Saturday's activity got me thinking about the concept of phoning it in as I've seen the term used to describe performances ranging from artistic to political. What does it mean and how can we tell if someone is in fact, phoning it in? It seemed there are no hard and fast rules for determining whether someone is doing so and highly subject to the opinions of others. The urban dictionary (www.urbandictionary.com) provides a helpful definition: To perform an act in a perfunctory, uncommitted fashion, as if it didn't matter. There was a harsher definition but I don't want to offend....
With this in mind, I thought I'd share a few suggestions for ensuring that we're not "phoning it in" when it comes to our performance as fundraisers:
- Challenge Process: The nonprofit arena can be highly process oriented. Organizations often become mired in "the way we do things here." This includes the way programs are run, how operations are handled - and all too often - the way fundraising is approached. It's critical to learn, understand and adapt to these rituals as it contributes to continuity and culture. At the same time, we shouldn't be don't be afraid to challenge them and offer suggestions for improvement. And the test for improvement goes well beyond operational efficiency. If you have alternatives that can help your organization do a better job delivering on your mission, don't hold back.
- Keep Learning: Once we get good at our jobs - knowing our mission, engaging others and meeting our fundraising goals - it can become very easy to breathe easy and just keep doing our thing. That's the precise moment we're in the danger of phoning it in! Push to learn more about your charity's impact, another aspect of the fundraising profession or even try your hand at other areas of the nonprofit field through volunteering or board service.
- Stay Passionate: This may seem obvious but in fact, can be one of those things that we take for granted. When is the last time you saw your organization's work in action? Do you volunteer your time beyond what you do "on the clock"? Are you constantly learning more about the cause that you're fundraising for? Staying in tune and inspired on an ongoing basis not only helps your knowledge base, it's the foundation on which you are able to do your job at your authentic best.