Because Sometimes You Need a Guide

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When I was nineteen, I almost died surfing. I had always wanted to surf, so one day I decided to go surfing with one of my friends near a big concrete fishing pier, on a day with six-foot waves. We paddled out and I soon got stuck in a rip current. Fearing I would be thrown into the pier, I struggled for about 30 minutes to get to shore, but I quickly became exhausted. I did the only thing I could think of, which was to stop trying to avoid the pier and just aim straight for it. If I could hit the pier before I was completely exhausted, I reasoned, I had a better chance of not getting thrown into the large concrete pilings and being knocked unconscious and drowning.

Obviously, I didn't die that day since I’m writing this blog post to you now. But I had no business being out there without knowing how to surf, and without knowing what to do in a rip current. I needed a guide. 

I love the work I get to do at The FOCUS Group because I get to be a guide for people who feel stuck in a different kind of riptide, going nowhere as they are trying to raise money. Without guidance, many people are headed straight for burnout, crashing on the pier of exhaustion. Fundraising done wrong IS exhausting.

When I decided to aim straight for the pier, I was able to navigate through two very large concrete pilings, but then got thrown up against the rocks, which were covered in very sharp barnacles. As you can imagine, I got cut up by these barnacles and my legs and back have scars to prove it. Thankfully at that point, a man on the fishing pier threw down a rescue rope and pulled me up to safety. I didn’t die that day, but I was badly injured, and it was entirely avoidable – if I had known then what I know now.

After I was pulled out of the water, the friend who was my surfing buddy asked me, “Brad why didn’t you swim out to sea rather than trying to swim to shore to get out of the riptide? Didn’t you know that if you had just swum out to sea, you would have been free of the current?”

I didn’t know that. Swimming out to sea is counter intuitive. I needed a guide.

As CEO of The FOCUS Group, my greatest desire is to lead a firm of people who serve as guides to help people navigate the complexity of fundraising. We want to be there for you when the answer is simple – like just paddling out to sea – and when the answers are more difficult, like when the seas are rough and there are no easy answers.

In that vein, I am excited to announce The FOCUS Group’s summer webinar series. Starting June 6th, we are hosting 15 different free webinars are various topics, to help guide you as you fundraise for your organization.  

Here are all the webinars we will be hosting this summer. Please feel free to sign up for one or all of them! And please share them with your friends and board members. Because at some point, we all need a guide.

Finding Major Donors Within Your Current Donor Base
Presenters: Brad Layland & Dawn Brown
Tuesday, June 6, 2023 at 2:00 Eastern 
Register here

Taking Donors Seriously® Principle #1: People Give to People They Know and Trust
Presenters: Justin Forbes & Askala Harris Calhoun
Thursday, June 8, 2023 at 2:00 Eastern 
Register here

Raising more money together: The Role of the VP of Advancement and the Executive Leader in a Campaign
Presenters: Vince Burens & John Ranheim
Tuesday, June 20, 2023 at 1:00 Eastern
Register here

The Tour and More: Creatively engage donors in your work!
Presenters: Jason Smith & Tracy Prall
Monday, June 26, 2023 at 1:00 Eastern
Register here

Running a Successful Capital Campaign with Limited Staff & Resources
Presenters: Zach Gurick & Askala Harris Calhoun
Wednesday, June 28, 2023 at 1:00 Eastern
Register here

Building Donor Relationships: An Opportunity to Listen
Presenters: Jamie Sellers & Casey Dunn
Tuesday, July 11, 2023 at 1:00 Eastern
Register here

From Donors to Partners: Inviting your donors to 'Come and See'
Presenters: Chad Borgestad & Eric Basye
Thursday, July 13, 2023 at 1:00 Eastern
Register here

How to Apply Proven Capital Campaign Principles to Your Annual Fundraising
Presenters: Tom MacAdam & Mark Paulson
Monday, July 17, 2023 at 1:00 Eastern
Register here

Creating a Culture of Generosity in Your School
Presenters: Janet Stump & Brad Layland
Tuesday, July 25, 2023 at 1:00 Eastern
Register here


Fundraising Fitness for Camping Properties: Funding operations and capital campaigns
Presenters: Jim Eney & Reid Estes
Monday, August 7, 2023 at 1:00 Eastern
Register here

Engaging the Masses: Public Phase 101
Presenters: Evangeline Pattison & Amy Eldredge
Wednesday, August 9, 2023 at 1:00 Eastern
Register here

How Do I Get Our Board to Give More Money and Help Us Raise More Money?
Presenters: Scott Rodin & Jay Barber
Tuesday, August 15, 2023 at 1:00 Eastern 
Register here

Managing Major Donor Portfolios
Presenters: John Ranheim & Tom Ridington
Thursday, August 17, 2023 at 1:00 Eastern
Register here

Assessing Your Fundraising Program
Presenters: Tom MacAdam & Vince Burens
Monday, August 21, 2023 at 1:00 Eastern
Register here

Strategies and Tools for Securing Your Donor's Largest Gift from Non-Cash Assets
Presenters: Ted Rodgers & Brad Gornto, Effectual Giving, LLC
Monday, September 6, 2023 at 1:00 Eastern
Register here

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