Holding Onto Perspective

Holding Onto Perspective


By David Allen, Development for Conservation


It’s the most wonderful time of the year.


I’ve heard that 70% of the money given away each year is committed just four months: October, November, December, and January. If that’s true, then most of that 70% comes in just six weeks – between now and mid-January.

Every day, anticipation builds as the mail gets delivered and that tell-tale stack of check envelopes is bigger than it was yesterday. Every day, you open the online giving report like you are unwrapping a present.

Most gifts will be $50 or $100 or so, but you never know. This could be the day when one is $10,000, or maybe more. Maybe a million!

Your heart beats just a little faster. It’s so affirming!

It’s a time to be fulfilled. To be validated. You’ve done a good job! See? The proof is in the mail!

It’s an important time to hold onto your perspective, too.

Don’t get carried away.

There are lots of perspectives we could focus on, but I’ll work with just two for this post.

The first is that money itself is an abstraction. It’s not a reality in and of itself. Behind every dollar, every check, and every online deposit there is a real person. Someone with hopes and desires. Someone who wants to do something important with their money. Someone who is trusting you to help them do something important.

If there is a trust relationship already established, your actions in the few hours after you open the mail are important to maintaining that relationship. Write a special card. Make the extra effort on the acknowledgement letter. Make the phone call. And do it now – every day. Right away.

And let your Board members know so they can do the same.

If there is not a trust relationship already established, you need to pay attention to “buyer’s remorse.” Buyer’s remorse is that second-guessing feeling that you get right after you make a big decision. Did I do the right thing? Did I buy the right car? Take the right job? Will this color work?

Will this gift really make a difference? Will I make a difference?

Again, your role here is to act immediately. Don’t wait. Don’t let the taste of buyer’s remorse linger. The donor made a good decision. They did something important. They made a difference.

Tell them that.


The second perspective is that there is plenty of time left in December for you to make a difference, too. Your job is NOT done. It’s NOT too late!

I’m always amazed when I hear that fundraisers are taking time off during the Holidays. Accountants don’t take April off. Field stewards don’t take June off.

Fundraisers can’t take December off either.

Forecast the end of the year. Are you clear of your annual goals? Would a second round of appeal letters help? (Sent ONLY to those who ignored the first letter, of course.)

Look at the list of people who gave money last year. Especially those who either made larger gifts or who have made gifts every year for many years. Have you heard from all of them? Who’s left?

Would a phone call help? What about if a Board member called? The Executive Director?


Sifting through the mail is great fun and it’s validating for all the hard work you’ve done these last few months.

Enjoy the moment. Smile.

And then hang onto your perspective and get back to work.


Cheers, and have a great week!



Photo by Scott Payne courtesy Pixabay

Share this!
  • Sharon Weaver
    Posted at 19:37h, 03 December

    Excellent advice, as usual! Thank you for the inspiration to keep up the important work!

    • David Allen
      Posted at 09:05h, 04 December


      Once again – thanks so much for your comments. They are MY inspiration!


  • lisa haderlein
    Posted at 16:06h, 03 December

    Great post – as usual! Even though we are late with everything this year, I feel pretty good. We have a system, we are following the plan, we appear to be getting the desired results, and even though there is still 25% of our member income left to arrive – in just one month – I’m not losing sleep!

    • David Allen
      Posted at 09:04h, 04 December


      That’s my (real) goal every year – no sweating out the last few days and no lost sleep!


  • Trish Aldrich
    Posted at 10:11h, 03 December

    “Every day, anticipation builds as the mail gets delivered and that tell-tale stack of check envelopes is bigger than it was yesterday. Every day, you open the online giving report like you are unwrapping a present.” David, you know me so well! And thanks for the laugh. Just a quick note, got to get back to working on our second round of appeal letters. (Sent ONLY to those who didn’t reply to the first letter, of course.) Cheers, many thanks & best wishes for the next 6 weeks!

    • David Allen
      Posted at 09:02h, 04 December


      Thanks so much for the note. I know you so well because I’ve been there! It’s a rush every year. And same to you related to the next six weeks!