How is CrossFit like fundraising? Let us count the ways.

July 26, 2016

I almost didn't go to CrossFit today. For so many reasons. 

...Because I peeked at the scheduled workout on the gym's Facebook page the night before, and it. Looked. Brutal. 

...Because it was Friday morning, the conclusion to a long week. I wanted to start the day with a latte and funny dog video—not burpees and toes-to-bar. 

...Because I always try to think of reasons to do anything besides CrossFit.

But there I was, sticking my purse in a locker before class when in walked fellow Gifted principal Jenny, who just happens to belong to the same gym. (Shoutout, CrossFit Clintonville!)

"I almost didn't come," she admitted. "I hate burpees." We took a moment to commiserate about the unlikelihood of our 40-something bodies completing 81 burpees and thrusters. Then, just like that, we were in the midst of them.

Somewhere around my 50th burpee, I thought about the ways that CrossFit is similar to fundraising. (You have to think about something besides the burning of your biceps.)

  1. It's a process. A year ago, when I first started CrossFit, I couldn't even do a push up. And I would not have been able to finish today's workout without some major cheating (err, “scaling”). It's rare in fundraising for a donor to land on your doorstep, checkbook in hand. From identification to cultivation and solicitation, sometimes it takes years to land a major gift. Every opportunity to connect with your donors—every handwritten note and personal guided tour—gets you a step closer to your goal. 
  2. You need the right equipment. You can do all sorts of exercises on your own, but to get the best results, eventually you need some good equipment. Whether it’s a strong case for support, proposals tailored for your top donors, stewardship materials that show your gratitude or persuasive annual giving mailings—you need tools in hand that will help you be successful. (Hint: We can help.)
  3. It pays off. With some hard work and persistence, you too can have...the body of a 40-something communications consultant who loves wine and cheese popcorn. But really, all the hard work is worth it: the evening fundraising committee meetings, the metrics reports for your boss, the slightly queasy feeling you get before making the big ask. When the gift comes in that will help your organization achieve its mission, the sense of accomplishment can feel transcendent.

And speaking of missions...Jenny and I finished that grueling workout this morning. Here's a pic of us after, drenched in sweat and smiling like a couple of dorks. 

(Tip: A shower is recommended before your donor visits.)

About the Author, Alice Duncanson

Alice Duncanson is a principal at Gifted Communications

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