Being goal-oriented made me a powerful fundraising leader, but it also nearly killed me.
I had been in fundraising for nearly two decades when I found myself in the final push of a capital campaign to fund the construction of a new hospital in central Maine. The project was deeply personal to me – a state-of-the-art hospital to replace two aging 60’s-era hospitals in towns less than 20 miles apart. Each hospital had a proud history and feelings were very mixed about replacing them. People were reluctant to accept change even when change meant access to more services, specialities and better technology. This was particularly true in my hometown of Waterville, Maine where Thayer Hospital, once considered one of the best small regional hospitals in New England and the place I was born, would lose its in-patient services. When the project was announced, there were protests in the streets. My job was to overcome those objections and create donors out of skeptics.
At first, the challenge was exhilarating. It was also terrifying. I was charged with raising more money than the hospital had ever raised. About a year into the campaign, I was asked to manage the design process as well, leading a group of internal leaders in making decisions about the hospital’s furnishings, signage and wayfinding, art and donor recognition. I was flattered to be asked, so I immediately accepted. But the additional responsibility loaded my already full schedule with even more meetings – almost like having a second job. [Read more…]