Being There: A Father’s Day Reflection for Fundraisers

Father’s Day is upon us. So, what do we fondly recall about our dads? And, our moms, for that matter? What is it that sticks in our memory about a parent?

The car he drove? Maybe. The job he had? Sure. Perhaps the music he listened to? Definitely! I know this was a driver in my love of music and the broad range I listen to–Sly and the Family Stone, The Beatles, Neil Diamond, Al Jarreau and Van Morrison to name a few.

I would venture that the most memorable trait among folks who fondly reflect on their fathers is the time he spent with them: Quality time and quantity of time.

Both are important. Whether just hanging out at home watching TV, taking in sports, music, vacations, camping, picnics, you name it. The time investment is often the biggest contributor to the fond memories.

This is no big revelation. Multitudes of research show a father’s involvement with their children plays a big part in how well a child succeeds in school and in life. Fathers today say they are spending more time with their kids than their own dads did. And still, they feel it’s not enough. As I spend a lot of time on the road and in the air to be with clients, I know that I, too, would like to spend more time with my kids. Thank God for Facetime!

‘Fatherly’ lessons for nonprofit leaders

For leaders of organizations, time spent with the staff, listening to them, observing their work and communicating firsthand with employees, are keys to the success of the organization. It’s all crucial. It can positively drive culture, organizational buy-in, reduce turnover and influence overall results.

  • Steve Jobs used to relish the time he spent with the frontline engineers and product designers at Apple. He’d hang with the geeks for days at a time. We all know how Apple has turned out.
  • A study has tried to quantify the number of hours a week a leader should spend time with his/her direct reports to foster inspiration and commitment to the job. The median is 3 hours, but respondents thought 6 hours would be optimal. For jobs that focus on product or service innovation, 11 hours a week was preferred by employees.

Being there: A simple concept with a big payoff for fundraisers

For the forward-looking nonprofit, it’s a no-brainer. Time spent with donors—not just the large contributors or prospects, but also those who are new to the planned-giving world or even new to your organization—can greatly impact commitment levels and engagement. Making yourself available and accessible for questions, tours and advice is a simple thing to do. Couple that with time invested with employees, and you impact internal culture; staff retention, turnover and productivity.

As my father reminds me, it’s all about QTR: Quality Time Remaining.

Thanks, Dad, for being there. I’m trying my best to carry that torch, at home and at work.

How are you spending your QTR with donors, with your staff and most importantly with your family?

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