The 1 Forrest Gump Fundraising Secret You Need
As a donor, I sometimes daydream about the charities I support and wonder what it would be like to be there to see my gifts at work ...
… to see a child as she wakes up from a sight-saving surgery on the Flying Eye Hospital …
… to see the faces of a family when they receive a starter flock of chickens that mean healthy nutrition and dependable income …
… to be in the room when lawmakers read the case studies and research they’ve been needing in order to advance a piece of social justice legislation …
It was with all this in mind that I was talking to Brett (spouse/writing partner) about how to do fundraising writing that transports donors: how to show them, really show them, the difference they make.
And then Brett thought of a scene from Forrest Gump.
For me, it’s a “WOW!”
If you want to feel all the feels, watch the clip until the 2-minute mark, when Jenny says, “I love you, Forrest.”
(I’ll just wait right here until you wipe the tears away.)
Now, I’ll recap and share a few thoughts:
Jenny, perhaps feeling afraid because she knows she will soon die, asks Forrest if he was scared in Vietnam.
Forrest becomes thoughtful. As he reflects on his life, he paints word pictures for Jenny. These words bring to life all the beauty Forrest experienced both in the war and in his everyday life.
Quietly, Jenny replies, “I wish I could have been there with you.”
(And, here's the part that really gets me...)
Forrest pauses, looks Jenny in the eye, and answers, “You were.”
(Oh, my heart!)
(Cue the tissues!)
Finally, Jenny says, “I love you, Forrest.”
These are the words that Forrest has been waiting all his life to hear. It took Jenny this long to utter them because she’s been haunted by the terrible trauma she suffered as a girl.
Now, at last, Jenny understands love … and that its power is like magic. She really was there with Forrest all along. His love transported her.
And then she dies – her life is complete.
(Not because of Forrest: because of love.)
So, how does this relate to donor stewardship?
Donors need to know their impact. They often feel disconnected from the good work that they help to make real. It’s our job to connect them to this.
We need to make our donors understand that THEY WERE there.
By painting word pictures suffused with true love for our donors. This love will transport and transform them.
And it’s true: they really are there with us all along – they just need to know it.
We need to tell our donors this, again and again, from our hearts. ❤️
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