As a newly wed, much of the last year has been spent working and planning my wedding. Now that my wedding has passed, I have been reflecting on the many life lessons that the wedding planning process has taught me. Here are my top six learnings:
- People matter more than things: This is one of my Bubbie Helen’s (grandmother’s) favourite sayings (which my mother often reminded me of when I broke something around the house as a child). And it applies to both weddings and fundraising equally. You can have mountains of the finest flowers, fountains of champagne and a scrumptious, towering wedding cake but none of it matters if the people who you love most are not there to celebrate with you. Similarly, dazzling donors with glossy brochures and Academy Award worthy videos means little compared to building meaningful, personal long term relationships with those who give to your cause.
- Personal touches go a long way: My husband and I spent much time and energy figuring out how to make our wedding feel like us. It was those touches, big and small, that we and our guests loved most about our wedding. Your donors will not remember the flashy events you invite them to, but guaranteed they will keep a card you send them that has a dog that looks like theirs on the cover and read articles which you send them because you know they will be of personal interest.
- Don’t skimp on the hors d’oeuvres: Hungry wedding/event guests are angry guests! No further explanation necessary.
- Trust your partners: The early stages of the wedding planning process are often the hardest, because they involved finding vendors that you like and trust. They are key to ensuring your wedding is exactlyas you want it. The same is true in a fundraising shop, you must trust your colleagues, volunteers and the countless other stakeholders who are crucial to success in fundraising campaigns.
- A handwritten, heartfelt thank you note never goes out of style: Always send out hand written, personal thank you cards in a timely manner. There is not a person inthis world who does not appreciate being thanked. Whether it’s for a wedding gift or ongoing organizational support, those 5 minutes you spend writing the card will pay dividends in your relationships.
- Always keep the bigger picture in mind: And last but most importantly, don’t get bogged down in the process. Weddings are stressful to plan and it’s easy and natural to get overwhelmed by the endless decisions and details. Fundraising campaigns are no different. But in both cases, the key is to always keep the bigger picture in mind. Throughout the process, when we got stressed, we stopped, took a deep breath and reminded each other how excited we were to marry each other. When a campaign deadline is looming, take this simple advice. Pause, take a deep breath, and remember how much good your cause is doing. You will get through it.
Hava Goldberg is a passionate fundraiser and community builder who is currently the Senior Development Officer, Community Engagement at the Sinai Health Foundation. She is a proud alumunus of the University of Guelph and holds a Masters in Non-Profit Management (specializing in Jewish Communal Services) from Spertus College (Chicago). Hava has worked in the non-profit sector for nine years and in fundraising for the last four years. She has been an active volunteer and fundraiser for as long as she can remember.