide them to their ultimate destination. Take all the feedback and advice you can get, put it through your filter and get better for it. Whether your coaching comes in the form of a conference, a webinar, a conversation with a mentor or direct feedback from someone who’s been there before, don’t be afraid to ask for help and listen when someone helps coach you up. You’ll be better for it!
Don’t be afraid to get dirty - Sometimes you just gotta slide into base or dive for a ball you thought wasn’t within reach. Don’t be afraid to go for it and sometimes do the job no one else wants or is doing. You learn a lot, you may get a scraped knee, but in the end you come out with a greater appreciation for what the job takes and who doesn’t have fun getting a little muddy?
Get out of the way and let others play their part - Not everyone is a short stop, or a pitcher. Let people shine in their role and don’t steal a catch from them. Let everyone play to their strengths and be their best cheerleader when things aren’t going for the best. Specialists are important and should be valued for their unique contribution. In the end it’s the donor’s experience that matters more than ours.
Be a good sport - No one likes a sore loser just like no one likes a blanket or someone who won’t take responsibility around the office. Make sure accountability and self awareness are hallmarks of your presence on your team. Everything isn’t going to go your way all the time, it’s how you handle it that matters.
Don’t be a ball hog - Not every idea has to be yours, share with your teammates and be inclusive of their ideas. All work is necessary and important, not just the things that are high profile or flashy. Make your donor look good and you will shine. Be more focused on your team’s success than your own personal success and everyone will take home the trophy.
I hope you appreciate this cheeky analogy and the cute photos of the little ones at the ballpark. Next time you get ready to play, hit it out of the park and cheer loudly!