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Tackle the Big Picture: Philosophy for Charities

Kristin Hammett

Kristin Hammett

December 31, 2021

The Christian school my son attends is doing a capital campaign. At a donor event, I listened to the head of the school review where the school had been and cast a vision for where the school is going. Something he said that resonated with me was that they are building this for “your kids’ kids.”

Did you catch that? My son is in eighth grade, and though he will benefit from the space, that was not the vision cast by the head of school. It was not about a better facility and more opportunities for my son. It was bigger than that. The vision was two generations into the future and beyond. He was tapping into the legacy we, as donors, want to leave.

Your future is just as important.

The head of school was speaking to me as a present-day parent and donor and as an investor in the future.

We need more of that — more big vision and big-picture thinking. We need to help donors see beyond the problems we are solving today to how we are positioned to solve the problems we will face in the future. As Wayne Gretzky famously said, “I skate to where the puck is going to be, not where it has been.” What is the philosophy behind sharing the longer vision?

Vision is rewarding.

Donors like knowing they are part of something bigger than themselves because that knowledge has a positive impact on their sense of self. Psychology tells us when a person feels part of something larger, it gives them meaning, purpose, and greater happiness.

Vision precipitates investment.

Share your work as investment in a bigger solution. Goals like ending human trafficking in the United States, eliminating homelessness in your city, and making abortion unnecessary may cast a vision bigger than seems attainable, yet they could inspire donors who want to engage differently. Compel donors to be “all in.” Major donors like to do things others cannot do. Think big and ask big.

Vision requires a plan.

The vision sets your direction, and a strategic plan is how you get there. Go beyond thinking big; make an intentional plan to work toward the vision. A donor may be able to assist with this process. Business owners, entrepreneurs, and investors on your major donor list are great resources for leadership and planning. Once you have established the plan, follow it. Stay on track. Don’t put it in a drawer. Make it an active, working document.

As you plan for 2022, take a break from the everyday. Have a dream day. Spend time refocusing and evaluating your plans. How will you strategically reach those objectives? Consider how you can engage your key donors and include their families. Give donors a reason to give differently. Invite them to join you where the puck is going to be.

About Kristin Hammett

Kristin Hammett

As the Director of Nonprofit Success at The Signatry, Kristin Hammett works to train, consult, and equip nonprofits with fundraising solutions to connect God’s resources with His work

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