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November 14, 2020

Defending What’s Important

As I write this blog, my most precious belongings are packed in my car and ready to go. Leslie is ready to take me in if I need it. And, I’ve double checked that my homeowner’s policy is paid up.

Colorado is overrun with wildfires and one of them happens to be looming nearby.

And yes, Dear Reader, I’m calm enough to write this blog for you.

You see, I’ve been through this before. In 2010, the Fourmile Canyon Fire came to my back door. At that time, I had two young sons and we only had about 45 minutes to evacuate. Our house survived, but many of our neighbors’ homes did not. If you’re reading this in the West, chances are you’ve experienced this too. Or worse.

This time, it’s so much easier for me to get ready. My sons are grown and live elsewhere. My husband is the local Fire Chief so I know our district is in good hands.

It’s just me and the dog, with boxes full of photographs, artwork, and family heirlooms. And a battered manila envelope filled with a lifetime of letters and cards from loved ones.

You see, there are things that matter. And many, many more things that simply don’t.

What does this have to do with fundraising? Everything.

It’s up to each of us to identify the important things. And to protect them when needed. 

You are the front-line defender of your fundraising program. Everyone is nervous about revenue. At the same time, budgets are being cut in the midst of a crisis year. If they haven’t already, your CEO, Board, and CFO might be asking you to pare things back.

I encourage you to be to take a hard look at what’s MOST important in your fundraising program and be ready to stick up for it.

What’s most important? That depends on your program.

Do a combination of immediate and long-term thinking. When I pack up my house for evacuation, I do include a toothbrush and pair of jeans for tomorrow. But, I’m mostly thinking about what I want to pass along to my children and grandchildren.

Consider your immediate needs, but really take the time to envision the future.

What do you need to do during a period of crisis to make sure today’s donors are with the organization five or ten years from now?

As fundraisers, we are fleeting. If our organizations are to continue fulfilling their missions, they need lasting relationships with donors. Far beyond our tenure. You are the temporary steward. What will it take to walk beside these donors until the next fundraiser comes along?

If you think about this, you’ll know what’s important. You’ll know what resources are needed. You’ll be able to plan accordingly.

Think of your fundraising budget as a dartboard, with the most critical resources in the bullseye, protected no matter what.

Then be prepared and determined to defend the perimeter!

Our hearts go out to all the people who have been displaced during this terrible wildfire season. We thank all the nonprofits and community organizations who step in to help those who are impacted. And, we are deeply grateful to the firefighters who dedicate their lives to defending what’s important.


  1. Oh my goodness Ann, my thoughts are with you and your husband! Amazing that you could write such an impactful and heartfelt message at a time like this. Thank you…and be safe!

  2. Rita Valente-Quinn says:

    Ann, I sincerely hope that you were able to return to your home and that you, your husband, and your dog are doing well. Thank you for the inspiring post and for all the work you do.

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