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These Days Everyone Needs a “Puppy”, Especially Your Donors

puppy with slipper

It has been 18 years since my wife Deborah and I last had a puppy. But we recently decided we wanted another dog… and we needed it as well. I am sure I am not alone having visceral reactions to the headlines of the day. The words “unprecedented”, “unbelievable” and “are you kidding”, just don’t have the same force and significance as they once had not that long ago. It is taking its toll.

I’m finding our puppy Carlin is having an analgesic and distracting effect for Deborah and I and is bringing us joy during these trying times. Since I know my feelings are shared by millions of patriotic Americans, it seems to me that advancement officers need to find a way to offer donors your organization’s version of a puppy.


Keep Them Smiling

It is well known that you want your donors to have a smile on their faces when thinking about your organization and considering making a gift, rather than feeling the angst of these days. Animal welfare organizations have already figure out this formula, using an avalanche of cute furry critters to appeal to donors. Adorable babies and children are another effective device, and is commonly used by organizations, even though most of their mission may be devoted to serving adults. Think cancer centers that lead with the children, even though 13 percent of cancers strike children. It is okay, fundraising license is allowed.


What is Your Puppy?

What is your puppy? Is it the Nutcracker performance for your ballet company? Is it families with small kids hiking on the trails your organization is preserving? Is it kids on the floor sketching a Henry Moore sculpture? Is it smiling seniors enjoying the company of kids and dogs? Or is it the smiling young graduate ready to take on the world.

As obvious as this is, the need to offer your donors (and coworkers and family members) a respite from aggravation and worry is more urgent now than in recent and distant memory. So keep enjoying your summer, recharge your batteries, find joy in ordinary things, and remember this ointment is needed as an antidote to the snake oil we have been offered the past 18 months.


  1. Elena Brandt

    Thanks so much for this uplifting and thoughtful post, Larry. It really does come down to finding and then highlighting experiences that are joyful.

    Carlin is adorable! Congratulations on this wise choice.


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