Don’t Bite Off More than You Can Chew

I was talking to a colleague a few days ago. This person had planned a wonderful recognition/stewardship/thank-you program for benefactors. It had all the elements of thanking benefactors, appropriately recognizing gifts, and helping specific benefactors gently move on to the next level of giving.

SO what was wrong with it?

Well, what looked great on paper, would be a nightmare to implement. This person works in a very small development shop, where everybody has multiple job responsibilities. The amount of time, coordination, and attention to detail that such a program would require could never be sustained in that environment. In the real-life-day-to-day-need-to-get-things-done-world, the few development officers could never keep up. And, too much of the plan relied on the good will of others outside of the development organization.

A much better strategy would be for this development shop is to commit to something simple, that’s less than ideal, but do-able.

As professionals, we want to go above and beyond for our benefactors. We love them, and we need them. Yet, we also have to realistically balance what we’d like to do and what we can do.

A simple, but consistent, plan of thanking benefactors, recognizing them, and helping them consider higher levels of giving will be much more effective than a complex plan that requires considerable time to implement, the coordination of many people and departments, and minute attention to details.

Voltaire is attributed to saying that “the perfect is the enemy of the good.” It would be highly unlikely that this small development shop would be able to implement and keep up with this complex plan. The development officers would always feel frustrated, and the benefactors’ thanks and recognition would be delayed.

A perfect plan that only works when executed perfectly by many imperfect people is far inferior to a pretty good plan that one person can make happen.

What do you think?

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