Why don’t fundraising wizards talk about the messy middle?
Early in my career, I figured out pretty quickly that the fundraising wizards want nothing to do with the messy middle. Instead, half of them decide to become overly-invested in new donor acquisition while the other half try to one-up each other in the billionaire campaign club. In this kind of environment, it’s no wonder everything feels so transactional, donor attrition is what it is, and our fundraisers are fed up. Blame the wizards.
Today, I sat down with Laurel and Noah, two members of Responsive’s team who, like myself, have made a lot of sense of why the fundraising community, consultancies in particular, won’t talk about the messy middle. What Laurel and Noah have discovered is that the messy middle is where fundraisers have the opportunity to shine, where their employers make sense of how it all actually works, and where the wizards start to feel like they’re getting in the way.
As Laurel and Noah discuss in todays podcast conversation, the messy middle isn’t about the timing of, size of, or who gets credit for a donor’s contribution. The messy middle is where the organization makes an intentional decision to prioritize their relationships ahead of the gift - where the donor becomes a citizen rather than a mere consumer. The messy middle is where, as Laurel describes, the job becomes more than that of being a master technician who runs a “fundraising machine.” As Noah describes it, the messy middle is where those on both sides of the exchange can be known, understood, and listened to as human beings.
As always, we are especially grateful to our friends at CueBack for sponsoring The Fundraising Talent Podcast. If you’d like to learn more about Responsive Fundraising’s sense-making retreats, email me for more information. If you’d like to learn more about the messy middle, reach out to either Laurel or Noah for a conversation, and/or download our free white paper entitled, Making sense of the messy middle.