Wednesday, December 31, 2008
2008 Best of Learning List
I've been in this business for almost nine years and I still feel like I have enormous learning to do. As 2008 draws to a close I thought it would be interesting to reflect on what I know now that I didn't know a year ago.
In 2008 I learned:
1. To think differently and push boundaries. The work of Bernard Ross and Clare Segal's at =mc challenged me. I've read a lot of their articles and of course the book. I remember the look on my board's face when Bernard told them the word "watershed" was not something other people use in everyday language. Better him than me! So thank you Bernard.
2. That SOFII will change the face of our sector. WOW - who would have thought that Ken Burnett put his real email address in his ZEN book and would actually write back! I became addicted to SOFII and loved learning about fundraising from around the world. This association led not only to fantastic tools that helped me raise more money and be more productive at work, but also my first international volunteer position. I'm proud to add SOFII Volunteer Canadian Ambassador to my resume. Ken you are very generous, thank you for introducing me too and creating SOFII and Thank you SOFII Team letting me be a part of what you do.
3. That International Conferences are very worthwhile. To go to IFC I actually had to get a passport, figure out where to put my garbage in the Tube stations in London, have lunch in Camden market with a soldier from the US, cry in an evensong service at Christ Church in Oxford, tour of Harwich with some locals I met in the pub, gamble with dutchmen on a boat, ride a bike through the Holland countryside (see my bike and cheese above), hang out in the Red Light District and eat at the Five Flies in Amsterdam. There was a tonne of learning there but probably not relevant for this blog!
The key was the conference and mostly the addition of the Economic Crisis Session. It wasn't in the program but people wanted to talk about it - so organizers made it happen. Thank you Resource Alliance for your willingness to step out of the box a bit.
4. How to be a board member. Our local wetland needed people and I needed board experience. I drive through the wetland everyday but never knew there was a heron colony in there or that ATV's were taking advantage of road allowances and destroying the sanctuary. Thank you Friends of the Wetlands I will watch the battle between man and the beavers with great interest! A little flooding isn't such a bad thing is it?
5. What a Blog is. The launch of the Fundraising Recession Watch blog taught me about blogging. Before then I didn't even know the word really. I love having conversations with people from around the world, who have common interests and issues. I like having a place to practice writing and to put my thoughts. The fact that people actually seem to be reading it is a BONUS! Thank you Sean Triner for introducing the forum to me and helping me figure it out. A whole new world has openned up for me - just look at all the features in this post!
6. I am not responsible for everything that happens at work. I have a President who challenges me to be better - this is a gift, he is on my side. We have a great board keen to fundraise. We are all learning, growing and responsible together. I also learned that the absolutely most important part of fundraising is what you do with the money. At Lake Simcoe the excellence in the delivery of the programs is internationally recognized. The program delivery is the backbone of our success.
7. The Association of Fundraising Professionals Greater Toronto Chapter cares about small organizations. Receiving the excellence in fundraising award for small organizations was transformational for us because we were able to host our board, delivery staff and most the the donors whose gift helped start our major giving program. The 25 people there left the luncheon (of 1300) feeling like their work was important and valued. AFP also produced a video that we are able to share with other prospects and donors. The ripple will travel far. Thank you AFP - Greater Toronto.
8. Humber Students add value. Honestly I wasn't sure about fundraisers who learn this profession by books and schools. That almost seems like cheating to me since I fell into this vocation and am learning as I go. Having worked with Laurie Pringle I have to say I learned far more than she did. Not only did she raise a little money but we have had some great conversations, challenged each other and she brought fantastic resources forward that she got from Ken Wyman's program. Thank you Laurie for choosing us, you make me want to go to school full time so I can be as smart as you!
9. My family can thrive in my absence. It's okay for a mother to travel, learn and be successful beyond her family. I was an at home mother for nine years and transitioned slowly into paid work. This was fundamental learning. There are however a few tricks to this.
a) Be patient and wait until the kids are old enough to manage a bit on their own.
b) Marry someone who wants you to keep learning and growing. Who wants you to be the best person you can be. A partner who is comfortable enough with his life not to feel threatened by yours.
c) Hire a good cleaning lady. They are worth every penny!
Thank you Craig, Skye and Chase - I love you all very much.
10. I learned how to play. I am awesome at Wii Rockband! I kick ass on vocals but I'm pretty good at the drums too.
Looking back I can see very clearly that my life is richer for having had these experiences. I can also see that it is no wonder I can't get off the couch this holiday season and that I am truly truly blessed to have had so many great people come into and be a part of my life this year. I can't wait to jump into next year to see what learning, people and adventures come my way.
In the meantime, I will go skiing and cherish the time left for rest and reflection as I prepare for the adventures ahead in 2009. HAPPY NEW YEAR!
Thank you for spending time here and please tell me what you learned in 2008. I'd love to know.