By Dan Schipp
As 2011 gets underway and New Year’s resolutions are still fresh and largely untested, I am reminded of a brief article I read in Seminary Development News several years ago.
The article, entitled “All I Need to Know about Development,” was written by Karna Burkeen, then associate director of development and seminary relations at Lancaster Theological Seminary. She began the article with these words:
“Sometimes I think all I need to know about development I learned in my home as a child:
1) Ask nicely for what you want;
2) Be polite and mannerly; and
3) Say ‘please’ and ‘thank you’.”
Ms. Burkeen then wrote,
“Development, of course, is more than just being polite and asking nicely, and even remembering to write letters and say thank you. Our work is much more complex than that. Nevertheless, those skills were foundational in my youth, and they continue to serve me well in my adult life.”
Yes, successful development involves more than just minding our manners.
It is important that we
- assess performance and benchmark our results with those of similar organizations,
- plan and carry out solid programs in annual giving, special opportunities and planned giving,
- provide for the on-going education of staff and volunteers, and
- actively build relationships with donors and prospective donors.
But, at times, do we get so caught up in our plans, goals, strategies, and research that we forget about those core insights noted by Ms. Burkeen?
As we begin a new year, maybe it’s a good time to remind ourselves of these fundamentals and to recommit ourselves to doing well what we learned as youth: ask nicely, be polite, and say thank you.