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We're in the Dream Business

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Do you ever consider what we fundraising folks are really up to when we appeal to our donors? Is it hype? Is it promises that we will keep? Is it mission, vision and values? Is it changing the world?Last month at the Bridge Fundraising Conference in DC, I kept hearing a theme echoing through many of the presentations I attended.MLK“We are in the dream business.”It really means that we are selling a happy dream of the future. Of a better world. A better community. People being helped. Smiles. Comfort. Happiness.But in our appeals for help, we forget this all too often. Instead we focus on problems, what's wrong, what we will do to fix things.But the most successful approach - whether you are doing fundraising, sales, bringing together groups of people for a common purpose, teamwork - whenever leadership and inspriation are required - is to picture your dream for the future.Think Martin Luther King, one of the greatest inspirational leaders - and orators - of recent times. His "I have a dream speech" is a spectacular example of inspired dreaming.The dream is so powerful that it's like a great river sweeping everyone up in its path, surging inevitably downstream to a much happier future.When we paint a picture of our dream for happy students, healthy children, cared-for elderly, majestic symphonies, clean sparkling water - whatever we are raising money for - we also capture the power of that mighty river of energy sweeping everyone together.When I work with boards, we talk about dreaming. I tell them they should always be standing high on the hill sharing their vision of a happier world with everyone they know. When they are standing on that hill, solid in their dream, focused on the future, they are more powerful than they can imagine.When you, your board members and your volunteers take a firm stand on the mountain, that's when you have the energy and the power to change the world.That's when nothing can stop you.