Keep It Simple, Do It Well

A few blocks from my apartment is a hip little downtown restaurant. I went there not long after it opened and the food had all of the traits I’ve come to expect from hip little downtown restaurants: it was complicated, it was expensive, and it was… okay.

I’ve been back a few times since. Despite changes in the kitchen staff and the menu there’s a trend. It’s always complicated. It’s always expensive. It’s always… okay.

Before my fundraising career and before seminary, I was a cook. I wasn’t a great cook. I didn’t work in the finest restaurants in the world. There were no Michelin stars. But I learned to cook and still enjoy cooking at home.

One of the most important things I learned is that good food – good, delicious, soul stirring food – doesn’t have to be complicated. Good food doesn’t need dozens of ingredients or complex cook methods or detailed presentation. It can have those things. Those things can be fun. But it doesn’t need those things.

Good food can be simple. The best food, in my opinion, usually is simple. Good food – good, delicious, soul stirring food – is almost always a simple thing done well.

That’s true in a lot of things. It’s absolutely true in fundraising.

It’s easy to think that good fundraising has to be complicated. There are consultants and coaches out there who will tell you that it has to be complicated. They’ll talk about detailed donor segmentation, gift spikes, media schedules, and a thousand other details.

It can be overwhelming. It can be overwhelming.

So make it simple. Keep it simple. Do it well.

All fundraising really comes down to doing four simple things well: talking to people, sharing stories, giving concrete ways to make an impact, and saying thank you.

Those four things might be difficult to do. They might be hard work. They might involve long hours. But they’re not complicated.

And if you do those four simple things and concentrate on doing them well, all of the other things – list segmentation, ask targets, task scheduling – will take care of themselves.