Give me the luxuries of life and I will willingly do without the necessities. – Frank Lloyd Wright
This quote from the inspiring American architect has always intrigued. Interpretations vary but it raises the following question for me:
Can the sexiness of the luxurious, the newest, or the latest encourage us to dismiss the fundamental, the essential, or the necessary?
The concern here is that the luxurious can be so spellbinding that our focus is shifted from the fundamental and necessary. The necessary is not sexy. The luxurious always is.
Fundraising events can create immense buzz for your organization. They are luxurious. Social media like facebook and twitter can enhance the visibility and understanding of your organization. They are luxurious. Four-color, glossy case statements can articulate your message in a compelling way. They are luxurious. None of these are essential to your success.
On the other hand, face-to-face visits with donors are the cornerstone of lasting relationships. They are necessary. Extending gratitude for gifts in an authentic, meaningful, and timely manner is necessary. Asking donors for their advice and involving donors in the life of your organization prior to asking for money is necessary. All of these are essential to success in development.
If we attempt to do the luxurious without doing the necessary, we will fail. Always.
A football coach can field an entire team of players who run a 4.2 forty-yard dash. Such a team would be said to have the luxury of speed. However, if that team can not perform the necessary football skills well – blocking, tackling, throwing, and catching – no amount of speed will keep them from losing regularly to teams that are fundamentally sound.
It’s not an either/or proposition. The luxurious is neither bad nor negative. We need to do both the necessary as well as the luxurious to do our work well. But we can never forget which is which.