How far must we look to find unanticipated blessings in what we have all experienced in the last two years? For one leader in our network, not far. “There has been unanticipated blessing in how donors have shown up in the last two years.” For many organizations this has meant more dollars coming in and fewer dollars spent on programs that were limited in scope by the pandemic. Now there are reserves and opportunities many leaders have never seen before.

But many leaders are also paying close attention to what donors will do this year and watching for emerging trends. What will those trends be? It is likely too soon to tell, although through the years, I have always seen donors step up, even in times of financial uncertainty. When we care enough about the mission, we find a way to help. So, it is less about what donors will do, and more about how nonprofits will stay at the top of donors’ giving priorities. In the words of one network leader, it is about “creating a gift chart based in reality,” not hope, not wishful thinking, and not unrealistic expectations. It is about how well donor wishes and organizational mission align.

Another leader said he is focusing on “connecting process to relationship building.” We all want to think we are good at relationships. And we can all be better at the process part of relationships. How many times have I said I would “keep in touch” with someone? And how many times have I actually kept in touch? People who are truly good at relationships are also truly good at all of the parts of relationships – checking in, asking good questions, knowing what others care about, and keeping track of their kids’ names and how they take their coffee. That is how we can be an unanticipated blessing in someone else’s life.

What part of building relationships can you be better at this week?