Peter Pan Had It Right: 8 Things We Can Learn From Children

Posted by on Jun 4, 2012 | 1 comment

Sure, many of us have been doing this fundraising shtick for so long we actually believe we can do it blindfolded, dizzy, and backwards, almost like a fundraising version of Pin the Tail on the Donkeyor.

This past weekend I didn’t play Pin the Tail on anything, but I did spend time with 11 of my 15 grandchildren. My takeaway? Children are wise beyond their years, and we should follow their example more often than we do.

In the craziness of adulthood, professional demeanor, political correctness, hectic schedules, and repetitive behaviors, adults have lost so much of the simple joys and raw excitement that come to children so easily.  I’ve spent a lot of time pondering this and have come to one simple conclusion: in many ways, we were better as kids. We were nicer. We were more fun. We laughed more. We were spontaneous. We were kids and nothing seemed impossible.

Kids seem to do the simplest things without thinking. They remember to do them, because it comes naturally. These are things we often forget. How many kids does it take to change a lightbulb? Just one – he holds the lightbulb and the whole world revolves around him.

So I would ask:  How many donors does it take to make a difference? Just one – he holds the key to a network of goodwill.

Children value their friendships. They call, they play, they listen, they share stories. Sure, they also kick and stick out their tongues and tattle tell, but for the most part kids are building relationships in nearly everything they do. Simply and honestly.

Do we make the same relationship building effort? Do we share our stories? Do we take time to listen? Do we find reasons to laugh together? In other words, do we value our donors for more than their dollar, and do we show them that we value them? If not, we are risking the loss of a relationship.

I ran across this article and want to share it with you. After attempting to identify unique habits of children that adults should adopt and finding the list endless, the author Jennifer Hamady finally asks:

“Perhaps, therefore, the better question is which inherent habits of children shouldn’t we adopt? 

Their instant trust and lack of judgment of both themselves and others. Their bold, blissful trying on of new experiences. Their lack of self-consciousness. Their honesty as well as their reflexive instinct to express it.

Their blindness to cultural notions of color, race, gender, and class. Their lack of concern for time, save for their personal rhythms of fatigue and hunger. Their unending smiles, their unapologetic eye contact…”

There is so much we can learn from children, and as the article points out…there is so much we need to unlearn as adults, and as fundraisers – there is so much we need to remember from the innocent days of our youth.

Here are 8 things fundraisers can learn from children and instantly apply in their personal and professional lives:

    1. Be curious.
    2. Be willing to take risks.
    3. Be honest.
    4. Be optimistic
    5. Be nonjudgmental.
    6. Be sincere.
    7. Be courageous.
    8. Be yourself.
Each of these childlike attributes can help fundraisers relate to, communicate with, and keep donors engaged. It’s not difficult. It’s not magic.  It’s simple. It’s childlike, but not childish. I do not believe in tricks and magic and fairy dust when it comes to fundraising, but I do believe that maintaining these endearing childlike qualities while using the wisdom of experience with a professional demeanor is an awesome combination. As Peter said, “To live is an awfully big adventure!” And so is the world of fundraising. I believe, do you?

1 Comment

  1. Great stuff, Jean! Thank God for passionate, dynamic people like you. In fact, heck. Thank God for you.

    Thanks, too, for this post and for the amazing vitality you bring to everything you do, professionally and personally.

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *