Super Bowl LI…

How I Turned a Loss into a Lesson About Fundraising

It’s the day after the biggest night in sports and I – like many Falcons fans – woke up devastated. Unless you live on another planet, you know the Atlanta Falcons played the New England Patriots for the Super Bowl Championship last night. And by now, you also know my beloved Falcons lost.


It was such a close game. It was a historical game since it was the first time in the 50-year history of the Super Bowl that the game went into overtime.  Obviously, the fourth quarter of the game was an emotionally charged nail biter to the very end. So, it’s understandable that I would be disappointed by the loss.

But what I woke up wondering is why I couldn’t just let it go. I’m not a player. I wasn’t getting any type of monetary gain if they’d won. I had absolutely no skin in this game. Yet, I woke up feeling like I was mourning the loss of a loved one.

Just as I was beginning to blow it off to being a woman and having intense emotions, I read something that shed some light. In fact, it’s very relevant to nonprofit work and charitable giving. Hence, the reason I’m sharing this blog with you. Otherwise, I don’t think you’d care one way or the other about my grief over this game loss.

It was a quote from a blog by Seth Godin. He wrote about fundraising. He explained his theory of why people give to charity or why we buy into a particular brand. Meaning, why we accept the story the brand tells about the organization.

He said: “We love the memory we have of how that brand made us feel once. We love that it reminds us of our mom, or growing up, or our first kiss. We support a charity or a soccer team or a perfume because it gives us a chance to love something about ourselves.”

That last sentence stood out to me. “It gives us a chance to love something about OURSELVES.” Now, I get it. I know why I can’t let this go.

You see, the reason I was pulling so hard for the Falcons goes way beyond my love of the game and my respect for the players. I love the story of the Falcons.

They have overcome some rough seasons to get to where they are now. They got a new coach last season, and this year they were the comeback kids. Going into the game everybody saw them as the underdog.

For me, they represented the classic American story of hard work paying off. They have put in the work as a team. The players formed an unbreakable brotherhood. They played better this year than they have in a long time.

I predicted this would be their year because I felt like they’d earned it. The stars were aligned and it was their time.

That’s the parallel of how I see my own story. I have had some rough seasons in life, especially the last couple of years. Last year I moved to Florida to get a fresh start. Things started out a little rocky, but I’m starting to feel like I’m getting some footing.

A victorious end for the Atlanta Falcons, was a premonition of what I believed was to come for me.

But…that didn’t happen!

The stars didn’t align, and despite all of their hard work, they didn’t win the ultimate prize. They didn’t win the championship.

I made the Falcon’s journey all about me. I had my own hopes and dreams wrapped into their journey. A loss for them was a personal loss for me.

Now, let’s look at this from your perspective as a fundraiser. When pursing funds from a donor, most fundraisers tend to get wrapped up in their own passion.

One writer put it this way: “fundraisers universalize their own passion. Because they’re focused on their mission, they think everyone else is focused on their mission.”

Here’s what you’re probably missing. Donors give “through” your organization to achieve their own desires – to fulfill their own aspirations – to live out their own values. Your organization is the means to the donor’s end. (Nonprofit Quarterly)

Here are the key points:

  1. Fundraising and giving isn’t about money.
  2. Identify the donor’s mission and seek to fulfill it, instead of your own.
  3. Figure out how to solve the problem the donor has identified. If it aligns with your mission, you have a winning combination.

If you can stop focusing on what you can get and instead focus your energy on what you can give, your luck will change. You will likely have more success with your donors.

Until next time…

Peace & Blessings!


Please note: I reserve the right to delete comments that are offensive or off-topic.

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