Back pain sucks.

For the past year and a half, I’ve been experiencing on and off back pain that can be quite debilitating.

I’m not sharing that to elicit sympathy (although I’ll always accept chocolates and “Feel Better” balloons). My primary intent is to serve as cautionary tale.

You see — when the back pain is at its worst, I throw myself into a strict regimen of physical therapy, Feldenkrais (a lesser known treatment that has changed my life), stretching, limited computer time, dictation software, limited travel and other back-relieving strategies.

As the pain eases, I get lazy with that routine. I stop seeing my PT. My appointments at Feldenkrais get fewer and fewer until they cease. I get back to non-stop screen time. You get the picture.

What’s crazy about this cycle is that I’m extraordinarily fearful of a relapse. Yet, when I’m not in back crisis mode, I do little to set myself up for future success.

At this point during the post you’re probably asking, “Alia, what’s this have to do with non profit donor engagement?” And I answer, “A lot.”

I think our organizations fall prey to this cycle all the time. We’re so busy responding to crises, that we’ve trained ourselves to focus on crises alone with quick fixes, rather than identifying the tougher, longer-term opportunities that can help us avoid those crises in the future.

• We try to solve our dismal donor retention rates through increased, yet costly acquisition spends.
• We focus on shaking change out from low-dollar donors, instead of creating an amazing experience with mid-to-high dollar donors.
• We respond to increased budget goals by adding additional appeals and campaigns rather than investing in understanding our donors better so we can create messages that resonate with them.

Chasing short-term gain in an effort to avoid crisis usually is a formula for more crisis. Maybe one day, I’ll learn this lesson. How about you?