Dollywood’s Wild Eagle is one of my all-time favorite roller coasters.
The initial drop is a smallish 135 feet and, while the ride lasts only 2 minutes and 22 seconds and hits a modest speed of 61 mph, it does have 4 inversions.
It’s the smoothness of the ride, though, that makes it so enjoyable for me.
While it wings you around the track, you experience a smooth sense of soaring (like an eagle!) and the inversions are just enough to give your stomach that enjoyable floating sensation that makes you smile, laugh, and scream all at the same time. I find it so enjoyable that I’ll ride it at least 3 times every time our family goes to the park.
I knew about the Wild Eagle before I ever rode it. I went online and looked up its stats (as presented above) and even watched a number of on-ride YouTube videos to get a better sense of the ride. I knew what it looked like, how fast it went, the layout of the track, and a whole host of other information.
But it wasn’t until I experienced the Wild Eagle for myself that I fell in love with it. That’s when my knowledge of the ride went to a whole different level of understanding. The data and statistics about the ride were one form of knowledge, but experiencing the ride – feeling the tightness of the straps across my shoulders, my feet dangling loose over the landscape, the smoothness of the track, the turns and the drops – gave me a richness and thickness of knowledge that data alone could never provide.
Providing your donors with quantitative data about your programs and outcomes is fine. It’s good to have those answers when asked – or to be able to quickly find out.
But data doesn’t motivate generosity.
Your work as an advancement professional is not about providing data. It’s about helping donors experience your mission in action. It’s about inviting them to authentically encounter those who are receiving the benefit of their generosity. It’s about guiding them on a path to more fully experience the joys of giving.
Anyone can get data about the ride. But getting on the ride is what makes all the difference.