Is great fundraising art? If it is, then are the best fundraisers artists?
Your first instinct is probably to say "of course not", but before you jump to conclusions, I'd like you to take a second to think again.
According to Seth Godin's new book The Icarus Deception, we're all (potentially) artists and it's up to us to embrace the opportunities this mindset presents to us. According to Godin,
"Art is not a gene or a specific talent. Art is an attitude, culturally driven and available to anyone who chooses to adopt it. Art isn't something sold in a gallery or performed on a stage. Art is the unique work of a human being, work that touches another. Most painters, it turns out, aren't artists at all - they are safety-seeking copycats.
"Seizing new ground, making connections between people or ideas, working without a map - these are works of art, and if you do them, you are an artist, regardless of whether you wear a smock, use a computer, or work with others all day long.
"Speaking up when there's no obvious right answer, making yourself vulnerable when it's possible to put up shields, and caring about both the process and the outcome - these are works of art that our society embraces and the economy demands."
When I think about the best fundraisers I've met, about the most inspiring leaders I've worked with and the amazing campaigns that I've seen, then there is no doubt in my mind that great fundraising is art.
The challenge for us all is to embrace the idea that we're artists. To take risks, to push boundaries, to challenge the status quo and make things happening. Sure, we'll make mistakes along the way, but if we don't embrace the idea of great fundraising as art then we risk disappearing into a vacuum of mediocrity. Our donors and beneficiaries deserve better than this.
I'd love to know your opinion on this. Is fundraising art? If the ideas I've talked about chime with you, then I've got five copies of The Icarus Deception to give away.
Simply leave a comment, e-mail or tweet me and I'll randomly pick five people to send the book to. At the same time, do let me know you're opinion and I'll collate them into a follow-up post.