There is a often-told story about the distinction between activity and belief:
“A rural church in the middle of farming country had a special service to pray for rain. A drought had hit the area hard and the farmers and community were suffering financially and spiritually. Many people came to the service to pray and, as the pastor looked out over the crowd he was encouraged. However, the thing that inspired him most was a little girl sitting in the front pew, holding a bright red umbrella. Everyone had come to pray for rain, but only the little girl believed enough to bring an umbrella.”
I don’t retell this story of a little girl’s religious faith to promote a religious belief per se. However, I do suggest that there are some in our advancement profession who come to work and do what they are supposed to do. They get the mailings out on time. They make the calls. They visit with the donors. They run reports. They write the stories. They attend the important community events. In fact I hope those who read this blog do all those activities and many others.
But doing the activity of our work isn’t enough – there is more to our work. Or, at least there should be. There should be a belief – indeed, an expectancy – that our efforts in the philanthropic vineyards will bear meaningful fruit. That we will transform the lives of individuals, our communities, and, in the end, our world. When we buy-in and come to the place where we believe – really believe – that our work in philanthropy changes the lives of the receiver, the giver, and many others, we begin to view our vocation as more of a calling and less of a profession. We give of ourselves differently. We become more team-oriented and less territorial, more proactive and less reactive. More determined to get results and less worried about who gets the credit.
Each day we have the opportunity to renew ourselves in this belief. So, today is a new day – will you bring your umbrella?