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Planting seeds this holiday season

November 19, 2012
by Terry Axelrod
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With all the occasions for social interaction over the holidays, are you prepared with your list of ways people can get involved with your organization? There you are standing at the punch bowl with a terrific former board member or volunteer you haven't seen for a while. You've been reminiscing about the early days, updating her on how various programs are going now, asking about her work and her family. One child has had real struggles with mental illness. Another has gone back to school to become a counselor.  

Would you be prepared, right there in that moment, to delicately suggest some ways she could be of help to your organization? Maybe she's not ready to jump back in to a major volunteer role, but could she host a tour of your organization or a dessert gathering in her home after the holidays to help you spread the word?

What about those dear friends of hers you'd just love to meet? Could she arrange that lunch for all of you to get acquainted? And that foundation board she sits on—can she help you set up a meeting with the program officer in charge of the behavioral health grants? Her firm's volunteer department—don't they look for volunteer opportunities for the employees all year round?

Will you be arriving at the holiday party informed about the guests and armed with your mental wish list of how they can help you? Or will you pretend you had a perfect year and don't need a thing?

You may need to brainstorm with your team to be sure your list is broad enough. If you know the folks who'll be coming to the holiday events, you may be able to get very specific: someone to chair the big event next year, someone to help you launch the computer program, or that special advisory committee you've been dreaming of.

Rather than dreading the busy-ness of the holidays, try playing a game to see how much treasure you can uncover over the holidays and then pursue in January. Rather than regarding year-end as make-it-or-break-it fundraising season, try relaxing and enjoying these social events, and use them as a time for reconnecting, maybe planting a seed, that can be nurtured and grown next year and in the years to come.

See how many times you can make that genuine one-on-one connection with a donor, volunteer, or someone new to your organization. Practice saying this sentence: "I'll call you after the holidays to talk more about it."

Happy Holidays!


Terry Axelrod

CEO, Benevon

Terry Axelrod


Terry Axelrod is founder and CEO of Benevon. She has more than thirty years of experience in the...

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