Gone Fishing

Our family recently returned from our annual escape to Lake Gaston. Waterskiing, wake surfing, paddle boarding, swimming, diving, and just plain floating are the primary activities of choice for our crew most days.

An obligatory fishing line is generally cast a time or two most years, but this year our son Carson decided that he was going to catch some fish. Earlier in the pandemic he read Jeremy Wade’s How to Think Like a Fish. Santa brought him a fancy fishing pool and tackle box. Before our trip he visited the Bass Pro Shop to hunt for special lures. He was ready.

For more than two weeks Carson tried his new tackle, took the boat out to ideal fishing locations, fished different weather conditions and times of day. Nary a nibble.

Needless to say, he was frustrated. Not one to give up (ever), Carson decided to go back to what he knew would work: the good old-fashioned wiggly Night Crawler.

With live bait on the hook, Carson cast the line and almost immediately caught a fish. At the end of the day, fish simply cannot resist live bait. Don’t ask me why!

It reminded me that while it is good to learn and try new things, it is also important to remember the basics. This is especially true when it comes to relationship building—the critical foundation to fundraising.

We can and should learn about new AI technologies, utilize prospect research, track our moves through our CRMs, and explore new giving platforms. Absolutely!

But we should also remember to simply pick up the phone and call our donors sometimes. Write that personal note or send a birthday card. Treat a donor to coffee and do more listening than talking.

Go back to the basics of relationship building. Because they work.

Ultimately you need room in the tackle box for the shiny lure and the old-fashioned worm. When you are fishing for donors you will likely need a variety of bait.

If you haven’t had a summer adventure yet, maybe you should grab some worms and go fishing! It will give you time to reflect on what new or tried-and-true tools you need in your toolbox for the busy fundraising season ahead.

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