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Are We Losing Our Visionaries?

I had the distinct honor and privilege to know and work with two icons in our industry who have recently passed away…

On November 20, 2015, Austin Kiplinger, who led Kiplinger Washington Editors, business and economic forecasting publications for more than three decades, and an expert in direct response, lost his battle with cancer. Over 10 years ago, Austin was quoted as saying, “…in direct marketing…you’re not talking to great aggregations, you’re talking to individuals.” Today in direct response marketing, not a day goes by that we aren’t promoting personalization, “meet your donors-customers-members where they are;” there is no such thing as “mass marketing” anymore. Austin saw that before any of us.

Most recently, on January 12, 2016, we lost Tony Elischer also to cancer. A very dynamic speaker, Tony was one of those zealous, unforgettable professionals who seemed to easily engage an audience. A trained ballet dancer, it was always entertaining to watch Tony bound on and off stage as he passionately spoke about fundraising. Tony would weave his expertise gracefully, albeit directly, so that a listener would walk away inspired and with actionable information.  A person knew they had just witnessed something special when Tony presented.

These two men had a lot in common, they both loved the arts, were passionate about their beliefs, could connect with their audience, had their stories to tell…and loved telling them.

One very important characteristic they shared was that they were both visionaries. With their insight and wisdom, Tony and Austin would lift us out of our muck and mire and encourage us into the higher realms of our potential. They always envisioned other and better possibilities.

Austin and Tony would watch the trends; they intuitively, intelligently and thoughtfully knew what would work and what wouldn’t. They observed, listened and then acted. Most importantly, they shared their expertise and motivated others.

Who today in your organization is the visionary? Who is challenging your team to think broader…act bolder.

On Tuesday, March 15, at the National Press Club, DMAW will have its Annual Keynote and Business Meeting. Jim Clifton, CEO of Gallup, will present, Gallup: The State of Charitable Giving.

Jim will share with us trends in fundraising. He will talk about strategies that organizations will have to consider. He will ask important questions…hard questions…making fundraisers and those in our field stop and think. Jim will provide us information that can be used to shape a vision. This is the perfect opportunity to listen and learn and most importantly convert that information into actionable items to help you and your organization reach your goals.

I hope you will consider joining us to hear Jim…it could be your first step to being a visionary for your organization.

Donna Tschiffely
Executive Director