It has been exciting to see so many bloggers answer Helen Brown’s call for writing about #ResearchPride this month in her Proud Voices in Harmony blog post! Helen continues to update the links to #ResearchPride posts, and harmony is definitely the right word to describe the many voices. #ResearchPride is a rich chorus singing a variety of songs about the pride we feel in the work we do.
I am proud of our profession, my career, for so many of the same reasons my colleagues write so eloquently about. I am proud that the work I do contributes in some small way to building a better world. I am thrilled that my work draws on the skills and aspirations I have spent a lifetime honing. And I treasure beyond words the relationships this career has helped me build.
Fundraising is a relationship business. Perhaps that helps explain why, in a recent Pew Research study on workplace automation, non-profit workers were far LESS likely than the public as a whole to think their jobs would be replaced by robots and computers in the next 50 years. But I like to think that, as a profession, prospect development has a more nuanced stance on automation than these statistics might suggest.
Just think of the technological innovations prospect development has introduced to fundraising: from power-googling to wealth screening to in-house analytics and beyond. Some might say we are the very picture of planned obsolescence, as we embrace and endorse technologies which do what we used to do ourselves.
Instead, I believe that when given the challenge of choosing between cheap, fast, and good, we strive to achieve all three. That what we get from technology is both greater reach and time saved; spending less time to find more and better data means we are always and forever looking beyond the horizon. It means we can continue our search for new technology; create more strategic, efficient, and donor-centered research deliverables, tools, and tactics; and develop deeper, more meaningful, and more rewarding relationships with our fellow researchers, and the fundraisers, trustees, executives, and nonprofit missions we serve.
In a conversation with Jen Filla the other day, she used the phrase “fundraising catalyst,” and it has stuck with me. When we are at our best, we are the catalyst which provides data, and in turn, the confidence for fundraising to move forward. We inform, we strategize, and we nudge. To paraphrase Jim Croce, if I could save time in a bottle, I would save every day, to find a better way, to share what I’ve found with you.
Prospect development is the landscape upon which philanthropy, technology, curiosity, and innovation converge. As a liberal arts major with earlier careers in education and IT, this makes me very proud.