There is something about finding something we feared we’ve lost.
A couple of years ago on our annual family vacation, I was throwing a football in knee-high surf only to have my wedding band slip quietly off my suntan-lotioned finger. By the time I realized it was gone, the steady waves had shifted the sandy bottom enough to cover it completely. And while members of my family and other beach-goers close by joined in the search, it was to no avail. After about an hour and a half of slowly circling the area where I was playing catch with my son, I gave up. The ring was gone.
And then, two men with complete underwater metal detection equipment miraculously came walking by. I stopped them and asked if they would search for my ring. They agreed. After asking some questions about where I was and looking at the currents, they started their work. Within 20 minutes one came up from the bottom and asked, “was that ring, yellow gold or white gold?” “White gold,” I said. “I found it,” he replied.
What a relief! I was thrilled. And you can imagine my wife was as well. We celebrated that night.
Or what of the more regular occurrence of pulling a pair of pants from a hanger and putting them on only to find a $10 bill in one of the pockets. A quick flood of positive emotions flows through us. “Yeah!” We feel like celebrating – and if the bill is big enough, we sometimes do! It’s like a small victory in life. A “jackpot” moment.
Here is the point: Many development shops track the number of past donors who rejoin the ranks of the giving. Some shops even have goals for converting sybunts into donors. But I don’t know many development shops that really celebrate those occurrences. I don’t know many development professionals who personally view the recapturing of past donors in the same way they view finding something of value they feared was lost.
These are past donors who are on the verge of, perhaps, being lost to us forever. The currents of life had pull them away from us and out to sea. And we found them again. They have rejoined the ranks who support our mission. How valuable are they? And how valuable is their generosity?
We get excited when we find a few lost dollars in the pocket of a pair of pants. Aren’t our donors worth far more than that?