Chapter Leadership Brief 11.05.2020
By Jill Scibilia, CFRE, AFP-NYC President-Elect
Vice President, Development
Phelps Hospital, Northwell Health
Being Kind is underrated.
By “kind,” I do not mean “nice.” The words are sometimes used interchangeably, but they have different meanings.
Kind is defined as “of a good or benevolent nature or disposition” or “having, showing or proceeding from benevolence.”
Nice is defined as “pleasing, agreeable, delightful.”
Perhaps I can better illustrate what I mean with a story or two.
One of my former bosses did me the greatest kindness throughout the six years we worked together by giving me the gift of her candor. Sometimes this meant she was tough on me. That did not always feel “nice” even though it was constructive feedback. She also gave praise when it was deserved. There were also times when she and I did not agree, but we developed a strong relationship built on mutual respect. More often than not, she served in the role of mentor to me, but she also helped me learn how to effectively “manage up” and give candid feedback to a leader.
Then there was the time when a donor who was also a volunteer said to me, “Don’t be so defensive or I am going to stop sharing my thoughts with you.” This was quite a few years ago. It was shortly after I had been given a promotion with new responsibilities including more people to manage. I was learning that being an effective fundraiser while managing effective fundraisers was a whole new challenge. He had been providing feedback that was not so easy for me to hear and I reacted by slipping into a defensive mode. My response was not kind or helpful, and it was shutting down the conversation. The donor paid me the kindness of telling me. He also shared that his feedback was kindly meant and its purpose was to be helpful to me and the mission I served.
The kindness that this boss and donor paid me helped me to grow professionally; it also helped us develop strong partnerships allowing us to ultimately achieve more for the mission of the organization we served.
Avoiding a defensive response to candid feedback is difficult; I find it challenging to this day. Feedback is not always factual or based on facts. It can simply be someone sharing their perspective. When it is done with kindness and kind intent, it is always valuable.
When feedback is delivered with anger, we still have the opportunity to respond with kindness. Kindness can diffuse situations. Being kind is a powerful action. A kind person approaches others with respect. She also respects herself and expects she will be treated with respect in return.
Finally, remember to be kind to yourself as well as others. These are challenging, unprecedented times.
Being kind and its mindset of “having, showing or proceeding from benevolence” is by its very definition the work we as fundraisers work to nurture in others. The work you do matters and makes a difference.
Thank you for your leadership and commitment to professional fundraising.
With gratitude and kindness,