Yesterday I attended the funeral of my wonderful great Aunt. She was 97 and great in every sense of the word.
At the ceremony, the Rabbi spoke of Balaam – the ancient prophet who, for all intensive purposes was a wicked man. He set traps for the Israelites which they fell for and landed in them in transgression causing God to send deadly plagues to them as a result – according to the old testament.
Balaam saw negativity and pessimism in all. The teachings from this sorry tale said to not judge or use that as a model to not succumb to, but to try to choose who you aspire to be and choose those who you learn from wisely. The words struck me, who do I aspire to be and who do I choose to learn from? My great Aunt certainly. She had no idea what I did for a day job, (but then again, no one outside of fundraising knows what a fundraiser does!), but would, I am sure be happy to know she was an inspiration in one way or another, if only for this blog!
Aspirations and certainly legacies are something that plays on your mind as you get older and especially when you have children. What type of role model am I being to them and what sort of aspirations am I instilling in them and the people I meet?
From a fundraising point of view, legacy is the golden ticket. Everyone lives, and everyone dies – fact. What our day job is, putting it cynically, is to try to keep everyone engaged for long enough that when they die, they leave a nice juicy sum for our organisation. But what I think we are missing out on is the relationship and the legacy in the making. The Rabbi also spoke about my great aunt and how every day she did ‘it’ well, ‘it’ being living and being a good person. Isn’t this what we all strive for, to do life well?
I guess the rambling point I am trying to make it life goes quickly. Yesterday I was 25, I blinked and then I was 31. Then I fell asleep and when I woke up had a husband, 2 kids, and a mortgage! So, let’s cease the now. What can you do in your organisation to make your legacy now? What will you be remembered for? In so far as your donors, why wait until they are almost near the end to get their attention? Surely its better to build a relationship with people who are alive and get the most out of how they choose to help rather than wait until the very last moment. I am not saying give up legacy fundraising, but I am saying carpe dium people! We’re not here for very long let’s make the most of what we can for those that can’t, and most of all, let’s do ‘it’ well.
May you rest in peace Auntie Renee, this one’s for you.