Thanks for Standing Up Like My Neighbor

Growing up, my next-door neighbor was an old guy named Mr. Barnett. He was kind, avuncular attorney. Great neighbor.

It wasn’t until later that I learned he was a hero. And it wasn’t until a long time after that I learned that you are, too.

But I’m getting ahead of myself. I grew up on an island outside of Seattle. It has the unfortunate distinction of being the very first place during World War II that Japanese Americans were forcibly rounded up and relocated to internment camps.

Not the brightest moment in our history.

I learned later that Mr. Barnett was the attorney for the only Japanese American to challenge, through the legal system, the forced removal of Japanese Americans from their homes. Mr. Barnett took the course all the way to the Supreme Court, and was not a popular guy for doing so.

But he stood up for the men, women and children who were interred. And for the Bill of Rights and the Constitution.

Why am I telling you all this? Because I was thinking about how I had no idea my next-door neighbor had done something so incredible. And my next thought was that most fundraisers have no idea they do something so incredible.

The deeper into my career I get (25 years!) the more I see that most fundraisers — and maybe even you — only barely grasp the important role you play.

You stand up for your beneficiaries. Who often have no voice.

You are their voice to people who have the resources to help.

Without fundraisers like you, how would they get help?

Like Mr. Barnett, you stand up for a person who needs justice.

And maybe the cause you work on isn’t one of the sexy ones, like “social justice.” Maybe it’s foundational like “supplemental math skills for elementary school kids.” Maybe you’re one of the few standing up for your cause. Maybe you’re the only one – like Mr. Barnett.

But you stand up.

Thank you.

As a fundraiser, you do fight for justice. Whether it’s for food or math skills. For immigrant rights or for a museum that preserves Quilting Arts. Over these next couple busy months, in the middle of this crazy year-end, remember this . . .

You are standing up for your beneficiaries or cause. Who often have no voice.

You are their voice to people who have the resources to help.

Thank you!

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