A Matter of Perspective

Digital image courtesy of the Getty's Open Content Program.

Digital image courtesy of the Getty's Open Content Program.

I recently had the opportunity to visit the Getty Museum in Los Angeles. One of the hightlights – and there are so many, beginning with your first glimpses of the grounds as you approach the facility – was Monet’s “The Portal of Rouen Cathedral in Morning Light.”

Initially I took in the painting from just a few feet away, struggling to make out the façade in the surreal, foggy light of morning. But as I backed away, eventually looking at the painting from across the room, lines sharpened and the structure clearly emerged from the haze.

Life’s a bit like that.

Fundraising is a bit like that, too … and I think it’s important to be conscious of how “long” or “short” our perspective is, whether looking back, or ahead.

In looking back, for example, it’s imperative to have the up-close perspective. For an individual mailing, how did a specific offer in a particular format perform against a targeted segment? At the same time, only by combining a number of these distinct results and looking at them over a longer period of time, can we begin to see broader trends and patterns emerge. (

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It’s similar when looking ahead. While you can set an overall fundraising goal (further), you make that goal far more actionable by breaking it down into targets for more specific groups (closer). (

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The thing I like best about impressionist art is its ability to blend both perspectives.

I think that’s what I enjoy most about fundraising, too.