How can you measure something at a still point, yet in constant motion?
Here’s a graph I drew that shows an alternative concept for Mastery in Fundraising. That is, alternative to what you usually think of on your performance review. It’s timely, considering the broad revamping of metrics for fundraisers that is in process right now. This reflection comes to mind now at least partly from reading Alex Brovey’s book on Zen and the Art of Fundraising: Eight Pillars for Success. I'm thinking about how the zen idea of “beginner’s mind" might apply to you or me as fundraisers. It connects with a lot of what I wrote in Personalized Philanthropy: Crash the Fundraising Matrix.

What makes the view expressed here (and all Personalized Philanthropy, really) such an outlier is the proposition that Mastery is not earned solely by your arrival at a particularly high point - any place in relation to others, or maybe even a spectacularly successful year of fundraising - but in the realization that you have been on a continually moving pathway. At any point, you might appear to be standing still, but really, you’ve been on a journey that takes you outside of yourself as you work to help others. The conundrum is: How is it possible for you to measure and asses your work when you are both at a still point and in constant motion? Sound like some kind of spooky physics?
For this to make any sense to a fundraiser, I think you have had first to see and then to have crashed what I’ve called the Fundraising Matrix. Then you’d have to conclude that some of our most revered “best practices" in fundraising are, in fact, worst practices. That is, they run counter to what we say and think we are aiming for in philanthropy. If you see that, what then are you to do?
Reviewing the graph, imagine that it can describe a system of metrics that has to do with the lifetime value of a fundraising. Turn over and away from the idea that your success is measured merely by the transactional fair market value you have in that moment. Mightn’t your pathway look something like that represented here?
Make it Real
If you’d like to see a job description for an enlightened generalist, find it here, and let me know what you think.