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During my 7 years as part of the Pursuant team I have had hundreds of fundraising strategy conversations. I have spent hours challenging, defending, and affirming ideas for subject lines, image placements, appeal segmentation strategies, online campaign goals, landing page headlines, email send schedules, program budgets, and countless other topics. Pushing ourselves and our clients to reach new heights is a challenge always worthy of acceptance. Plus, I love problem solving. Putting the puzzle pieces of a solution together is extremely satisfying.

During our most recent webinar (Hottest Ticket in Town), I found myself thinking about these strategy conversations. Stacy Blakeley, president of Katy Sky Group and presenter of this webinar, pointed out numerous times that successful fundraising events are events that are first and foremost created with donors in mind. Creating or refining a fundraising event to achieve (more) success must begin by thinking about the event from your attendees’ perspective. It’s as if I was learning something again for the first time: It’s not about “us.” It is always about “them.”

This is a lesson that I learn and relearn constantly, and it is central to those strategy conversations. Our fundraising efforts always have performance goals attached to them, and we all get caught up in focusing on how our work affects us. These things are natural and necessary in our work. However, they are dangerous when they become the sole reasons for action–the reasons behind strategy decisions. It is dangerous because we begin to think that we are responsible for our successes–that we have complete control of the outcomes of our efforts.

Achieving (more) success begins by keeping them at the center of our strategic development because they are the individuals who choose to support your cause. Our everyday work seeks to make the world a better place, and we are constantly inviting individuals to participate in that work. Their choice to participate is ultimately what allows us to achieve our fundraising goals. It’s not about us. It is about them.