On Becoming A Fundraising Artist

In David Bayles and Ted Orland’s book, Art & Fear, they tell a great story about becoming a better artist.  Here it is:

“The ceramics teacher announced on opening day that he was dividing the class into two groups. All those on the left side of the studio, he said, would be graded solely on the “quantity” of the work they produced, all those on the right solely on its “quality.”

His procedure was simple: On the final day of class he would bring in his bathroom scales and weigh the work in the “quantity” group: fifty pounds of pots rated an “A”, forty pounds a “B” and so on. Those being graded on “quality,” however, needed to produce only one pot–albeit a perfect one–to get an “A”.

Well, came grading time and a curious fact emerged: the works of the highest quality were all produced by the group being graded for quantity. It seems that while the “quantity” group was busy turning out piles of work–and learning from their mistakes–the “quality” group had sat theorizing about perfection, and in the end had little more to show for their efforts than grandiose theories and a pile of dead clay.”

The moral, of course, is that practice makes us better.  We learn and are shaped by practice.  We are changed when we practice a craft and are disciplined in our practice.  There is nothing that makes you better more quickly than focused, disciplined practice.

Fundraising is the same way.  It’s a craft.  It’s a practice.  So, today, don’t wait for that campaign collateral to be completed.  Don’t tell yourself that you don’t have enough information.  Don’t procrastinate.

Call up a donor or prospect – and go practice.

** Thanks to Tara Friesen at Athabasca University, Canada’s Leading Online University, for sharing this story with me.



  1. I really like the way you relate fundraising to being an artist, especially when you said that it is a craft and it is a practice. Procrastination should never be done if you are a fundraiser. Thank you for this wonderful article.

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