It takes birds – depending on species, materials used, construction type, etc. – between 2 days and 2 weeks to construct a nest.
Most people, though, don’t pay much attention to the nest building process. Instead, we walk by a tree in our yard or in the park and are surprised when we find a fully-constructed nest. Or we stumble upon a nest after being drawn in by the shrill chirping of baby birds waiting to be fed. In any event, we don’t often think about the huge commitment of time, energy, and sustained effort that has led to the completion of this construction project.
But building a bird nest is an apt metaphor for much of our work in advancement. Success – real, sustainable success – does not come from the one-off, glossy self-mailer. Success won’t be found by changing annual giving strategies every other year because, “what we did last year didn’t work.” Success won’t happen if you move important special events all over the calendar. And success will be elusive if you inconsistently market your planned giving program.
Advancement success comes from years (decades even), of being consistent and being persistent with implementing basic strategies. Your broad aim may be to build your donor base, or generate more gift income, or grow your $1,000+ donor number, or retain a higher percentage of donors from year to year, or grow the number of members in your planned giving society, or increase the number of $25,000 multi-year commitments . . . or all of the above.
Whatever your longer-term goals, it’s best to remember that no bird nest is ever built in a single day. It takes consistent and persistent effort focused on the basics. One stick, one twig, one trip, at a time. Over and over again.
And, before you know it, you’re hearing baby birds chirping.